Wednesday, January 18, 2006

UNCG's 'On Faith' column features gay Catholic

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Last semester the UNCG student newspaper, The Carolinian, started a new feature called "On Faith". In the first issue of the Spring 2006 semester, the On Faith column features a gay Catholic. The column was written by one of the Carolinian's regular columnists, Garon Anders, who usually writes in his column entitled "Left Turn Only":
ON FAITH: Why I'm a gay Catholic By: Garon Anders Issue date: 1/17/06 Section: Life The Carolinian, UNCG Those closest to me know that I love the Catholic faith. Throughout college, I have continued to practice my faith by regularly attending Mass and participating in various church activities. The question most often asked of me is, "Why would you continue to belong to an organization that declares homosexual persons as 'intrinsically disordered?'" It is a difficult question to answer. For those of us who identify ourselves as Christians, we strive not to be relativists. I do not want to view my faith as some sort of doctrinal buffet where I pick and choose the precepts of faith that mesh with my own reasoning while disregarding those that I find outdated and wrong. However, that is where I find myself. I believe this to be the case for many Christians and members of other religious traditions. I have to say that over the years, I have found the Catholic Church welcoming. I have never been the target of discrimination by the church or my fellow parishioners. Even the church's priests have been understanding of my confusion and, for lack of a better word, condition. At the age of seventeen, I went to confession and said, "Father, I'm gay." He looked at me and said, "Well, that's okay. I have lots of friends that are gay." He went on to advise me of the church's teachings with respect to homosexuality; that is, homosexuals are to be loved, accepted, and treated with respect. Rather than towing the church's doctrinal line, he said, "Garon, be the best person you can be. Live a life that is Christ-like and pray for change." Since that time, I have not felt alienated by my faith. So, what is it that keeps me coming back to the church week after week? For me, it is the message of hope. The Mass prayers are beautiful and optimistic. They inspire me to be the best person that I can be - to live as justly as possible and treat others with respect. When I attend mass, I do feel different from others that are around me. My church is filled with young, beautiful couples. I closely watch the young families that attend my church, knowing that most likely I will never share their experience in the church. Despite that, I feel a unity with them. More so than any other tradition in the church, the Mass symbolizes the unity of the church's people throughout the world. I do pray for change. The sex abuse scandals of the past few years have hurt the church quite a bit. An odd paradox has recently arisen from the sex abuse scandals. The church teaches that it is not a sin to be gay. In fact, the church has embraced the notion that sexuality is something to which we are predisposed. What the church finds to be gravely sinful are "acts of homosexuality." I take this to mean relationships and sex. By this rationale, gay persons are called to lead a life of celibacy. For many homosexual men, this meant that one way to escape temptation was to become a priest. Since the sex abuse scandals, the Vatican has issued a document stating that homosexual persons should not be admitted to the clergy. However, the issuance of such a statement with respect to the priesthood and homosexuality has caused me to be concerned for the state of the church. For now, I continue to pray for change and do my best not to lead a life of doctrinal relativism. I fear, however, that I am woefully failing.
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We haven't had a lot of strong positive or negative reaction to the "On Faith" columns - but they're definitely one of my favorite features.