The pastor of a conservative Roman Catholic parish near Washington, D.C., believes that his church’s “hyperbolic and harsh language” around LGBT people “will have to change. It is not accurate, and it is not charitable.”
At the National Catholic Reporter, Father Peter Daly writes that in his parish, St. John Vianney in Prince Frederick, Md., older people tend to have a harder time accepting gay and lesbian relationships, but that younger Catholics “nearly always know someone who is out as gay and find it very easy to accept.” In fact, he writes, the church’s hostility toward LGBT rights “determines whether or not [young adults] will remain Catholics.”
Daly says the purpose of the Catholic Church is to be faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ, and notes that Jesus had little to say explicitly about homosexuality.
“Our purpose as a Christian church is to remain faithful to the teaching of Jesus Christ. It is significant that Jesus had nothing to say about gay relationships. If homosexuality had been important to Jesus, he would have said something about it. After all, he told us his views on divorce and adultery and many other ethical issues. But Jesus said nothing about it. Maybe it was not important to him,” he writes.
He said his parish preaches that all are welcome and then tries to live up to this belief.
“We really mean it. That includes LGBT people, too. We welcome them to the Eucharist if they are Catholics. We baptize their children. We register the children in our activities and programs, just like any child. Welcome means welcome,” he writes.
Despite the harsh rhetoric from some Catholic bishops over same-sex marriage, Daly says his parish has generally been unaffected by the participation of same-sex couples in civil marriages.
“In a conservative parish like mine, the presence of LGBT people is not generally a big issue, but it does exist. We have a few same-sex couples in our parish. At least two couples have been married civilly. They live quietly, devoutly and humbly.
“Maryland legalized gay marriage a little over a year ago. So far, it has not caused even so much as ripple in our parish,” he writes.
He says his own views on same-sex marriage are evolving, and while he doubts that the Catholic Church will change its sacramental view of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, perhaps the church should remove itself from the civil aspects of marriage.
Follow Michael O’Loughlin on Twitter at @mikeoloughlin.