The readers speak
By Tom Fox, NCR publisher
Today's Take wraps up the week by returning to Monday's take in which I shared with readers that my wife and I had became members of DignityUSA (www.dignityusa.org). I said I felt a need to do something visible to support gay and lesbian Catholics.
My words apparently touched wounds while offering some hope that someone is listening. I received dozens of e-mails. While my comments in the column, "Supporting gay and lesbian Catholics," drew some sharp criticisms, alleging I am out of the church if not my mind, reactions were 10 to one positive. What follows is a sampling of those e-mails, names deleted, and is aimed at both sharing the gratitude and pain.
- Thank you for acknowledging the humanity of your fellow Catholics.
- Yesterday was the first time in my life that I came out as bisexual. I came out to a Roman Catholic priest. He told me that he believed that my sexuality is a gift from God and that it has allowed me to be a more sensitive person and has given me the ability to recognize what it is to be marginalized in society. For the first time since I felt the alienation from my faith that my sexuality had caused, I feel spiritually alive again. God be with you, National Catholic Reporter.
- Your column "Supporting gay and lesbian Catholics" deserves nothing but praise. I, as an educator, a Catholic, a member of the American Psychological Association, and a lesbian, thank you not only personally, but also professionally for your courageous stance. You have saved lives today by writing as you did.
- As a Roman Catholic and the mother of a gay child, I want to thank you. Our daughter has left the church because of its intolerant and hypocritical stance on this issue (as well as the ordination of women). I am still in the pew each Sunday with my husband, but I feel profoundly sad at the rejection and suffering of gays and lesbians who desire to be part of the church.
- I find it ludicrous that the so-called leadership of our church, on the one hand, gives me permission (which I didn't need, thank you!) to love my son and on the other hand tells me that my son … is intrinsically disordered. I have simply stopped listening to the hierarchy.
- Because of people like you, we are making progress in becoming accepted by the persons in the pews, if not by officialdom. Thanks again for your words and by your actions to support those words.
- Bravo! I'm not a Catholic (actually, I'm an atheist). But I can't help but see the pain suffered by so many people who have been hurt by last summer's (Cardinal Joseph) Ratzinger-rant and last week's #%!*&$ from the bishops. So it's good to see someone who's showing them some respect.
- After the recent mean-spirited, demoralizing attacks from our leaders in Rome and the Conference of Catholic Bishops on gay and lesbian Catholics, I was wondering if there were going to be any voices of reason and compassion from lay Catholics to defend their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters … As a gay Catholic physician, I thank you for your fair-mindedness and your courage.
- I am a fairly recent convert and Dignity is the soul reason for that choice.
- The question I thought that was most enlightening was your last one, because it discussed the issue from a different side. No longer is the question "why is it wrong to exclude gays and lesbians," but in that answer, he (Pat Aaron) described "why is it right to allow gays and lesbians." The real reason why the church should include this group is not that it would be evil not to, but because it would be good to.
- Thanks so very much for your words of support for DignityUSA. Your willingness to take a step of tangible support in support of gay and lesbian Catholics in the face of the bishops' blind hypocrisy is courageous and appreciated.
- Thanks for you article on Gay and Lesbian Catholics, and especially for joining DignityUSA.
- As a former religious of 30 years who could no longer officially represent a church that saw me as disordered, I know well the struggle that we gay and lesbian Catholics have faced.
- I want to personally thank you for your comments on the appropriateness of acknowledging committed, loving, long-term relationships between same sex couples. Whether it is called marriage, unions or commitment is not the most important issue. Your reflections and your membership in DignityUSA will invite readers to more clearly consider and distinguish between the mean spirited statements of the church and the justice and respect we are called to live out with all our brothers and sisters.
- I am a subscriber of NCR, the mother of a gay son, a member of PFLAG, Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays (www.pflag.org) and the founder of a Catholic support group for parents and friends of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons in Seattle. Your statement was serendipitous in light of the Massachusetts Court ruling on November 18. … This severe problem in the Roman Catholic church has made me question my remaining an active member, but, like you, I have decided to stay and fight.
- I look forward to the day when all churches are as welcoming to all people as Dignity is. Until that time, people will seek their pastoral guidance elsewhere and fall away from their faith, which surely does nobody any good.
- Bravo, Mr. Fox! Thanks for taking this stand!
- Our thanks to you and your beloved wife. Welcome aboard!
- I applaud your finely nuanced article in yesterday's NCRonline.org. I agree that the idea of marriage cannot be given another set of terms and conditions when applied to gays and lesbians. … My greatest regret as a gay Catholic (and father) is that I cannot worship freely in the church where I feel at once at home and completely alienated.
- Your article in Today's Take on NCRonline.org was a real shot in the arm.
- My door is always open to you and your wife.
Tom Fox is NCR publisher. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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