A Very Queer History of the Catholic Church: Part 2
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PRIDE

Episode · 11 months ago

A Very Queer History of the Catholic Church: Part 2

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In honor of LGBTQ History Month, we are revisiting some of our favorite episodes of the podcast. Enjoy our return to Queer Church: Part 2!

Yesterday, in part one of our look at the history of same-sex love in the Catholic Church, we examined how the church’s perspective has changed over the course of 2000 years as a result of shifting social and cultural norms. Today in part two, we’re back with Dr. Lisa McClain exploring which parts of scripture are responsible for the Catholic Church’s stance on same-sex love, and we’re also joined by author Benjamin Brenkert to talk about his first-hand experience as a gay man trying to carve out a place in the church.

Check out A Catechism of the Heart here. Your host is Levi Chambers, co-founder of Gayety. Follow the show and keep up with the conversation @Pride. Want more great shows from Straw Hut Media? Check out or website at strawhutmedia.com. Your producers are Levi Chambers, Maggie Boles, Ryan Tillotson and Edited by Silvana Alcala Have an interesting LGBTQ+ story to share? We might feature U! Email us at lgbtq@strawhutmedia.com. *This podcast is not affiliated with Pride Media. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Straw media. I was really led to believe that I could be, you know, out Gay Jesuits, that I could be sort of myself, because I had never lied about myself. I had always told them who I was and who I expected to be when I was entering the JESUITS. I really went in with that sort of sense of self if I entered this this process of disarmon and that I was validated along the way, that I would become a gay Jesuit priest essentially, and my career expectations about you know, when I entered were very different from when I left, because by the time I was leaving the the sense was that I would be doing health care for the the East Coast province of the Jesuits, which would would be from Maine to basically South Carolina. Would be the territory that I would cover, sort of doing health care for our province. You know, I look back on it now and I say to myself, you know, I was in that room in the chapel in the Novitiaian Syracuse sort of sharing my story and you know, I was maybe one of eighteen or sixteen guys in that chapel, including the priests who are in charge and, you know, when I was sharing my story, I realize afterwards I was the only person in that room who who publicly identified as gay or whose sexuality was part of his discernment, you know, in the sense of becoming a seminary, and who was openly gay. You know, of those sixteen guys, you know it was it was just strange because I said, there are other gay men in this room, you know. And and ironically, just a few days later I received cards in my mailbox from a you know, to other guys, and they said, thank you so much for what you shared. You know, as a gay man myself, I just want you to know that what you did was really brave and courageous. And I set them as a whole. Why, why aren't they sharing the same story, you know, why aren't they out or we're sharing a that God love them as gay men? Of the thirty five thousand, five hundred twenty seven verses in the Catholic Bible, only seven, which is about zero two percent, are sometimes interpreted as prohibiting homosexual acts. But even though the volume of text that support this claim is so small, they are always being referenced by members of the Church to defend their intolerance of the queer community. So why exactly to these scriptures hold so much power today? We continue to celebrate LGBTQ history month by sharing part two of our series on the history of the Catholic Church. We already looked at the history of same sex love in the Catholic Church and the way that the church's views have changed over the last two thousand years as a result of shifting social and cultural norms. Now we're back with Dr Lisa Mcclain to explore the scripture that drives the Catholic Church's opposition to same sex love. Will also speak with Benjamin Brinker, who brings a first person perspective of what it's like to be a gay man hoping to embrace both his sexuality and his faith in a modern church world. It's also important to note that since this episode originally aired, the congregation for the doctrine of the faith issued a response in regards to same sex marriage. The response was to the question can the Catholic Church bless same sex unions? The VATICANS simply said negative, and Pope Francis approved of the response, a position that many saw as out of character for the seemingly progressive head...

...of the Catholic Church. I'm Le by Chambers, and this is pride. Remember yesterday when we talked about the problem of translation when it came to the Bible, versus were copied by hand for generations and the monks who were doing all that writing and translating in their little dusty script oreum's sometimes got tired, they sometimes took liberties. One of the most important translators of Christian scripture, sat jerome, openly admitted to doing just that. He's the one who translated all of the ancient scripture into the Latin vulgate Bible, which became the Bible for the Catholic Church for will over a thousand years, until you start getting ones like King James during the reformation time. And he wrote about his process of translating and he admits that sometimes he would get so tired at night translating and transcribing that he basically just got the gist of it down. But then you know he is a product of his social conditioning. So in getting the gist of it, how do the social and cultural norms of his day impact the words he chose and his understanding of the jets. There are seemingly invisible societal forces that shape everyone's thoughts during their place and time of existence. It's true for you and me today and it was true sixteen hundred years ago when St Jerome was getting down the gist of the passages he was translating. Over time, each generation brought its own social and cultural needs to the conversation, but it happened so gradually that we, the people, didn't see it. As those changes accumulated, we ended up with completely new understandings of what the original authors of the text might have meant. I think something that's really telling is that if you go back to the few Christian writers who critiqued same sex activity for the first thousand years of Christianity or so, they don't use those same seven scriptures to critique same sex, sex sexuality that people use today. Those seven scriptures don't get used. Why not? We have to ask ourselves. So that's why it's so important to go back and find out what in the world do these scriptures really mean? Lisa pointed to something she once heard the first openly gay priest ordained in the Episcopal Church, Bishop Gene Robinson, say. He said, imagine this. If you were to say today that someone's idea was way out in left field, an awful lot of us would understand what that means because it's a baseball analogy. But what if you go five hundred years into the future? Nobody plays baseball anymore, and how would people at that time understand out in left field? They would have to find some sort of understanding that they get five hundred years from now because nobody knows about baseball anymore. So if you go back, let's take one of the big scriptures from the Old Testament. It that is one of those point zero two percent of scriptures you're talking about. Is in the book of Leviticus. Okay, and it describes it says that male same sex activity. Describes it as an abomination. Well, we know in the twenty one century what we think an abomination is. Oh No, you would never want to bombination. It sounds terrible. But how does Leviticus and the people of his time, how do they understand what an abomination is? What is an abomination during that...

...time period? What are activities counted as abominations in Leviticus? You go in there, other sort of things is things like eating shrimp, what a most theologians. Theologians agree on is that the LEVITICAN prohibitions against male same sex activity and, interestingly, female same sex activity is not explicitly prohibited. You have to wonder why. Right it refers to an abomination, is something that will make you ceremonial, ceremonially unclean to participate in Jewish ritual it's not about the immorality of same sex acts as twenty one century Christians might use it. Instead, you have to look at what was happening in society when the viticus was being written, and scholars generally agreed that it developed over a long period of time, reaching its present form between five hundred thirty yea and three hundred thirty two BC. These are the ancient Hebrews during today, when we're talking about the challenges of overpopulation on the Earth, they had the exact opposite problem. They struggled to perpetuate a community and or a family generation by generation. Any type of sex that was unprocreated is a wasted opportunity to actually ensure the survival of your community. So you want to make sure that you limit, you prohibit those types of acts if it all possible. Another one of those few Bible verses that people point to as prohibiting same sex love is in Genesis, the story of Sodom and go Mora. This is a famous story and if you've heard the term sodomy to describe male same sex acts or the word sodomite, it comes from Sodom. Sodom and more were two ancient cities and Genesis nineteen tells the story of how God destroyed the two cities by sulfur and fire for their great wickedness. But Genesis never specifies exactly what that wickedness does. It did never says the wickedness was, was any same sex act. Later on in the Bible, in the book of Ezekiel, God actually explicitly tells us what the sins of Sodom and Gomral were. What was so bad that they needed to be obliterated and removed from the earth, and it says it was arrogance, a lack of hospitality to travelers, which when you think of how dangerous travel was back then. There are no hotels, motels in your in desert like conditions with no food or safety at night. You really need to have towns and and families welcome the stranger to provide and you need to count on that. So that matter to people at the time, and it was also refusal to care for the poor and needy at the time. For over one fifteen hundred years after genesis, the stories and genesis were written down. One fifteen hundred years. Think about that, not a single biblical writer equated the wickedness of Sodom with same sex sexual activity. In fact, the first connection between the sins of Sodom and same sex sexuality came in the first century a d from the Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria. He's the one who first mistakenly Equates Sodom Sin with same sex sexuality, and he explicitly stated that the problem wasn't the immorality of same sex sexual act it was that those same sex sexual acts violated the social and cultural gender norms of the day. A man engaging in a same sex act was abdicating his masculinity, and this mattered so much to them. It took centuries for Philo of Alexandria's first mercy,...

...first misinterpretation of Sodom, the sin of Sodom, to spread, but eventually it did, and it became the accepted understanding for this scripture, but most scriptural scholars today agree that was not the sin of Sodom and Christianity eventually conformed to Philo's attitude, but again it was largely based on these social attitudes. We misunderstand the scripture. Not Ignoring it, but we need to understand its meaning at the time rather than placing so many of our own twenty one century needs and understandings onto it. Take into consideration that Philo of Alexandria believed that the transgression of gender norms was the greatest of all evils. I think that's difficult for a lot of us in the modern era to understand, but it mattered to people at the time and when Christianity became the legal religion of the Roman Empire in the early fourth century, the Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity and adopted Christianity himself. When that happened. It was very important for Christianity. If you're going to be the emperor's religion, if you want all the social elites to adopt Christianity, you're going to adopt the social norms of those elites and of the emperor to make Christianity more acceptable, more palatable, and so Christianity adopts these gender norms. Has the VATICANS historical view on gender roles and gender identity changed over time? Oh yes, certainly yes. A great example of this would be the church's stance on whether or not women ought to be priests. This is a big debate and many within the Catholic community, including priests and monks and nuns, believe the time has come for for women to take on the priesthood. There's even a group called Women's ordination worldwide, which is a group of Catholic women who are promoting this. What Lisa believes really gives us a window into the church's attitudes toward women is looking at the reasoning behind not ordaining them. For centuries, the Catholic Church refused to Ordain women because of women's alleged inferiority to men. And what this comes from is I don't know if you're aware of this, but there are two versions of the creation in the Christian Bible. There's Genesis, chapter one, describes the creation of man and woman, both at the same time, both in God's image, both given to menion over the earth, and version two is the one that we often get taught as children if you grow up in a Christian household, which is story of Adam needing a a helper and being put to sleep, his rip being taken and used to form the first woman. And Chapter Two of Genesis says that man was created first in God's image and woman was created second in Man's image. And so, according to Catholic theology, men were the ones who should serve as God's representative in ritual and sacrament, because men alone were created in the image of God. Considering all of this, I was curious about Lisa's opinion as a scholar, about some of Pope Francis's recent statements regarding gay men in the church. He declared that homosexual tendencies are not a sin, but he still discourages homosexual men from entering the priesthood. But given that all the priests are supposed to be celibate and dedicate themselves to God's work, regardless of their sexual orientation, why would the church still officially discourage...

...queer men from entering the priesthood? This is such a loaded question. LEAV I and is a historian of the church. I can only speculate based on the evidence of hand, try to pull things together, since the church, to my knowledge, has not explicitly addressed this question. Lisas said that she thinks there are two things going on. The first is that the Roman Catholic Church leadership questions whether or not gay priests can provide what's called, quote unquote, good pastoral care. And we're in taking this from is back in two thousand and five Pope Benedict the sixteen published a Vatican document that instructed the church, and I'm quoting here, that the church cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep seated homosexual tendencies or support the socalled gay culture. Such persons in fact find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women. And it's that last sentence that I'm keying in on as giving US insight into this issue. Is I think church leaders are questioning, rightly or wrongly, whether or not a priest who is gay can correctly relate to the parishioners in the parish to provide good pastoral care. Personally, I have a hard time with this one, but to be fair, I'm not a leader in the Catholic Church for many reasons. The second issue Lisa points to is one of morality. A one thousand nine hundred and eighty six Vatican letter said that, although the particular inclination of someone who is homosexual is not a sin, just like posts Pope Francis said, it is more or less a strong tendency toward an intrinsic moral evil, and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder. So, along this line of thinking, if a priest who identifies as gay has what is believed to be a strong tendency to what the Catholic Church defines as an intrinsic moral evil, he may not be sinful in and UN of himself, but he is one intimate moment away from being sinful and acting on this intrinsic moral evil. Essentially, it's the slippery slope argument and it's predicated on the fact that the catchism, which is basically a summary of the doctrines of the Catholic church, explicitly calls out homosexuality. It states that homosexual persons are called to chastity. However, the doctrine also specifies that such persons must be accepted with respect and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. Same Sex love is simultaneously included and critiqued, because the catechism also claims that homosexual acts are defined as intrinsically immral and contrary to natural law, and it calls any homosexual tendencies objectively disordered. So there is a it's not a positive depiction and characterization of same sex sexual activity, but at the same time it's saying no discrimination should be allowed, the utmost of respect should be reserved for people who are on the lgbtq spectrum. But there is that expectation that parishioners should remain chaste. It's hard to argue with that, even if we want the Catholic Church to take a hint from all right, overvot I am just speculating because this is a tough issue. Gay Priests, priests with same sex desires, have long been important and very strong contributors to the...

Catholic Church. It's kind of an odd issue because the Catholic Church has a simultaneous separation and inclusion of gay Catholics and within the priesthood and in monasteries. The Catholic Church is actually created the conditions under which same sex sexuality can flourish, all the while stressing the importance, as you pointed out, of compulsory male celibacy. Yeah, it's a tough tight rope to walk it. I don't have a clear answer, just my best guesses. There is obviously a big difference between the official rules that come out of the Vatican, the Roman Curia, that come to us from a pope like Pope Frances the first, and the way they get implemented at the parish level, how ordinary Christians receive them, interpret them and use them. There are some national Catholic lgbtq ministries out there. Some of the is national Catholic lgbtq plus ministries are dignity USA, fortunate families and new ways ministries, some men's religious orders, particular houses of the orders and even some bishops, and the bishops are the ecclesiastical leaders of a particular diocese or particular region in the Catholic Church. Some of these religious houses and bishops often make their own decisions regarding gay men, candidates for the seminary and for the priesthood and this isn't rebellion, not at all. This is just the way that the Catholic Church has always operated. I like to think of it in some ways as an umbrella that can shelter an awful lot of different people and ideas beneath its canopy. Catholics don't just do as they're told, they interact with they interact with church teachings and then negotiate with them, all the while remaining Orthodox and faithful Catholics. That's the way the church is always operated, and maybe it's because of this that Benjamin Brenker thought the Church would support his mission to be an openly gay Jesuit priest. Our sexual orientation is an important part of each of our identities, but for many of us are faith, and faith community is also really important, and sometimes we think we have to choose either or. And I think it's really empowering and enlightening to learn about the places in the contributions that people of a variety of sex orientations and gender identities have had within Christianity. To No one's place, to know one is not alone, and how people on the LGBTACH spectrum have really helped grow the church in exciting new directions. When we come back we'll talk to Ben about his experience as a gay man in the Catholic Church and find out if his inside perspective makes him more or less hopeful about the future of the relationship between Queer people and the church. Welcome back. Today we're in part two of our exploration of same sex sexuality in the Catholic Church. We've had a lot of guidance from Dr Lisa Mcclain about the historical shifts within church writings and teachings, as well as the social and cultural impacts of a changing world. But now to take a different angle and to really look inside the church, at least in one area. We talked to someone who believed with his whole heart that he could be fully himself within the Catholic Church.

My name is Ben Brinker. I am a ex Jesuit. I am currently working in New York City as a school social worker, finishing my doctorate at Columbia University Teachers College and working part time at Louis a tod who. I like that that sounds like a fun jobman. Yeah, it's great. It's a great covid job because it gets me moving and I didn't want to go to the gym when covid first struck, so I basically just open boxes and move things around the store. Oh, easy, right, you got some exercise. Yeah, it's an easy, fun job. Exactly. At the top of this episode, you heard been telling the story of when he came out to his fellow seminarians in the chapel, even though he received notes from other classmates who were comforted by his honesty, to support he expected just wasn't there. By June of my first year, I had just had like a terrible time with my two classmates who were just extremely homophobic and like just really horrible human beings to me. But by June of two thousand and six we were, you know, on sort of Santa Clara's campus and doing the sort of young jesuits information conference, which is one of the times when I learned that Jesuits can throw the biggest, best parties ever. It was really it was really incredible. But my novice master at the time he pulled me aside and he said, you know, I just want you to know that you made a mistake. You made the fundamental mistake in coming out in that chapel, that that's something that you should not have done. And I said to myself, what are you talking about? You know what I've been trying to tell you is, you know that these two guys are treating me as an other. We're all trying to become priests for other people. And and I, before I came to this order and before I entered the Jesuits, I was let to believe that I could be fully functioning, a fully welcomed gay seminarian. And and and you're telling me that I'm the one that made the mistake, instead of saying that these two guys, in their rejection of me because of my sexuality, that they should be chastised. You know, I thought that that was a very peculiar thing. been ended up leaving the jesuits eight years later, in two thousand and fourteen, and they really didn't want me to leave, you know, they really wanted me to stay. They they offered me sort of time. They said, we don't rush anything. But when he looked around at the way his church was handling its queer leaders and members, he didn't see a place for himself. We're firing gays and lesbians from Pain Employment, and we're firing them from volunteering. And what are we doing? You know, you we've got this gay Jesuit, we've got that Gay Jezuit, we've got this one going around the country. What are we really doing here? You know, and you know again, sort of the boiling point for me was that we were fiery people and there was no sort of employment non discrimination clause, that I couldn't come out publicly as gay to support these people. You know, it was sort of not my expectation by the time I had turned thirty four, I said, you know, you know, I was like to believe one thing and over time it kept getting further and further from the truth. That year, Ben wrote an open letter to Pope Francis, imploring him to take a stronger position on protecting and embracing lgbtq people. The letter was published on the new ways ministries website and later picked up by the Huffington Post. In it, he said, I write you to help save my vocation, whatever that might be in the future. I ask you to instruct the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to tell Catholic institutions not to fire anymore lgbtq Catholics. I ask you to speak out against laws that criminalize and impress lgbtq people around the globe. These actions...

...would bring true life to your statement. Whom am I to judge? And it was basically, you know, sort of a grievance and a sense, you know, save my vocation, let me help me to return back to the jesuits and do these kinds of things, you know, employment, I'm discrimination. Affirm the place of Gay Seminary and so firm the place of gay priests. Allowed these people to come out, you know, from Sam Francisco to Honolulu to New York City. Let them come out, let them shepherd the Lgbtq community in their in their and their churches. And I said, you know, it's one thing for us, as sort of sophisticated jesuits, to have the one or two sort of urban parishes where, you know, a closeted gay Jesuit might sort of be very liberal and sort of be there for for his sort of urban gay community, but but what about the middle of America? His friend, the author Robert Waldron, encouraged him to take it even further and write a book. He said, you know, people need to know your story, and so you know, when I was writing the book, I wrote it as sort of a contrast to the catechism of the church, and what I wanted offer was a catechism of the heart. Even though there are only a handful of biblical passages that have been used to condemn same sex love, the Catholic catechism is hard to get around, and that makes the problems of exclusion and of shaming fundamental to the Catholic Church. Here's what the church believes. Right here it is on its face value, and I want you to use that information to discern where you want to be. You know, do you want to stay in this church that writes in its text and it's doctrine, you know, in its catechism, that gays are not welcome, that Lesbians Are Not Welcome? You know, that doesn't even have sort of a a sort of official position on bisexual a trends and it's official teaching. You know, do you want to be part of that, or do you want to find a church that fully welcome to you? That's really my project, you know, I want people to find the courage to do that. Do you foresee changes coming to the way the Catholic Church sees Lgbtq people and on top of that, there stands on lgbtq people being in the priesthood or having any sort of position of power within the church. You know, you can always have a hope, right, you can always have a hope. And so what I would say is, you know, I'm very realistic. I go with what the Church has to offer in terms of it's it's proofs. You know that there are really no texts that support gays or lesbians or bisexuals or suggests that, you know, gays can be good, you know, good stewards of the church. There's nothing that the church says officially that says gays who volunteer, you know, do good work for the church. You know, there's nothing that the church says that affirms or balladates a gay man or a lesbian contribute Usian to the church. So the short answer is no, I don't think that in my lifetime that the church will provide that space that's fully welcoming. And you can see that in the sense of, you know, just this year, for instance, Pope Francis Himself, who supposed to be, you know, sort of this you know, sort of gay affirming pope there are two things that he said that I think are very sort of striking. One is, you know, we...

...are to love gay children, which I think is something very unusual, to say the fact that he has to say it is very unusual. You know, it's not just accepted that all children, whether they're gay or not, or loved, but he that that he has to say that gay children are love is sort of a sense that, yeah, we have to correct something that's out there, because what's on paper really is influencing what people think and we really just want to remind people that even if you have gay children, they should be loved, which I think is again something very terrible that we have to sort of confront as people who are are thinking, critical people, critical reflection. The second thing was something the pope said in the two thousand and eighteen documentary Francesco. In it, Pope Francis says that same sex couples have a right to be a part of a family through civil union laws. There's no doubt that this was big news for the Catholic stands on same next love, but Ben's perspective is that it's not enough and it's much more avoidant than inclusive. Why is the the Pope punting the football essentially down the line to to the state. The church that is supposed to deal with the salvation of souls and the salvation of bodies is saying, well, this, this idea of marriage, this idea of saving gays or lesbians, that's something that the church can't figure out. So I'm going to let the local government wrestle with that. And you know, whether it's Italy or Poland or the USA or Brazil or Argentina, they're going to be the ones that are going to sort of take the lead and and I think it's unfortunate because it just says that the church doesn't want to deal with this issue. You know that in the twenty one century, the Church of Roman Catholicism is saying we can't entertain this any where. We just don't have the answers theologically. And it's not that they don't have the answers theologically, because they have many bright people. It's just that they don't want to bring people together to wrestle with it been skepticism at the Church's ability to create an inclusive doctrine is based on the changes he's seen in his lifetime. It was just a few months ago, in January, that the pope officially change the Church Law to allow women to read in mass. You know, you just take that up for granted in America that you know, women have been participating in the life of the church for a long time, post Vatican too. But you know in some small towns and Poland or some small towns in Madagascar or, you know, Latin America, women are not allowed to read at mass. And and and the pope is now saying, you know, women should be part of the life of the church. I think it just demonstrates that, you know, in my lifetime I just don't see I don't see the church making any in roads. I don't see the church being able to establish a place where it can really say gay men and lesbians contribute to the life of the church. And that's not even talking about bisexual, non binary, transgender, you know, gender nonconforming. Those things are we can't even touch upon because of the church hasn't even settled or attempted to settle the issue of gays or lesbians and their contributions. So, going beyond that to the queer community, at this point the church is just like we can't even think about that right now. Yeah, I mean essentially, you know what you know. I mean if a if the pope whost is supposed to be the leader of one point two billion people, if he says, you know, we cannot handle this theological issue,...

...you know that that gay should have protections from the government. You know, it's just strange because he's saying that. You know, yeah, in a way he's saying, yeah, gays who who act, are active and who love and who have sex, who have gay sex or lesbian sex, you know, they are not to receive community and he's affirming everything that he says that he's supposed to before. He's really affirming that he's not for that, because he's say he's not saying we will sit down and we will try to wrestle with this theologically and say that, you know, gay love is is of God and that gays who love are not sinning and and and in and gay love. Yeah, well, I affirm that gay should be able to receive communion if they have, you know, intercourse. And he's not saying that. As much as pope princes appears to try, he seems afraid to alter the fundamentals of the church's teachings. But the point is, for me, as a religious person, I never saw the God who I experienced in sort of my thirty day silent retreat or the God who I met when I was praying in church, as a God who was exclusionary. I never said to myself, you know, God is telling me that two women. You know, God does not have sort of the capacity to to to support this. I never thought that. I never thought that God was so sort of narrow minded. My epic, you know, that that that God contained sort of a sense that love could only be manifested in it and it's goodness with the birth of a child, which is basically where the church says. You know, the Church says the penultimate sort of a sign of love is the child of the heterosexual couple, which again goes to my earlier point, which says, you know, and what we're talking about here, is that the Church never affirms gay love. You know, it never says gay love can be good, because it only sees it only sees sort of the result of a heterosexual intercourse, the gift of a child, as sort of what the aim of relationships are, which is sad. You know, in a sense, because there's so much other types of love that it's really missing out on embracing. Remember back to what Lisa said about these ideas being products of their time. These official stances of the Church on Heterosexual love and creating a child, they're a direct result of repopulation being a major goal of the church after being ravaged by plagues. If the Catholic Church were to look to the cultural and social norms of today the way they did back then when these historical interpretations and translations were needed, they might see the value in embracing and uplifting their queer parishioners. Ben's contribution to this conversation has been with his book and, though his hope for change inside the Catholic church is tempered, his faith in God isn't different for Catholics who are troubled by the Church's official stance on queer issues. Ben Says, rather than holding out for the kind of radical change we want and need, find a church that affirms you. They have to change themselves, you know, because this church is not changing. You know, and I think that's what I said at thirty four. I said, you know, I could stay in the closet I could take what the the sort of the compromise was from the Jesuits at the tie stay in the closet, get ordained, do the work that so many gay closet of Jesuits are doing. But I said that's that's too small. You know, God is not small. Our God is a god of unconditional love, his his breath...

...and depth or wide. And I said, for you to say the solution is for me to get ordained as a closeted gay person and and and to just change one or two people's lives by quietly supporting them, is that really what we're saying God can do? I mean, isn't God's reach limitless? Isn't his love unconditional? Isn't our we didn't Jesus talk about a God a love which is the love of brother, the love of neighbor? You know, and I think it just points to the narrowness of the Church and that, you know, it's an unfortunate moment that there are these sort of little kernels of who am I to judge, or other things that like thing people like Pope Francis say and people just like hang on to that like Oh, you know, he offered me a kernel of hope. Well, no, look at the totality of what you're saying. You know, the official church teaching still says gays and lesbians are intrinsically disordered if they act on their love. You know, contrast that to just a couple words, five words. Who Am I to judge? You know it. That's that's not God. You know that's not no, that's not who God is. Ben's book, a catechism of the heart, came out last July after years of pushback. It was originally set to be released in two thousand and sixteen by Bloomsbury press, but after some surreptitious communications with Catholic leaders and mysterious circumstances, Ben's book was dropped from the publisher. He still doesn't know exactly what happened, but it's out now and it's a fantastic read. It's the little book that could, you know it. The more people talk about it, the more people, you know, mention it or buy it, the more the story will get out there. You can find more of Dr Lisa McClean's writing on the website the conversation, and you can see her full academic profile with links to her books at the Boise State University website. Pride is a production of Straw hut media. If you like to show leave us a rating and review on Apple, podcast, spotify or wherever you listen to podcast, then follow us on Instagram, facebook and twitter at pride and tune in weekly for new episodes. Be Sure to share this episode with your friends and subscribe for more stories from Amazing Queer people. If you'd like to connect with me, you can follow me everywhere at lead by chambers. Pride is produced by me, be by chambers, Maggie Bowls, Ryan Tillotson, Caitlyn mcdaniel and Brandon Marlow, edited by Sylvana, I'll Calla, and Daniel Ferreira. Sound mixing by Silvana, I'll calla. You guys are social distancing. Yeah. Yeah, every once in a while, when we get tested, we see each other, or when Ryan makes a pizza, we make a point to go get tested so that we could go either. Yeah,.

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