Home' Aurora : Aurora May 2011 Contents 18
| Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle | www.mn.catholic.org.au
ONE OF THE workshops at the recent
Diocesan Gathering, within the
Foundation of "Identity & Community",
raised the issue of gay people in our
Church. The time has come for the Catholic
Church to have discussions about this
and other topics within the broader field of
Society's attitudes and legislation are
changing rapidly in regard to homosexuality.
This does not necessarily mean the Church
should follow secular thought but, if we are
truly a people who 'read the signs of the
times', then frank and open discussion
on the subject is a must. If the Catholic
Church is to remain relevant in the world
and to the younger generation, this
dialogue is imperative.
I was interested to read two articles in
the March Aurora ("From the Shadows"
and "A Bishop's Plea") which contained
recommendations from two separate
sources that the Church should examine
its stance on human sexuality.
From "A Bishop's Plea" we read, "Bishop
Malone agreed that abuse raised many
taboo topics and for that reason he would
like to see a comprehensive and open
re-examination by the Church of the whole
question of human sexuality."
In "From the Shadows", Richard Sipe, who
was trained to deal with the mental health
of Catholic priests, is quoted as saying that
"....the Church should openly and credibly
review its stance on other closely related
matters, including a married priesthood,
women's ordination, birth control, abortion,
homosexuality, divorce and remarriage."
I have a personal interest in the Church's
attitude toward homosexuality.
My wife and I have seven children, two
girls and five boys. A few years ago we
discovered that one of our sons is gay.
We can find no reason for his being gay. He
was raised in the same family under the
same conditions as our other six children.
In retrospect he did display different
characteristics from the other boys but we
just put that down to his individuality. I now
realise that his homosexuality was always
within him. It is an intrinsic part of who he
is. It is not a choice or a decision he has
made; it is the way God created him.
I include an extract from a letter he
recently wrote to us:-
I think I need to start by explaining what
it s like being gay in society. I don t feel
safe in public. Ever. Every time I leave
my house is a bit of a struggle. If people
don t say or do anything homophobic to
me there is still the
fear that they might.
Walking down the
street my heart always
beats too quickly and
my thoughts race.
I don t think I need to
explain what feeling
unsafe is like, but I
do need to express
that this is a daily
occurrence for me,
and not just for me
but sadly for most queer people. This is
why we create safe spaces. This is why
queer people are 14 times more likely to
commit suicide than their straight peers
and why 30% of queer Australians will
attempt suicide. It s not as rare as we
like to believe. It s hard being gay in a
hetero-dominated society. Get it? I didn t
choose to be gay. Why the hell would I in
The moment when our son chose to tell
us of his homosexuality, several years ago,
was a moment of shock and pain. Our
lives were placed on a different course.
Years do not erase the details of that day.
We recall the weather, the time of day, the
room, our thoughts, and, most of all, our
feelings. It was a moment that marked
the beginning of a journey through a
When confronted with our son's
homosexuality, we were filled with fear
for what the world may do to him and out
of shame for how we must have failed
him. The initial fear, hurt, denial, anger,
alienation and shame, among other
feelings, flooded our minds. We could
only assure our son that we loved him but
it was useless trying to get a sensible
conversation out of us in that state
Over the coming months we contacted a
group PFLAG (Parents, Family & Friends of
Lesbians and Gays)
and by sharing stories
we realised we are
by no means alone in
the struggle and we
gain much support
from each other. We
have been referred to
the latest research
and literature on the
subject, all of which
confirms our belief
and experience that
homosexuality is not caused by being
'overly mothered' or 'underly fathered' or
sexually abused or any other external
factor. Homosexuality is an intrinsic
part of a person in the same way that
heterosexuality is a part of others.
And yet, as parents, we still have an
uneasy feeling as we become aware that
we are associated with an "undesirable"
group. We fear that anger and rejection
will be directed, not only at our child,
but also toward us when people learn
that we have a gay child. Armed only
with myths, we were poorly prepared to
defend ourselves against the shock and
confusion we felt at first. We had been
victimised on several counts. We were
hurt by the outdated, unsubstantiated
and often opposing "expert" opinions
that floated around in the scientific
community. We were hurt by the whispers,
smirks, innuendo and jokes that were an
acceptable part of our social community.
We were hurt by the bigotry that is present
in so many of our religious communities.
I quote from an article by The Hon Justice
Michael Kirby AC CMG;
The various religions in Australia and
elsewhere are presently addressing the
uncomfortable need to change their
approaches to human sexuality. Sadly, it
has to be said that in the past, religion
has often been the source of much of the
pain, injustice and discrimination against
homosexual and bisexual people. The
churches especially must accept much of
the blame for the homophobia that still
exists in Australia, as in all communities.
This is both the puzzle and the challenge.
It is a puzzle, because such attitudes
seem so incompatible with the basic
lessons of our faith. The challenge is to
expedite a change of view and to reiterate
the universality of religious outreach. In
the past there was perhaps an excuse for
ignorance about sexuality.
Today there is none.
Here is a rich harvest of people --
homosexual people, their families and
friends -- who are crying out for acceptance
and support. The Catholic Church should
lead the way by welcoming them into the
Body of Christ and in turn being enriched
by the many talents they bring.
Conversely here is a group of people
the Church can alienate, driving a wedge
between them and the God that the Church
is meant to represent.
The Christ who befriended the outcast will
surely be found among these people. The
Catholic Church needs to carefully consider
her attitude toward them.
Letters to the editor are welcome; brevity and a clear focus will increase likelihood of publication.
Sexual orientation --
a family's story
By Forster parishioner Greg Byrne
on a different
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