Intrinsic Stupidity

Dear Christopher

Yes, intrinsic stupidity, that is what I call it. The former Cardinal Ratzinger (now retired Pope Benedict) used faulty science to write a catechism that said gay sex is intrinsically disordered. This is from the same Church that enthusiastically burned witches and said Galileo was wrong. Such hidebound pronouncements cause great harm. And I agree with you son, LGBT persons should leave such a Church and find another spiritual home. My dear friend, Barb, told me the other day that she agrees with you too. An institution that so disrespects you and your family is no place to be. She too has left because she feels discriminated against as woman.

However, I do disagree with you when you say all LGBT persons who stay are self-hating. It has been my experience that people have their own story about the institutions they belong to. Like Barb, many of my women friends are “recovering” Catholics who would not enter a church or attend a mass because of the shameful actions of the Church in its treatment of women. There are former Catholics who say it’s corrupt particularly in its response to the pedophile crisis. Or like you, they feel gay people are intrinsically mistreated. I can understand that approach and applaud it. Yet people stay for many reasons. They can view the hierarchy as clueless, but the people in the pews may be a support. Or their model of church is light on dogma.

I come from a people who, though Catholic, always viewed the Church through skeptical lens. Though my parents went to church regularly, their parents did not. Nominally Catholic, they only went on Christmas and Easter. Actually, Italian immigrants from Sicily often viewed the Church with distance. Italian peasants were not served by a Church dominated by the wealthy class.

Your grandma scandalized me when I was in high school, being taught by nuns, when she said she believed in abortion and no one could tell her what she should do in her own bedroom. My prayerful straight-laced mother!! I bought all the strict orthodoxy taught by my Irish American nuns and priests, till my own crisis of faith many years later. Then after leaving for a while, I became more like my Sicilian for-bearers who saw Church with a more relaxed approach. After that I took a more jaundiced view of official teaching. Then when you came out as a gay man the edifice of “dogma” crumbled even more.

When we talked about dogma it brought me back to Catholic college theology class. But after college I read a great deal on my own. History shows us that for many historical reasons the Catholic Church adopted dogmas that have turned out to be based on myth, e.g. Virgin Birth. Other dogmas have their roots in the historical and political conditions of their day such as the model of Jesus as a savior or the pronouncement on infallibility. Even the books selected for the official canonical Bible have a historical background. The Catholic Church does not have a monopoly on spiritual values. I hope your family can find a home where you are properly celebrated for who you are.

Love, Mom