More Than a Monologue: Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church - Vol. 1

By Christine Firer Hinze; J. Patrick Hornbeck II | Go to book overview

8 The Experience of a Pastoral
Advocate and Implications
for the Church

BRYAN N. MASSINGALE

Marquette University

This reflection on Catholicism and LGBT realities flows from my multiple and overlapping identities as a priest and pastor, professor and scholar, and man of color. In it, I wish to consider the experience that attends being an advocate for justice for LGBT persons within the Catholic Church and what attentive listening to that experience may reveal about this faith community.

One of the defining experiences that shapes my perspective on LGBT issues occurred when I co-facilitated a session several years ago for students at Marquette University on “Culture and Sexual Identity.” Over the course of the evening, we examined how various cultural groups construe human sexuality in general and homosexuality in par tic u lar. About thirty students attended; twenty identified themselves as gay/lesbian and also stated that they had some form of Catholic religious formation. None of these twenty, however, currently identified as belonging to the Catholic Church. I asked them why. Their reasons varied, but one young man expressed a common sentiment. He said, “It’s hard enough to figure out who I am and how to live my sexuality without having to take on the Catholic Church as well.” He shared this view with neither rancor nor sadness but simply as a self-evident fact.

I was no stranger to difficult conversations with LGBT persons about Catholic faith and ethics, yet for some reason these young adults’ matter-offact dismissal of the church deeply affected me. Indeed, it broke my heart. I thought, “Surely our faith must have something more affirming and life giving to offer them.” My heartbreak fueled a resolve to develop and offer a course on “Homosexuality and Christian Ethics,” which explores the full range of complex positions that Christians have on LGBT issues.

Today, I continue to maintain a deep and abiding conviction that— at its core— Catholic faith can and should be more affirming of the diversity

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