"You shall love the Lord your God with all your
heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as
yourself." [Mat 22:37-39]
As an Order, Secular Franciscans (acc. to our General Minister) are, "to be builders of a civilization of love." She also said "It is a mission which is urgent and demanding."
Now, let's add another building block so you can see where I am going
with this... in the three major references to homosexuality in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, let's look at this paragraph:
"2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition."
There is a reason why I wish to be heard on this matter. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. - That, unfortunately isn't been accomplished. Since Franciscans love others without exception, we should make it clear that although there are sinners in this world, God loves sinners (but not the sin) and we have an obligation to do likewise!
Let me give you some background, mostly about myself. In the aftermath of World War II in the Netherlands where I was born in 1940, and where my mother and her family suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime (and myself as well), from puberty through my late-teens I was primarily with boys and men. In those days schools were not co-ed in Europe, and a lot of harm was done by adults to youth in general. There was lots of corporal punishment and teachers often took advantage of the system. It was an awful time. And, it took many years for me to get over the psychological damage done during that time.
I was much relieved when my parents decided to immigrate to New York in 1954, and life became considerably better over time. I get along with all people fine, but I decided early in life, perhaps through all these bad experiences that I wanted to stay single, and as was expected from a good Catholic guy, I remained chaste for the most part. That's what is expected of all people who have a vocation to remain single. And there are many people who are gay who also live a life of being single and in addition there are many married people who live a very chaste life. So we have to treat everyone with respect, compassion and sensitivity.
I am not at all in favor of a marriage that is between those of the same sex. However, if two people decide this is for them, I may pray for them, but apart from that, it just isn't any of my business. Our Lord does not want us to judge other people, that right is reserved for Him alone. So let's behave sanely, and let people do what they feel they have to do. Treat them with love and respect, as God would treat any one of us.
Now, if someone would come up to me and say he was actively living a gay lifestyle, and if that person wanted my reaction, of course I would tell him why I think this is wrong. And I would do my best to convert that person to an understanding of respect for everyone and love for brother or sister, neighbor, etc., and also for self as everyone is made in the image of God.
I cannot change who I am. I am an uncompromising Roman Catholic, and I am not going to mess up my relationship with God in order to "go easy" on someone else who is living in sin and tells me about it. I will show him/her empathy and compassion, but I do not believe in coddling people because it just isn't right. But I fervently hope that people who suffer from sexual temptations will ask me to pray for them (and you don't even have to identify yourself - God will sort it all out). I will pray for anyone who asks me to do so. And I hope you will pray for me as well.
Peace and Good!
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
May 22, 2012