29 June 2016
‘Being gay is who you are, and God doesn’t make junk,’ a straight man said
When they come to analyse major shifts and changes in society, cultural theorists speak of “fault lines”. They sometimes apply the London Underground’s famous safety warning: “Mind the gap”. Two recent events made me aware of contemporary Catholicism’s major fault lines, and how we need to very carefully mind the gaps.
The first was a gathering for 85 well-educated Catholics aged 18–25. Quickly, conversation settled on one of the many consequences of the clergy sexual abuse crisis: the Church’s lack of credibility in its moral teaching. It appeared none of them would give the Church’s position much weight because the gap between our teaching and practice has been revealed to be just too great.
The case study in this discussion became same-sex marriage. As well as I tried to positively present the Church’s ideas about the nature of marriage – and this was before Pope Francis said the Church should apologise for the way it treated gay people in the past – not only did these young Catholics reject these arguments, it also was clear they just didn’t understand them.
Some of them are gay – in or out. They have gay brothers and sisters, relatives, friends and colleagues. LGBTI people are not “other” to them. I discovered that the nature/nurture debate has been resolved. Natural law came in for a hammering: “Being gay is who you are, and God doesn’t make junk,” one of the straight men stated.
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