Recent news from the Vatican resurfaced an old unpleasant feeling hidden deep inside of me. This being a controversial subject difficult to write about I decided to give it a shot and express my very humble opinion and personal experience.
I consider myself a devout Catholic for I love my church and follow – to the best of my abilities – its teaching in spite of not always understanding its decisions. For the most part, I avoid rage and impulsive reactions, instead I go to a place of reflection and search passages of the bible to find answers.
If you felt rejected, snubbed, disregarded as a human after hearing the news, let me tell you that you are not alone. I am a heterosexual woman who married at a very young age at the cathedral in my hometown with a beautiful ceremony and the hopes and dreams of any bride, but the marriage did not work out. It took so much faith and strength to rebuild my life, raise my three sons with the help of my mother and sisters and to find love! Yes, my faith helped me rebuild my self esteem and understand that I am a beloved child of God that can truly be loved by another person. I felt happy as I have never felt before until my new love proposed and we both wanted a religious wedding.
We could not marry in the Catholic church because both of us are divorced and had a religious marriage before. It is likely that we felt just as humiliated as some gay couples out there. You are ready to start a new life full of hope and naturally you want to promise eternal love in front of God, your family and friends for God is the most important being in your life, but you cannot. My self esteem was yet again shattered. “You are not good enough for the church,” said my conscience and my soul was tattooed with a loser’s stigma.
I could write an entire book on this experience and how it unfolded, but I just wanted to write hoping some of those gay couples out there could find peace and reject feeling inferior beings, for you are not.
Eventually my husband and I had a memorable religious ceremony at a local Lutheran Church were we knew the pastor and congregation. Lutheran services are similar to Catholic services and we love everything about this religion. We considered quitting Catholicism and joining the Lutheran faith but our devotion to the mother of Christ prevented us from doing so. We have no regrets and maybe one day I will write about why this is so important to us, but today is about the topic at hand.
The Catholic Church, just like Judaism and Islam has many, many traditions and laws. The Pope does not rule like a king and is subject to a collective group of individuals and laws as written in the bible and ancient records. In order to “accommodate” us the church would have to practically restructure itself, and it could, Pope Francis has made some progress, but it will take a long time to see those changes develop.
It is nothing against us, we are not abominable or inferior and we are certainly loved by Christ. The Vatican’s release stated that it could not allow blessing the union of a gay couple, and not necessarily the persons in this union. Our marriage cannot receive a blessing either but it is because of our previous commitment to other persons. It is not against us as individuals.
I read about the outrage calling out the Catholic church for its hypocrisy and I can certainly assert to that but the Vatican has never blessed or formally approve of the ugly, sinful behavior of some priests, on the contrary, the church has gone out of its way in many cases to hide and cover up these nefarious incidents. Pope Francis has expressed shame, outrage and worked at seeking justice for those affected while endorsing same-sex civil unions causing uproar among many Catholics. The Vatican never blessed sexual abuse or flaunted it as good actions. It has all been hidden – this is horrible when you think of the numerous victims of this action, but those actions have never been blessed. “I renew my closeness to victims of any abuse and commitment of the church to eradicate this evil,” Pope Francis said last year. There is no hypocrisy in my very humble opinion.
In our case, the church offers declarations of nullity, annulments, involving a judgement and a verdict which is also uncomfortable to say the least. But how about the kids born of annulled marriages? Were they born out of wedlock? It is a complicated subject for me and I still need to discern and meditate on a decision.
I invite anybody who is feeling left out, enraged or frustrated to seek peace. Understand that religion is managed by men and it is human to err. We are all humans trying to live the best life with someone we love. The Vatican is trying to lead us in a sacred way with the tools they have. We might not understand why our unions are a sin, but we should know that God created us to his image and loves us unconditionally.
It is important to understand sin and be brave enough to dig into our souls to see ourselves for who we are and accept sin if present and repent. I invite you to read about Catholicism and research other religions’ views on gay unions and find the blessing you have been seeking for.
During a recent RV trip, we discovered the oldest Polish Colony in the U.S. in Panna Maria, Texas and took this photo of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.