I know what's it's like to feel you have a secret that nobody can know about. I know what it's like to feel ashamed about being gay. I know what it's like to wonder if your silence about being gay is causing more harm than your ministry is causing good.
For a long time institutional Catholic Church leaders, knowingly or not, have fostered an atmosphere of secrecy and denial in dealing with LGBT people and issues. This environment affects more than clergy.
While it might be argued that the Pope Francis's understanding about human sexual orientation, especially LGBTQ's is expanding, and his concern for the dignity and humanity of LGBTQ people is genuinely shown, the pontiff is still a doctrinal conservative when it comes to women.
Now that Philomena is going into wide release and has been nominated for four Oscars -- I have a few words to say about the film and about the facts it was based on. You might say I have standing in the matter.
My book has generated a lot correspondence from people all over the world. Few have been negative. The rest are a combination of affirming supportive emails and emails from those who have been hurt by the Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality.
The Catholic Church is greatly in need of self-examination and reform, indeed Reformation, on a host of issues. Sadly I see no reason to believe that Pope Francis is the reformer who could lead that change.
As a Catholic nun for seven years I saw the power of the Catholic Church in making and breaking rules, baptizing and excommunicating members, and throwing a heap of guilt on those poor souls that miss their mark of perfection.
My prayer for the church is that we might take this opportunity to stop causing harm, to stop being judgmental and to become more welcoming; more inviting; more loving towards all people, especially those who are marginalized and ostracized.
It is inconceivable to me that we as a church are unwilling to connect the dots between the church's teaching on homosexuality and the way it's being implemented by members of the hierarchy and the harm it is causing to our LGBT youth.
The slogan "loud and proud" is often used in the gay community in an effort to counteract the oppression of others including the oppression of the Church. Might we as a Church come to support that culture, the culture of loud and proud over silence and shame?
Pope Francis allegedly said that the Vatican is filled with gays, with queer networks and with a culture of granting professional favors to each other. Yet the pope has decided to clean up his shop. He is quoted as saying, "the carnival is over."
In October 2010 I discovered the secret retreat where closeted gay Catholic priests meet in private once a year to let their hair down and be openly gay together for the week. As a gay former Catholic altar boy, I could not believe both the luck and horror of this discovery.
After a tumultuous decade that featured death threats and bullet-proof vests as well as a wedding to his partner of 25 years, Bishop Gene Robinson will be stepping down from his seat on December 31 of this year. But his work continues.
The Catholic Church doesn't commit all resources to ending legal divorce, enacting Sunday closing laws, or getting Ash Wednesday made a national holiday. No, gay issues are different, and I've come to only one reasonable explanation.