Father’s Day 2009, my husband and I sat in our parish church of 29 years. Though it is a warm parish with an honest, friendly priest, I often feel separate and lonely in my Church. The Catholic Church has an enormous capacity for loving the sick, poor and disenfranchised. But to this love they add a huge dollop of intolerance and contempt of LGBT people. It bears such bitter fruit.
As part of his Father’s Day homily, our priest extolled the virtue of loving fathers of all kinds of children – happy children, sad children, bright children, those with disabilities, scalawags and the well behaved. On and on he spoke, including almost everyone. Yet again, there was no mention of gay, lesbian and transgender children or their fathers. We are the invisible families, the ‘elephants in the room.’ My child is not valued as others are valued. Our family is not acknowledged.
Surprised by my deep feelings of pain and abandonment, I cried silently as I raged to our Lord about my frustration and disappointment in the Church. This moment was my breaking point and it left me feeling desolate. I wondered why I was sitting there. I was not welcome. I felt I should just leave the Roman Catholic Church and go elsewhere.
But God has other plans. When our priest gave the sending forth prayer from the altar, he shocked me by saying loud and clear: “God bless the fathers who love and support their gay and lesbian children.” Truly I almost fell out of the pew! After mass I told him how much that one statement meant to me. He said he intended to include it in the homily but simply forgot. Then he laughed and said I must have sent him thought waves to jog his memory.
Please know that the Church did not fall down; people did not scream and run out in shock. Actually, no one even seemed to notice that one priest, in one parish, made LGBT families feel welcomed and acknowledged. He also kept one mother in the Catholic Church – at least for now.
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