FROM: TOM LUCE, S.T. L. M.Ed., M.A.T., ordained in Rome, 1963
RE: SPEAKING OUT WITH YOUR CONVICTIONS.
YAHOO GROUP: firstname.lastname@example.org
DATE: Fall, 2007
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” Martin Luther King, Jr. said.
I’ve been challenged to the core for several years now with this truism. On the one hand I am conscientiously convinced, based on my own experience, that a homosexual orientation is a normal, fixed condition, contrary to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. On the other hand I have been forced into silence from working to change this teaching within the church by people telling me I would put them at risk of retaliation if we openly discussed our conscientious position. At age 73 I’ve begun to feel my life ending over this silence. MLK, Jr. has another quote more to the point, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Can I, can you, as friends of same gender oriented people remain silent any longer?
(Photo: Me with my 3rd granddaughter) Both SGO and OGO have the skills of nurturing, intimacy and commitment that are the skills needed to build justice and peace among us)
The deaths by suicide and by murder of gay people have begun to torture me in my soul to the point of paralysis. These folks are the friends MLK talks about for whom I feel a responsibility to speak out. In my own life up until ten years ago I did not endure any personal suffering because of my orientation. I freely chose celibacy in 1956 as part of my call to the priesthood (ordained in Rome in 1963) and lived by the spirit and the letter of this rule for some 13 years. In 1970 I personally lost my priesthood and my ability to earn a living over my conviction that we needed married priests. I entered into marriage. I was forbidden by my church to work or volunteer in any capacity in the church or live where I would be known. I’ve lived by the spirit and letter of the laws of marriage, now for 40 years with 3 children and 3 grandchildren. In 2000 I was relieved from any official, even layman, role in my home parish after previous restrictions had been relaxed when I endorsed the Vermont legislative proposal to establish “same sex” marriage.
Not being able to keep silent any longer I’m writing to you and all those Catholics, a large majority reportedly “o.k.” with homosexuality. You could be a bishop, a priest, a lay leader or ordinary parishioner. I have to hope that despite the current repression of dissent and active, radical campaigns against the alleged vile nature of the “homosexual agenda,” we are no longer in the days of burnings at the stake, banishment or house arrests. I have to believe that a dialog based on the beliefs we hold in common of gospel love and justice, and on the personal integrity of one another, will become not only possible but imperative. When I was a seminarian in the 60’s in Rome Cardinal Bea led the way to this kind of dialog with people of other faiths. “The least harm” was the minimal threshold set. How can we work to do the least harm to one another?
Now within the Oakland diocese since 2005 I have found only one person, another “married” Catholic priest, who would join with me to work directly within the diocese on creating the kind of dialog that would respect church authority and also our own consciences. We are not interested in distracting name-calling, attacking anyone or instigating attacks on ourselves. Yet we’ve been told repeatedly that to do anything directly to even talk about this issue would open up retaliation against those who hold official positions whether ordained or volunteer lay ministers. Leaving the church would be too easy a solution. I have to hope that a dialog is still possible within the framework of accepting church authority and of respecting personal conscience.
My basic premise is that my orientation to same gender is a lifelong reality that I want respected in others as a normal, moral way to live as a human being within the norms of Catholic morality, including marriage, and not an intrinsic disorder requiring them to be lifelong celibates and to seek therapies such as with “Courage” in order to change their orientation. My basic framework is that homosexual by definition is no more evil than heterosexual and is not the threat to our planet and our lives that require massive negative campaigns by the church. I accept the church’s authority within the context of Canon 212. Galileo had to wait centuries. I hope for a quicker resolution by gathering the many Catholics who are friendly to homosexuals to speak out.
Please join me, anonymously, if need be, and speak up for our friends. Contact me, join our Yahoo group!