14Aug Homosexuals need the pastoral care of the Church

The tragic death by suicide of Alan Turing was recently mentioned on this site. He was a genius of a man. I doubt if the coroner of the day came to a verdict of ‘Death by reason of Sexual Identity’.  A recent case of suicide that I am acquainted with was a young gay man taking an overdose of medication as a result of a previous physical attack, gay-bashing. Neither in this recent case or other similar cases will a verdict be pronounced in court: ‘Death by reason of Sexual Identity’.

In a recent article in the Irish Times, colomist Kay Sheehy writes of the appalling suicide and attempted suicide rate among gay men in Ireland (Irish Times August 3rd.2013). Research that I conducted some years ago – as yet incomplete – showed that in a national survey in which I interviewed 76 gay men , aged from 18 to 80 years of age, 35% contemplated suicide with no subsequent action while 21% attempted suicide, It also showed that in the sample (76 men), the incidence of depression was high: 62%.

There is need for pastoral care for homosexual men and women within our church communities. As far as I am aware, the late Bishop Michael Murphy (Cork & Ross) was the only Bishop in Ireland to appoint one of his priests to have pastoral responsibility in this area. The late Bishop assured the gay men that he met with that in the event of their not succeeding to find a safe secure meeting place for meetings, discussions and yes, liturgy, he assured then that he would make a diocesean /parish premises for them.

Such a pastoral ministry is needed within the Church in Ireland now. The faith/sacramental life of gay men requires on-going pastoral care. I believe that to match church teaching with the reality of people’s lives requires an understanding of complex truth, knowledge of human development and a sound theology that is not abstract nor isolated from understanding human beings in real life faith living. I believe that it could result in many of us, gay/non-gay, bisexual, transgendered, meeting the real Christ of our lives, meeting ‘Jesus Again For The First Time’, to use the title of Marcus J. Borgs’ book (Harper One, 1995, USA).

I have blessed civil unions between male couples and this may put me outside the pale for many. They have been faith-filled happy occasions. In most cases, parents – and indeed grandparents -have been present with other family members and friends, always respecting those family and friends who choose not to attend. I have no gay agenda in contributing this to our web page, however I do have a real concern for our brothers and sisters in faith, our brothers and sisters in baptism, ordained and laity who because of their sexual identity suffer, depression, alienation and suicidal thoughts and attempt suicide itself. To all of them, may we say, “you belong, we welcome you.”

A prayer I always use for those in love: “May your thoughts be gentle, your touch be gentle and the night always be a comfort to you both.” Amen.

40 Responses

  1. Maeve

    The message of Our Lord Jesus is simple. If we hear His voice and come to Him, we hear the words ”Go in peace and do not sin again.” For those who suffer disordered attractions to their own sex, the Church has the healing remedy. People are not treated with true charity if they are left bound in their sins or encouraged to engage in sins that cry to heaven. That is the great cruelty and my fear for those poor souls. What is God calling the people to? Great holiness and blessedness. Nothing less that this prophetic and liberalising message will do. And nothing less than this will do from priests and bishops. ‘Let the children come to me and do not prevent them.’ The children are dying in their sins. Are we going to be and bring Christ to them?

  2. Paddy Ferry

    I could not agree more, Tony.

  3. Brian Glennon

    Dear Readers
    You might like to hear about an initiative that began a little over a year ago. It is a pastoral outreach to LGBT persons, our parents, families and friends. It consists of a monthly celebration of the Eucharist, followed by coffee. It takes place in Dublin, in the home of a father of a gay son. We are a praying community where LGBT persons are welcomed. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has encouraged us to find a oratory/church that could accommodate a larger gathering than a sitting room! We are currently in discussion with a religious community about that. You might also like to know about a new Catholic group – GCVI, Gay Catholic Voice Ireland, website http://www.gcvi.ie
    There is an annual LGBT Christmas Carol Service, open to one and all. This year we will be 15 years old and it will take place in the Unitarian Church, St Stephen’s Green, Dublin on Saturday, December 14th at 8pm.
    Blessings
    Brian Glennon

  4. Maeve

    Brian if Archbishop Martin encouraged that group then we have more to worry about than a larger room. It’s a group that obviously celebrates the homosexual lifestyle. Lest we forget, the actions that homosexualists engage in are sins that cry to heaven for vengence. I’ll await clarification to see if ACP and yourself condone this sort of activity.

  5. Mairead

    Maeve, your ‘cure’ as a remedy for ‘hell’ – is one of those of the proverbial good intentions n’ all that. An affirmation of the ‘hell’ most LGBTs have lived, live – precisely because ‘cures’ like this which were deemed acceptible, curative when they should be seen and acknowledged for what they are – true abuses – core abuses of human beings in myriad levels. Good science has shown the barbarity of this failure.

    The Church DOE NOT have the ‘healing remedy’. Certainly not for any LGBTs I have ever known or know. It only serves to compound its core spiritual and sexual wounding of the LGBT at this level of their humanity. These are the real experiences of many LGBT people, not all, but many, maybe most who will never set foot inside a Catholic Church again if they ever did previously.

    Your message is downright patronising and deeply offensive. I’d not recomend sendingany LGBT person I know to you for spiritual or any other kind of direction.

    “The children are dying in their sins..” You love the sinner and not the sin. Do you say this to people you know how are divorced, living ‘in sin’ etc etc.

    Or just an easy scape goat ?

    Highly offensive, though a well intentioned thought pattern that leads to more hell for the LGBT community. And then you all wonder why they leave and wipe the dust off their feet as Jesus told them to ought to do.

    I do commend our sincere desire, attempts….. but like I said, from what I am seeing this far – you map a road to hell with your good intentions. Most LGBTs have already been there and don’t need a re visit.

    God bless

    M

  6. Mary O Vallely

    There’s an underlying tone in your post, Maeve @1, with which I am very uncomfortable. To me, it comes across as condescending and superior. e.g. “Disordered attractions”… “poor souls…” If you regard gay people as in any way inferior or less worthy than heterosexual then you have a problem. “Who am I to judge?” Who are any of us to judge and where did Jesus discriminate in any way in his behaviour towards those who were in any way different? We are all on a learning curve and slowly trying to cast off centuries old attitudes of a basic lack of love, a lack of openness, a lack of a willingness to try to see life from another’s perspective. If I were gay, I would feel incensed and very depressed by your comment. Tony Butler, as usual in Christ-like manner, is reaching out in his own loving way to gay men and women and I want to proclaim loudly from the rooftops with him, in saying to all gay men and women, “you belong, we welcome you.”

  7. Maeve

    Mairead (@5), with the greatest of respect to yourself, you misunderstand me. I was not talking about therapy for homosexual attractions. I was talking about the grace of God being sufficient. Or do you not believe God’s grace is sufficient? We all have crosses to bear. God is with us in our struggles to follow Him closely. For you to say that the Church doesn’t have the remedy to human brokenness is unbelievable and I can only hope you didn’t think your words through before you expressed them. Nobody said this life was perfect or that paradise would be this side. God promises to make all things new in the new creation. In this life, we will have troubles, but take heart for JESUS has conquered the world, the flesh, and the devil. If we accept God’s love and embrace His Commandments, then we will have peace and consolation even in our suffering and troubles. If we give up on that, we give up on God.

  8. Soline Humbert

    Yes our brothers and sisters in Christ who are LGBT need the pastoral care of the church. But let us not forget that in many cases they are actually the ones who extend to us the pastoral care of the church: They minister to us (officially and unofficially), they encourage us by the witness of their faith and their love. The first gay person I became friend with 40 years ago was (is) named Christopher: Christ-bearer! Since then I have been privileged to meet many LGBT people,and I have often been very deeply humbled by the depth of their faith and love, and yes they have been,are,Christ-bearers to me.I thank God for each one of them,for their friendship, for who they are and for all I have received through them.Today,on this great feast of Mary,I ask God to bless all LGBT people very specially and to make us all into a more loving church.” They will know you are my disciples by the love you have for one another”

  9. Pól Ó Duibhir

    This may not be the place to say it, but it appears to me that something more than pastoral care is needed, like acceptance that all gender states (LGBT) are a full part of the creation and should be valued as such.
    .
    The church here, and for yonks, is trying to second guess the creation. Not a very good long term strategy I’d have thought.
    .

  10. ger gleeson

    The condemnation of our LGBT brothers and sisters truly confuses me. My understanding of God’s creation of us human beings was firmly planted in my first year at school. At 4 years of age I set off to St Vincent DePaul school, which as its title suggests was not a fee paying school. My first teacher was Sister Louis, a saint of a woman who treated each child as though he was her own. She certainly taught us the basics of our faith, and stressed that we are all made in the image and likeness of God. That understanding of each person has stayed me all my life.
    Now surly it follows that if some people have a problem with our LGBT brothers and sisters, then it must be God that they should be angry with as he has made them as they are, no more, or less than you and I. I know some of those people who have contributed on this subject and the tone and content of their contributions is the same as mine. I believe that they like me realise that they are sinners, and are in no position to judge anyone.
    Brian Glennon @3 and your colleagues within the LGBT, I love and respect you as fellow human beings. The criticism you face comes from misguided people, who although in glass houses, like the rest of us, continue to throw stones.
    “I have blessed civil unions between male couples and this may put me outside the pale of many”. You are right Fr Tony Butler, your actions may put you outside the pale of many, but what would Christ have done? By your blessing Fr Tony, you acknowledged Gods creation.

  11. markdask

    I mentioned Alan Turing in my comment on the article “In Pope Francis the smile of God is back”, (31st July). And you are right to say that the verdict was not of ‘Death by reason of Sexual Identity’. Turing took his own life because the State for which he had achieved so much in beating the Enigma machine, saving countless lives, rewarded his genius with such bigotry and calumny that I humbly imagine he could not abjure another day of such hypocrisy.

    In 2009 Gordon Brown, on behalf of the British people, apologised to the Turing family for the “appalling treatment” of Alan Turing. I’m guessing the apology of a nation, long overdue, is more meaningful than the verdict of the day.
    And now you say homosexual people “need pastoral care”. Did Turing need “pastoral care”? Turing only needed the respect of his fellow man.

    “We need to provide pastoral care to homosexuals”. No actually, you need to learn to accept that you are not right in all your assumptions. You need to learn to accept that huge horned beast called science – you need to learn that when Adam ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, it was not because woman is evil in tempting him to think. Without woman, man is but a beast.

    I can think of something better than “pastoral care” for gays. Try not casting stones at others when the only wisdom you demonstrate is bigotry, conceit, hubris, ignorance – when the man you profess to call teacher taught humility. Earth goes around the sun, get over it. Alan Turing was just another victim of the bigotry of men, the same conceited men who make stuff up when science glories in the true magnificence of God’s creation.

    “Judge not…”

  12. markdask

    Ooh and Maeve, to quote you – “Lest we forget, the actions that homosexualists engage in are sins that cry to heaven for vengence”. This is the first time I have ever seen the word “homosexualists”. Is that a new form of demon worship? Your God is a vengeful God then – will do vengence to the Pope who did Galileo such injustice? Or is the God to which you refer just your God – and anyone else who seeks vengence? Your God is a very personal God – and where did Jesus ever mention vengence?

    It’s all to complicated for me Maeve. I choose to live by the golden rule alone – and let God do the judging as to the merit of vengence.

  13. Mary Cunningham

    Thank you, Tony Butler for your compassionate piece.
    I have a question.
    How can pastoral care be genuinely provided by a church whose teaching on homosexuality is set out in the October 1986 document below?

    In light of independent empirical research, the contention in section 3 is plain wrong. It is damaging and dangerously wrong. No amount of ‘pastoral care,’ which may be perceived as patronising hypocrisy, can airbrush over this damning Vatican document.

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19861001_homosexual-persons_en.html

    3)…….’Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.’

    James Alison has written;

    ‘The silence of those in positions of influence in the Church who know, or have a strong suspicion, that being gay is a non-pathological minority variant in the human condition drives me crazy, far crazier than I am driven by any loud-mouthed purveyor of hateful nonsense.’

    http://www.jamesalison.co.uk/texts/eng67.html

    What is urgently needed is reflective study and dialogue on the prophetic writings of, for example, our own brilliant moral theologian, Sean Fagan.

    At present, with the objectively disordered Vatican teaching in place, nice touchy feely talks about the equal basic dignity of all human persons is useless.

    Mary Cunningham.

  14. Soline Humbert

    I agree totally with Mary Cunningham @13
    The current teaching does not serve the truth and is not life-giving. Quite the opposite: It is deadly. It is blind to goodness.
    There can be no worthwhile pastoral care built on something which is not true.

  15. Joe O'Leary

    Teaching Genesis this year I discovered that the sin crying for vengeance in Genesis 18 is explicitly characterized as oppression and injustice and that this is how the sin of Sodom is invariably characterized in all the many Old Testament references. The attempted rape of the angelic guests has nothing to do with our debates about gayness today. Ironically the two major acts of sodomy in this sense of which Christians have been guilty are (1) persecution of Jews, (2) oppression of gays.

  16. markdask

    Mary, I almost understand your perspective and, with hindsight, having read your comments, I feel fractionally guilty for having been less appreciative of Tony’s compassion than you are (in my comments @ 11). I was scathing.

    That said, I read fully the two links you provided, especially the long interview with James Alison from which you quoted, and I have to say to anyone who wants to read the latter, an intelligent interview with James Alinson, should save themselves a headache. Alison is a master of prevarication. He reminds me of William Lane Craig, a man who, if you asked him if he would care for a cup of tea, would warble on for an hour with the intent of explaining to you how tea does not really exist. James Alison is a troubled man searching for sense in a snowstorm.

    Your quote from Alison is accurate, but be honest – you quote is as near to a straight sentence as Alison gets.

    One thng I can agree with him though – it is as wrong to judge a gay person as “disordered”, as it is to judge a left-handed person as “disordered”. I made that point myself at (11) above, but for anyone who wants Alison’s perspective on the matter, I will quote him; breathe in everyone, keep the aspirin to hand and read this –

    “Think of it this way. There is a distinction between left-handedness and the act of writing left-handedly. For most of us the distinction remains exactly that, and has no moral consequences. We would understand that a left-handed person forced to write right-handedly owing, say, to having their left arm in a plaster cast, or a right-handed person forced to write left-handedly for analogous reasons, would, with some difficulty, be able to learn to do so. These people would in some sense be acting “contra natura”. But the use of the hand appropriate to their handedness would be entirely unremarkable, and if we used words to describe it at all, they would be words like “typical” or “natural”. Now, imagine that, involved in a Catholic discussion, you find yourself addressing a left-handed person. You say: “Any left-handed writing you do is intrinsically wrong; and in fact the inclination we call left-handedness must be considered objectively disordered.” The only justification for using the distinctions in this way is if you have received, from quite other sources, the sure knowledge that right-handedness is normative to the human condition, anything else being some sort of defect from that norm, and yet you don’t want entirely to condemn the person who has a more or less strong tendency to left-handed writing”.

    Alison is gay but will not own the fact. In this entire interview he makes no reference to love, merely dances around semantics; indulges himself in avoiding a straight answer. He does the interviewer, the subject, the reader and himself a dis-service. Anyone who wants to understand gay should watch this;-

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5OMNPmoVAw

    Mark

  17. Los Leandros

    I would like to see an extension of the support group ” Courage ” in every Catholic diocese. This is an excellent organisation which was set up in the US by the late Fr. John Harvey, to help Catholic homosexuals ( & indeed others )live their lives in accordance with the Church’s wise teaching. Pastoral care at its most compassionate.

  18. Sean O'Conaill

    markdask #16
    .
    Re James Alison, mardask writes:
    .
    “Alison is gay but will not own the fact.”
    .
    This is careless, false and defamatory. Markdask had merely to consult Wikipedia to correct his own obvious malice – and to follow the references from there. Wikipedia declares immediately: “He (Alison) identifies as gay.”
    .
    An apology is clearly in order.

  19. Soline Humbert

    @!6
    James Alison is gay and most definitely does own the fact! He actually rejoices in it, in the dignity of being gay, and he thanks God for it…. Why wouldn’t he?
    I have had the pleasure to meet James Alison several times and I have read most of his books, and he is very publicly open and clear as to his sexual orientation, that of a gay man.
    What I think James Alison does not want is to be labelled narrowly as “a gay theologian”, as opposed to a “theologian who is gay (and who is a catholic Christian ,and a priest, and an Englishman etc…)”.
    Interestingly just now as I was reading from one of Alison’s books entitled “Faith Beyond Resentment:Fragments Catholic And Gay” I came across this quote from Sebastion Moore OSB:

    The gay question urges upon the Church as nothing else does the implication of Jesus’ comfortableness with desire,for in no other moral area is the fear of desire so operative,so that the supreme authority has come as close as it can (in spite of a Tridentine anathema) to naming desire in the homosexual person as evil. Homophobia is at root erophobia.”
    The fear of eros?

  20. markdask

    Sean, I apologise unreservedly if you perceive my comments as malicious. I might own that I am rash in my language, even perhaps shallow in my perspective, but please believe me I do not have a malicious hair on my head. I am also somewhat conceited, and thereby always keen to win others’ approval of my views, hence in no way disposed to invite discord.

    I will read up on James Alison as you suggest, but please try to understand my point – where I can say in one sentence – “judging gays as disordered is no more legitimate than judging lefthanders as disordered” – it takes Alison a whole page to make the same point. Please also try to understand that, whereas Alison “identifies” as being gay, he is ambivalent in his treatment of the fact in the interview – as if holding the fact at arms length.

    I meant no disrespect. I did not mean to disparage, and my apologies again to anyone who might have found my comments offensive.

    Mark

  21. Joe O'Leary

    Frankly, I would not recommend any of my gay friends and still less any gay person to seek pastoral aid from the Catholic Church. For every James Alison there are thousands of priests tied up in knots and pussyfooting around with talk of pastoral care to what they still call “homosexuals”. Then there are horrendous covens of selfhating gays such as Courage, who have links with the abusive ex-gay organization NARTH. The Catholic Church is just as much a danger zone for gays and lesbians as Putin’s Russia for example. Let’s not kid ourselves that we have any wisdom or enlightenment to offer and let’s stop using the nauseous word “compassion”.

  22. Mary O Vallely

    “…nice touchy feely talks about the equal basic dignity of all human persons is useless.” Mary Cunningham @13. Touché, Mary. I take your point but those of us at the bottom of the pyramid need to model right behaviour and attitudes so that eventually it works its way up to the top. Actually the top person is more in tune with the sensus fidelium anyway, it seems to me, so between top and bottom the middle layers of the pyramid church model will eventually have to listen. Most of us feel helpless being neither theologians nor in any way influential but if enough of us truly embrace those discriminated against because of their sexuality it will have impact eventually. I speak as a natural left hander who has a tiny, TINY inkling of what it is like to be different. Change starts with each of us in our own hearts. Thanks, Mary C for giving us much food for thought and head and heart scratching! :-)

  23. Mary Cunningham

    Los Leandros # 17

    With respect to your sincerely held views, the link below sets out a fact sheet that outlines the dichotomy between the beliefs of the organisation you recommend, and evidence-based present day reality.

    http://www.welcomingresources.org/couragefactsheet.pdf

    The group is not the same as Courage UK , a link on the http://www.gcvi.ie provided by Brian Glennon @ # 3

    This is an excellent resource, Brian.

    It is heartening to hear to you have the encouragement of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, to find a venue for an inclusive Eucharistic celebration. There could be no better way to engage in collaborative pastoral ministry that addresses concerns close to his heart, young people, suicide and homosexuality.

    Mary Cunningham

  24. Joe O'Leary

    correction in no. 21 above “still less any gay person” should be “still less any young gay”

    btw, despite the constant outcry of enraged Christians quoting Sodom n’Gomorrah ad nauseam, the Bible also contains one of the greatest gay love stories of all time, that of David and Jonathan — as scholars have begun to admit since 1978

  25. Los Leandros

    Many, many people have spoken of their gratitude to Fr. John Harvey and the wonderful organisation he ran, ” Courage “. The beauty of this organisation is that it does not sell homomsexuals short : & clearly sets out the destructive horror of pursuing a homosexual lifestyle. I am shocked at Joe O’Leary’s ill-informed attack on such a wonderful organisation.

  26. Aidan C

    There is a good article I found which studies friendship and the issue of same-sex attractions. I encourage everyone with a sincere interest in the topic of this post to read it with an open mind.

    http://www.chroniclesmagazine.org/2013/08/01/do-homosexuals-exist-or-where-do-we-go-from-here/

  27. Joe O'Leary

    Fr Harvey also was beloved of NARTH, an abusive organization: http://narth.com/2011/02/narth-remembers-father-john-harvey/

  28. Mary O Vallely

    http://newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/jesuit-scholar-proposes-dropping-disorder-language-from-catholic-gay-and-lesbian-discussions/

    “Our theological starting point should be that we are all created in the image and likeness of God, whether we be gay or straight; that we are all called along the road to Jerusalem; and that the Lord’s purgative fire and promise of division is extended to us all in preparation for the invitation to the banquet where there is neither gay nor straight, and where each of us prays, ‘Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.’ “

  29. Los Leandros

    Joe O’Leary seems determined to besmirch the memory of the late Fr. John Harvey – all because Fr. Harvey took a different view to pastoral care of homosexuals than Joe O’Leary obviously does. Nothing at all wrong with NARTH; Dr. Joseph Kaufman is a very eminent psychiatrist. Again Joe O’Leary is entitled to disagree.

  30. Los Leandros

    Sorry, just read Aidan C’s post ; and subsequently Fr. Barbour’s article. Very interesting Aidan. Fr. Barbour makes a lot of sense. The article needs a fair bit of concentration ; but many of his perspectives are really thoughtful ; this is definitely thinking ” outside the box “.

  31. Joe O'Leary

    “nothing at all wrong with NARTH”?

    http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2012/spring/queer-science

    http://www.truthwinsout.org/blog/2012/04/24445/

    “Dr Joseph Kaufman is a very eminent psychiatrist” Perhaps the reference is to Benjamin Kaufman, who explains himself as follows?: http://wYw.narth.com/docs/indefense.html

    These people (Charles Socarides, Joseph Nicolosi, Tony Anatrella, Philippe Arino, E. Bergler) are quite wrong and have done immense damage.

  32. Wanderer

    I would like to ask why a perfectly valid post here yesterday has been summarily dismissed and deleted ?

    I have to listen to the diatribes of lunacy, ‘in the name’ of your god, which have driven people like us and continue to so, to the brinks of despair, to its beyond – to seriously contemplate, and even commit suicide.

    Indeed recently I’d been near that edge again and most of that, according to a well certified MH professional, is about trying to remain affiliated with RCC – when it continues to send mixed and poisoned messages to the hearts and into the minds of the ‘faithful’ in this regard. Shamefully – diabolically.

    I am only saying that here, and very reluctantly, that at least some of the ‘good Catholics here, and maybe those of the clerics whom it’s clear now too, should be kept as far away from the LGBT community as possible.

    To think and think hard about what you are saying that can have serious consequences on the doing for other people, children and young people – to some of those vulnerable.

    I read something on another issue here that gave me cause for concern. Made me wonder what kind of ‘Catholic’ and it seems to be mostly clerics I was left in doubt about – that some of you are.

    I keep the name ‘Wanderer’ cause I tend to try and keep myself at a safe distance from the main body of any ‘CHURCH’.

    You have the audacity to waffle and spiel about death and how funerals and how well the Irish take to these things and deal with them and for the most part I’d agree.Well a lot of that talking was actually a lot of some sense, compassion – decency and Godly for me. Then gets hijacked and all sorts of irrelevant things thrown in.

    But this place is clearly not a safe place. Not that it has to be of course. You won’t let it be said why we believe you – the RCC, your hierarchies and some pew people are driving others – to ‘life styles’ of self destruction – hell on this earth – forgetting some afterlife, here. The ebb and flow like the tides that life are.

    But to say I am completely disgusted, disillusioned is an understatement.

    I liked it here a lot and all of the good people here – religiously as misguided some clearly are, and dangerous too, in those misguided beliefs and affects of those beliefs on various individuals.

    I will nolonger be popping by. Time now again to ‘wander a little further where there is less likely to be attack by the ‘religiously clueless.

    Thanks for the many good encounters too though. There are many great thinking and good hearted and spirit’ed people here. Well I am sure of that cause I know it’s true – even those ‘misguided’.

    The Church has done and does great good. But it still scapegoats and chooses, unlike the LGBT community to seriously abuse and hurt some of its most vulnerable. Even here too it seems.

    Take care

  33. Mary O Vallely

    I’m not quite sure I get why you are so hurt and angry, Wanderer.(@32) I’ll use the name you prefer to use at present. You feel so deeply others’ hurts and agonies and whilst that may be a blessing as it enables you to understand and to empathise it is incredibly difficult for you to retain your own sense of well being. I/we have learned so much from you about love and tolerance. You have the gifts of wit, intelligence and humour and are unafraid to challenge. Keep the heart up and let God be the only judge of weak humans. Come back when you are rested and be assured of the prayers of everyone who reads these posts. I hope that doesn’t sound patronising. I’m just concerned about your good health.
    “Into your hands, Lord, I commit myself. Into your hands I entrust all that is and all that holds my heart, Into your hands I entrust.” Keep saying that prayer, hang on in there and please take care of yourself. You’ll be back “wandering” among these posts and comments soon and we’ll all be the better for it! :-)

  34. ger gleeson

    Wanderer, I am sure Mary “O”@33 above outlines the views of the entire ACP family. Relax for a little time and no doubt you will be back with your opinion, advice and support, that many of your brothers and sisters crave for. Be not afraid.

  35. mjt

    Ger Gleeson@34, In the wake of J.P.11`s emphasis on it, and now Seamus Heaney`s reported last words, this “Be not afraid” mantra has become a handy phrase to have around, to express confidence about life going forward, as the saying goes. I think it is most meaningful, and I`m sure this is the sense in which you use it, if it evokes a sense of a loving God being with us in the Spirit and through Jesus, requires a more or less conscious effort to live out the Word of God, and so entails facing up to the disciplines of a Christian life. Until then it is shallow optimism and not to be confused with the Christian virtue of Hope.
    Am I wrong in this? Does being Christian in fact entail effort, which among other things is about self-discipline, or can we all be saved without having to do anything other than to wish for it?

  36. ger gleeson

    “Be not afraid, I go before you always, come follow me and I will give you rest”. A line from a beautiful hymn, written by a gentleman called Bob Dufford. The hymn encourages us to have confidence in our compassionate God, when we face trials and difficulties in this life. It was in this context that I quoted the relevant line, with the hope that it might give support to my brother Wanderer, who is experiencing some difficulties at present. Nothing more. Nothing less.
    P.S. Thank you mjt for quoting my name with that of our national hero Seamus Heaney. You certainly made my day.

  37. mjt

    I`m glad you liked that one, Ger Gleeson. I think I was worrying at the linkages between faith, hope and love, and just wondering what the wisdom of others here might be on it. Thanks for yours.

  38. Nuala O"Driscoll

    mjt @37
    For as long as the Church excludes ‘categories’ of people from table fellowship and for as long as half the population is excluded from equal ministry, and while it stands idly by while all of the above are seeking spiritual guidance elsewhere, the Church’s teaching on faith, hope and love is sanctimonious semantics.

  39. Joe O'Leary

    The Archbishop of Dublin strikes the note of “respect” but says the Church will not change its teaching. What he should say is that Catholics are pressing for a change in church teaching, and that the Church is deeply sorry for its oppression of gay folk for centuries. Or else say nothing at all.

  40. ger gleeson

    Nuala @38. In a short few lines, you have said so much. Thank you.