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Archbishop Charles Jason Gordon: Gay Catholics are called to holiness

Views Archbishop Charles Jason Gordon / February 28, 2024 Print this:

A person recently told me that they were gay and Catholic and wondered what they were supposed to be doing. Maybe someone is reading this and they, too, are gay, Catholic and unsure of how to proceed. 

Well, I’ll tell you what I told them. 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 this first, both in terms of importance and priority—is that you are a child of God, created in Christ Jesus for God’s own purpose (Eph. 2:10). 

The first thing you need to know—and I want to stress this first, both in terms of importance and priority—is that you are a child of God.

God loves you more than you will ever know, and this loving God has a plan for your life. I can imagine, in the midst of all your feelings and anxiety, that it may be difficult to believe this. But I want to stress again: God loves you and He is with you. I’ve seen this expressed on an old bumper sticker: “Be patient, God is not finished with me 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 and longing to belong, together with the outer storms of relativism and a culture of permissiveness, may feel like they are being imposed on you. To discern clearly and make wise choices, you need to be rooted in Christ.

Become a missionary disciple

What do we do with these storms raging inside and out? Allow Jesus in. God made you, so his Son knows you and loves you. Enter into a deep relationship with him. How? Through a rhythm of prayer. 

Not just times of prayer, but a routine 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, receiving the Body of Christ. 

Pope St. John Paul II wrote that in our restlessness “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). 

Anchor yourself in a living relationship with Christ. Go to the Blessed Sacrament and attend Mass regularly, receiving the Body of Christ. 

Set aside a time every day for study. Read broadly and widely. But also, read deeply. I want to invite you to think with the church. This means reading and following the Pope Francis, especially his teachings on sexuality and identity. You can easily find his teachings online.  

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. Remember 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 lives worthy of the vocation that we all received (Eph. 4:1). Bring all of yourself to Christ. Allow Christ to fill and use all of you for his Kingdom. A relationship with Christ does not seek to repress or give in solely to inner longings. Desires are important in our spiritual lives, but must be weighed in terms of our Christian beliefs. Christ will show you a different way than the world often presents. His is the path of freedom and true fulfillment. 

Live a life of virtue

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. But God gave us Ten Commandments. Live them all! But above this, live the law of love (Mk. 12:30-31). 

In seeking to live a life of virtue, you will discover the voice of your conscience. Pay close attention to it.

In seeking to live 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. Yes, but remember first you are a child of God who experiences attraction to people of the same sex. Your core identity is in Christ and nothing should ever be put in that place. 

You have attractions that are emotional and sexual all at once. Both are real. Like every person, you will need to understand, and consciously distinguish between, your emotional needs for companionship and friendship, and 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 must 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 for forgiveness, make a firm purpose of amendment, seek help and go to Confession. 

Find a group and participate in it. You are part of our family.

Pornography is one of the great temptations today. For some people, both gay and straight, it can be like an addiction and cause you to lose perspective. 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, and therefore, sinful. 

There are Catholic groups that support gay persons in living their faith. They offer you a space for fellowship and a safe space to share. Find a group and participate in it. You are part of our family. We have a place for you. I pray for you; please pray for me. 

Archbishop Charles Jason Gordon

Charles Jason Gordon is the archbishop of Port of Spain, the capital city of Trinidad and Tobago.

All articles by Archbishop Charles Jason Gordon

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  1. I’m pretty sure the moderators of this forum are growing weary of my comments, but I feel a responsibility to speak out for the young people of the church. Especially those who are LGBTQ.

    I have a problem with Archbishop Gordon’s concluding statement “You are part of our family. We have a place for you.” Yeah, if you’re looking for a place where you’ll be told you’re intrinsically evil, intrinsically disordered, or your relationship is sinful. Who wants to put themselves through that? And if the church is so welcoming why is it that we only see maybe a handful of LGBTQ priests and leaders who are out and proud? The answer is they’re afraid to be open, honest, and courageous. What kind of example of welcoming is that? Perhaps Archbishop can write an article for Outreach directed to the closeted leaders of the church.

    I also have a problem with the statement “Be generous with your peers who may ridicule and judge you harshly.” Some of us have put up with or seen decades of psychological, physical, and sexual abuse. The Archbishop’s message is basically hang in there and keep taking the abuse. My response to that is find a church community outside of the Catholic Church where you are truly loved and your same-sex relationship is seen as holy and good. And while on this topic, why doesn’t the Archbishop call out those that ridicule and judge the LGBTQ community.? He totally gave them a free pass.

    Even though I left the church 40 years ago I still pray to Jesus everyday and feel his comfort, kindness, and holiness surging through my soul. I call him the “real” Jesus, He’s not the judgmental and psychologically abusive Jesus I once knew from the Catholic Church.

    I get that Outreach is trying to implement positive change for LGBTQ people in the church but I think too often these articles sugar coat the reality. Maybe the articles should be run by former LGBTQ Catholics for feedback before publishing because quite often the articles are insulting to us.

    My hope that in my lifetime I will see the Catholic Church become TRULY accepting of LGBTQ people. But at 63 years old, what is it they say about snowballs in Hell? And honestly even if the church became truly accepting I wouldn’t come back. I can’t. The damage has been done.

  2. Luckily I’m in a good mood today… So as the text was progressing towards its inevitable reminder of church ‘teaching’, I was able to prepare myself and just laugh out loud in the end.

    Still, I remember what such a text would have done to me some 30 years ago. I hope that nowadays young people can just glance over it, but what about those who don’t. I’m not sure how much of a progress it is that they now bring sweet little cupcakes first, only to discover that the same old bitter poison has been infused inside, instead of giving the poison outright as they used to. What good is it for our people and for the church…

  3. Well, I would not say this is terribly affirming. With one hand he calls those in the LGBTQ community to holiness. With the other hand he shuts down any possibility of a sexual and married partnership with people of the same sex.

  4. This Essay is beautiful. I think it should be shared everywhere..

  5. I thought this was an affirming site. This statement makes me wonder if anyone reviewed this article prior to posting: 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, and therefore, sinful.

  6. In Archbishop Gordon’s words one can sense the sincere and loving heart of a true pastor. On the other hand, I can fully sympathize with those who are disappointed. The Archbishop is speaking from the vantage point of abstract moral theology in its strictest application. There is no reason to think that the Church can abandon or change this theology in its basic principles which reach far beyond the particular issues relating to homosexuality. But we can hope for, and even have a right to expect a more flexible and humane application of these principles which takes into account the concrete situations in which people find themselves in our present world. With regard to same sex couples there is a need to recognized that often much good can be found in such friendships for the people involved and for those around them ( and that independently of the view one takes of what may or may not be happening in the bedroom). The fact that blessings are permitted is a first step in this direction. The specification that it is not the sexual union which is being blest implies that there can be other (in the Church’s eyes) indisputably positive aspects of the friendship that need to be encouraged, purified, fostered. Then there is the law of graduality. Two people can travel together progressively towards holiness despite imperfections. Finally there is a need to propose some positive role models-drawn among other places from Holy Scripture itself and from church history. There are many examples of passionately loving friendships which although having some elements of a family, differ from the model offered by the sacrament of marriage for heterosexual couples.

    • Sorry but this is the kind of mindset that makes me want to shut the door once and for all. Yes the church will have to change its teachings.

      It is so frustrating to see the church going through every wrong answer, taking 10 or 20 years to figure out it’s wrong, hurting a bunch of young people in the process, and then move on to the next wrong ‘solution’.

      My husband and I are not in a ‘friendship’, we are in a marriage. How can the author of this post be so close, as in his final comments “There are many examples of passionately loving friendships”, and yet not see the obvious solution staring at him?

      • Mr. Casprini says “There is no reason to think that the church can abandon or change this theology.” How utterly disappointing. Why not??? Is change not allowed in the Catholic Church??? That kind of thinking from leadership just tells me the church is going to remain close minded, and young people will continue to stay away in droves.

        If the church wants to grow and heal and truly be accepting of LGBTQ people it needs to stop the psychologically hurtful rhetoric that Mr Casprini and Mr Gordon continue to spew. Enough already.

        My husband and I have been together 30 years. and married eight. So let me echo JP’s comment. My husband and I are NOT in a friendship. We’re married. It’s insulting to say otherwise.

        • In my family we were just two brothers. There were no sisters. But I’m proud to say that I have a brother and a brother-in-law. “De facto” for over 40 years. “De iure” according to US law for about 6 years. It even sounds better in French where brother-in-law is a “beau-frère” which means a “handsome brother”. And so I have a brother and a “handsome brother” although one and the other make a pretty good impression even at our ages. I live in a different part of the world from them but we are close and when we get together we have wonderful times. They are non-believers but they respect and “tolerate” my Catholic faith always making sure I get to see all the chruches I want and have a place to celebrate Mass. I don’t feel any need to “tolerate” them but am simply thankful for what they have and for what we can share. Depsite this, I just don’t think the Catholic church will agree to re-define the sacrament of marriage. If I mention other models it’s because some folks have found them helpful at least as time goes on. As my novice master used to say “the reasons one enters a monastery are not always the reason one stays”. Something similar can be true among couples. I also think that these models have a better chance of becoming the object of a consensus in our at the moment very polarized Church. Peace…

  7. Many thanks for the offering and spiritual direction from Abp. Gordon. This time I found a verdant ‘wadis’ on my desert sojourn. The ‘takeaway’ for me is ‘be generous’! How counter-cultural in these polarised times that we live in.