One of the things I love most about being Catholic is our unapologetic devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. I’ve always envisioned her to be the ultimate mother—she’d have to be wouldn’t she? God chose her to be the mother of our Savior.
And by all accounts in the Bible, Mary was pretty awesome.
“Hail Mary, full of grace” is the opening line to a prayer Catholics have been praying for centuries. I enjoy praying this prayer because it reminds me that Mary is not only Jesus’ mother, but she is our spiritual mother as well.
It was Mary who appeared at Tepeyac in Mexico, Lourdes in France, Fatima in Portugal and Banneux in Belgium. And that’s just four of the nine major approved apparitions from the “Mother of God.”
So what would the ultimate mother look like? She’d certainly love her child no matter what. She would welcome them with open arms and an open door to her home. She would listen to their troubles and fears assuring them that she loved them and that God loved them, too. And she’d fight. She’d fight to protect her child from danger and from bullies who wish to harm her child.
That’s how I see Mary anyway—the ultimate mother with an endless amount of unconditional love.
So when Margie Winters was fired last month from her teaching job as a Catholic elementary school educator in Philadelphia because of her sexual orientation, I couldn’t help but think, “Jesus’ mother isn’t gonna like that!”
Or a week later when a gay man was denied communion at his mother’s funeral—his own mother’s funeral! I couldn’t help but think, “Jesus’ mother isn’t gonna like that!”
But in spite of a these set-backs I was still encouraged at the beginning of the summer that the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, scheduled for September 22-27, would result in new conversations around a more authentic representation of the Catholic family, a dialogue that included ALL of its Catholic family members.
I guess I’m still holding out some hope that there will be the opportunity for such a miraculous conversation to take place, and perhaps even with the Holy Father himself.
Last November Believe Out Loud hosted a screening of Sister Jeannine Gramick’s film, In Good Conscience in New York City. Sr. Jeannine is a tireless Catholic nun who has been advocating for LGBT Catholics for decades.
The screening we hosted inspired such wonderful conversation that we thought it would be the perfect film to show in Philadelphia the week of the Pope’s visit. Who better to spark a conversation around the Catholic Church and how it treats its LGBT brothers and sisters than Sr. Jeannine?
I was extremely excited when I found a Catholic Institution that was not only willing to host the event, they actually wanted to host the event. That was, until the constant local and national media attention began focusing on the firing of teacher Margie Winters.
And as a result of the media firestorm, our film screening was postponed for a couple of months until after the publicity died down.
Monday of this week, however, felt like the final straw for me. St. John the Evangelist, the only Catholic Church or Catholic institution in Philadelphia providing space to host any of the LGBT events taking place the week of the World Meeting of Families, was also pressured into pulling out as a host. Seriously?!
Again I think with even more certainty, “Jesus’ mother isn’t gonna like that!”
Archbishop Chaput is not only testing my faith as a Catholic—he is also testing my faith in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, the same Archdiocese that taught me growing up what it means to be a Catholic.
Sadly, both seem to be under the impression that it is Pope Benedict who is coming to Philadelphia in September, and not Pope Francis.
Haven’t they been paying attention? Haven’t they been listening?
The Catholic LGBT community continues to lose our jobs, our churches, our right to even have our voices heard and worse yet—the opportunity to receive communion at our own parent’s funerals. AGH!
Sr. Jeannine is from Philly and so am I, which makes the attempt to silence our voices during this important week, in our own hometown, sting just a little more for me than usual.
But after I’m able to shake off my frustration, I’m reminded that contrary to how the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Archbishop Chaput himself have chosen to treat the LGBT Catholic community thus far, I can take comfort and pride in the fact that my LGBT Catholic colleagues and their families are still going to Philadelphia in September, whether Archbishop Chaput wants us there or not.
And when we arrive in Philly, we will continue to place value on the entire Catholic family, whether Archbishop Chaput wishes to recognize us as his Catholic brothers and sisters or not.
And when we arrive in Philly, we will talk about how we can help the Catholic Church and even Archbishop Chaput himself become the Church and its people that Jesus truly intended them to be, whether Archbishop Chaput wants to listen to us or not.
And when it all happens, I can’t help but think—Jesus’ mother is really gonna like that!
Photo via flickr user angelamcave