What our parish does about gay relationships
Pope Francis has asked our bishops to report to Rome on what is actually happening in the parishes in regard to marriage and family life. Among the many topics to be discussed are "same-sex unions between persons who are, not infrequently, permitted to adopt children."It's worth reading the whole thing. He chooses his words carefully, and explains his reasoning well. The story he told at the end left me a bit teary.
I think that our parish is a fairly typical middle-class, mostly white, English-speaking, American parish. I also think it would be fair to say that our approach to same-sex couples, including marriage and adoption, is evolving. One might characterize our approach as public silence and private acceptance.
In public, we are silent about the fact that some of our fellow parishioners are gay, even though some people are aware of their relationships.
In private, we are accepting their relationships so long as we don't have to acknowledge them.
Such a modus vivendi is not really an ethical resolution to the question. In fact, it is merely a strategy for avoidance.
There seem to be two great divides in my parish over issues facing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. One divide is generational. The other divide is personal.
The generational divide is the most obvious and clear-cut, but not absolute. Older people are less accepting of LGBT relationships. Younger people see no problem. In fact, younger people often think the church should move beyond mere acceptance to affirmation. The dividing line seems to be about age 50.
This generational divide is radical and serious. For some young people, it determines whether or not they will remain Catholics. One young man left our church over the issue. As the older Catholics die off, the church will find very little acceptance of its current negative position on gay relationships. We will find ourselves culturally marginalized in countries like the United States.
The personal divide is more subtle and harder to quantify. People who know someone in their family or circle of friends who is publicly gay are much more accepting of LGBT people than people who claim they don't know anyone who is gay. Of course, the fact is, everyone actually does know someone who is gay. They just know that their friend or family member is gay but does not admit it.
Personal experience is important. More and more people are coming out as gay. More and more people will have to accept their relationships. Our younger people nearly always know someone who is out as gay and find it very easy to accept. This is a sea change from a generation ago.
More and more gay relationships are being discussed, even in a conservative community like ours. In the past few years, at least a dozen parents have come to me to tell me that their children are gay. They are supportive of their children. They want to know how I will respond. I always encourage them to accept and love their child.
Two of my friends who go to other parishes left the Catholic church when their children came out. They simply could not accept a church that judged their children to be "intrinsically disordered." If someone is put in the position of choosing between his or her child and the church, they will obviously and quite rightly choose their child.
The hyperbolic and harsh language of the church will have to change. It is not accurate, and it is not charitable. [...]
I thought it was a great response to what the Pope was asking about. But judging by some of the comments left after the article, it would seem that there are still plenty of people who don't want the "hyperbolic and harsh language" to change at all, and they are willing to give away free samples too.