That pain and hurt must stop with me…Anonymous
Discerning my official break from the Roman Catholic Church has been one of the most difficult, yet liberating experiences of my life. I was born and raised Roman Catholic and thought for most of my life that I would give my entire life to the Church. In the last few years, however, it has become increasingly clear to me that the Roman Catholic Church does not value or, if I am being honest, deserve my gifts. I am not willing to hide, segment, code switch, or lie about myself and my life anymore. I am not willing to raise my future children in a space that could potentially make them feel the way I did for many years – “inherently disordered.” I have spent years dismantling this narrative in my own life, and I would never wish the heartbreaking work of questioning, struggling with and much later finally reclaiming my dignity and worth as a beloved child of God on another generation. That pain and hurt must stop with me. Instead, I will proudly take what I learned from the Roman Catholic Church with me – in many ways, I will always be Roman Catholic – it doesn’t have to be either/or. The contradiction resides in the institutions, not in my body. I will still be Roman Catholic in my heart and through my Baptism and I will be a seeker, searcher and an active participant in another wing of the Jesus movement.
My reason for staying for so long was a false sense of my ability to change the Church as well as a deep and painful sense of Catholic guilt. How could I leave the “one, true church”?, was the highly problematic question that would keep me up at night. However, I know now that there is not “one, true church” – just a bunch of people trying to follow Christ in many different ways. I believe that no more truth resides within the institution of Catholicism than any other religious identity, and I am no longer willing to let the Roman Catholic Church dictate my feelings of safety and my ability to express my love in its most authentic and deep way. I know that the Divine is no longer calling me to work for change from within the structures of the Roman Catholic Church – She is calling me to be liberated into living my full identity out and proud as a pastor in a tradition with more love and compassion than the Roman Catholic Church can muster. The Divine’s love is creative, liberating, and life-giving. I have never felt this to be more true than when I stopped believing what the hierarchy has to say about queer folks and started listening to the Spirit’s undeniable movement in my life and in the world.