Presentation given by Jim Hickey, Springtown TX (near Ft. Worth) in 2008
I was born and raised on the south shore of Massachusetts, graduated from Monsignor James Coyle High School in Taunton Massachusetts. I met a guy there named Joe Delaney who was the salutatorian of my senior class. I cannot say that we were friends in high school; however I got to know him a lot better as the Bishop of the Fort Worth Diocese. I graduated from Boston University with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering. I met my late wife, Joan Vahey in my senior year in college. We have 5 children, Kevin Patrick, Mary Agnes, Erin Eileen, Kathleen Ann, and Maura Regis. I gather that you can perceive that I have a strong Irish Catholic background. After 45 years of marriage, Joan passed away. I have recently married a very special lady, Jean Carol Wallace. I lived in Arlington, Texas from 1967 to 2001 and attended St. Matthews’s Parish. I presently live in Springtown and attend St. Stephan’s Parish in Weatherford. I have: worked in all the parishes that I have attended in various roles; worked for many years in the Cursillo Community; attended Partners in Ministry many years ago and am presently on the advisory board; and work with the (Ft. Worth) Diocesan Ministry With Gay and Lesbian, and other Sexual Minorities and their Families.
My daughter Erin came out of the closet and shared with us that she was homosexual. It was not easy coming to grips with this and understanding her situation. I could not believe it. What a shock! This is what happens to the other guy. I have to admit that I was not receptive to this situation at all. In fact I was not even very nice to my daughter. It was my late wife, Joan that was quite receptive. Why can you not accept Erin as she is? You have accepted our other children’s situations: Kevin, a divorced recovering alcoholic, Mary, in a common law marriage to an African American, and Maura as a single mother with her child out of wedlock.
My problem was that I did not have a clue or any understanding of Erin’s situation. I was immersed in the anti-homosexual culture that prevails and unfortunately is not very well received by the mainstream Christian community, including Catholics. The official teaching of our Church is that they are intrinsically disordered!! I thought that the teaching was that we are all sinners, so why is the Homosexual Community singled out as the only class that is intrinsically disordered??
One evening Joan said that she wanted to attend a religious service that was going to be conducted after a Gay/Lesbian Conference. What could I do now? Joan was suffering from Multiple Sclerosis and I was the one that had to get her into the wheel chair, into the van and drive her to the service. I was overwhelmed! I had no idea that the homosexual community was so SPIRIT FILLED. I have given out a bunch of handouts, and would like to briefly comment on some of their content.
First of all sexual orientation is not a choice. Any homosexual will tell you that anyone in their right mind would NOT choose to be that way.
It is NOT a mental illness or an emotional problem.
They are NOT pedophiles and make as good parents as anyone else. The idea that, because there are homosexual priests, this is the cause of them abusing children, especially altar boys, is ludicrous. It is an excuse, not a reason for the behavior.
They are not inclined to be any more promiscuous than heterosexuals. Unfortunately too many associate this with homosexuality. I am not an advocate of the many Gay Pride Parades. The in-your-face attitude that sometimes prevails does not do our outreach any favors. Why, however, is it OK to have a Mardi Gras parade and not a Gay Pride parade? Many of my homosexual friends do not see the difference.
In one of the handouts on what the Catholic Church Teaches, following the statements of the teachings that homosexual behavior is immoral and being intrinsically disordered and that there can be no marriage, is the statement that:
“We cannot judge the spiritual condition of another because we cannot know the other’s subjective disposition before God. Circumstances may exist…which would reduce or remove the culpability of the individual in a given instance.”
What in heavens name are they talking about?? The best kept secret of our church is the teaching of the primacy of conscience. We cannot have a formation of conscience without knowledge. Just as we have learned through our catechism that to commit a mortal sin requires serious matter, full reflection [in other words you have studied the matter thoroughly] and full consent of the will [you have decided that it is wrong and that you do it anyway]. But what if you decide that it is not wrong?? The church teaches that our conscience must be formed in the same manner and followed!! You are faced with a serious moral choice and, after having given it serious study, you fully believe that the path that you are taking is correct. This does not mean being a cafeteria catholic, picking and choosing what we will or not follow because it is convenient, or easy, or conforms to our life style.
Life Style. Someone asked Father Murphy what a homosexual does? He said, you mean what is the homosexual life style? I loved his answer. The same as yours, they’re doctors, lawyers, laborers, home makers. Why do you ask??
None of the homosexuals that are in this ministry are Cafeteria Catholics. They have prayed and agonized over their situation and come to the conclusion that they are definitely not intrinsically disordered, and in taking a partner and loving them they are doing nothing wrong. As St. John says in one of his letters, God is love and they that abide in love abide in God and God in him. And, as a friend of mine with a gay son would say, PERIOD! No ifs, ands or buts.
Father McBrien in his book Catholicism states that if, after appropriate study and reflection, a person is convinced that his/her conscience is correct, in spite of a conflict with the church teachings, the person not only may, but must, follow his/her conscience.
There is a handout by Professor Daniel Maguire, a Catholic theologian, that argues for homosexual marriage. My gay & lesbian friends argue that the church teaches that the bride and groom administer the sacrament, not the priest. So, why if two people love each other and want to get married, they cannot? This theologian discusses the historical and cultural background of biblical teaching. One thing that he does not discuss is that the understanding of homosexuality as we know it now was not known then. The bible verses that condemn sexual relations between male and male and female and female are in the context of promiscuity, not homosexuality.
I am always totally surprised by my association with priests and theologians and what they do and think. A very conservative priest I know would not think of withholding the Eucharist from anyone and gave it to all that celebrated mass during an ecumenical conference. I have heard that theology may be described in two ways: Church Theology and Vatican Theology. Church Theology is based on the teachings of the church in all its documents and councils, thoughtful, rational, and debatable. Vatican theology is highly personal, skewed, and not always rational. I believe that the church has teaching
authority, not dictatorial authority.
There is only one handout concerning transgender persons. I am not very conversant concerning them. However, everything I have discussed applies to them as well. It is interesting that the medical psychological profession has concluded that sexuality is in the mind, not in the anatomy. It must be terribly difficult to be in a man’s body and have a women’s sexual mentality, and vice-versa. There are a few transgender women that were men in our group and I wish that they were here to tell their stories. I wish also that there were some of my gay and lesbian friends here to tell you of their struggles and
Our outreach meets every 4th Thursday evening at 7pm in the renewal center with Father Warren Murphy. Our meeting consists of a prayer service with sexual minorities and families.
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