“It hurts, but they can’t take my faith away”, a gay Spanish Catholic has declared with respect to the anti-LGBT discrimination he suffers in the Church.
Driving the news
“In the Church, many have not respected me nor wanted to understand me”, Roberto Pérez, who has been in a stable gay relationship for years, denounced to Spanish Catholic publication Vida Nueva.
“They went so far as total disdain, to make me see that ‘I’m no longer Catholic’.
“It hurts, but they can’t take my faith away. I believe in God and I live my faith in the key of freedom of conscience, of discernment”.
“In addition, I know that in the Church there are different realities and in many we who have this sexual identity are accepted as we are”, Pérez admitted, pointing to the few “priests who have supported me” – though “most are older and already retired” – and the Catholic friends he has made along the way.
Those exceptions aside, Pérez couldn’t hide his disappointment at the way he has been treated by the wider Church.
The man has suffered gay ‘conversion therapy’ – “what they did to me was to confuse me, take away my freedom…” – Church attempts to get his mother to kick him out of home, and the humiliation of priests denying him confession or communion, or blaming his homosexuality on his partner, “the devil himself”.
“They have made me feel like a black sheep, but I know that I’m not”, Pérez told Vida Nueva, adding that he’s “happy” with the life he’s chosen, with his partner.
“They’re the ones who have failed to take care of their flock”, Pérez continued, making little secret of his frustration with Church leaders.
“They only seek to manage everything, to have control, for which reason they don’t care that they’ve pushed many people away.
“I understand that they think I’m wrong, but they haven’t even cared for me”.
Why it matters
Perez’s experiences couldn’t be more different than those of countryman Arturo Blázquez Navarro, another gay Catholic who told Vida Nueva that “I’ve been very lucky in the Church”.
“I’ve found a parish that has welcomed me, and they’ve even invited me to become a catechist. I only have reason to be grateful”, Blázquez celebrated.
The differences between Pérez and Blázquez’s experiences as gay Catholics could come down to the fact that the former still lives in Spain, while the latter lives in Germany, married to a Lutheran man.
But the contrasts between what the two men have lived also point to another reality: that of a Catholic Church that still hasn’t come to terms institutionally with the realities of homosexuality and homosexual people, and still relies on the “luck”, as Blázquez put it, of the kindness and understanding of individual pastors.
“I live these mixed identities [gay and Catholic] with the conviction that God has wanted it that way, that neither is an accident, that they have a deep meaning”, Blázquez explained.
“Living openly as a Catholic and a homosexual means exposing yourself to the irony of this apparent contradiction: you have to really consider which parish to go to, who to confess to, what to answer when people ask me about my wedding ring.
“It is also to face the misunderstanding of why I am an active member of a Church that in its Catechism affirms that my relationship with my husband is intrinsically disordered”, Blázquez lamented.
Still, the man wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I can’t change who I am. My way of believing is Catholic; so is my way of praying, of living the sacraments, of understanding how the Church should be. Even if I converted to Lutheranism, I would still be a Catholic inside”, he confessed.
Blázquez added that his other motivation for staying in a Church that still doesn’t understand gays “is that I want to help make our Church more welcoming to LGBTs”.
“Not out of compassion, but in the conviction that in Jesus Christ there is no longer Greek or Jew, neither man nor woman, neither homosexual nor heterosexual, but that we are all one in Him”.