Gays deserve Catholic acceptance

So, my last three columns were about the economy and spending. But it’s time to dwell on one of the most controversial issues of our time: homosexuality.

As a Catholic college, Mercyhurst holds a special meaning to Catholics like me who identify as gay. When I arrived here earlier in the year, I was shocked, albeit in a good way, that we have a Gay-Straight Alliance on campus. At first, I thought Catholicism and my gayness were incompatible. However, I realized that, despite popular opinions and what mainstream media says, the Church actually strives to include LGBT people in its community.

I am not saying there isn’t homophobia in the church. I agree with popular opinion on this, that more outreach work needs to be done by the Catholic Church towards LGBT people.

For example, the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas are very friendly to LGBT people. I was browsing their website one day and came across an article by a nun named Sister Ann McGovern. In the article, titled “Homosexuality: From Tolerance to Love and Appreciation,” she explains that the Catholic Church needs to focus on integrating LGBT people into the church.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops also released an article called “Always Our Children.” This article was intended for parents of the faith who have teens who identify as LGBT. The article encourages parents to reach out to their LGBT son/daughter and to try to understand what they are going through.

I am a gay Catholic, and when I came out last year, I expected to find support. Instead, I found a priest who told me to change my thinking and find a girl.

How homophobic is that?

Officially, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops says the following: “The Christian community should offer its homosexual sisters and brothers understanding and pastoral care. More than 20 years ago, we bishops stated that “Homosexuals should have an active role in the Christian community.”

The Catholic Church has a landscape of varying opinions on LGBT people, those that range from extremely homophobic clergy (like I experienced), to those who are understanding men and women who care about the LGBT people in their parish.

I call on the Bishop Donald W. Trautman to address this issue in the Diocese of Erie. I am not saying the Church should condone same-sex activities or marriage; in fact, I am very happy being gay and living a chaste lifestyle that is sanctioned by the Church for LGBT people. What I am saying is that the Church needs to stamp out homophobia and welcome LGBT people with open arms, saying “We love you, God loves you, and you don’t have to face these feeling alone.”