Q: Archbishop J, I am gay and Catholic, what am I supposed to do?
I want for you what I want for every Catholic. I want you to be holy!
The first thing you need to know, and I want to stress first both in terms of importance and priority—I want you to know that you are a child of God created in Christ Jesus for God’s own purpose (Eph 2:10).
God loves you more than you will ever know and this living God has a plan for your life. I can imagine in the midst of all the feelings and the anxiety that it may be difficult to believe this.
I want to stress again — God loves you and He is with you. There is an old bumper sticker which says: “Be patient, God is not finished with you yet”.
You need to grow a very deep relationship with God. The storms of this world will wreak havoc on you if you do not have a solid foundation in Christ. The inner storms of your feelings, desires, belonging, together with the outer storms of the gender ideology, relativism and the culture of permissiveness are being imposed on you. You will not have the capacity to discern clearly and make wise choices if you are not rooted in Christ.
What do we do with these raging storms inside and outside? Allow Jesus in. He made you, knows you and loves you. Enter into deep relationship with Him. How? Through a rhythm of prayer.
Not just times of prayer but a routine that you can rely on. Christian meditation, The Examen, Lectio Divina and the rosary are all fruitful ways of praying.
Anchor yourself in a living relationship with Christ. Go to the Blessed Sacrament and attend Mass regularly, receive the Body of Christ.
St John Paul II wrote that in the restlessness we experience inside “beats and pulsates what is most deeply human -the search for truth, the insatiable need for the good, hunger for freedom, nostalgia for the beautiful, and the voice of conscience” (Redemptor Hominis, 18).
Set aside a time of study every day. Read broadly and widely. But also read deeply. I want to invite you to think with the Church. This means reading and following the Holy Father especially his teaching of sexuality and identity. Also read with me.
Our faith is a rich faith. There is a website that gives both great science and Catholic understanding of the whole area of sex, gender, etc.—personandidentity.com. Go through the information prayerfully and wrestle with it.
Be generous! Not just with your money and talent and your time. Be generous with each of us who let you down when we do not live our Christianity or the high ideals that Christ has put before us.
Be generous with your peers who may not understand you fully or who may ridicule and judge you harshly. Remind us that Jesus says: “Do not judge, lest you be judged” (Mt 7:1). Above all be generous to the poor for in almsgiving we cover over a multitude of sins.
Become a missionary disciple. As you root yourself in Christ, call others to Christ to live their life worthy of the vocation that we all received (Eph 4:1). Bring all of yourself to Christ and allow Christ to fill and use all of you for His Kingdom. Relationship with Christ therefore does not seek to repress or simply give into the inner longings. Christ will show you a different way. It is the path of freedom and true fulfilment.
Everything God expects of every Catholic, He expects of you. Live a life of virtue. Sometimes we act as if there is only one commandment—the sixth. God gave us ten commandments—live them all! But above this live the law of love (Mk 12:30–31).
In seeking after a life of virtue you will discover the voice of your conscience. Pay close attention to it. Always do what is pleasing to God. Seek good; avoid evil.
You have one primary identity — you are a child of God. Nothing should come before this.
You said to me you are gay. I say you are a child of God who experiences attraction to the same sex. Your core identity is in Christ and nothing should ever be put in that place.
You have attractions that are at once emotional and sexual. Both are real. Like every young person you will need to understand consciously your emotional needs for companionship and friendship from your sexual desires and fantasies.
We were created out of love and for love. We all need loving relationships where we are accepted unconditionally, if we are to become the best version of ourselves. This need for love has to be integrated with your sexual desires in a manner that is healthy and holy. Needs and desires are very different.
All persons are called to be chaste. You need to learn your body and how to sublimate these desires and direct them to the good.
Our brains learn either virtue or vice; whatever is repeated will become easier and easier to choose. Choose virtue; it leads to Christ!
If you fall, ask forgiveness, make a firm purpose of amendment, seek help and go to Confession.
Pornography is one of the great temptations today. It is an addiction. Your brain lights up the same way on porn as on cocaine. It is a drug and will seduce you to lose your soul. Please do everything to avoid it.
If you fall into it, or to lust of any kind, go to Confession as soon as you can. The Sacrament is a healing balm for your soul.
We were created male and female. This is God’s design. By God’s law, sex and sexual pleasure is for the context of marriage. Outside of marriage it is concupiscence, which is a distortion of God’s intention (i.e. sinful).
There is a Catholic group called Courage which I will do my best to begin in Trinidad. It offers you a space for fellowship and a safe space to share. The website courage.org has a handbook to start you off. You are part of our family. We have a place for you. I pray for you; please pray for me.
You are a child of God, part of our family, the Church, called by God to be holy.
Regardless of sexual orientation, reflect on your commitment to a life of holiness. Assess your life and make a plan to become a better version of yourself. Pass this to others who may need it.