Hope in the face of another "no"

Updated: Mar 17, 2021

On Monday I was contacted by a CBC reporter for comment on the recent Vatican decision preventing priests from blessing same-sex unions. For context, a number of Dioceses had asked for clarification from the Vatican about offering a pastoral blessing to LGBTQ/2S+ couples, a practice that has been happening at the local level. The negative response is, in some way, no surprise to those who know anything about the institution of the Catholic church. If asked when something as significant and systemic as this might happen, church historians usually say something like, “Ask me in 400 years.”

But this decision isn’t any less harmful simply because of its predictability.

Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA said the denial "will exacerbate the pain and anger of LGBTQI Catholics and our families" and hurt "couples who live deeply loving and committed relationships."

The reporter asked me how church officials, who said this decision "in no way detracts from the human and Christian consideration in which the Church holds each person," could make such claims while delivering such a negative decision.

How do you explain this dissonance, this internal contradiction, this devastating disconnect? How do you explain that leaders within your faith stand by interpretations of our sacred texts that harm and traumatize beloved children of God?

You don’t. You simply speak the truth.

The manner in which LGBTQ/2S+ people love, marked by patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, keeping no record of wrongs, refusing to boast or envy or dishonour others, a love not easily angered or self-seeking, is sacred. It reflects the image-bearing of a God who loves.

The fact that some leaders do not see this does not make it any less true.

If I have learned anything from accompanying my rainbow siblings for the past 20 years, it is that hope plays a vital part in the journey.

This hope is a gritty, battle-worn, decision of the will. Nothing sentimental about it. Nothing easy about it. A hope that is hard-won. Hope that right will win the day. Hope that truth will prevail.

What fuels such hope? Where do we find such hope when faced with yet another “no”?

It seems to me we do well to look to the wisdom of our elders:

"Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure does not testify to your inferiority but to their inhumanity." ~ James Baldwin

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” ~ Martin Luther King

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” ~ Desmond Tutu

“What we call our despair is often only the painful eagerness of unfed hope.” ~ George Eliot

“Hope will never be silent.” ~ Harvey Milk

James Baldwin, black, gay, poet, activist born in 1924. Wrote on themes of masculinity, sexuality, race, and class while calling for deep and systemic social change. Lived in hope.

Martin Luther King Jr., black, preacher, civil rights leader born in 1929. Inspired by his faith, pursued civil rights through non-violence and civil disobedience. Was assassinated. Lived in hope.

Desmond Tutu, black, arch-bishop, anti-apartheid and human rights activist born in 1931. Ally and Nobel Peace Prize recipient championing reconciliation. Lives in hope.

George Eliot, real name Mary Ann Evans, English novelist and poet born in 1819. Sought to escape the stereotypes of women’s writing. Lived in hope.

Harvey Milk, first gay elected politician in California born in 1930. Fought against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Was assassinated. Lived in hope.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out f