In this article I would like to propose how I would address same sex unions. I have been noticing that our present approach of making laws against same sex marriages, and generally being against them, isn’t working, and I would like to discuss how I would address them.
I would like to emphasize persuasion. That is something we have a wonderful megaphone for. Here are some ideas I have to be persuasive, in no particular order:
1. Make our position known to both Catholics and non-Catholics: Our position is for opposite sex marriage and is very much supported by Scripture and Tradition. Our position is also that same sex attracted people are loved Children of God and are subjected to rights and responsibilities. The same sex attracted person can never marry another person of the same sex. Make that very clear. Use all the means of communication to put that point across.
2. Ministering to same sex attracted people: The people that I see every week in a Courage meeting for same sex attracted people share that their life in the gay subculture was very unsatisfying and very shallow, and that they saw the Church as being a firm anchor for their spiritual lives, and indeed their total life. The Church is asking a great deal from them: total chastity. I think we must provide great support for them. I think we must strive to have a Courage meeting in as many parishes as are possible. I think we should strive to provide good role models for them. One such role model would be Father Mychal Judge who admitted to being gay but, as far as I know, was chaste, and was famous for dying at the twin towers in 9-11.
Now Father Judge did have one problem: he was supportive of Dignity, which wants to change the Church's position in this regard. I would not be supportive of that. We can support the legitimate aspirations of our gay Catholic brothers and sisters to not be attacked and to not be discriminated against in hiring or housing. We would most assuredly draw the line at marriage.
3. Traditional Marriage: The emphasis on same sex marriage would leave a visitor from Mars thinking that traditional marriage is just fine. As a working parish priest I know this is not so. The hook-up culture, the number of people living together, the number of unmarried mothers, and the high rate of divorce add up to a problem of monumental proportions. Can the Church in the United States address this as a Church? Can we improve marriage preparation? Can we address marriage in poverty and help with a multitude of aids, from help in job training to baby care?
I offer this with great humility, as I don’t pretend to have the answer. Maybe this is a start.
—Father Mike Van Cleve
Father Mike is a priest for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
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