By Fr. Marty Kurylowicz – Thalamus Center
Maybe there are checks and balances in the Catholic Church called the Holy Spirit. The realization that came over me in March 1997, at the New Way Ministry Symposium, in Pittsburgh, PA, about just how harmful the influence of the Vatican’s antigay teachings are on children motivated me in lightening speed in “good conscience” to come out publically as a gay priest. There was no hesitation “Kids are being Hurt !!!” What’s there to think about?!? Move!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Save the kids!!!!!!!!
I think that it is a basic human instinct, heightened by growing up in my family, neighborhood, the time in history I was born and the strong influence of my Catholic upbringing, the years and years of all Catholic school education, grade school, high school, college, graduate school in the seminary, becoming a priest – “You just don’t hurt kids!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” However, from the news media and the Internet it is clear that the Vatican and the hierarchy don't get it!!! It is not rocket science! You do not have to be Einstein or Sonia Sotomayor to figure this one out! But why in God’s name can’t the hierarchy of the Catholic Church figure this out. The most basic human instinct to protect children they so badly fumbled the ball and they are allowed to continue to fumble so badly, even still! Not one cardinal or bishop was charged with criminal neglect for the decades of cover-ups of child sexual abuse cases, not to mention their intimation of the victims and parents who spoke up. How can this be allowed to happen? How can all world pretend it never happened? Have we become that indifferent to what violence happens to children? In part, I realised why, because as we learn from Selma Fraiberg, (1987) Ghosts in the Nursery, there was no one attentive their pain growing up as very young children, they are unable to recognize the same pain happening to children, now.
Selma Fraiberg, (1987) Ghosts in the Nursery, explains how parents' own past experiences of growing up, impacts their relationship with their own child, beginning as infants. Fraiberg’s research studied the interactions between an infant and one of the parents, when both were left alone in a room. She observed what happens when an infant begins to cry and continues crying for an extended amount of time. Fraiberg discovered that some parents appeared undisturbed by their infant's distress and made no gesture, to soothe, calm or even to pick up their infant.What prevented these parents from attending to their crying infants? Fraiberg’s research revealed that unconscious processes, conflicts (the Ghosts) of the parents' own past were being played out, in the same way, as these parents experienced being cared for by adults during their early childhood years growing up. The reason why some parents did not pick up their crying infants was because in the past when they were growing up, no one heard their cries or picked them up to soothe them. Not having experienced the attentiveness of a caring comforting adult when they were in distress, as children, as parents, they have no conception of the need to comfort their own crying infants. Read more
J.K. Rowling describes a way the we can hear the cries of children, in her description of IMAGINATION she gave in her Harvard Commencement Address on, June 5, 2008. She begins by speaking about her early days, in her 20’s working at Amnesty International in London. video
…Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.
You can see what happens to priests like myself, who speak out publicly of these atrocities that happen to other human beings. We are silenced, dismissed from our jobs, lose our income, and shamed by the hierarchy in the same way that they treated the victims of child abuse. The idea of working for God as a priest or religious is that you work for “free” or for very little and pay little attention to making money only in caring for others. This is a noble idea and freeing because you can be totally focused on the lives of others. The evil that comes in is when you are working for God for free and then you are misused by the hierarchy to be kept silent, because you cannot afford to be thrown out. We all know now more than ever, these days, the feeling of losing your home, your car and everything. This is how atrocities in the Catholic Church can continue for decades. Because if you come out as an alone priest, to speak out about actual human violence happening to kids, you are quickly and publicly shamed and removed by the hierarchy. Since you are the only one who speaks up and no one else does, then to the public you look like you must be the problem and deserved to be mistreated and thrown out. And, again repeating, this is how human atrocities continue in the Catholic Church for decades. It is called blaming the victim, bad things only happen to bad people, which in reality is not true.
After I came out 1997, and lost my income and position unless I submitted to conversion/reparative "reeducation" or to be locked up in another more permanent closet for the rest of my life, I attended a gay blessing just like a wedding, a marriage at a Metropolitan Community Church (MCC). I was struck again as if by a bolt lightening to the true meaning of marriage. After doing tons and tons of weddings, as a priest, and though I was happy for the people I did them for, I realized that I did not get the true meaning of marriage. It was only after witnessing from the pew the, oh, so familiar orchestration of all that is involved in putting together a marriage ceremony that the true meaning of marriage hit me. I get it now!!! It is about two people in love and everyone gathers together to celebrate this most wonderful love. I understood why everyone is so happy. My mind flashed back to vivid scenes when I was a very young child being taken with my brothers in our white shirts, bow ties and shiny new shoes, to what seemed then like 100’s of weddings. I understood why everyone looked so good. I could understand why my great aunts and uncles, who to me as a kid, I thought were real old and never seemed to smile, became the life of the party. You could hardly recognize them all dressed up in their "best" with beaming smiles, laughing, hugging and kissing everyone in sight and dancing to beat the band, like I had never saw before. I got it! For the very first time in my whole life, at 50 years old, I got it!!! It is about LOVE, being one with another human being and how wonderful the feels!!! I understood the excitement, the fusing, the tears, the rejuvenating atmosphere, contagious feeling of good will, it all made sense to me now!!! I also understood why I did not get it before, it was because of how I was raised quite implicitly and not at all intentionally done, but I was being told “They are writing songs of love but not for me.”
They’re writing songs of love - But not for me ...
Now, a life time later, I again felt most deeply the harmful social influence of the Vatican’s antigay teachings have on a very young child growing up gay, in a way that no one could have ever imagined, least of all my parents and relatives. Because even before I was being dragged to all those 100’s of weddings as a very young child I had already been told quite implicitly that these celebrations would not be for me.
After that gay couple’s WEDDING, I could not in justice as a priest do another heterosexual wedding in Church. We cannot celebrate love when we are harming others so inhumanly. In good conscience, before God, as a priest I could not do it ever again until all could come to their Church and be married. I know, even now, as I write this article why I was so ecstatic with unbelievable joy when the Episcopal Church this past July 2009 approved the blessing of same-sex unions, as they begin writing the liturgies for gay marriages. The tears I could not cry at other peoples’ weddings before came out flooding uncontrollably. And that "crazy spirit" that seemed to possess my great aunts and uncles at weddings I attended as a kid I could feel alive in me for the very first time. How unbelievably wonderful and yet now, at the same time, how so very tragic. How do you compensate children, adults for a life time of implicit violence, far worst than explicit violence, which is wholeheartedly approved by Benedict XVI* and his heirarchy? It cries out the heavens, to God for justice, the violence done and is allowed to continue is far more extensive than anyone can possibly imagine. This may help us to begin to understand better why there may be so many violent human atrocities, like HItler's.
And recently, reading how so many Catholics support LGBT civil rights, including Marriage Equality I feel like dancing and hugging and kissing everyone. Those songs of love are for me and you, too!!!!!!! There may after all be checks and balances in the Roman Catholic Church, the powerful love and strength of the Holy Spirit.
However, Benedict XVI and his hierarchy, instead of being concerned about the global economy and people in crisis, they are still obsessively hot on the trail of witch hunting gays, only. What actually do the hierarchy do? They are not good at protecting children. How do they get elected or get picked or whatever to become a member of the hierarchy??? We need to find this out and how has it been altered through the centuries. Something is not right with it, today. There needs to be full, complete and ongoing transparency regarding the cardinals and bishops bank accounts and duties and effectiveness. There needs to be a comprehensive investigation into the pontiffs, cardinals and bishops their activities both past and present. As Catholics we are responsible for their behavior, now that we know they are not dependable or responsible, especially when it comes to children. With all due respect, Benedict XVI has helped to bring to the public attention the problems with the Roman Catholic hierarchy, their insulation from the real problems people are facing. What would Jesus do and say to them?
Written by Fr. Marty Kurylowicz - Thalamus Center
*Important note: I mean no disrespect to Pope Benedict XVI or the hierarchy, the one and only concern is the safety and well-being of children. Kids are being hurt!!!