Faith at London Pride

4th July – and in London, the parade was for Gay Pride. These pictures, taken by Martin Pendergast, show the participation by some Catholics in the march and Trafalgar Square celebrations, as well as how we marked the occasion at the Soho Mass next day (our Pride Mass is always a highlight of the year.) I still plan to share further words and pictures of the rest of the march and festivities, especially of the many other faith-based participants. These will follow later.

PProudly Gay, Proudly Catholic: London Pride, 2009

Proudly Gay, Proudly Catholic: London Pride, 2009

Our Information Stand at Trafalgar Square

Our Information Stand at Trafalgar Square
 

Pride Mass

Pride Mass

Rainbow Flag for Pride Mass

Rainbow Flag for Pride Mass

A Rainbow Cake After Pride Mass

A Rainbow Cake After Pride Mass

 

6 Month Review: Thanks to All

It is now 6 months since I lunched “Queering the Church”, six months which have been enriching and rewarding.  It is time to step back and reflect on the ups and downs, to give thanks, and to redirect where necessary. Heartfelt thanks are due to my friend Rob Alexander for encouragement and contributions, and to fellow bloggers at The Wild Reed, Nihil Obstat, Ad Dominum,  Bilgrimage, JS O’Leary, and  Creative Advance for encouragement and links.   Thanks too, to everyone who has posted a comment of any kind.  “Censor Librorum” once described commenters as “angels who sat on her shoulder”. So it is:  else there is a real danger, in a phrase used by Bilgrimage, of feeling that one is “talking into a vacuum”.

My chief satisfaction has been in seeing that somewhere out there, there are people who find something of value here.  The total page loads now exceed 5000 from over 3000  individual visitors. many of these are surfing tourists, just passing through:  but at least 600 of you have returned for repeated  looks, some of you very frequently indeed. This is gratifying.

My second satisfaction is that  maintaining and developing this site keeps me constantly challenged, grappling with the issues, reading, and thinking, thus constantly feeding my own growth and development as a gay Catholic.  Again, for this I am grateful.

The main area where I need to improve, I think, is in filling the gaps.  In launching the site, I envisaged two major aims:  to comment on current events or issues that caught my attention, and also to provide a  comprehensive resource base for the LGBT Catholic community.  This is reflected in the design, with a front page that is essentially comment, and back pages for the resource base.  In practice, I have provided far more of the first, and somewhat neglected the back page resources (especially Scripture and Spirituality). To correct the balance, I have started paying more attention to internal links and site navigation (see my new Site Map page), and aim to spend more time on adding fresh material to these pages as well.

Finally, my one big dissapointment, which I discussed yesterday.  I would dearly love to have not just your comments, but also your own contributions.  Let this grow, in time, into a genuine community voice. Until then, thank you all once again for your support, in whatever form you have given it.

Nevertheless, I thank you all again for your support thus far, in whatever form you have given it.

Sharing our Stories

The descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of t...

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In Redemptive Intimacy, Dick Westley argues persuasively that revelation is constantly being unfolded for us by the Holy Spirit, and that one way that the church can interpret this continuing revelation for our times is by listening carefully to our personal experiences, as revealed by honest and frank sharing in trusting small faith communities.  When I first encountered this idea, it hit me like a bombshell, but it is one I have come to hold dear (and I have since discovered is a completely orthodox notion).

It was very much in that spirit that I launched this site 6 months ago, so I was delighted earlier today to find a comment posted by Jeremiah, with some kind words, but also noting:

“…as Jim Alison teaches, we are NOT manifestations of a ‘disorder’; and therefore, our insights, our experience, our unique and gay approach to the Gospel have great value.

In that gay spirit I’ve just launched a site for shared reflections and experience.”

I have since had a look at Jeremiah’s site, “Gospel for Gays”,  which I found impressive.  It is technically polished, with great starting content.  I was particularly pleased to see how neatly it complements this site, with a strong emphasis on Gospel reflection, which I have long recognised as a glaring weakness on Queering the Church.   (Go ahead, take a look for yourself)


Read the rest of this entry »

My Journey in Faith

I mentioned yesterday that I been interviewed on Sunday by a reader, a journalism student visitng from Arizona, on my expereinces as a gay catholic, and how my ideas had been formed.  To help her prepare for the meeting, I put together some notes on my history in faith and coming out. These may be read here.

The Value of Experience as Spiritual Self-Defence

I referred yesterday to a post on Nihil Obstat in which Ned O’Gorman paints quite a depressing picture of the difficult position in which the established church puts us LGBT Catholics. He refers specifically to how some people enter heterosxual marriage to maintain some form of acceptance. As this goes directly to my own experience, I responded immediately with a lengthy comment.  Later, I realised that much of this is also fully relevant to the ongoing theme I am trying to develop, and that you might like to know a little more about me, so I repeat my comment here:

“It is undeniable that the established Church puts us in a difficult position, and that too many people simply evade or avoid the issues. I was one of those who married (very unwisely) ‘to maintain a place in church and society’. The irony is that it was during those years, when I was trying to live faithfully within the bounds of Catholic teaching on sexuality with all its restrictions, that my faith life was sterile, leading to a gradual disconnection from the church, and to a 10 year flirtation with agnosticism.

My return to the church came only after setting up a committed relationship with another man. I then developed an active faith life, and an exploration of prayer and spirituality, far richer than anything I had ever experienced while operating within the bounds of official teaching. Later, since developing an active participation in an explicitly LGBT Mass, and especially since I started blogging on the subject, I have been led still further, to readings in theology, church history and ministry that I would never previously have gone into.

St Ignatius teaches us to trust the ‘movement of spirits’ as we discern them deep in our hearts, by prayerful reflection on the experiences of our own lives. My own reflections on experience confirm that I have most directly felt God acting in my life,  when I have lived honestly, as a gay man, not in what was (for me)  the pretence of straight marriage.

O’Gorman is too pessimistic. There is no need at all to feel ‘abandoned’ by the Church – just by the Vatican. There are increasingly many supportive priests, even including some who will indeed bless same sex unions, and many other ways of finding support in faith – not least through a an expanding network of welcoming parishes, a publishing explosion on LGBT theology and spirituality, and on websites and blogs such as this one, my own, and many others.

Welcome. Come in, and come out.

Welcome to your world

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As gay Catholics, we have often found ourselves double outsiders. As a sexual minority in a world where heterosexuality is routinely taken for granted, and even suffered ridicule, discrmination, violence or worse, we have often felt excluded, left out – or even invisible.  Typically, we have felt even more rejected in the churches than in the secular world, with widespread condemnation of the ‘sin’ of homosexuality.  This hostility from the religious establishhment has led to a counter-reaction from many in the LGBT community, who see religion as the architect and driving force behind our ‘oppression’, and consequently refuse to have any truck with organised religion.  The result for gay Catholics is too often, exclusion by both camps.  I have often heard the observation from my gay Catholic friends, that it can be as difficult to be out as Catholic in the gay community, as it is to be out as gay in the world at large. Read the rest of this entry »