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Gay Jesuit: Catholic Church Must Discover 'Tender Compassion' for All

Gay Jesuit: Catholic Church Must Discover 'Tender Compassion' for All


A candidate for the priesthood openly discusses being gay in a column published today, but points out that he is more than his sexual orientation.

Damien Torres-Botello, a man studying for the Roman Catholic priesthood, discusses his homosexuality and calls on the church to be more welcoming of LGBT people in an essay published online today.

When Torres-Botello entered the Jesuit religious order in 2011, some of his loved ones "feared I would be forced into the closet after seventeen years of accepting myself as gay," he writes on The Jesuit Post. Others worried that as a Latino who grew up in less than privileged circumstances, he would not find common ground in the order.

But, he writes, "I am more than my skin color, my sexual orientation, and my economic class. It restricts God's image and likeness if I only see myself as those three aspects."

And, he says, "God made us all in his image and likeness." He has taken vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and he is currently a Jesuit scholastic -- a student preparing for the priesthood -- at Loyola University in Chicago.

He notes, "There are many who feel the Church is not a welcoming home for them. Teachers have been terminated from jobs, children with disabilities have been refused sacraments, and many divorced men and women continue to feel unwanted."

"I pray as a Church we discover tender compassion for each other to love the God that dwells in us all," he concludes.

Torres-Botello reportedly had the approval of his superiors for the post, according to ThinkProgress, and his public discussion of being gay is "not necessarily a direct violation of Catholic teaching."

The church considers homosexuality a "disorder" and calls on gay people to be celibate, and Torres-Botello has taken a vow of celibacy. ThinkProgress also notes, "while the post makes broad appeals for acceptance, it doesn't recommend any specific policies or changes to Catholic teaching on sexuality."

Pope Francis, despite his sometimes-conciliatory words toward LGBT people, has changed no policies and is unlikely to do so. But meanwhile, a group of prominent Catholics took out a full-page ad in yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle urging the pope to replace that city's archbishop, Salvatore Cordileone, who has been particularly outspoken against homosexuality and marriage equality.

Among other things, Cordileone has instituted a morality clause in the handbook for parochial-school teachers, saying they must not publicly embrace positions that go against church teachings on birth control, abortion, or homosexuality. Cordileone, who became archbishop in 2012, has fostered "an atmosphere of division and intolerance," the ad says.

Signatories to the ad include Brian Cahill, retired executive director of Catholic Charities; Charles Geschke, chairman of Adobe Systems and former head of the University of San Francisco board of trustees; and businessman Tom Brady Sr., father of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

In a statement to the Chronicle, the archdiocese decried the ad as "a misrepresentation of Catholic teaching, a misrepresentation of the nature of the teacher contract, and a misrepresentation of the spirit of the archbishop" and said the signatories do not speak for all San Francisco-area Catholics.

Cordileone, the paper notes, is scheduled to appear at a march for "traditional" marriage in Washington, D.C., on April 25, three days before the U.S. Supreme Court hears a marriage equality case. He is encouraging fellow Catholics to join him there.

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