Being Catholic, Gay and PRO-RH

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By Miel Feria, Mulat Pinoy contributor

I am Catholic. I was baptized, confirmed, and educated by a catholic school. I have never entertained any thoughts of changing my religion. However, I am also gay and pro-RH. The view of the Church regarding my sexuality and my stand with regards to the RH issue has caused me to distance myself for a time from the Church.

I could not reconcile the vindictive Church that I heard every single Sunday with the compassionate Church I was raised in. I was taught to be understanding, to be respectful of other peoples’ views and opinions, and yet almost every Sunday, I would hear the priests condemn those who have expressed support for the reproductive health bill. Isn’t “do not judge, lest you be judged,” one of the most important lessons taught by the Church? It was as if the teachings of the Church do not apply to its priests. This realization made me forego going to church.

My mom, who is active in church, took my not going to church hard. She saw it as a failure on her part to instill in me the value of going to church. I explained to her that it was not her failure but rather the Church’s, with its unwillingness to broaden its views and change with the tides. My mom raised me to be critical and to be firm with my beliefs. It has never been a problem before. It is only now that my views have run contrary to those of the Church that my mom has found it troublesome.

But for an institution that was meant to bring the people together, the Church has polarized the country with regards to the issues of reproductive health and sexuality. And for an institution that preaches love and understanding, it sure fosters hate and prejudice.

I have often found myself in debates regarding my stand in the RH issue. Often, the battle cry of those I find myself debating with is the fact that I consider myself Catholic, yet I believe in something the Church is staunchly against. I don’t see a problem in this, I tell them: for me, the Reproductive Health Bill is just another manifestation of the God-given gift of free will. The RH bill merely wants us to have the option and the choice should we want to, I argue. I have convinced some and I have alienated others, but my aim has not really been to convince but to explain myself.

However, the constant debates and discussion finally took their toll. Slowly, I found it hard to reconcile my faith with my sexuality and my stand when it came to the issue of reproductive health. I stopped going to church for a long time, losing hope and interest in my church’s backward view. This was the case until I got to know a very special person. Someone who is so like me in so many ways, but different in one thing: although she is also a supporter of RH and also a lesbian, she still goes to church. In fact, she is very active in church.

The dichotomy of her beliefs and her faith blew all my arguments away. I tried to argue with her, explaining my side, telling her the reasons for my apostasy but she wouldn’t have any of it. She told me not to let those closed-minded people in church deprive me of receiving the Lord’s grace. I didn’t have to agree with everything the people in church said, she explained; after all, they’re people too and are bound to make mistakes. Just go on your way, she said. Go to mass and pray. Don’t mind them; don’t let them stand between you and your God.

What she said made me re-examine my faith. I may have said I was a Catholic, but I was an apostate and that did not do me any good. I must admit, the reason I went to church the first time was to impress her, but when I got to the church, I felt a sense of peace. I knew she was the one who did me a favor and not the other way around.

Since then, I have been going to church regularly, no longer bothered by the difference in my church and my stand regarding several issues. Whenever I hear the priest talk negatively about my sexuality and RH, I merely smile and close my eyes. I remind myself about the things she told me, and I know I can no longer be touched by the vindictive tone and words of others.

I have come to realize that the compassionate Church I have grown up in may have changed, but it was my choice whether to surrender and let go of my faith or be steadfast and believe. I have my angel to thank for that. She made me realize that I can be gay, pro-RH, and a Catholic, and not have an ounce of guilt.

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