Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Jose Arregi: To lesbians, gays, transsexuals and bisexuals
March 22, 2016
Friends: Thank you for inviting me to your annual encounter of LGTB Christian Believers at the Franciscan Shrine of Santa María de Regla in Chipiona (Cadiz). A very beautiful place of peace caressed by the Atlantic ocean, rocked day and night by the murmur of its waves. Thanks to the Franciscans for their effusive fraternal embrace and, above all, for welcoming you each year with the freedom and blessing of Francis of Assisi to his brother Leo, a blessing present in every corner of the sanctuary: "The Lord bless and keep you..." Yes, may Life bless you.
God, or Life, doesn't bless you despite being gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals, but for being what you are. Bless your lives for being as you are, for your bodies as they are -- the body never lies --, for your sexual orientation, for your gender identity. "Thank you because you made us in all colors," reads the motto of your encounter. So be it. Let everyone rejoice in what they are. Let them give thanks for the own unique color of their lives, like the blue of Chipiona's sky, the green of its waters, the yellow of its beach, all the colors of the rainbow.
Jesus doesn't welcome us "with mercy," as it says in the gospels that he welcomed "publicans and sinners" and ate with them, as some good theologians recall with the best of intentions when they talk about you or talk to you, unknowingly admitting or unintentionally insinuating that, because of your condition, you need a look of indulgence, to be treated with pity. As though you were bearing a problem, a disease, or blame.
The Church doesn't owe you understanding or mercy, but recognition. Let it recognize what you are as good, as good as being a blond in a land of brunettes. And it's not enough to say as Pope Francis did when they asked him about homosexuals, "If they're like that, who am I to judge them?". It's good, it's already a lot, but imagine if a journalist had asked him, "Pope Francis, what do you think of a heterosexual couple?" Do you think the pope would have answered, "If life has made them that way, I am not the one to judge them"? Let the Catholic Church move from treating you with mercy to treating you with respect, and from respecting you tolerantly to really recognizing you. The problem is theirs. The problem is ours.
You bear the terrible stigma of millenia of sexist culture, of negation of culture, of contempt for the other, of mistreatment of life, of simple ignorance...You're still shouldering the anathema of the church institution, because of pure lack of knowledge, because of hardness of mind or maybe of heart too. Religions in general -- from the Eastern traditions to the great monotheistic faiths -- have a cultural and spiritual revolution pending that would lead them to be deeply reconciled with the body, sex, pleasure. At the root of homophobia is found precisely a problem with the body, sex, and pleasure. And don't forget that the most aggressive homophobia is almost always a response to one's own badly experienced homosexuality; psychology and sociology (church sociology in particular) corroborate that.
Someday the Church will ask you for forgiveness for what it's still falsely maintaining in the name of God. And it will erase from the Catechism of the the Catholic Church, like other things, that absurd statement that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered" and will abandon once and for all its favorite argument -- that the Bible and tradition have "always" taught it thus. It's historically false, since you have to look for and interpret a lot to find clear condemnations of homosexuality in the Bible; as far as the history of the Church, testimonies and documents about that, especially prior to the 14th century, homosexual practice was not only tolerated but was even blessed as a sacrament. But the argument that what the Bible and tradition say is absolute truth and must be maintained unchanged forever is, above all, theologically false. It justifies senseless opinions just because "it is written." Absurd. Don't the bishops read in the Bible, both in the Old and in the New Testament, that God prohibits eating pork, seafood, rabbit, and sausages? Don't they read in the Letter to Timothy that bishops are to be married? Really, they just read what they want to. They call their phobias and obsessions God.
But the Spirit is moving. The religions are moving, despite their scriptures and traditions. The Dalai Lama has moved. And many liberal rabbis. And many Anglican bishops. Will the Catholic bishops move? Will Pope Francis move on this issue too? Will they be reconciled to Life?
Homosexual friend, the angel of the Annunciation is saying to you as it did to Mary: Rejoice in being as you are, full of grace, a sacrament of love in your own beautiful and holy color. Love what you are and be what you want.