Click below for the audio of the July 16, Click below to hear the July 16, 2013, episode:
Click here for the uncut version of Michael’s interview:
Upon hearing the previous episode’s interview with Deacon Robert Pallotti, who leads the Archdiocese of Hartford’s Courage chapter, Michael had some additional thoughts:
Click here for the uncut version of Anne’s story:
Click here to hear Len’s uncut story:
Click here for the uncut version of Sal’s story:
Click below for the uncut version of Rich and Kathy’s story:
…and for your reading pleasure, the written text of Len’s prepared remarks (which he expanded upon in the audio version):
“I listened to your July 2nd interview with Deacon Robert Pallotti. Here is my written response for your benefit.
My reaction was one of disappointment. Everything he said was predictable. I could have been listening to Cardinal Dolan. It is discouraging to hear Catholic leaders use double talk, circular arguments and ignoring the logic of what they are saying with respect to LGBT folks. On the other hand, he could have been more off-putting, like some messages that have come from some conservative cardinals and bishops directly, especially in response to marriage equality legislation and the Supreme Court’s ruling on DOMA and Prop 8.
Where do I begin? Let me start with what Deacon Pallotti mentioned several times – ‘We as the Roman Catholic Church are doing the best we can do.’
Let me tell you plainly that the church is not doing the best they can do. Deacon Robert might be doing the best he can do within the constraints of his mission as a representative of the archdiocese. But let me tell you, other people are doing a lot more for LGBT Catholics. And let me tell you there is irony in that these other folks, while involved in ministry to LGBT Catholics, are showing a lot more courage than Deacon Robert.
What do I mean by this statement on the irony of courage? Well, there are actually bishops, priests and lay people ministering to LGBT folks in a more supportive ways than the Catholic group Courage. But they are doing this under the radar screen to avoid censure by certain bishops who are more conservative and towing the Vatican and the Church hierarchy’s official position. Yet, any day these folks can be singled out, denied communion or even cut off from Roman Catholicism completely by excommunication.
Okay, albeit there are only a relatively few Roman Catholic parishes that openly minister specifically to LGBT folks, but they exist and the number is going to continue to grow, I believe. I am active in a Roman Catholic church organization’s Open Hearts ministry to LGBT folks. It happens to be an outreach program that is part of an overall urban ministry to all. This particular program is affiliated with a religious order and not run directly by the Archdiocese.
I am also part of an organization that gathers together the leaders of LGBT groups from Roman Catholic parishes and centers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. We refer to this group as the LGBT InterParish Collaborative. There are some 11 parishes represented, with most either having an active LGBT ministry already, or those wishing to start one.
We have even started a modest website which can be found at www.lgbt-ipc.org. One of our recent activities was to march in the NYC Pride parade at the end of June. We marched behind a banner that read ‘LGBT Catholics and Friends, Love Includes Everyone.’ We have sponsored and organized charity events and raised money to sponsor victims of hurricane Sandy in the New York area.
This brings me to my second thought about Deacon Pallotti’s interview. I think it was you who asked how can we bring about change today in the Roman Catholic Church with respect to treatment by the Church of LGBT folks. Well, as a bisexual Roman Catholic, active in an open and accepting parish and a member of the LGBT InterParish Collaborative, I and many other LGBT Catholics, as well as their straight allies, take every opportunity to put out a message of love and acceptance for all LGBT folks.
How do we put out a message of love and acceptance for all LGBT folks? First, we minister to ourselves. We recently held our first annual LGBT-IPC retreat. Our theme was “Leadership and Prophecy”. We learned that we have to be leaders within our own Roman Catholic parishes and like prophets spread the good news of the Gospel, inspired by the Holy Spirit working within each of us. As with the prophets throughout the Bible, that means we will suffer, we will be rejected, and we will make people uncomfortable with our message of love and acceptance. But we are called to do no less as faithful Catholics.
We are also members of other Roman Catholic groups who minister to LGBT folks. This includes supporting an umbrella organization called “Equally Blessed” (www.equally-blessed.org), which is a network of four other Roman Catholic groups that support LGBT Catholics. They include New Ways Ministries (www.newwaysministries.org); Call To Action (www.CTA-usa.org); DignityUSA (www.Dignityusa.org); and, Fortunate Families (www.fortunatefamilies.org). Some of us are also members of a group called CALGM – Catholic Association of Lesbian and Gay Ministry (www.CALGM.org). All of these groups are made up of Roman Catholics who may or may not be LGBT, but who accept LGBT folks as true members of the body of the Church in every way. This means they support justice both within the Roman Catholic Church and Society for all LGBT people.
Let me tell you that when I attended LGBT retreats given by Roman Catholics, for Roman Catholics; when I attended the conferences and annual meetings of these pro-LGBT Roman Catholic groups, I experienced a real spiritual power, a presence of the Holy Spirit like I have never experienced before. This is the power of the faithful, the prophets among the laity and the clergy and even some Bishops, who have been truly touched by LGBT folks and moved to love and accept them as Jesus would any member of the human family.
So let me end with the thought again, that the irony in Deacon Pallotti’s interview was that his group Courage actually shows less courage in standing with LGBT Catholics than other LGBT groups that actively minister to LGBT Catholics and their families and friends. Courage is less effective because it covers up the true message of the Gospel, which is that God loves everyone, including, and especially the LGBT Catholics, just the way they are, with their many gifts and talents, including their gift of sexuality. We can bring about change in the Roman Catholic Church toward LGBT folks and toward issues of human sexuality and social justice if we are willing to be prophets and answer the call from the Holy Spirit to spread the gospel message of love and acceptance to all.
On a personal note, I came out as bisexual to my wife, and subsequently to my three teenage children after 29 years of marriage. In the four years since then I have become active in all of the above groups who support LGBT Roman Catholics. I am also a member of the Stonewall Speakers (www.stonewallspeakers.org), a group that provides LGBT folks to speak to all kinds of community organizations including high schools, colleges, professional programs and companies. I recently spoke at the Connecticut rally for Marriage Equality in Hartford held during the week of the Supreme Court hearings. I am engaged to a wonderful, loving same-sex partner. I continue to receive the love and support of my ex-wife, my children and my family. However, there is still some rejection that I have to deal with as a result of some in my family adhering to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.
What hurts me the most is that the Church knows that its own teaching is unjust, discriminatory, causes undue suffering, and is not the way Jesus would respond. The Church needs to change to be faithful to its own traditions of love and justice for all humans. We need to call out the leaders in the church and continue to challenge them to justify their positions as in line with the gospel message. They need to accept responsibility for their actions, repent of their sins against LGBT folks and make amends to LGBT Roman Catholics. Only then will change truly become effective in eradicating the heterosexist sin that they continue to spread, together with all its evils. By their teaching they are responsible for contributing to the breaking up families, loss of life due to suicide, rejection of LGBT folks by themselves and others, the injustice of loss of employment, income and dignity, due to the way they treat LGBT employees of Catholic institutions, just to name some of these evil consequences of their blatant heterosexism.
I continue to pray for, actively work for and support financially, those groups that are working to bring about true change in the Roman Catholic Church. I believe that the Holy Spirit will see that true justice ultimately is brought about through the courageous efforts of those leaders and prophets within and outside the Roman Catholic Church who are responding to the promptings of the Spirit.
Thank you for the chance to share my views and to respond to the interview you had with Deacon Robert Pallotti. Feel free to share my views and opinions given above.”
And here is an email I received in reaction to the Deacon Pallotti interview. It’s from Dana, a faithful (to the show and the Church!) gay Catholic listener in Massachusetts:
“I heard the program. Well, at least the guy is a person of good will and good intentions. I just wonder why ANYBODY — even a deacon — needs to attempt to defend the stupidity and intransigence of the official Church position on non-promiscuous same-sex relationships. I mean, we’ve already got some CATHOLIC BISHOPS (like Thomas Gumbleton) declaring that the Church’s theological position on this issue is pastorally broken and dysfunctional, and it clearly needs to be revisited at the highest level — preferably by Pope Francis himself. But one thing that your guest said rings very true: the official Church moves at about the speed and agility of a battleship mired in a sea of molasses! And something which nobody is pointing out is that the only “Practice” involved here is the Eucharist — not Mass attendance. If, as in my case, you don’t find the Eucharist to be a spiritual practice that’s personally relevant or meaningful, you can still be a fully-engaged, weekly-Church-attending Catholic, which I am, without ruffling anybody’s feathers or breaking any rules. Works fine for me. Maybe I’m just lucky!”
Dana and Len have forwarded along interesting Bondings 2.0 emails from New Ways Ministries. Len accurately describes the tone of the content as “balanced and never too harsh.”
And don’t forget!This week is the annual Giant Tag Sale benefiting Tabor House in Hartford, which serves formerly homeless men with HIV and AIDS. You’re asked to bring your gently used treasures — everything but books, clothing, large furniture and computers — to the Sisters of St. Joseph Convent, 27 Park Road, West Hartford, tomorrow (Wednesday) between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. The sale takes place at the convent on Thursday at 5 p.m. with wine and hors d’ouvres, then on Friday from noon to 7 p.m. and on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The sale will feature a large silent auction of autographed sports items and tickets for many attractions, performances and services. For information or to volunteer, contact David at email@example.com or call Loretta at 860-563-9217. Happy hunting!