Dear Sisters: Please, Speak for Me
Monday, September 17, 2018

Dear Sisters: Please, Speak for Me

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September 17, 2018

Dear sisters,

Many of us have expressed our overwhelming sorrow over the recent revelations of the abuse that has been festering in our beloved Church for far too long. As much as I want to be able to express sorrow for the victims, the words catch in my throat. There are some evils so dark that words of grief seem only to diminish what has been done.

But I write to you today, sisters, not on behalf of the victims, but on my own behalf. I write to my fellow strong women with a request—one that it has taken me over a week to formulate into words. The grief in my heart cannot be articulated, but I am trying. Please be patient with me.

You see, I am a Catholic woman who experiences same-sex attraction. I’m what they call gay, queer, lesbian…I don’t mind whatever word you want to use. In most areas of my life, the struggles that come with this remain only in my heart. I never put words to them in order to spare others from discomfort, to spare myself from rejection or embarrassment, or to avoid being stereotyped or “othered” by my fellow Catholics. But, in the wake of the accusations of homosexuality being the cause of this abuse, I cannot remain silent today.

My sexual orientation does not make me any more likely to abuse anyone, child or adult. I can’t begin to describe the shame and anger that filled my heart when I read such accusations in the aftermath of the grand jury report. These accusations have permanently altered my relationship to the Church and to every Catholic that makes up the Church; the carelessness of the people who made these comments has irreparably damaged my trust in the Church.

My sexual orientation does not make me any more likely to abuse anyone, child or adult.

This brings me to my request. I know that many people reading this are not guilty of throwing around accusations, scapegoating, or the echoing of the phrase “active homosexuality” in regards to these scandals. And I know that some people reading this are guilty of it. I love all of you as my sisters in Christ, and this request is addressed to each one of you.

Help me, and others like me, to remain in the Church. Pope Francis has said, “There is no full identity without belonging to a people. No one is saved alone, as an isolated individual.” The Catholic Church is my people and my home, and I’m asking you to help me stay here, in full and glorious communion.

But what do I mean by that? How can you help me even if you have never met me?

First, Learn

Firstly, please take the time to learn about what you are discussing. Referring to abuse simply as “homosexuality” does so much damage to those of us in the Church who fall into the LGBT spectrum, and especially to young people who are already dealing with the stress of grappling with their sexuality.

Referring to abuse simply as “homosexuality” does so much damage to those of us in the Church who fall into the LGBT spectrum, and especially to young people who are already dealing with the stress of grappling with their sexuality.

I understand that this can be confusing, because a significant number of victims in this case were postpubescent. However, sexual abuse is not sex. To learn more about sexual assault and why it occurs, take a look at 1 In 6, an organization dedicated to male victims of sexual violence.

To learn more about the science of sexual orientation, check out “Homosexuality: The Use of Scientific Research in the Church’s Moral Debate” by Stanton L. Jones and Mark A. Yarhouse.

To learn more about living in the Church as an LGBT person, check out the blog posts at Eden Invitation or other blogs, like this one or this one.

Second, Speak

Secondly, please do not be afraid to speak up. In addition to the necessary reforms that we are calling for in the Church to prevent such abuse and cover-ups again, please do not be afraid to correct, in charity, those who would accuse LGBT persons of being the cause of these problems.

It’s the sad case that many LGBT Catholics cannot speak up for themselves on this issue out of fear of “outing” themselves. Therefore, I ask those of you who are not in this position to speak up for us. With love and with patience, please do not be afraid to learn and to spread this information to others in order to correct such dangerous misconceptions.

Depending on your own circumstances, you may think that this isn’t your problem, but I’m asking you to make it your problem. I’m asking as your sister for you to take the time to learn and to put yourself in my shoes for just a little while. If there’s one thing I have very quickly learned about following the Church’s teaching on this, it’s that alone I will fail. I absolutely cannot do this by myself. I need my brothers and sisters; I need my Church. In a time when so many of us feel so betrayed by so many in the Church, we especially need each other to lean on. We need to know where we can come for support, for compassion, and for unconditional acceptance.

You may think that this isn’t your problem, but I’m asking you to make it your problem. I’m asking as your sister for you to take the time to learn and to put yourself in my shoes for just a little while.

This month I am praying and fasting for the healing of our Church, and I pray as well for the healing of the divisions this crisis has brought about. I want nothing more than to stay in the Church I love, but I need you to help me. I need your prayers and I need your willingness to make the small changes that will make our Church the place of healing for every soul that she is called to be.

I’m praying for you, too.

In Christ through Mary,

Your sister.

This author would like to remain anonymous.

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