Yesterday morning I saw a CNN Report showing a group of Catholics who are gay marching in the NYC Pride parade. Immediately startling was the fact that the banner those in the first line were carrying was completely blank.
Parishioners from St. Francis Xavier parish have marched in the Pride Day Celebration for years with the sign telling who they were. This year, however, the new Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan. "asked" the pastor to see to it that the Church's name not appear on the sign, lest it imply that the Catholic Church accepts promiscuous sex.
Everyone "in the know" understands how difficult it is for Catholics who are gay and "out" to find a Catholic parish or other place to worship, meet socially and participate actively in ministries. As the parish pastor said, neither the parish nor the group of gay parishioners advocate or support promiscuous sex.
Although the official teaching of the Church is that same-sex sexual behavior of any kind is always gravely sinful because it is sex outside of marriage (NOTE: all sex outside marriage by anyone is always gravely sinful).This position is primarily based on philosophical analysis. Today there are a number of Catholic moral theologians who hold to a personalist-relational ethic, that allows for unmarried heterosexual and homosexual sex behavior in certain circumstances. But serious, deep love (not infatuation) is always part of the equation for them. It might be interesting, apart from gay marriage as an "issue," to watch "Gary and Tony Have a Baby" and ponder whether the two men in the documentary love each other in a way that might justify sex between them.
The marchers said one reason for their march was a chance to let other gay Catholics know that there is a place in the Church where openly Gay people are welcomed and can find a place at the Table of the Lord. It's like a "Come Home" ministry. It seems to me that only "programs" that truly appreciate the feelings of alienation, anger, and hurt that many Gay Catholics have had or are experiencing now cannot be addressed, at least in the beginning, by "standard programs." Those best qualified to "welcome back" gays to the Church are Gay Catholics who have tread the same path earlier and who now live life in the context of an accepting community of Catholics.
Although I personally support the idea that gay love can be as deep and real as heterosexual love, that under the same circumstances as with heterosexuals, gays may share complete intimate love, and that gay marriage is a good and should be permitted by civil law and the Church, I will leave that discussion to a later time.
What concerns me today is the lack of understanding compassion toward "others" who are perceived (and most often mis- perceived) to be "different," and treated accordingly. A number instances where there has been no compassion shown by Church ministers have been recounted in some of my earlier posts.
It seems to me that in the Phoenix case there was an assumption that the two moms were having illegitimate sex, otherwise why such drastic action by the priest and Archbishop? I have never seen a priest refuse Communion to young teenage couple because they are presumed to be having sex regularly. Even though many gays, especially young men, do engage in promiscuous sex, is it correct, honest and compassionate to assume that all gays live most of their lives in promiscuity? Any more than do heterosexuals?
I understand that the hierarchy as a general rule feels bound to state and support the official Church position as a principle. However there is no reason that the hierarchy should avoid concrete pastoral approaches to gays, gay life and worship. For example, tacit approval and support for parish ministry to gays is very significant. acceptance and support of the presence of DIGNITY USA and similar "programs" like them rather than COURAGE and other programs that seem to assume that gay people can change and become heterosexual, which is out of step with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, (#s 357-2359).
And all this because of no "Catholic Sign" for Gay Catholics and supporters to carry in the NYC Gay PRIDE DAY march.