written by Joseph Sciambra
When I was a conflicted and scared boy growing up within the confusing confines of the post-Conciliar Church of the 1970s, I needed someone, anyone, to teach me and to tell me that Jesus wanted to be more than just my friend, that He wanted to be my Savior – that He wanted to save me from myself. I knew, even from a young age, that something was going incredibly wrong within me – I was terrified and I needed help. However, the Jesus they offered was a mere historical figure; a guy who meant well, but who was dead and distant; he was the hippie-Christ from “Godspell” in a Superman shirt – with the Bible as a superhero comic-strip.
When I was teenager, quickly swerving towards homosexuality, a few noticed, but did nothing to help. At school, a sort of pandemic relativism was extolled as an individual rule of life: custom-made for every human person on earth. The detached Jesus from my youth cared little about our daily drudgery or our personal proclivities.
On the verge of accepting my homosexuality, I was told by a Catholic priest that I needn’t worry as every homosexual is born gay; he sent me on my way with a socially responsible warning about the dangers of unsafe sex.
In the near devastation of AIDS, and my own worsening realization that gay wasn’t what I hoped it would be – the sole Catholic presence in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood was the hotly affirmative parish of Most Holy Redeemer. Although the priests who were stationed there kindly buried the lifeless and wasted bodies of our friends, in an age when few were willing to do so, they confused a compassion for the sick and the dead with a total renunciation of any semblance to Catholic teaching about homosexuality. They wanted to be our friends, not our Fathers.
Perhaps it was only for a few passing moments, after a losing another friend or once again waking up in the early-afternoon and realizing I just filled the toilet bowl with blood, I decided to walk away from gay, but a priest I turned to for advice tried to soothe my concerns and bolster my current lack of faith in the gay gene by assuring me that I was where I belonged and in gay is where I should stay. And, I did just that.
Years later, the blood was overflowing onto the bathroom floor and I could no longer deny that my stubborn allegiance to the gay dream was turning into an endless nightmare that I would eventually never awake from.
For some reason, that I cannot fathom, I again turned to the religion of my childhood. I prayed that things had changed, because now – no one would convince me that there was any reason for staying in gay; but, I wanted help. Only, very little had changed. I arrived on the doorstep of the Catholic Church, a broken and bruised man – yet, I was told again that I was gay.
Nevertheless, I somehow persevered and the Lord Jesus Christ delivered unto me – not one, but three courageous priests. For the most part, these men had been difficult to find; as, they were primarily the semi-dismissed and even persecuted priests that were almost summarily rejected by both their dioceses and their prospective religious orders. But, I instinctively knew that they were good men of stout heart and dauntless spirit. And, they guided me – and were Fathers to a lost and lonely man who was still a lost and lonely boy.
Years later, I thought back to the many friends I had known and lost: the earnest and always searching ex-Catholic who acknowledged the radical waves of volatility in the gay lifestyle, but stayed because he repeatedly read Fr. John J. McNeill’s book “The Church and the Homosexual;” the inexplicable Sunday-Mass going “gay” Catholic who remained steadfastly gay and looking for mister-right at his church-approved LGBT ministry group-meetings in the Oakland Diocese; or the cautious and conservative Midwesterner who heeded the advice from the pastor at the local San Francisco Catholic church and settled down with one guy. Today, all of them are dead.
Should the Catholic Church apologize to gays? To these men, who lost their lives because they were duped and deceived by confused and conflicted priests – The Church should apologize to them. But what good would it do now?
Dear Pope Francis: apologize for bad catechesis, for bad pastoral programs, for bad priests, and for the apathetic Bishops who do nothing to correct them. As for the long dead who passed from this life, far too young, because no one ever bothered to tell them the Truth – no amount of apologizing will ever bring them back.
In addition, the Church should apologize for prolongedly tolerating the likes of: Fr. John J. McNeill, who said that the: “Homosexual orientation has no necessary connection with sin, sickness, or failure; rather it is a gift from God to be accepted and lived out with gratitude…Human beings do not choose their sexual orientation; they discover it as something given;” also Sister Jeannine Gramick, who was forbidden by the Church to publicly minister to homosexuals after a nearly 20 yearlong inquiry, only – the renegade Sister moved from one religious order to another (her current home – the Sisters of Loretto, have been under the shadow of a 2008 Vatican investigation that is still ongoing) while she continues to give lectures and even debate and meet with various US prelates to discuss her views; lastly, the Church should also apologize for priests like Fr. James Martin S.J. who repeatedly stresses that homosexuals are “born that way.” He has also gone out of his way to make Catholicism extremely attractive to those in the “gay” lifestyle who may be looking towards the Church for answers: “Officially at least, the gay Catholic seems set up to lead a lonely, loveless, secretive life,” Martin said.
To US Catholics, the Church should also apologize for the travesty that is the USCCB document “Always Our Children.” Issued in 1997, the text is still shocking for its gross generalizations and unwillingness to even briefly grasp the intrinsic desperation and depravity found in the modern “gay” lifestyle; in addition, the document also openly condemns those with same-sex attraction to a lifelong imprisonment within homosexuality: “…it seems appropriate to understand sexual orientation (heterosexual or homosexual) as a deep-seated dimension of one’s personality and to recognize its relative stability in a person…Generally, homosexual orientation is experienced as a given, not as something freely chosen.” In retrospect this is less surprising as the three main consultants for “Always Our Children” were the self-outed priests James Schexnayder, Robert Nugent, and Peter Liuzzi; Schexnayder is from the Diocese of Oakland and founded the dissident gay advocacy group the Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry; when “Always Our Children” was being prepared, Nugent was also being investigated as part of the same review that was looking into the ministry of Jeannine Gramick – like his cohort Sister Gramick, he was similarly “silenced” in 1999; Liuzzi was for many years the head of the LA Archdiocese Ministry, he who once stated: “…the church believes that homosexuality is an inherent trait.”
The idea of homosexuality as something “given” (by whom?) not “chosen” is directly drawn from McNeill; how a philosophy from a man who wrote the following could make its way into a document from the Catholic Church boggles the mind:
“If all one is capable of is a solitary act of masturbation, then that masturbatory act, undertaken with gratitude to God for the gift of sexual pleasure, is good sex.
Even better sex occurs when two wounded humans reach out to each other to share mutual sexual pleasure in a ‘one night stand’.”
To this day, in his presentations entitled “Safe Catholic Schools: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Challenges,” Schexnayder continues to peddle the “born gay” theory to Catholic school administrators and educators (see below).
These men, like the hapless priests who tried to “counsel” me, wanted to keep “gay” men and women “gay.” Through their pastoral ministries – they confirmed homosexuality in all those with same-sex attraction that they came in contact with. They did it to me – and to countless others.
And, with them telling us all the time that we are “gay,” where do they think we will eventually end up?
Yet, these are only the most prominent figures within the sinister pro-gay Church within the Catholic Church – there are many other ministries and pastoral programs, operating inside every major diocese of the United States, which openly promote homosexuality as an authentic and viable lifestyle.
Recently, during one of my several outreaches to the “gay” community in San Francisco, I spoke with a young Catholic “gay” man about my life after homosexuality; we discussed how and why I left gay and the contentment and happiness I experienced when I embraced chastity. He immediately said, “Oh no, but that is not what they tell us at Most Holy Redeemer.”
Therefore – Dear Pope Francis: apologize for bad catechesis, for bad pastoral programs, for bad priests, and for the apathetic Bishops who do nothing to correct them. As for the long dead who passed from this life, far too young, because no one ever bothered to tell them the Truth – no amount of apologizing will ever bring them back.
Reprinted with permission from Joseph Sciambra.