I make no secret that I am a former Catholic and believe that my Catholic upbringing inflicted much pain and self-hatred on me. Indeed, it took several years of therapy to get over the damage done. Thus, I found it of interest when on December 17, 2017, the Rev. Gregory Greiten, a Roman Catholic priest, shared a secret with parishioners at the St. Bernadette Catholic Parish: “I am gay.” Greiten was then greeted with a standing ovation, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Greiten next wrote a column in the National Catholic Reporter that looked at both his own experiences but also on why the Church needs to change and reject its 12th century views on sexuality. In the Root, another former Catholic reviewed Greitan's actions and made statements that ran all too true with me. Here are excerpts:
As someone who now uses the descriptor “recovering Catholic” to answer questions about my religious identity, was once approached for the priesthood, struggled with reconciling my faith with my sexual orientation, and just finished writing about these experiences and more in a book called I Can’t Date Jesus, much of what Greiten wrote felt all too familiar.
Like Greiten, I was taught that homosexuality was something “disordered, unspeakable and something to be punished.” I thought I was going to go to hell for every thought I had, every touch I contemplated, each time I gave in to temptation. It’s a haunting, shameful feeling that eats you inside. You become so accustomed to guilt that even if you dare to be truthful about who you are in all settings, you may still find yourself having to learn to shake off old habits, like guilt. Religions in general tend to make their believers feel guilty about their misdeeds, but Catholics are particularly adept when it comes to guilt.
That’s why it matters so much that Greiten has stepped forward and gained national attention. There are many more like him. Just how many is unclear, but none of them should feel compelled to linger in the shadows. . . . The church continues to collectively hold archaic, bigoted views about transgender people. Moreover, the Vatican relentlessly clings to needless positions about women on issues like contraception that contribute to their subjugation around the world.
Everyone should be loved and embraced rather than merely tolerated.
As we launch into 2018, I hope that more Catholics - especially those who are LGBT - will reject the Church's toxic teachings and in the process find self-acceptance and the realization that there is nothing wrong with them. Happy New Year!