Can a Catholic parish celebrate gay pride?
After a tumultuous couple of weeks, Boston's St. Cecilia Parish will host a gay pride Mass on July 10 after an original service planned by the parish's Rainbow Ministry was canceled by the archidiocese following a outcry by bloggers and other Catholics. The Rainbow Ministry hosted an outdoor alternative service on Sunday that drew 250 participants.
While I think it's good that the Mass will go forward, I am concerned about the future of gay and lesbian Catholics in the church. With the bishops having chosen civil gay marriage as their line in the sand, and with the heat of the rhetoric that has been flying around on that issue, I'm afraid the hierarchy and many gay Catholics have reached a parting of the ways.
I think that's too bad: There was a time when dialogue was the order of the day, and not 20 years ago the bishops produced a pastoral message, "Always Our Children," that to me signaled a willingness to be in conversation with gay and lesbian Catholics about their experience.
I think someday many in the church will come to regret much of the church's official teaching about homosexuality (that it is an "objective disorder" to an "instrinsically evil" act). I know many readers of USCatholic.org often express the opinion that church teaching cannot change, but history shows that it does. In fact, I find the evidence of development and change undeniable.
While the church may never sanction sexual activity between members of the same gender, I hope that it will find a more positive way to account for the presence of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in the both the human and the Catholic families. In the meantime, let us also hope that we might find more generous and pastorally sensitive language to unravel this difficult issue.