The Pope’s questionnaire contains the following questions:

Question 5  a. Is there a law in your country recognizing civil unions for people of the same-sex and equating it in some way to marriage?

Question 5  b. What is the attitude of the local and particular Churches towards both the State as the promoter of civil unions between persons of the same sex and the people involved in this type of union?

Question 5  c. What pastoral attention can be given to people who have chosen to live in these types of union?

Question 5  d. In the case of unions of persons of the same sex who have adopted children, what can be done pastorally in light of transmitting the faith?


According to official Vatican documents, gays or lesbians are not allowed to have any sexual relationships. They state that gay or lesbian ‘unions’ go against Natural Law and may never equated with a heterosexual marriage.

If you are a homosexual yourself, could you describe your experience in this area?  What is it like to be a Catholic and live in a homosexual relationship? Do you feel you are guilty of immorality/ Do you receive any support from the Church?

If you want your name to remain anonymous, use a pseudonym but make sure your email address – which will not be shown to the public – is correct.

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  1. There are several gay people in my family, and I am bisexual myself, though in a monogamous heterosexual relationship.
    In the last 100 years, biological and psychological understanding of human sexuality has expanded and changed profoundly, so that we know far better how truly we are all made in the image of God, no matter what our sexuality, just as the most severely disabled people are in the image of God, and we do not, generally, let them die at birth, or lock them away out of sight in institutions.
    We can no longer say that people are either male or female, and that the only ordered way of expressing physical love is between man and woman, that is simply not true. 1 in 2000 people are born with an indeterminate gender. We know now that all human embryos are female to start with, not male as the mediaeval theologians believed, and may become male or get stuck part way through. Sex, love, people are rainbow-coloured, get over it.

  2. I am a Parish Priest and want to remain anonymous for obvious reasons. However, I wanted to be able to express something of my own journey as a gay man and a priest. I have been a priest for almost twenty years. From an early age I knew I was different from other boys, although at that time I would not have been able to explain it but now recognise that I was homosexual. I came from a good Catholic home and had attended Catholic Schools. Like many other boys I messed around but only had my first real sexual experience when I was sixteen. Afterwards I felt guilty, although I had enjoyed the experience. I went to confession. The priest told me that I was in mortal sin and would go to hell for ever if I ever did anything like that again. At the same time he asked a lot of questions about masturbation and other personal questions. I decided there and then that I would never give into any sinful feelings or actions like that.

    The result of this was that I suppressed any gay attraction or thoughts and went into denial about my sexual inclinations. I went out on dates with a couple of girls, but nothing ever really developed. With the passing of time I started to think about the priesthood. Because I was in denial about my sexuality I described myself as heterosexual.

    I went through seminary and enjoyed my time there. We were taught that the homosexual person was intrinsically disordered and I bought into this teaching. The problem is that being homosexual is not a choice. We do not know exactly why some people are gay, it may be genetic or it may be environment or a combination of both. I now know that whatever the cause of my being homosexual, it is part of my unique identity made in the image and likeness of God and it is good. God does not make rubbish or intrinsically disordered people.

    You can only deny yourself for so long and if you go on suppressing your sexuality, which is such an integral part of your human identity, then it is a time bomb waiting to go off. I almost had a breakdown and in a way this was a blessing in disguise, as I had to face myself and discover who and what I am. I spent some years in therapy and had a wonderful woman counsellor who helped me to discover myself. For me it was the discovery that the Church was wrong on this issue. Both in the natural world and among humans some animals and people are born homosexual and for them it is normal and natural. I have two brothers and a sister and all of them are married with children. For them to act in a homosexual way would be wrong and I would say disordered and against their nature. For a gay man or woman to act out their inclinations and enter into a committed and loving relationship is for them normal and blessed by God.

    I have chosen to acknowledge who and what I am before God, but I have also accepted the gift of priesthood. I believe God chose me to be a priest and gave me my vocation and I live out my commitment in a non-sexual celibate way because this is my choice. I respect those who choose to leave the priesthood because they have fallen in love with another person either a man or woman and are living in a happy and life giving relationship.

    I want the teaching authority of the Church to listen to the lived experience of men and women who have had to come to terms with their sexual identity. Who have suffered because the church still holds to a notion of natural law that is based upon an outdated Aristotelian notion of the world. Rather it should listen to modern science and psychology. Even those passages in Scripture that seem to be against homosexual acts can now be interpreted in a different way, thanks to the advances in Scriptural Scholarship rather than the literal way that they have been held for so many hundreds of years. Unless the teaching Church moves away from an outdated view of natural law, then many more men and women are going to be damaged and suffer and leave the Church.

  3. I am a heterosexual woman. As far as I know my adult children are heterosexual too though when they were younger I encouraged them to talk about their sexuality so I could support them whatever that would be. I have gay friends and have learned a lot about being gay from them and some of the prejudice and lack of understanding other people have about them, particularly the Church.

    The reason why I have made this testimony is because it is now known scientifically that men and women are gay, lesbian, bisexual and heterosexual and this is genetically determined. It is not a chosen life style. The Church is behaving as it was in Galileo’s time. When scientific knowledge caught up with the Church it exonerated Galileo. The Church needs to look at the science of sexuality and recognise that being gay, straight or anywhere on that spectrum is God given. I ask the Pope and Bishops to look at this area. Many of you are gay. Please look at the terrible scapegoating gay people experience. Look at the terrible draconian laws some so called Catholic or Christian countries have made against gay people including the death penalty. Look at the Churches policy about gay marriage and gay adoption.

    The sacraments are being increasingly corralled: the sacrament of marriage is denied to gay people, the Eucharist is denied to the divorced and remarried, priesthood only to celibate men and never women. Soon people will walk away in greater numbers, or decide in good conscience that God means us to share God’s sacraments and that Bishops and Priests are there to minister to us and with us and not act as punitive, unjust, uncaring door keepers.

  4. Question 5 a. Is there a law in your country recognizing civil unions for people of the same-sex and equating it in some way to marriage?
    Yes, in some states of the USA same-sex marriage is legal.
    Question 5 b. What is the attitude of the local and particular Churches towards both the State as the promoter of civil unions between persons of the same sex and the people involved in this type of union?
    Progressive Christian and Jewish congregations are supportive; evangelical Protestant, Mormon, Catholic, and others are not only not supportive, but actively work against what are our civil rights and try to impose their beliefs on those of us of other faiths or beliefs or those of us who do not belong to any religion. That is putting it mildly. Religions, in many cases have become the embodiment of hate and dare I say of evil.
    Question 5 c. What pastoral attention can be given to people who have chosen to live in these types of union?
    As far as I’m concerned, it is way too late for this.
    The question itself is disingenuous.
    If you must, begin by listening to the stories and lived experience of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender individuals without judgment or preconceived ideas, without an attitude of your knowing us, our lives, our consciences, or struggles, or our identities better than we do.
    Question 5 d. In the case of unions of persons of the same sex who have adopted children, what can be done pastorally in light of transmitting the faith?
    My God, respect the lives of the children and their adoptive parents in the same manner that you insist on respecting life in the womb. Many, but of course not all, same sex partners adopt children with special needs – unwanted children, sick children, emotionally disturbed children, children born addicted to drugs, – these families are providing love and nurturance. How can this be wrong?

    A Brief Recounting of my own Experience:

    I am a young, sixty-five-year-old American male and I have bee in a loving relationship with another man for over 25 years (since I was 40). My childhood upbringing was in Catholic schools and I came from a very devout family. I discovered my sexuality gradually from the time I was around twelve to fourteen. At around fourteen I learned that masturbation, (self-abuse) was a mortal sin and I struggled with this through my young adulthood. A priest once refused to give me, a 16-year old, absolution because he said I was not contrite enough and was not serious about changing my ways. I was devastated. I discovered the word “homosexual” when I was about sixteen and read an article in Life Magazine that depicted homosexuals as frightening degenerates. I was fascinated and horrified.

    I knew I was a homosexual but I also knew I couldn’t be. I knew I could never act on my desires to have sex with a male. Even though I was not having sex with men, the guilt I lived with around masturbation was unrelenting. I went through several therapists (some were priests) from age sixteen until I got out of college at twenty-two. No therapist ever acknowledged my true identity, instead said things like “you can’t be homosexual, you’ve never had sex with a male,” or “You’re just shy with women. “ or “you’re an intelligent person, you can work things out for yourself.” My education continued in Catholic institutions through graduate school where I got a degree in Pastoral Counseling.

    I even sacrificed what might have been a career in another field in order to study psychology and try to “figure out” how to “cure” myself. I experienced long periods of depression for most of my life, often after making occasional aborted attempts to connect with another man.

    Finally, thanks to a co-worker, I found a therapist who was excellent, non-judgmental and who stayed with me for the long haul – more than two years. My long inner struggle finally came to an end with my full acceptance and embracing of my sexuality.

    I “came out” at the age of thirty-six; I came out personally, psychologically, sexually, spiritually and politically. It was 1984. This was the most joyous, liberating, deeply spiritual, fulfilling and positive period of my entire life.

    One of my first “out” actions was to attend a Mass at the local chapter of Dignity the organization for LGBT Catholics which met in the basement of a community center like the early Christians in the catacombs of ancient Rome. I wept for joy when we sang “…Blest are you that weep and mourn, for one day you shall laugh. And if wicked men insult and hate you all because of me, blessed, blessed are you! Be not afraid. I go before you always…and I will give you rest.” and then “Let us build the city of God, May our tears be turned into dancing, For the Lord our light and our love, Has turned the night into day.”

    I became very involved with Dignity because I still needed spiritual sustenance: I was overjoyed that my Church, through Dignity, was finally accepting me, or so I believed. Then, in October of 1986, Ratzinger and JP-II issued “The Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons” that called us objectively disordered and self-indulgent. The Catholic Church was now calling my innate aversion to hetero-sex a “more or less strong tendency toward moral evil.” And it accused organizations like Dignity of promoting deceitful propaganda and even suggested that increased violence toward gay persons was almost to be expected in view of new civil rights legislation protecting gays from discrimination.

    The document was full of insults. It made the lived experience of Gay, Lesbian and other sexual minorities unimportant, irrelevant and worthless. It reminded me that in the eyes of the church I was considered sinful to my very core, to my very identity. Nothing had changed, except for the worse. This was a blow to both cheeks. This teaching hurt me so deeply, I lost faith in Dignity and in the Church.

    Since that time I observe that vis-à-vis most Christian denominations I am anathema. As we LGBT communities advance in our civil rights, Christian religions, and most prominently the Catholic Church, has redoubled efforts to put us down, condemn us, and spread outright lies about us, our lives and relationships.

    I now have little use for organized religion of any kind and find their promulgations just as unimportant, irrelevant and worthless as they find me.

    As I said at the outset, I have been in a loving relationship for 25 years. Tell me, how can love be sinful?

    Yes, sex is involved. But sex is not the most important thing in our lives. (Let me use “our” in the wider, community sense). Not even close. The church makes way too big a deal about sex. People are sexual. People have sex. Grow up. Get over it. We’re way past the days when the church had to control everything and everybody.

    For me and my partner and I will say most other same-sex couples, friendship, love, intimacy, companionship, being one another’s helpmate are much more important than sex. Just like most heterosexual couples. We work, we pay taxes, we volunteer, we take care of elderly parents, we teach, we support charities, we plant gardens, we do art and music and science. We sing in your choir, we say your masses, we heal the sick, we counsel the troubled, and we feed the hungry.

    But there are those who would say that all we do is tainted.
    All we do is for naught.
    All we do is cancelled out because of who we are.
    And that all we do is without merit because of how we occasionally stimulate our sexual organs.

    Those who discount our lives, who protest our very existence, they are hypocrites, Pharisees.

    We hear condemnation daily: from our religious leaders, our politicians, our neighbors.

    How can a human being live in dignity when faced on a regular basis with hatred, condemnation, ridicule, violence, name-calling and even the real possibility of being murdered for who we are? In some countries we are imprisoned or even condemned to death.

    What makes us so frightful to the hetero world?

    Why do you spend so much time and energy and money and spiritual capital in a misguided attempt to destroy us, we who are part of God’s creation and made to exist in His image and through His infinite wisdom?

  5. Was it bought, was it caught, or was it taught? Does it really matter? The reality is that it is not chosen . Those of us who happen to be gay had about as much to do with it as those who happen to be heterosexual.
    Sincere thanks to my brother James for his testimony. Apart from a few personal deatails, I could identity with everything he said.
    I have known I was gay since childhood and for the so many years was tortured with the guilt as a result. I knew it would hurt my family if I said anything and that I would get teased and bullied if the truth were known, so I just bottled it. Some people guessed so I had a hard time anyway but I just carried on doing my best to keep my shameful secret . Honestly I had a good family and was taken to church and sent to Catholic School. Unfortunately my feelings of being worthless and evil were only endorsed there. Surprisingly, something else I knew since childhood was that I wanted to be a priest. Like so many other gay people I tried to be normal and even had a few girlfriends but I could never make that final commitment as I knew I would make a bad husband and make some poor girl’s life hell.
    Eventually i applied to go to seminary, still riddled with guilt but still with this sometimes overwhelming conviction that I must do it. Seminary was on the whole a good experience and the beginning of my pastoral ministry went well. However my now full blown alcoholism really kicked in. I’m not blaming anyone for this, including myself, but boy did I have great excuses to drink as the hungry wolf so long locked away in the cellar (my sexuality) came to take his revenge. I very nearly drunk myself to death . Thanks be to God I got into recovery and have found the love and acceptance I have been shown by these ex-drunks has been my main support ever since. I am still working as a parish priest today because I found in that amazing fellowship what I could not find in my church . I still love the church and still think I am doing the right thing staying in the priesthood.
    So, please, please, can we get some love, care and acceptance as gay people and not be made to feel like we are sick, bad or less than human.
    I know today that God loves me more than I can even imagine and I want all people to hear that Good News -and that is what the church is for.
    (David is my real name btw. Eventually you just get sick of hiding)

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