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Letter to the editor: Err apparent
2012-01-25

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Err apparent

Dear Editor:

I would prefer not to enter this debate between the Catholic Church and gay people initiated over the change in route of the Gay Pride Parade, further fueled by Cardinal George's recent comments comparing gays to Ku Klux Klan (KKK).

However, I feel that, as a gay Catholic man, I have a message that is important. Shame on Cardinal George for his egregious speaking error! Most educated people quickly recognize this as an ignorant statement and are tempted to leave it at that. However, since this statement was made by a leader who should know better, it has become highlighted to further drive a wedge between the Catholic Church and gay people. Shame on you Cardinal George! You should have known better. It is education about gay people and who we are that is needed to alter such misguided beliefs.

Readers, please understand that George is merely another of God's people (like us) trying to bring God's message to people as he is best humanly able. He erred! George is no greater than me, and you and I are no greater than he. We are ALL God's people trying to walk the Christian walk in the best way humanly possible.

We are all human. We all err. The most difficult task of all is to forgive. Again, shame on you Cardinal for your misguided word. Unfortunately, when in a position of prominence, a person needs to walk a more perfect walk to set a good example.

The Gay Pride Parade has been a disruption to services at Mt. Carmel for years. Getting there and parking are impossible. I know because I have been attending services there. Changing the parade route would have made little difference in this disruption. It is one day out of the year! Furthermore, this parade has grown because of the increase in straight people attending. It might also be noted that the violence, crime and destruction have also increased along with this increase in attendance (draw your own conclusions as to why). I no longer attend this parade as a gay person because of what it has become.

George's statement served to further drive a wedge between gays and the Catholic Church. At Archdiocesan Gay and Lesbian Outreach (AGLO), we work hard to bring the message to other LGBT people that here you will find acceptance and LOVE. I am ashamed to be Catholic when I hear words of such comparison (as the cardinal's) and see them become a breading ground for hatred and judgment.

I spent a large part of my life renouncing and being ashamed of the Catholic Church for condemning me as gay. It wasn't until I went through personal struggles, sat down and read the Bible for the first time. (Most Catholics do not actually read the Bible cover to cover.) I realized when I finished that this was not a complex document at all. It is a very simple document. It can be summed up in one word—LOVE!

Everything, every act, every lesson is about LOVE. Loving acts. No place does God condemn gay people in the Bible. We should not quibble over the words written in it. The interpretation and translation is where errors occur. Nearly all religions are focused on the same concept in the end with differing approaches—LOVE. I found peace knowing this. I finally felt that I knew God and that God was here with me. God made me as he made me—as a gay man—for his purposes, on purpose. Reflecting on this recent controversy, does LOVE exist in these words spoken? These were not words of LOVE. These were words of judgment, condemnation that fuel hatred. It is impossible to translate these words into anything loving.

So I say STOP IT! Stop it each and every one of you. Stop feeding into all of this. Stop judging. Stop condemning. Stop pointing fingers. Step back and surround those who judge and condemn with LOVE. Embrace them in LOVE. Bring them into the biblical story and help them re-focus to see that it is ONLY about LOVE.

In his 1982 book, Embracing the Exile, John Fortunato speaks of his struggles and conversations with God (whether as a vision, epiphany, imagination or some enlightened place) as he asked God what he should do with those who hate him or judge him as wrong being gay:

"God replied, 'LOVE them.'

'LOVE them?' he asked. 'What are you trying to do to me? Can't you see? They call my light darkness! They call my LOVE perverted! They call my gifts corruption! What the hell are you asking me to do?'

'LOVE them anyway,' God said, 'LOVE them anyway!' God then reminded him of his Son, Jesus, suffering and condemnation."

God does not condemn gay people. Only some people do through their interpretations and misguided ideas about who we are as gay people of God. I am a member of AGLO. I returned to the Catholic Church because of AGLO. I would not participate as a Catholic without AGLO. AGLO is gay outreach organization that brings the Catholic Mass to Gay Catholics and supporters to worship every Sunday evening at Mt. Carmel Catholic Church. I returned here because AGLO brings me comfort. It brings me peace. It brings me connection to God. I have grown to care about the gay and straight people who join me every Sunday at AGLO.

I realized that I do not need to buy into everything that the Catholic Church 'sells' through human interpretations. I come to God at AGLO because I find God there. I came to realize that I needed to do what brings me closer to God in my walk with God. I am not concerning myself with the walks of others. I am not concerning myself with the judgments of others. I am trying not to point fingers.

I am trying to live a respectful, decent, Christian life and I use AGLO as a tool to help me in that direction. I forgave the Catholic Church for the misdirection that I had early on in my childhood and as a teen related to my homosexuality. I suffered great pain and brought pain to many others; family and friends through my misguided walk. The Catholic Church is merely a structure, an organization of people—people brought together initially with the best of intentions attempting to spread God's message of LOVE. I realize that people err. Humans err. The greater task is to forgive and LOVE.

Joe Kopacz

Chicago


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