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Catholicism’s Power Over the Queer Body


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“Lord Jesus, I consecrate my sexuality to you; cleanse my mind, my memory, my imagination and my dreams of all erotic content.

Grant me the gift of chastity, to bring my sexual drive into subjection of your Holy Spirit dwelling within me. If there be any dividedness in my heart in this regard, please make my heart pure and simple.

Guard my weakness by your Holy Cross through the intercession of your Mother Mary, my guardian angel, Saint Charles Lwanga, and the communion of saints. AMEN”

The world has come to believe that the Catholic Church discriminates and excludes queer members from the church. This is not entirely true–the Catholic Church wishes to include all of their already current members and bring in new members as well, even queer members. But, there is a price to pay to be queer and Catholic; one must allow the Church to exercise complete power over your body.

The Catholic Church dictates that people who are “homosexual” must live a celibate lifestyle. If one is not to live a celibate life, they are committing a mortal sin and will be judged for their actions. Although, the Church does require a celibate life for all of its members until they are married. The difference is heteronormative members are permitted to find a partner and engage in sexual acts once they are married. For queer Catholics, they are never allowed to be married and thus only allowed to live a celibate life within the Church. This can cause one of two outcomes for queer Catholics, a life devoid of a loving partner while people around you take what you are told you cannot, or a life filed with Catholic guilt.

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People have heard of Catholic guilt, it’s the reason Catholics attend confession, repent and are routinely told in mass that they are unworthy. Queer Catholic guilt is an even bigger monster than the typical Catholic guilt. As a queer person in the Catholic Church, you are accepted as being queer and that is the way you were born. Love the sinner, hate the sin, right? But what if that sin is an integral part of your being? What if that sin has shaped how you see other people? What if that sin is the reason you may have been teased as a teenager? And now, even though we, the Catholic Church, accept you for who you are, you must follow these very restricting and isolating sets of rules. And if you cannot, you are committing a mortal sin and if you do not repent, you will go to hell. If you are found to have acted on your attraction to a person of the same sex, you are denied Eucharist within the Catholic Church. As one Catholic goes on to explain:

“It’s not being gay that inhibits a person from being able to receive the Eucharist. We believe that you have to be in a ‘state of grace’ (that means to be on good terms with God and not have any mortal sins on your soul) to receive Communion. So just like if I were to commit a mortal sin I couldn’t go up for communion, the same is true for someone who is acting on their same-sex attraction.”

One can now see that if a queer catholic were to be human, and seek out a deeper relationship with another person, the guilt they might find in that relationship.

The Catholic Church does not exercise it’s power over the queer body through gay conversion therapy so much, but rather Catholic Celibacy Conferences. These conferences push a celibate life onto queer Catholics that attend. They are often times lead by “ex-gay therapists” and are given prayers (like the one at the top of this page) to push guilt further into their minds. Queer Catholics that submit themselves to celibacy conferences are treated like the ill, and as one of the leaders of the celibacy conferences proclaims:

“One of the aspects of the “healing of homosexuality is that one develops strength of character as he “perseveres in suffering and temptation.” His goal for a client is to help him be “in control” such that “homosexuality will not control his life.”

Queer Catholics are shamed into a life of celibacy and given no other options, allowing the Catholic Church power over the body.

Recently, there has been unrest around celibacy stirring in the Catholic Church. Catholic priests, that knowingly and willingly choose a life of celibacy, have been calling for marriages to allowed within the priesthood. This is a controversial subject within the church and has the church divided down the middle. One side claims mandatory celibacy pushes the younger generations away from the priesthood and forces the priesthood into a life of isolation and loneliness, while the other side insists that a life of celibacy allows the person to focus and give themselves wholly to God. The most important piece to remember here, is the life of the priesthood is chosen by the person. The life of celibacy is chosen by the person, not forced onto them. A person that chooses to live a life within the priesthood can leave at anytime, can leave celibacy behind, and still be a good Catholic. A queer Catholic can never leave celibacy behind and be a good catholic.

The rules of celibacy, that queer Catholics must follow, are seen by non-queer Catholics as a chance for them to reach spiritual enlightenment. Non-queer Catholics sometimes even feel they are not given such an easy opportunity to reach spiritual enlightenment. But the fact is, the hoax of following a life of celibacy if you are a queer catholic is just another way for the Church to exert power and control over the body of a queer person.

Resources:

LGBTQ Inclusiveness in the Catholic Agenda:

http://www.dignityusa.org/

For Parents of Queer Catholic Children:

http://www.fortunatefamilies.com/

Gay and Lesbian Catholic Advocacy and Justice:

http://www.newwaysministry.org/

Sources:

Catholic Celibacy Conference Will Include Trainings By Ex-Gay Therapists

http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2013/07/15/2303331/catholic-courage-ex-gay/

CATHOLICS CARE ABOUT GAYS?: THE MYTH DEBUNKED

http://lifeteen.com/catholics-care-about-gays-the-myth-debunked/

Catholic, Gay and Doing Fine

http://lifeteen.com/gay-catholic-and-doing-fine/


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