Father Tony

The Message of the Catholic Bishops: "It Should Not Get Better."

Filed By Father Tony | November 12, 2010 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Living
Tags: American Catholic bishops, Catholic church, It Gets Better, Jesuit priests, Roman Catholic bishops, Roman Catholic priests

Well I've looked about and I've googled and I've asked folks who might know.

Just as I suspected, there don't seem to be any "It Gets Better" videos by Roman Catholic bishops or by diocesan priests.

I've seen one video by a Jesuit priest, but I am looking specifically for some participation by American Catholic bishops and the diocesan clergy obedient to them, and I am finding nothing.

The reason for this resounding silence has become clear to me.

The leaders of the Roman Catholic Church have painted themselves into a tortured corner, in which their homophobia outweighs their compassion for young people who are contemplating suicide because of bullying or community (including church) ostracism.

I'd be heartened to think that just one American bishop might break ranks, and make a video that simply assures a distraught young Catholic that God loves him/her in a way that overcomes all else. There is only an orchestrated silence.

We cannot possibly suppose that the bishops have not discussed this, and that their silence is not deliberate. They have obviously decided that if they tell young people that their lives as LGBT people will get better, they will be encouraging them in an LGBT direction and that would, of course, be equal to encouraging a sinner to find comfort in sin.

The most shocking and angering aspect of this silence is the fact that it sends the clear message that any young person who is suicidal, because of being gay or because of being perceived as gay, will be better off dead than alive, or better off without being assisted by adult intervention geared to helping them become happy and healthy gay adults.

Early on in the "It Gets Better" initiative, I predicted that the American Catholic bishops would not participate because of their desire to be distanced from the originator of the initiative, Dan Savage, a gay man raised Catholic and not shy about criticizing the church of his childhood. I also supposed that those bishops would never make a video that encouraged young people to call the Trevor Project, an organization that might, God forbid, steer young people into a healthy and safe acceptance of their sexual realities.

Now the initiative has vastly outgrown both Dan and Trevor. There is no good reason for the continued and uniform silence of the bishops, who suppose themselves to be the shepherds of lost sheep. This scandal of silence is, I believe, just as disgusting as the pedophile priest scandal, and a terrible example of un-Christlike behavior.

If anyone knows of an "It Gets Better" video by even one Catholic diocesan priest or bishop, please send it to me. I'll be glad to publish it.

Meanwhile, forward the link to this post to your local Catholic priest or bishop and challenge him to make an "It Gets Better" video. I made that challenge to New York's archbishop Tim Dolan. He published my words on his personal blog, but I have yet to see a video from him.

I am terrifically sad to think that men whom I know personally now have the blood of innocents on their hands.

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Can you please post a link to the one video you saw by a Jesuit priest? I'd be interested to see that. Thanks.

I suppose I do not understand why anyone who is LGBT would listen to the Catholic Church. I know I had to make some compromises as far as the beliefs I hold in connection with the church in which I am welcomed to worship. I know in my case my views as far as Christianity tends to run toward the Protestant/Evangelical/Pentecostal side of the spectrum. Yet I attend a Congregational Church because of their acceptance of LGBT persons. I doubt that I would be welcomed at the services I feel most inline with my views. Does this cause me to doubt my faith? No. It just causes me to doubt how some seem to get caught up into the dogma of a set of beliefs held by someone in the church. I tend to try to think for myself I suppose, even when it comes to matters of my relationship with Christ.

Dear Joanna,
I receive many versions of your "why bother" question, and my reply has been steadfast. It's nostalgia and the power of memoria.We hark back to the things of our youth. We want to inhabit that safe magical world, but now we see its seamy underbelly. We react by wanting to reclaim the church - to save it from bad leaders gone amuck. Here's the reality of this: the next two generations won't have that feeling. They will say "I never felt it to begin with. Let it sink." The bishops don't see that. They are not wise or prophetic or far-sighted. They are bent on good servitude and they will dance with the pope what brought em. That is why we are in the fix in which we are.

Hello Father Tony,

As someone who was thrown out of the Catholic Church long before I was old enough to even have any understanding of what it was, I suppose I found it easier than many to break with Catholicism. You see my family was Catholic but after I was born when my parents took me to the Catholic Church to be Baptized. I was promptly denounced as a "Bastard" because my father had been divorced. My father never attended a Catholic Church Service again. Instead growing up my sister and I would get taken to the Catholic Church for one holiday with my mother but the following week we would be taken to the Presbyterian Church by my father.

As I grew to age, I experienced my own Spiritual awakening but it was certainly not from my attendance at the Catholic Church, but instead by having a loaded rifle in my mouth and pulling the trigger. I called upon God just prior to pulling that trigger on that rifle, a rifle which worked perfectly before and since but it did not fire. I was transgendered and had tried to live with the feelings I had from a very early age. The pain of having to live with who I was just got too great for me to carry around within myself. This experience led me on a journey to find a place of worship which I could arrive at some understanding of the events of that dark night about 37 years ago now. With a good deal of prayer, and reading on my own, as well as attending pretty much every type of church that is considered Christian, I found my beliefs as it pertained to my understanding at least to be most closely aligned with the Evangelical/Pentecostal Protestant Churches.

In the years since I have come to terms with the fact I was Transgendered in part from my time in prayer and in part talking to over a dozen different counselors, therapists, and psychologists. The late life transition I underwent had more to do with my social and legal responsibilities from my attempt to be the person some well meaning but errant people in churches told me I should be and not who I was created as. Some might say, walk away from my beliefs, but I could no more do that than I could quit breathing. Of those churches that have the system of belief that most closely resembles my personal experience, which will also welcome my attendance, I have ended up where I have.

So regardless of what some old guys in Rome say, I live my life with Jesus in mind as much as I can, and striving be the person I was intended to be. They did not want me when I was a few months of age, and they sure do not want me in their churches now, at least if they detect me as what I am. I tend to not hide my journey to anyone who wishes to ask. I do not feel I need to be ashamed of it and the telling of it may help someone else to not follow the same crooked path of hardship I took to get to where I am today.

Sincerely in Christ,
- Joanna

Dear Joanna,
You should talk even more about your journey!
I'm terrifically glad about the rifle-fail!
I had a dream many years ago in which I was going to be crucified by exactly the same crowd of characters who did it to jesus, in exactly the same place and time, only I was dressed in contemporary clothes and sitting patiently on mid century modern Saarinen tulip chair. The soldiers could not get the cross assembled. The nails kept slipping out, the knots in the rope wouldn't hold and they kept dropping the wood. Finally I stood up and said "Well I guess this isn't happening today." I dusted myself off and walked away while they hung their heads in shame.

You vision is indeed interesting. Inside it is a very telling point in regard to those inside the church leadership. If you believe in God, and Jesus Christ, you must also believe there is a Satan as he is mentioned in the Bible as well. He is also known as a the great deceiver. What better place to keep souls from finding or discouraging them from coming to an understanding of Christ than to forget speaking of the Love of God and instead preach a message of condemnation? What better way to silence the message of the believer to force them out of the church? I quote Matthew 23:34 (KJV)" Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and [some] of them ye shall kill and crucify; and [some] of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute [them] from city to city."

Dear Joanna,
I do not believe in Satan or any other personification of good or evil. It's like playing with dolls.
I do believe in signs and signals that reveal what is good or evil and help us know what subscriptions to make.

I am not sure this is the place to have a debate regarding Theology. The only thing that stands out to me is if as you say, you do not believe in personifications of good or evil, then what about Jesus Christ? I am sure he would be classified as a person as if he were not there would be no point in the entire New Testament. Without Christ as a person, Christianity would be based upon a lie as I see it. I have heard it said the biggest lie of the Devil is the one that he does not exist.

Did you really expect anything else? When I was 15 back in the mid-60's, one of my schoolmates and an early "lover" or at least "sex-mate" of mine was thrown out of our high school for being (wait for it) a homosexual. We were all paraded into the chapel and forced to endure a good 15 minute harangue by the rector. Among the choice tidbits I remember almost word for word was: "He will be miserable his whole life and he will die lonely and forgotten. It would have been better for him if he'd never been born." THAT was the day I began to hate the church and its people and its doctrine and its self-righteous smugness. That young man was a kind and caring person. His life and worth were dismissed in a few sentences. Over the years, I've gone from hatred of the church to ignoring it, much as I would a nasty kid. At least at one point, they were allowing Dignity to pretend to be making some headway and difference. Unfortunately, my hate is returning because now all I see is the pain and despair that they try to inculcate into young people. I swear, I will do my best to make sure that no other kid has to go thru the almost literal hell I did to finally accept myself for the damn good person I am.

Dear Frank,
I'm glad you found your way despite the sickness of the church leaders that could have demolished someone of less fortitude. My own childhood/teen reactions to condemnatory priests were similar to yours. I'd hear their words. I'd see their tortured brows, and I'd think to myself "Jeez, that priest has some serious problems he needs to work out. I think I'll just be charting my own course, thank you very much."

What became of the other boy? Was he " miserable his whole life and he will die lonely and forgotten."?

The other boy? That's one of the mysteries of my life. He was shipped cross-country to his parents in California. When I moved there myself some two years later, I tried to find him just to talk, but never did. Remember there was no internet to search and he wasn't listed in the phone directory in the last city I knew for him. I've always wondered how his life went. It's 4 decades later now and I can only hope his life was, and maybe still is, very good.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | November 13, 2010 4:21 AM

I think it is telling that regardless of the hypocrisy of the RC church she is finding converts in England among six or so bishops who object to gay inclusion and ordination of women. That was just this week. Circle the wagons, it will be a long bow and arrow fight.

Neil V. Christensen, c.s.e.f. | November 13, 2010 6:00 AM

Dear Tony,

As a Catholic Priest and Abbot, I would be more than happy to provide you with a ..."it gets better,..." Video. Tell me how, where and when and I'll do it!

Despite all the many sins of the Hierarchy both in relation to the Pedophilia and now the lack of moral guidance for our GLBTQ youth; Like you I remain a Catholic, and your correct. It has a lot to do with sentimentality,and the way I was raised. "....give me any youth at age 6,7 and I will give you a (fill in the blank,)forever..."

I have just changed rites. I'm no longer willing to be associated with the Political machinations of the Curia and their boytoy American Bishops. Let alone be bullied for being A Gay Man.

There was a very good reason that Bishops and theologians split at the time of the promulgation of the doctrine of Infallibility; it was the beginning of the Roman Ongoing Maniacal quest for Political Power and control, following the loss of the Papal States.

While it is not just the Smells and bells that keep me Catholic,it is the centrality of Eucharist along with righteous support of the Faithful by some Clerics. We may be denied Eucharist by a churchs' self serving Homophobes and Pharisees,who are hanging on by their fingertips to Medieval power but,It is primarily Christs' Promise to be with us, to the end,"even if the Gates of Hell try to prevail against us," that keeps me still some what tied with Ecclesial apron strings.

My faith is in the Person of Jesus,the Christ; not in a faulty HumanInstitution.

Peace and Joy;

+Neil, c.s.e.f.

Abbot-Ordinary to the Community of St's. Elizabeth and Francis, Interdenominational.

"Let my will be ever submissive to the law of the Cross, and the love of Jesus crucified, and be ever full of charity for all mankind" - Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622)

Dear Neil,
Making the video is easy. You simple film your message and load it onto Youtube or get it to Dan Savage for his "It Gets Better" site.

Once it is on Youtube, send me the link to it.

I am still looking for some parish priests who are still affiliated with a dicoese and under the authority of a local bishop. Still haven't found one who has dared to follow his conscience and produce such a video.

So far we have hear nothing from the bishops... But there are statements (not video, sorry) from Catholic groups concerning the suicide epidemic.
I am a board member of Fortunate Families, a part of a Coalition of Dignity, New Ways Ministry and Call to Action. As Equally Blessed, we are working to change the hearts of those in the pew. After all there are only 200 American bishops but there are considerably more of us, who pray, love and work for the rights of our lgbt children. Equally Blessed ministries combine for 100 years of gay ministry outreach.
The Equally Blessed Statement can be found:

Another group ... Catholics for Equality has also realeased a statement.

There are concerned Catholics in the pew... Don't give up on us yet.

Dear Deb,
Did you know that I am a founding board member of Catholics For Equality?

Is this the time to start organizing all the "ex" clergy and religious into a cohesive voice?
I'd love to see my fellows- brother and sister, with some kind of unifying purpose....

Dear DGS,
A 100% wholehearted and complete "Yes" to that. Perhaps you and I are in the perfect position to do it. I can edit it. All I would need are the contributions of the ex-community and between us, we probably have a huge number of connections with guys who would be more than willing. I suspect I could get Geoff Farrow and John Mc'Neill involved.

Ex Canonica... We need to start with a good name. Call me-let's chat about it.

I wonder if the "allowing suicides to happen is 'better' than encouraging sin" idea is at all related to the story of the saint who prayed her sons would die right after making their confessions, rather than live on and perhaps commit sins in the future? [I am not Catholic, but I vividly remember being handed a prayer card to a female saint who did this]....

Rh, who will be in a It Gets Better in a few days

Your comment to Joanna ("They will dance") is so insightful, Father Tony. I have a feeling that Archbishop Dolan, if left to his own devices, might be a lot more positive than he can be under the current regime. I know a now-retired priest who was a bit of a maverick, and though the archdiocese made him a pastor at two parishes, he never got elevated to "Monsignor." There is a red hat waiting for Archbishop Dolan, but he does have to march to the beat.

I got thrown out, and as I have mentioned before, have unraveled my theology to the point that I fit best with U/U spirituality. Yet I still find myself hoping for the Church to reform, even id I never will return. I spent more than 45 years as an active but somewhat cafeteria Catholic, it's still under my skin even though I've shake their dust from my sandals.

Dear Joann,
May we both live to see a reformation that will restore - not destroy - the Catholic Church