Take note that I wrote this letter before receiving my notice from the Catholic Church of Rome that I am now returned to a lay state. I sent in my request more than a year ago and am now officially a laicized priest. In my letter to the pope, I wrote so many personal elements … none of which were answered; I received a cold, impersonal notice of laicization.
It took a long process of acceptance and healing before I was even capable of publicly admitting that I was gay. So many fears, feelings of guilt and shame were basically dominating my heart and mind. After a long healing process, I now feel the need to write this letter. So, ‘eccomi’!
To My Family
First, to my family and ex-friends, I love you and always will. Despite the distance, I am grateful for all the good and forgive all the wrongs. I also hope that you are capable of doing the same. I am proud of both my Italian and French-Canadian roots. In other words, family will always be family.
To the Church
As for you Church, you might think this is yet another letter to openly bash at you and try to destroy you… I truly hope it is rather a letter in which you will feel the need for an open dialogue with the LGBTQ+ community and you will see the honesty behind the main reason I’m even writing this letter… I forgive you!
It is important to mention that this letter is addressed to those who form a human church. It does not concern only priests, bishops, cardinals, or the pope, but also Christians all around the world.
Also please take note that I’m not writing to the Church itself … because I believe there is a Church of deeper spiritual meaning that goes beyond this Catholic religion and boundaries of race, sexual orientation, spiritual practices, human beliefs and, especially social classes … a Church that focuses not on dogmas and human doctrine, but on the essence of souls. Maybe, “What Would Jesus do?” Right?
So, before some close themselves thinking this is yet another possessed gay who has lost his soul through falling into temptation and giving into his sexual tendencies because he is lured by Satan, I beg you to open up your horizons and maybe read my last post (click here) before you continue reading this one. If you do continue to read, do so with a truly Christian heart, or better said, an open heart!
When Teachings Mean Exclusion
So, coming back to the goal of this letter, yes, I do! I forgive you for taking God from me by making me feel unworthy of his love and of his Mercy. Do you even know how hard it can get to feel we are condemned to a miserable life and, to top it all off, that hell is our only possible outcome?
I obviously heard them all: “We do not condemn the sinner, but the sin” … yet, it doesn’t make sense when this is truly a part of your being that cannot willingly be changed! If you told me carrot cake was a sin, I’d manage to avoid carrot cake, or at least I’d really try hard … but being gay, is not a choice … believe me!
In fact, if being gay had been a choice, I am one of those who would have chosen otherwise. To this day, I still feel rejection… I still feel I’ve lost more than I’ve gained in terms of friendship, because of your teachings that conditioned my friends and made them tell me: “We will never approve of your life choices but will always love you!” Is it me or this is absurd? How can one even stay friends knowing that he will be judged for his every action?
Conversion Therapy: Only Lies and Fails
Christians around the world still swear by conversion therapy which has proven to fail with time more than anything else. The founders of that very therapy left as a gay couple, publicly begging for forgiveness for their behaviour. Even in my own experience, I’ve met men who publicly claimed they were healed from their homosexuality, yet we’re still secretly struggling.
But you know what? I still forgive you! I forgive you because I do not want anger to be part of my life. I do not want you to have power over me through what could so easily become the prison of resentment… I forgive you and hold no grudges, because I truly and deeply believe YOU need healing more than the whole LGBTQ+ community.
Through my years as a monk and then a Catholic priest, I’ve seen, heard confessions, and met with monks, priests, bishops, cardinals, etc. that were sporting a mask of perfection, yet secretly having gay affairs. You don’t need to look very far… It is so poorly hidden… I wasn’t different from them … that is the cold truth! But to my defence, never did I go into gay clubs, saunas or other public places, while still a priest.
I tried my best to be an example and be a guardian of the Catholic teachings, but by doing so, I was betraying my own self. To be fully honest, I don’t even judge the priests who are struggling with their homosexuality, because I know how difficult it can be to overcome the many fears of rejection and the possible consequences. Many reached out after my last post… I keep their secret in my heart with great respect.
Finding My Home
You know what’s weird? I wasn’t feeling totally at home in the Catholic Church; yet I couldn’t identify myself with the LGBTQ+ community because of what I’d see in videos, or on gay pride. It felt awkward to think that these were my people! The exuberance I’d witness in these events had nothing to do with who I was.
But you see, the exuberance of the LGBTQ+ community is not very different from what I’d call the GI-JOE Syndrome of the church. In fact, both are very ‘teenagish’ phases!
Try visualizing yourself being continually judged for who you are, needing to defend yourself from bullies and being unable to love freely. It takes a whole lot of courage, or maybe even despair, to simply be oneself! Once you found the strength to do so, no wonder you fall into exuberance to be able to come to terms with it! In reality, it’s sort of a need to scream who you are and express the pain of hiding it for way too long!
How would I then define the GI-JOE syndrome and how does it compare? Concretely, it is the need to focus on scripture, doctrine, sins, lectures, do’s and don’ts, believing we will save humanity by shouting reprimands as we auto-proclaim ourself perfect! Oh … how childish this is! Isn’t this the typical “I’m stronger than you” type of thing?
You know what? I was there for too long. As a monk, then a seminarian, then a priest… I was a keeper of the truth! Or was I? My focus was so centred on truth that everything was done by obligation … even prayer. How can you even equate obligation and love? Cause doing things by obligation, means doing things out of fear … fear of punishment for not obeying, etc. Yet, the letters of John do say: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” (1. John 4, 18).
The Need to Focus on Spirituality
When I started focusing on my spiritual life and spiritual growth, I quickly realized I did not know God. By truly seeking God through prayer, I slowly stepped away from all this GI-JOE stuff. With time, I began to enter in relationship with God and basically ended up leaving the priesthood… Why? Cause I felt the church could no longer truly feed my soul!
I still am a believer! Yes, I strongly believe there is something greater than this human church! I also believe that God will never fit in our human and theological boxes. I’m convinced that our need to define God has taken a toll on the necessity to welcome and cherish the mystery and that the barriers we’ve built to defend our convictions have kept us from being amazed at the seeds of truth and faith in other cultures and religions.
That being said, I truly also believe there are many living saints inside this same church. Men and women of God who give their lives for others and develop profound intimacy with God. They are to be imitated.
I Truly Forgive You
So, believe me, I forgive you… I truly pray that you will grow into intimacy instead of legality. I also pray that your walls of pride will collapse and that you will be capable of revisiting the theological prisons you’ve created with time, nourished by the desire to build an empire.
With your theology, you’ve been sending those whom Jesus saved to hell. Matthew 23:15: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.”
In the meantime, think outside the box … many LGBTQ+ members truly seek God as well … sometimes even more than your closeted and hypocrite clergy!