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More than a Monologue: Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church: Voices of Our Times

More than a Monologue: Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church: Voices of Our Times

Christine Firer Hinze
J. Patrick Hornbeck
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    More than a Monologue: Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church: Voices of Our Times
    Book Description:

    This powerful new collection gives voice to the lived experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer persons with and within the Catholic Church, and promotes much-needed dialogue about faith and sexuality. The Second Vatican Council's landmark document Gaudium et spes called Catholics to cultivate robust, mutually enriching dialogue with the modern world by attentively and discerningly listening to the "voices of our times." This distinctive new publication, the first of two volumes that explore sexual diversity and the Catholic Church, gathers an important set of these voices: the testimonies and reflections of Catholic and former Catholic LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) persons, their friends, family members, and those who teach and accompany them. Drawn from a series of conferences held in autumn 2011 and offering a spectrum of professional, generational, and personal perspectives, the essays in Voices of Our Times suggest the breadth and complexity of Catholic experiences of and engagements with sexual diversity. Each writer locates her or his reflections in careful attention to how ways of experiencing sexuality and speaking about sexual diversity are embodied in and shaped by particular practices--familial, interpersonal, professional, ecclesial, cultural, and political. Part I, "Practicing Love," introduces the voices of singles, families, couples, parents, and children who reflect on their experiences of sexual diversity in light of their experiences of Catholicism and of Catholics. Part II, "Practicing Church," offers the perspectives of clergy and lay ministers, casting light on what pastoral workers, Catholic and otherwise, encounter as they walk with people who are grappling with issues of faith and sexuality. In Part III, "Practicing Education," writers discuss their experiences with sexual diversity in Catholic educational settings as teachers, as students, and as witnesses to the lives, loves, and struggles of LGBTQ young adults. Finally, Part IV, "Practicing Belonging," spotlights contributions by authors who have struggled with their identities and place within and around the Catholic community. Striving to acknowledge, honor, and respect the truth and value embodied in both LGBTQ persons' lives and in the Catholic tradition, this book provides a close-to-the-ground look at the state of the conversation about sexual diversity among contemporary Roman Catholics in the United States. Along with its companion volume, Inquiry, Thought, and Expression, Voices of Our Times represents a unique opportunity for readers inside and outside the Catholic community to engage in a conversation that is at once vibrant and complex, difficult and needed.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-5659-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    In the autumn of 2011, four institutions of higher education hosted a series of conferences on sexual diversity and the Roman Catholic Church. Two of the venues—New York’s Fordham University and Fairfield University in Connecticut—were Catholic universities in the Jesuit tradition; the other two—Union Theological Seminary in New York City and Yale Divinity School—were nondenominational divinity schools where Roman Catholics comprise a substantial proportion of the student body. The series, entitled “More than a Monologue,” featured in total nearly fifty speakers and attracted more than a thousand audience members; many more followed the proceedings online.¹ The...


    • 1 This Catholic Mom: Our Family Outreach
      (pp. 17-25)
      DEB WORD

      I consider myself to be a typical Catholic mom and grandmother. Thirty-nine years ago, I married my college sweetheart, Steve, and together we raised two sons. Our faith is important to us: I am a product of twelve years of Catholic education, and four years after we married, my husband became Catholic. As a family, we have always been active in the church. My husband and I have served as ushers, lectors, and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, as well as on parish pastoral and financial councils. Our sons participated in activities at church as well as at school. So,...

    • 2 O Tell Me the Truth About Love
      (pp. 26-31)

      I came out when I was about thirteen. When I was twenty, I entered the Catholic Church. Those seven years were pretty interesting—but the years after my conversion have been even wilder and woollier, as I’ve slowly figured out how much I didn’t know about, among other things, the possibilities for a gay life that is faithful to Catholic teaching.

      I suspect one reason it was relatively easy for me to become Catholic is that I had led, up to that point, a semicharmed life. I was a very weird kid who went to schools where bullying wasn’t tolerated....

    • 3 Our Thirty-Three-Year-Long Dream to Marry
      (pp. 32-42)
      Janet F. Peck and Carol A. Conklin

      Thirty-seven years ago, Carol and I fell in love and began to share our lives together. For thirty-three of those years, we dreamed of getting married but were denied that civil and human right.

      That changed on October 10, 2008, when the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled inKerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Healththat same-sex couples had to be allowed to marry in our home state. Carol and I were one of the plaintiff couples in that lawsuit. We were represented by Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, a legal rights organization working for the rights of the gay, lesbian,...

    • 4 Mother, Father, Brother, Sister, Husband, and Wife
      (pp. 43-50)

      Blessed by our Creator with male genitalia and a female brain, I struggled to relate to a society that saw me as male until I transitioned to live as a woman. I share a birth year with Disneyland, so for my fortieth we—my wife, daughter, and I—planned a family trip there, with a special treat for me: I could dress as a woman the whole time. I had been cross-dressing in private since childhood, on occasions with a support group during the previous three years, and in the year before the trip I started adding feminine touches to...


    • [PART II. Introduction]
      (pp. 51-54)

      The first essay here, contributed by Detroit bishop Thomas Gumbleton, illumines the world of the pre–Vatican II seminary and parish and describes the ways these contexts shaped and limited priests’ pastoral approaches to questions of sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular. Shortly after Gumbleton was ordained a bishop in the late 1960s, his younger brother, who had been married to a woman for fifteen years, announced to his extended family that he was gay. This revelation, we learn, became the catalyst for a long familial and personal process that eventually led Gumbleton to new perspectives on church teaching...

    • 5 A Call to Listen: The Church’s Pastoral and Theological Response to Gays and Lesbians
      (pp. 55-69)

      Over the course of many years of pastoral experience, I have come to a deeper understanding of what is meant by the words recorded by Matthew as the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount: “You must be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Mt 5:48).¹

      This is not a call to what is impossible. We are not expected to become “God.” But just as God is fully and completely God in the fullness of what it means to be God, so each of us is called by God to be fully and completely the human person God...

    • 6 From Closet to Lampstand: A Pastoral Call for Visibility
      (pp. 70-80)

      Christ’s ministry was all about inclusivity. He left no one out of the circle and excluded no one from the banquet. But two thousand years later, we, the Body of Christ, often sound much like the Pharisees Jesus criticized—arguing about who belongs, whose lifestyle makes them worthy to approach the altar, who has a right to participate in the sacred. While our culture does not see closets as healthy places for people to live, many in the church still insist that when it comes to persons of certain sexual orientations, invisibility should be the rule, regardless of whether or...

    • 7 Gay Ministry at the Crossroads: The Plight of Gay Clergy in the Catholic Church
      (pp. 81-90)

      Author’s note: My ministry as a priest has included a half-dozen years as vicar for clergy and religious in a large Midwestern diocese. Following that assignment, I served for another six years as rector of a major seminary. These two assignments in particular helped me see the struggles that gay priests face in today’s priesthood—struggles that are deeply imbedded in both the structure of the church and the church’s teaching on homosexuality.

      A front-page story in the September 20, 2011, edition of theNew York Timesreported an event that was noted by virtually every media outlet in the...

    • 8 The Experience of a Pastoral Advocate and Implications for the Church
      (pp. 91-95)

      This reflection on Catholicism and LGBT realities flows from my multiple and overlapping identities as a priest and pastor, professor and scholar, and man of color. In it, I wish to consider the experience that attends being an advocate for justice for LGBT persons within the Catholic Church and what attentive listening to that experience may reveal about this faith community.

      One of the defining experiences that shapes my perspective on LGBT issues occurred when I co-facilitated a session several years ago for students at Marquette University on “Culture and Sexual Identity.” Over the course of the evening, we examined...

    • 9 Lord, I Am (Not) Worthy to Receive You
      (pp. 96-104)

      I am an Episcopalian, a chaplain, and priest.

      A few years ago, I attended a meeting in Detroit, Michigan, about our church’s response to a proposal for a “covenant” for the global Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church is a member of the Anglican Communion, a worldwide fellowship of Christians, predominantly the legacy of the British Empire. There were a lot of us around the table considering what The Episcopal Church could do in response to the proposal for a covenant, which many understood to have the potential to establish a single authoritative magisterium for the Anglican Communion. As you can...


    • 10 A Delicate Dance: Utilizing and Challenging the Sexual Doctrine of the Catholic Church in Support of LGBTIQ Persons
      (pp. 107-113)

      When asked to consider how the Catholic Church’s response to LGBTIQ persons and issues affects my work life, particularly as a person who works at a Catholic institution, my thoughts were drawn to two distinct experiences, the first in relation to a colleague at the college where I teach who underwent genital reassignment surgery and the second in relation to the student group on our campus that advocates on behalf of the LGBTIQ community.

      Let me first speak of my faculty colleague whom, for our purposes, I will call Mary. When I met Mary, she was in the latter stages...

    • 11 Do Not Quench the Spirit: Rainbow Ministry and Queer Ritual Practice in Catholic Education and Life
      (pp. 114-123)

      When colleagues at Fordham invited me to speak about the intersection of professional life and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) identity, I was excited! After I graduated from Fordham, I spent a year in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (working with St. Louis Effort for AIDS) and almost three years as a social worker. I then earned my Masters of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary and worked for almost a decade as a Catholic high school teacher and campus minister, often in inner-city settings. I’ve spent most of my professional life as an out gay man within Catholic institutions, living in...

    • 12 Calling Out in the Wilderness: Queer Youth and American Catholicism
      (pp. 124-138)

      Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick articulates an apt starting point for this reflection: “Seemingly, this society wants its children to know nothing; wants its queer children to conform or (and this is not a figure of speech) die; and wants not to know that it is getting what it wants.”¹ Sedgwick’s diagnoses take on flesh in the stories of LGBTQ student activists from two urban Catholic universities, whose stories I collected through open-ended interviews focusing on the connections between gender, sexuality, religion, and activism.² The recruitment phase of my project coincided with the surge in media and activist attention to the deaths...


    • [PART IV. Introduction]
      (pp. 139-142)

      The opening essay of this section, by Kate Averett, reflects on stories—those that we are told about life and those that our lives actually tell. Tracing her own story, Averett recalls a family, childhood, education, and youth suffused and indelibly marked by Catholicism. She describes being burdened, as a young adult Catholic, by the mounting sense of tension between what her church taught and how its leaders behaved, on the one hand (for instance, the clergy sexual abuse scandal was a moment of felt betrayal for her), and her own sense of queer identity, integrity, and vocation to marriage,...

    • 13 The Stories We Tell
      (pp. 143-149)

      As children, we’re told stories to teach us about the world. Through fables, fantasies, and fairy tales, we’re taught to listen for “the moral of the story,” trained to understand that stories can be true and that they can also contain Truths. We learn to look for the metaphor in the stories we’re told, metaphors that teach us about what is True and Good and Right.

      These stories help us imagine the possibilities for our lives. But in providing us with a range of possibilities, they also limit what we imagine for our future. We learn through the silences in...

    • 14 Tainted Love: The LGBTQ Experience of Church
      (pp. 150-156)

      My reflection on the experience of gays and lesbians in the Catholic Church comes from my own story as an outspoken Catholic lesbian and also from my years of sharing in the stories of the countless gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer Catholics whom I encountered as a church minister over the past six years.

      For me, all of these experiences and stories boil down to this truth: All that LGBTQ Catholics really want is to go to church—and, in some cases, to serve the church—without being made to feel that our sexual orientations and/or gender identities taint...

    • 15 A Voice from the Pews: Same-Sex Marriage and Connecticut’s Kerrigan Decision
      (pp. 157-164)

      On October 10, 2008, the Connecticut Supreme Court announced its decision inKerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health.¹ The court concluded that the state impermissibly discriminated against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation by not permitting same-sex couples to be married, thus legalizing marriage for same-sex couples. (See Chapter 3 in this volume for the personal narratives of one of the eight couples who were parties to that lawsuit.)

      In responding to what it called the “severe and sustained discrimination” against gay persons and to the “long-standing intolerance” of intimate homosexual conduct in our culture, the court was, in...

    • 16 At a Loss
      (pp. 165-174)

      My dad was in the first class of the ordained permanent diaconate. This sentence may require some unpacking for my non-Catholic readers. So here you go, heathens: Before a man could become a Catholic priest, he would typically spend a year serving as a Catholic deacon. Deacons are to priests as novices are to nuns—or they used to be. In the 1980s, to address a growing shortage of Catholic priests (a shortage that has since gotten worse), the church created the permanent deaconate. Ordained deacons could do almost everything priests do—pass out wafers, preach sermons, baptize babies—and...

    • 17 “Church, Heal Thyself”: Reflections of a Catholic Physician
      (pp. 175-178)

      I grew up in a working-class family in Rockland County, New York, the fifth of six children, one of two boys, and the only gay child of my parents. I was fortunate to have very loving parents whose primary focus was on their family and on their faith.

      From my earliest memories, being Catholic was not peripheral but really central in our family’s life. We children were diligently schooled and received the sacraments, prayed the family rosary, and absorbed the rhythm of the liturgical calendar as part of the flow of daily life. When it came time for my first...

  9. Afterword: Reflections from Ecclesiology and Practical Theology
    (pp. 179-192)

    Why would “More than a Monologue” be chosen as the title of a project devoted to sexual diversity and the Roman Catholic Church? It is often perceived that in the Catholic Church, only one voice “counts” and only one voice is being heard—the collective voice of the bishops in union with the pope. In the Catholic tradition, the bishops and pope are recognized as the official spokesmen for and teachers of church members; they comprise the so-called magisterium or official teaching authority, whether in regard to sexual diversity or any other topic. The bishops of the United States fulfill...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 193-216)
  11. List of Contributors
    (pp. 217-218)
  12. Index
    (pp. 219-222)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 223-226)