Catholic Church

Let’s Make Church Better, Now

by delfin w. bautista

At a time where the Catholic Church is under much scrutiny due to scandal, abuses of power, and upholding teachings that fracture rather then unite, this short video of Father Donal Godfrey has rekindled my faith that all will be well within the tradition I was raised in.

Many have asked me if Pope Francis’ perceived openness reflects the priest’s sentiment of “it gets better.”

Honestly, my feelings are mixed. The pope’s statement of “who am I to judge” is a welcome burst of hope filled fresh air; however what truly holds me, motivates me, and inspires me are the growing number of out and proud Catholics in the United States and around the world who advocate for LGBT equality on both sides of the church doors.

In the United States, over 70% of Catholics across the age spectrum support marriage equality or civil relationship recognition for gay and lesbian families—more than 90% support legal protections for trans* and gender variant individuals. Like Donal, there is a growing number of priests and religious women/men who are not only challenging the hierarchy but challenging all of us to radically live gospel love, justice, and hospitality.

Donal’s message of love and acceptance not only embraces the queer community but also warmly welcomes all those who have been outed of their communities. It reminds me that no religious institution is perfect, for as humans, we are all prone to blunders, both intentional and unintentional—especially when it comes to faith. His testimony reflects that the Spirit is moving in the Catholic Church and the wider religious world with an inspiring message that the church is more than an institution’s hierarchy or leadership.

Church is the people—all of the people—who together form an interconnected web with G-d at the center holding us together.

As Catholics, we are just starting to understand what our siblings in other Christian traditions have understood and practiced for some time now—a church is all of us. The church is the bishops, priests, religious, lay, lapsed/recovering Catholics, and heretical Catholics like me—all of us together, coexisting and in harmoniously tense communion, embodying church.

The loss of Donal’s young friend to suicide is a tragedy that needs to end. Too many lives have been lost due to communal practices of marginalization and dehumanization of those of us who live and love beyond the norm. His death impacts the entire Internet community—though things can be repaired, it will not be the same.

Together we must honor his life by making sure all those on the fringes truly know they are loved and celebrated for who they are—they too are equally blessed and equally part of the church.

Together as a web of people, we must do all we can to make it better, now.

All of us, todas y todos en conjunto, must radically embrace the belief that the beloved and quirky community of church includes all—a church where on both sides of the door, all are created in the image of G-d truly means ALL are created in the image of G-d.

Amen, que asi sea!

Photo via flickr user Trey Ratcliff