Saturday was St. Joseph’s feast day and as usual I asked Jesus what he wanted me to pray for at mass.
“LGBT families” he replied and by that I knew that he meant all the LGBT people with adapted children or with children through surrogacy etc.
The love and mercy of God is without borders and while these ‘new families’ are one million miles away from the Holy family and are both morally and ethically questionable, these people are children of God too and Jesus loves them.
And so it was no coincidence that a few hours later I found myself in Soho talking to a man who was struggling with the death of is father and 2 young kids.
He explained how the kids were biologically his with an American woman donating her eggs and a surrogate mother who carried the babies.
Meeting him reminded me of a Brazilian guy that I met a while ago who had adapted a child with his partner 5 years ago and they had since broken up.
Anyway as the first guy was really stressed I had the opportunity to pray for him. They always associate prayer with Reiki so I made it perfectly clear that it wasn’t that.
Last night I was discussing this with a friend and we discussed the lesbian couples that have kids through donor sperm, the transgender people that stop their hormone treatment for long enough to have kids (female to male) etc.
What was perfectly clear is that the whole area is so messy from an ethical and pastoral point of view and yet that Jesus loved every single one of these people and isn’t afraid to get right into the heart of it all to bring his love and mercy and freedom.
Yet these areas of ministry present enormous pastoral challenges for the church and especially for priests because part of being Catholic is having Catholic ethics and morals and boundaries and just where do you draw the line and is it fair to reject people in their adulthood that you abandoned in their childhood?
How can we talk to people about the love and mercy of God and yet not reach out to them in love and mercy and understanding and how do we minister to these people without making them feel judged and rejected?
If mother Theresa was alive I think that she might offer this answer:
At times what people don’t realise is that guys like the two that I mentioned are often really nice, kind and gentle and just so desperately want to be fathers and don’t know what else to do.
Often they haven’t grown up in Catholic families or got estranged from the church and as years went by the world offered different ways of resolving their desire to be fathers etc.
As catholics we must be very careful not to judge just as we must be very careful not to judge those who do not want their babies and have abortions.
One thing is for sure and that is that we love on the most difficult and challenging of times where science offers us all sorts of solutions and basically tells us that if it’s possible then it must be good and where the notion of sun, sacrifice and seeking God’s will for our lives and problems is all but gone.
So what can we do? All we can do is our best to pray and to love and to trust in the abundant mercy of Jesus that loves everyone and can offer absolutely everybody a road to holiness regardless of their circumstances, families or life situation.
Jesus, help us to be the bridge of love and mercy and bless all LGBT families, kids and priests who minister to them with your love and mercy and friendship.
P.S. Pray for me as I travel to Ireland tomorrow with Rayne and face the usual challenges of being a gay Catholic missionary who lives on providence!