A new Catholic video series makes the case that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people are as much a part of the Catholic faith as their straight counterparts.
"A gay identity can inspire and deepen a Christian faith," author John Paul Godges, an openly gay Catholic, told the Ignatian News Network.
Loyola Productions, a Jesuit-sponsored film production company based in Los Angeles, launched the Ignatian News Network on YouTube in 2012. A new series on the YouTube channel explores where LGBT individuals fit within the Catholic Church. The series is called "Who Are We to Judge?" -- a reference to a recent comment made by the Church's first ever Jesuit pope.
In the second episode of the series, gay Catholics explained how they reconciled their religious identity with their sexual orientation. Arthur Fitzmaurice of the Catholic Association for Lesbian & Gay Ministry said he struggled to ride himself of same-sex attractions, but later accepted that "God made me to be this gay person."
"I often tell people that being Catholic is a lot like being American," said Godges, "and just because some politician prosecutes a misbegotten war, I'm not going to renounce my citizenship and flee to Canada. I'm going to stay and fight and communicate and converse and speak at retreats and do whatever I can to promote the best that is in the Catholic church."
"If you are gay and you are Catholic there is one thing to begin with that you must understand," added Michael J. Faber of the Ministry with Lesbian & Gay Catholics. "No one can take away your baptism. No one can take away your confirmation. No one can take away the sacraments that you have received. No one can take away the sacrament that you are."
In the first episode of the series, two Jesuit fathers outlined why gay and lesbian individuals did not have an "inherent conflict" with the Catholic church. Father Matt Malone said many LGBT people felt unwelcome in the Church because of "informal bigotries among Catholic Christians." In a "morally torpid world," Catholics could accept LGBT people just like they accepted divorced people, Malone added.
"One of the big misconceptions about the Catholic church is that it is anti-gay," Father James Martin added. "I think that is a very selective reading of the Catechism."
LGBT advocates within the Church often note that the Catechism -- the official exposition on Catholic doctrine -- states people with same-sex attractions "must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity." The Catechism condemns acts of discrimination against LGBT people.
Conservative Catholics respond by pointing out that the Catechism also describes same-sex relations as "acts of grave depravity" and "objectively disordered." Though same-sex attractions are not considered inherently sinful, acting on those feelings is unacceptable.
Jesuits, however, have a reputation for challenging Church doctrines. Father John McNeill was first silenced and later expelled from the Catholic Church in 1987 for contradicting the Vatican's position on homosexuality.