Preparing for “Hope and Holiness”–A Letter from Andrew Wimmer

by Mark Chmiel

Dear Friends,

John Gabriel wrote last week that he plans to meet with the archbishop to gain clarity.  As I pointed out in my email to faculty on January 11, there is nothing ambiguous about the position of the archdiocese.  They laid it out last spring in a document entitled Hope and Holiness.  You would do well to read it.

I sum up the document in one word.  Abuse.  Why?  The powerful (or so they would fashion themselves) tell the disesteemed how they will experience reality, how they will name themselves, and how they will be lovingly cared for in their disorderedness.

That formulation should sound somewhat familiar to anyone who has raged against racism, sexism, and other forms of patriarchal oppression.  No surprise.

But let me be specific, because I want those of you at Nerinx, in particular, to understand and be prepared to engage the conversation in the coming weeks, if you so choose.

The document says that teens should not “come out” and should not call themselves “gay” because this violates their true nature as children of God.  Coming out and labeling, they say, may lead a confused, experimenting teen into a rigid fixed state of homosexuality.

Well, as to the confused and experimenting state, welcome to adolescence.  For everyone.  But straight teens are allowed to describe their experience, name it, celebrate it, talk about it, screw it up, try it again.  For the non-straight, it gets shut down from the get go.  No, you will not describe it.  No, you will not name it.  And if you do, we will smile, pat you on the head, call you a Child of God, and assure you that you will always have a place in the church where you will be cared for in your disordered state and helped to bear the onerous burden of your sexuality, celibately.

Well, the teen (and she doesn’t even have to be particularly astute) realizes in all of this that something must be terribly wrong with her.  Now what?  Where to go?

Well, depression is likely.  Drugs help.  Suicide is possible.

So, when John returns with new clarity after his chat with the archbishop, what is everyone going to say?  As I started saying a couple of years ago in my letters to the faculty, the only human option is to say, “I reject this teaching.”  Rip it out root and branch.

But, read the document for yourself.  See what your stomach tells you.

Andrew

PS–There’s nothing confidential here.  Share as you like.

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