Good morning from London’s Kensington park where I’m out for a stroll!

If I closed my eyes I could almost imagine that I was back in Ireland. Prince William and Kate live a few hundred metres away, perhaps if I call over I’ll get a cuppa!!

A few days ago we met a group of Irish travellers. Very good people and good friends of ours.

Every time we meet they keep asking us about being catholic and gay. They can’t get their heads around it, they are confused!

They repeatedly mention “the abomination” and don’t seem to be able to grasp that being gay (attracted to men) does not automatically mean having sex night and day.

At times it’s frustrating trying to explain to them that there are different ways of being gay just as there are different ways of being straight.

You can be heterosexual and married and faithful to your spouse, you can be hetero and sleep around or you can be hetero and single and chaste.

It is no different with being gay!

You can be gay and married and it can be very sexual, you can be gay and single and very sexually active, you can be gay with a partner and the relationship could be chaste and of course you could be gay and single and chaste!

So you see we can’t just clump all gays or all straights together.

Next question was if I think that gay priests will be allowed in the future?

With a cheeky smile I replied:

“What do you mean in the future, we have lots of them already and so what?’

Somewhat ruffled the next question;

“Would you like God to heal you so you could be a real man?”

To which I replied:

“Heal me? He made me like this, I’m already a real man”.

Now these questions weren’t coming from bad hearts but from very genuine people trying to understand and I must admit that I appreciated their directness and honesty even it at another time of my life I would have been quite hurt.

Next question:

“Are you celibate?”

I replied that I was (to the best of my ability as I’ve never claimed to be perfect) and they were ecstatic with joy and relief.

I partly wished I said that I wasn’t and that I was out having sex day and night just to see their faces.

I know many very good people who are gay and who are on a journey with God and with the church and who are not celibate.

Being celibate is not a measure of being holy nor is not being celibate a measure of unholiness.

None of us are perfect and we live in a highly sexualized society and in a very broken church.

Jesus understands the struggles and His mercy is there for us every day regardless of where we are at on the road to perfection.

Putting too much pressure on people to be celibate is not the answer. God is love, not pressure. Learning to love, to listen to pray and to walk with people on the journey is the answer.

When we die we will be measured of love and as the gospel of Peter says;

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins

And so in summary we need to become more loving, more understanding, more pastoral, more human and we need to learn to walk with imperfect people (ourselves the worst) and introduce them to Jesus who is there to love them and help them in all dimensions of their lives.

The travellers too have a lot of gay people in their community and being a gay traveller could not be easy. My heart goes out to these people and to the struggles they face from within their community.

With next Sunday being the feast of the divine mercy, let us entrust all these people and issues to Jesus and may all misunderstandings and intolerance be melted away by the loving gaze of our Lord and saviour.

Have a great day and remember to keep trusting in God’s mercy and do your best to follow Him no matter what your struggles and vices may be!

Jesus, I trust in you.

Michael