Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Church Officials Fail Us, But a Local Priest and Parish Shine

Those reading this blog are likely aware of the recent DeLaSalle incident involving Archdiocesan representatives and members of the school’s senior class, first made public in a Star Tribune column by Jon Tevlin. In a question and answer period following the main presentation, the Archdiocesan presenters were asked a question from a student about same-sex relationships. The married couple then felt it necessary to include reference to beastiality in their response.

For those of us who are LGBT persons and/or in a loving same-sex relationship, and for the many who know and love us, any direct or indirect comparison of same-sex love to beastiality – no matter the reference – is a profound insult, an egregious affront to the dignity of LGBT persons and loving same-sex couples. Yet here’s how the Archdiocese addressed that mention of same-sex relationship and beastiality, sent to all priests in an official statement:

[A]n example was used by a presenter which sought to illustrate the point that traditional marriage differs from other relationships. In this context, the comment suggested an inference which fostered a misunderstanding some of the students found upsetting.

“The comment suggested an inference which fostered a misunderstanding some of the students found upsetting.” This is no apology, of course, but further insult to injury. This was the best our officials could do. Students left that meeting shaken, angry, some crying. And this is the best our leaders can offer.

Yet Christ is still risen in the life of the Church. During his Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday homily, one Archdiocesan parish priest also addressed the DeLaSalle meeting. In that homily, he mentioned “the candor and ease with which young people discuss the matter of sexual orientation these days, as well as their conviction that something’s wrong when religion gets in the way of love and respect for any person.” He continued, “I am impressed with the grit of the DeLaSalle students to voice so confidently their truth, especially about such a tender matter.”

And then the pastor said this: “I think it’s critical for those of us who intend to hang around [in the Church], to agree that not standing up, over time, for what we know to be the truth, is not right.* I too often wonder, ‘Will this get me into trouble?’ or ‘Can I pay a kid from DeLaSalle to do this for me?’ rather than, ‘What does Jesus Christ ask of me?’ In the face of insult, or injustice, or bigotry, or hatred, or greed, or lies, or the abuse of power, the Christian must stand up for and speak the truth, knowing that the cost and consequence – ‘The Cross’ – are part of what being Christian means.”

When the homily ended, resurrection reigned yet again when the Vigil packed church practiced what was just preached. The church stood, and she, too, spoke truth with an ovation that rocked the rafters.

We are so hungry for the Word that gives respect and dignity to God’s LGBT daughters and sons. May we continue to find that Word spoken and lived clearly in our high schools, in our kitchens, in the halls of our legislatures, and yes, even – and especially! – in our parish sanctuaries.

Jim Smith, Catholics for Marriage Equality MN

* Citing James Alison.

See also the previous Sensus Fidelium post: 
Catholics for Marriage Equality MN Calls on Archbishop Nienstedt to Discontinue Hurtful Marriage Initiative in Catholic High Schools


  1. Terrific to hear about this one priest doing the right thing by speaking up. I have wondered how many will be willing to defy the orders of the archbishop to remain silent if they do not support the marriage amendment. This gives me hope that other, true leaders will emerge.

  2. Out of curiosity, which church was this? It's the kind of Catholic Church I want to be attending.