O Clarim News Bureau (English)
Dear Father L.
I am a mother of three grown-up children living in the US. As a Catholic family, we raised our children in the teachings and values of the Catholic faith. Father, my eldest son is gay. He has changed a lot after joining a support group advocating for homosexual rights. From being a once-pious boy, he now harbors resentment towards the church and its priests.
It was very painful for us in the beginning when he honestly shared with us about his “newly-found self.” As his mother, my first words were to tell him how much I love him, and that I would always support him. This has been the steepest learning curve of my life, and no doubt, the bravest.
At first, my husband and I were searching in the dark for answers. We began questioning ourselves. Had we done something wrong? In all honesty, I was surprised with what our local priest offered us for help: to encourage our son to “live openly without fear” in the church. Furthermore, he urged us to push for the church to allow the blessing of same-sex couples.
A Devoted Mother
Dear Devoted Mother,
I must admit that you have given me a serious and sensitive issue to deal with. The church urges us to treat homosexual persons with understanding and empathy, and you already did that when you affirmed your love for your son when he revealed his feelings and “newly-found self” to you. I am not a professional counselor specialized in dealing with issues related to sexual orientation, and I regret that I am not able to offer you counseling or specific suggestions. However, since you are living in the United States, I can share with you the Pastoral Recommendations of the US Bishops on this matter.
* To Parents:
1. Accept and love yourselves as parents in order to accept and love your son or daughter. Do not blame yourselves for a homosexual orientation in your child.
2. Do everything possible to continue demonstrating love for your child. However, accepting his or her homosexual orientation does not have to include approving of all related attitudes and behavioral choices. In fact, you may need to challenge certain aspects of a lifestyle that you find objectionable.
3. Urge your son or daughter to stay joined to the Catholic faith community. If they have left the Church, urge them to return and be reconciled to the community, especially through the sacrament of penance.
4. Recommend that your son or daughter find a spiritual director/mentor to offer guidance in prayer and in leading a chaste and virtuous life.
5. Seek help for yourself, perhaps in the form of counseling or spiritual direction, as you strive for understanding, acceptance, and inner peace. Also, consider joining a parents’ support group or participating in a retreat designed for Catholic parents of homosexual children. Other people have traveled the same road as you have but may have journeyed even further. They can share effective ways of handling delicate family situations such as how to tell family members and friends about your child, how to explain homosexuality to younger children, and how to relate to your son or daughter’s friends in a Christian way.
6. Reach out in love and service to other parents struggling with a son or daughter’s homosexuality. Contact your parish about organizing a parents’ support group. Your diocesan family ministry office, Catholic Charities, or a special diocesan ministry to gay and lesbian persons may be able to offer assistance.
7. As you take advantage of opportunities for education and support, remember that you can only change yourself; you can only be responsible for your own beliefs and actions, not those of your adult children.
8. Put your faith completely in God, who is more powerful, more compassionate, and more forgiving than we are or ever could be.
I assure you that you, your son and your family will be in my prayers.
(*Excerpts from ALWAYS OUR CHILDREN: A Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children and Suggestions for Pastoral Ministers. A statement of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Marriage and Family, September 10, 1997)
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