in Our Midst
by Mario Gerada - Malta
‘The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ.’
Gaudium et Spes
These are the opening lines of the document of Vatican Council II, Gadium et Spes – The Church in the Modern World. Words full of love, compassion and understanding. Words impregnated with hope, but is the Church delivering this hope to the gay community or is she aborting it?
The ban recently issued on the ordination of gay priests created a lot of mixed feelings and reactions around the world. Unfortunately, once again the Church came across more of a monster rather than a loving mother towards the gay community.
I personally ask where is the work of the Holy Spirit in all this? At the same time I also ask myself, if this is the work of the Holy Spirit why is it proclaimed in such painful tones? Does the Church have a problem to follow and interpret the living spirit of God or does she have a problem of language? Does the Church have a problem with expressing herself? Is she saying good things but in a horrible way - a language that cannot be understood by lay people? Or, am I understanding what the Church is saying in the right way and in fact she intends to spread horrible news? Let me give an example to highlight my point. The Archbishop of Manila, Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales for example said:
“The Church is very clear on this issue. We do not condemn the person. What we are saying is that priesthood is not the vocation for gay people. It is not condemnatory because some are born like that. Some people might think negatively, but the church is thinking big. It is after what is good for the majority”.
Please do help me to understand! Please do help me on this one! Where is the love of Jesus Christ in these words? Can anyone show me where there is hope, love and life in these words?
Church please allow me to have a little bit of personal thinking-aloud session. As a gay man I cannot marry or rather I cannot enter a union with another man, as a gay man the possibility of priesthood and monk is also banned for me now. Church, what can be a life giving future to me? At face value it seems like you are telling me that if I am gay, I might as well curl up and die! Can you Church please stop telling us gay men and women what we cannot have only! Can you please Church start telling us what we can have as well? Can you also start ministering to us in a real and concrete way? Can you start telling us how we can have life in Jesus Christ and grace that builds on our nature as gay people? Can you Church help us find that place within your folds where we can live our lives and our loves? Where we can feel blessed? Can both of you, Church and gay activists change the tone when talking about each other?
Jesus, the lover of humanity uses love and life-giving language. He enters dialogue with us and He deals with all issues firmly but lovingly. I hear Him say to us in Isaiah 1: 10:
‘Come, let us talk this over,’ says Yahweh
Also, in Jeremiah 29: 11,
‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’
Moreover doesn’t St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians say
‘The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin comes from the Law. Thank God, then, for giving us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord’.
1 Co 15: 56 – 57
Dear Mother Church, I don’t want to rebel against you, I do not want to leave you, I love you, but Mother I do not hear you speak in a loving way to us gay men and women. I am sorry to tell you this but when you speak of gay men and women I do not hear your voice echoing the words of the gospel. Sorry for my presumption but ‘I am eaten up with zeal for your house’ – John 2: 17.
Mother Church allow me please to remind you of St. Aelred of Rievaulx and St. Joan of Arc. St. Aelred, the patron saint of integrity, seems that he was a gay man as suggested by John Boswell. In his beautiful writings and theology we can clearly identify his homoerotic orientation - a celibate monk who loved his friends and elaborated upon the theology of friendship. He is also the Catholic proof that gay men and women can relate in a correct way to men and women Moreover he openly writes and expresses his love for his beloved Ivo and also his dear Simon. Reading these passages leaves no doubt to the debt of pure and holy love that Aelred had for these two men. St. Aelred please pray for us, that the Church and the gay community may find common ground, that they may find integrity. That the two may also become one.
I also would like to mention St. Joan of Arc. I do not want to speculate that Joan of Arc was lesbian however please allow me to remind you that one of the accusations that were put against her, and which eventually led to her condemnation to death was for monstrous dress (difformitate habitus) that she used to wear!
Why am I mentioning these two saints? I am mentioning them as these are two great saints of the Universal Roman Catholic Church who may remind the Church that Holiness is available to all. That Jesus Christ is available to all and loves all. That it is Him who chooses and people to become priests, monks…Saints. That it is Him who calls. That the Church needs to follow Him and not make rules for Him to follow!
I pray that the Roman Catholic Church and Gay Activists can enter into healthy dialogue with each other and stop themselves from mere confrontation. Unless the two become familiar with each other, unless the two get to know each other lovingly, a way will not be found. I pray that this dialogue will help both to find that place where rainbow’s touch earth’. Jesus in John 14: 2 says:
‘In my Father’s house there are many places to live in; otherwise I would have told you.’
Jesus assures us of a place for us in heaven. Mother Church, are you helping us to reach this place? In what ways are you doing this? Can we together enter healthy dialogue, in Jesus Christ? Can we pray together to the Holy Spirit so that He can guide us to find this place? Can we together ask Him to help us find this place on earth, this place that can give gay men and women eternal hope?
I am often told that I am a dreamer, an idealist but please allow me to be! Allow me to spread my wings for a moment. Gay men and women, I want to speak to your hearts. Please, stop for a second, stay silent. Stop listening to the voices that bring hurt, pain, rejection, fear and judgment. Just listen to your heart beat. Listen to your heart. Listen! In our hearts we can find peace, in our hearts we can experience Jesus’ love, in our hearts we can find the answers, those given to us by the Holy Spirit.
Dear Gay men and women, our hearts are Jesus’ given. They are our source of life. All that is found in our hearts is a gift from Jesus. The desire in our hearts is Jesus given too. Please let us all return to our hearts. Let us all return to love. Let us all return to Jesus and enter into healthy dialogue with Him, in our hearts. Let us all allow Jesus to love us, embrace us, give us peace, give us love and life.
Please, Church and gay activists remember that in all this noise about gay issues there is the Silent Crucified One whispering words of life, love and salvation for all of us.
I love the song ‘Someday I’ll Fly Away’ sang by Nicole Kidman in the film Moulin Rouge. It says ‘One day I’ll fly away, leave all this to yesterday’…and sometimes when I hear the Ecclesiastical Church speak to me as a gay man, my gay soul yearns to fly away from all this. I wonder if this yearning is not merely personal but also collective.
© 2006 Mario Gerada
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