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viewpoint

Faith and homosexuality can coexist

| Friday, April 20, 2018

My perspective is an uncommon one, but it is equally important as those recently and increasingly offered on the same subject.

It might very well surprise some at the University of Notre Dame to know that there are students, staff and faculty among them who identify as both Roman Catholic and gay (“living with same-sex attraction” is preferred in the context of this particular discussion, but for the sake of simplicity, I’ll use the more commonplace and generalized “gay”).

No, we are not the same as Notre Dame having convenient parking, frozen tuition or warm winters (or even winters of a reasonable length). Few in number as we may be, we do actually exist, and we matter.

Indeed, the greatest irony of being both of these things, which are often at odds with one another in the media and public discourse, is that pundits from either “side” tend to overlook the population with what is almost certainly the most at stake. Even, for example, when Pope Francis himself speaks of gay Christians, those two words seem to end up separated in translation (as if done intentionally). Alas, this minority-majority hybrid provides few, if any, advantages.

Like most everyone, there are times when I fear the advance of ostracization and disparity in my life, and God knows I fear overstepping in the casual exchange of everyday conversation (avoiding such transgressions is truly an art, but I’ll leave that discussion for another time). Unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of feeling those things from only one perspective or in one particular context. I even hesitate to acknowledge such weakness here. It was Ghandi who said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” And for someone in my position, an inability to forgive would make living in our present society virtually unsustainable.

After being cast out of one home, I have been embraced by countless others. Since becoming the only practicing Catholic in my family, I have found the faith alive and well in places across the world. While I have encountered my fair share of coarse hearts, I have also experienced love — unabridged and uncompromised — from people of all walks of life.

And still, it’s easy to feel alone.

After all, popular discourse about faith and homosexuality is hardly ever about their coexistence. Rather, it’s almost always adversarial (take my word for it: If one learns anything in law school, it’s the nature of adversarialism). Except, here, it’s not just two parties duking it out in court. There’s a middle man, and neither the Church nor the “gay community” have been the best stewards of the tenants they tout in the course of that litigation.

The individual consequences can be devastating. What’s more, it has forced far too many people into corners, which necessitate or encourage them to make certain choices (e.g., abandon the faith), such that they are never expected from or normalized in any other group of people.

By no means do I consider myself a perfect Catholic. Indeed, we are called “practicing” for that very reason; we never seem to get it just right, nor can we, for that is the nature of the human condition when confronted by the high expectations of the faith. Nevertheless, my chosen devotion to the Church is something that I believe to be indispensable to my life. Meanwhile, that other facet of my being, over which I have no control, is not instantaneously negated as a result, nor is it possible to secure such an end. They coexist out of unavoidable necessity, even if at times imperfectly and contentiously.

Francis has said, “I am glad that we are talking about ‘homosexual people’ because before all else comes the individual person, in his wholeness and dignity.” Taking the Holy Father’s words to heart, I implore consideration of those possessing not only a vested interest in preserving the Catholicity of this university but also the practical experience of being gay.

Finally, to those advancing opinions on the matter, as is their right, I specifically have this to say: Like the racist who first encounters the love of a child born between a man and a woman of different races, there might be something to learn from people like me, if only the one-sided rhetoric can be subdued long enough to acknowledge our existence.

While this plea is not merely applicable to the Notre Dame community, if possible anywhere, I’d like to think it’s possible here, in the embrace of Our Lady.

 

David P. Spicer

First-Year Law

April 19

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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