A CALL TO FIND YOUR VOICE INSIDE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH: FOR CHANGE
Still a Good Idea, the "Galileo Reconciliation Commission" (GRC) - a 21st century mechanism for loving dissent and doing the "least harm" to one another… But I've moved on.
update by Tom Luce 12.02.13 begun 10.01.12 in Oakland, come back later to find out what has taken place. The concern is still with LGBTQ rights and the Catholic Church. But now I'm out of this church, and all bible-based religions. I'm a "Deist" (click to learn more)
"I am evil and wicked...Damned" - Bobby Griffith, 1963-1983
"Prayers For Bobby:A Mother's Coming To Terms With The Suicide Of Her Gay Son" by Leroy Aarons, Harper One 1995
Bobby backflipped from a bridge onto a thruway in Portland after years of agony inflicted by his religion's views of Same-Gender Orientation (SGO)
Dear Sister and Brother Catholics :
Back in 1938, the year I was born, a young man from my hometown, Barre, Vermont, escaped to New York City because within the narrow confines of our small town his being Same Gender Oriented (SGO) tormented him. Tragically he found no escape there and committed suicide. With this letter I issued a call to all practicing Roman Catholics who are SGO or allies to “come out” and help stop this torment still coming from within our Church. I have a practical solution, "The Galileo Reconciliation Commission", a place where we put doctrinal dissent aside and call a moratorium on excommunication and condemnation. Instead we find a loving way to dissent and meanwhile we do the "least harm".
I issue the call as an SGO myself to enter with love into a new phase of openly asserting our conscientious convictions about our Church's teaching on homosexuality. It is a call to everyone in the Church--officials and regular members-- to find our voice and keep our place within the Church, working on a 21st century solution to doctrinal dissent that is so personal to us, The Galileo Reconciliation Commission "GRC" gets at the real issue, the doctrine defining homosexuality as intrinsically disordered. Only by changing this doctrine can we possibly clear away the evil we are believed to embody. Fighting for "tolerance" for being "welcomed", accepted--all this wouldn't be necessary except for the doctrine. The deadliness of being SGO is still lurking around the lives of all SGO people, their families/friends. Most importantly for me, I feel responsible for all those who suffer from the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church worldwide. "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends"- MLK
It seems clear to me that as active members of our parishes and united as Catholics (worldwide) through our administrative structures, we can be most effective in nurturing change, beginning with a goal of "least harm", ceasing hurtful conversations, promoting loving dialog, reducing violence, creating understanding. I am SGO and am convinced I am a normal human being the way God created me, subject to the values central to Christian love for nurturing a just world, the same as "OGO" Opposite Gender Oriented people without having to deny my sexual orientation. Same gender love can be sacred! I am taking this stand as someone who has experienced 75 years (May 31) of life including ordination to the Catholic priesthood in 1963 in Rome during Vat. II, with theology degrees and 13+ years as a celibate; 43 faithful years of marriage with a wife, 3 children and 3 grandchildren; and "out" as SGO since 2000.
After some 70 years of careful discernment, SGO for me involves the arrangement of the whole array of innate physio/psycho/socio/bio components of my being that draws me to physically intimate fulfillment with humans of my own gender. This is no more, no less than the deep, beautiful, dynamic drive experienced by "OGO" Opposite Gender Oriented that is the ground of their unique bond for a lifetime commitment so essential to a world of love and justice. The fact that I have had only one "married" partner, a woman, gives me a deeper perspective about sexuality, that sheer physicality has to be subordinate to the fullness of love that I have pledged for my whole life as a lifelong nurturer of my family. During my maturing years I thought the debate about orientation was open and I didn't suffer with my SGO status. I was ready in 1970 to undertake an OGO marriage because I thought priesthood had to have this experience. Now I can say that SGO is definitely a handicap for an OGO pairing.
My call is to open a dialog about the need for theological reform of the Roman Catholic doctrine on us SGO's, believing we can create ways to dissent that leave behind Medieval methods. It is not a call to debate theory. We need to discover how to sustain our dissent with loving, personal advocacy, and seek to achieve the basic, "least harm", level of interaction. Neither silence nor fulmination is acceptable. Modern forms of medieval wipeouts-- anathemas, dismissal from church employment or mission, deadly silence, persecution, torture, death sentences-- are unthinkable. We will expect in return conversations that are loving and personal about our beliefs. We will expect inclusion in the celebration of Eucharist. as a proof our basic communion with each other and commitment to dissent in a modern way.
This is a plea to move beyond the "tolerance" approach developed in the 20th century to counter violence against SGO’s by advocating "loving the sinner and hating the sin". It goes substantially beyond the bishops' pastoral (1986) "Always Our Children". That letter went a long way exhorting everyone to love and respect and incorporate SGO's within the church. Nonetheless the Catholic Catechism (1994, sect.2357,8) still defines us--SGO’s-- as people with "inclinations...acts...objectively, intrinsically disordered... of grave depravity." That is a heavy burden for anyone especially the young and vulnerable and it is preached around the world. The Church has to end this diametrically opposed teaching. Putting it on the table of the Galileo Reconciliation Commission is a practical way to stop officials from taking violent actions like firings and to give everyone some room to reconcile.
We first have to find each other and our voice, openly, not the ecclesial version of "Don't ask, don't tell." With love, conscience, and intellect, my call envisions a calmness, an openness, an assurance, a cogency that listening together to God-given wisdom will move us to avoid the horrors of past disagreements and arrive at a new way of handling dissent. Lumen Gentium (Light of the People of the World), a major decree of Vatican II, teaches us all how the various ministries, those exercising authority, studying truth, seeking justice in unity, are the way of Jesus' church to grow in truth: "...enlightened by Christian wisdom and giving close attention to the teaching authority of the Church (17) let the layman take on his own distinctive role." Subsequent Canon Law Sect. 212, par. 3, establishes a role for the laity, "They have the right, indeed at times the duty..to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church..." We will operate simply on these Church documents as the basis of our work.
Unfortunately the Church--with much of the blame our own--- has been forced since Vat II into a very absolutist set of rules that outlaw dissent, even talking about issues. Medieval punishments have been meted out for dissent--excommunication, defrocking of priests, throwing religious out of their orders at an old age with no financial or healthcare. This has been a time of silence and fear. Even non-doctrinal issues like married priesthood, women priests, etc. have been removed from discussion. The question of SGO, of course, is so embedded in culture and in the minds of a celibate leadership and their followers who still believe celibacy is holier than sex that there is no room for us in such a church. Yes we can be tolerated, but our condition is sinful still, and unscientific practices to "straighten" us out or total abstinence are the only remedies. Like alcoholics.
Yes, I am convinced doctrinal change is in order, along with a tremendous development of understanding of all of sexuality that will embrace and enhance the lives of us all, not just SGO's, but celibate, and married. I invite you to respond to this call at first through participation in my new blog, "The Least Harm". There, using strict moderation rules of civility we can share our thoughts and feelings. As we are ready we can e-mail, phone, and eventually meet face-to-face, and include faithful from the opposition to devise a pastoral approach that does, "the least harm." I look forward to this very much. Hopefully we can use our numbers and unity as people of conscience to move the Church in the direction of truth about SGO. Think about the "Galileo Reconciliation Commission" , the GRC, as the vehicle for real internal doctrinal development.
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Thomas F. Luce 1515 Fairview St. Apt. C, Berkeley, Ca 94703 email@example.com 510-229-3571