“Funny, you don’t look it” is a typical response when people learn I am a hunter. Aside from the fact I am gay, I am a gentle and thinking man. People find it hard to believe that I can choose to hunt down and kill a game bird or animal. Yes, hunting, unlike my gayness, is an ethical choice I make. It is a moral choice I keep to myself a great deal of the time as I find I have more venom spat at me for choosing hunting than for being gay. I concealed that I am gay and in a relationship with Mika from most of my hunting buddies. My hunting buddies are men and women from a plurality of ethnic and religious backgrounds. They are generally conservative. I feared I might lose them as friends and hunting buddies if they knew the truth or at the very least they would be uncomfortable knowing. It turns out they were not bothered in the least and are happy for me, that I am in a long term relationship with Mika. We remain, friends and hunting buddies, taking to the field in pursuit of game, enjoying our sport. Everyone who takes up hunting has their reasons for doing so, but as for me, I have had a lifelong passion for hunting, the outdoors and wildlife. Continue reading
Tell the devil to go to hell,” good advice given to me by a priest who heard my confession at St. Mary’s Cathedral. I was a student at Queen’s University and practicing Roman Catholic in the 1980s. My confessor was speaking figuratively, of course. Neither he nor I believed to “tell the devil to go to hell” involves addressing the creature sporting horns, a tail and cloven hooves. The devil in the context of our discussion was a metaphor for humanity’s evils. What my confessor told me is that I should heed the dictates of my conscience in choosing to good and avoid doing evil. What made me think of this was thoughts shared by Pope Francis in a sermon, in which he intimated that atheists are redeemed. That is, they do not face damnation when they choose to do good and avoid doing evil. This sermon raises an interesting point. I understood that in practicing Roman Catholicism, redemption and sanctification is granted via the grace of God through faith in Christ. I am no longer a practicing Roman Catholic, though not an atheist. I am a Deist. I listen to the dictates of my conscience in trying to do good and avoid doing evil, in effect telling the devil to go to hell, and until hearing the news of Pope Francis’ homily, understood, from the perspective of Catholic teaching, I am putting my soul at risk of damnation. Continue reading
Recruitment is defined among other things as “the action of finding new people to join an organization or support a cause.” (Oxford Dictionaries) It is so common to come across the claim that gays recruit others into being gay, that you choose to be gay, that someone lured your into this “lifestyle.” Speaking on behalf of myself, I can say that no one recruited me into being gay. Same-sex attraction manifests itself naturally in me. It is who I am. During my formative years in the latter half of the 1970s, the only impression I had of homosexuality was not good. Aside from a steady stream of disparaging, anti-gay jokes, remarks and slurs commonly in use at the time), there were a series of news reports about police raids on bathhouses in Toronto, culminating in Operation Soap in 1981. The impression of the “gay lifestyle” presented to me came up short if it was intended to win me as a recruit. I have written about my experience in how I came to accept that I am gay in previous posts, see Tap, Tap, Tap…, for example. It was a long and challenging process that dragged on over several years. I tried desperately to ignore, suppress, will even pray away the feelings of same-sex attraction. For a long time, I really wanted the gayness to go away. Continue reading
Recently, Mika and I attended a meeting of gay and lesbian Catholics. Several people of all ages were in attendance. We had a very interesting discussion and it was very nice meeting these people. Among those present was a young gay man, Jesse, who has faith in Christ and the Roman Catholic Church. Jesse, like so many gay people, just wants to find conjugal love and companionship with someone who happens to be the same sex. Jesse took the time to write a heartfelt letter to Pope Francis, explaining who he is, that he is gay, leading a very normal life, hoping to have married life with a man someday and asking for acceptance in the Church. He expressed some concern he might face excommunication for what he wrote, but we assured him this is not very likely. What he can realistically expect is a polite reply from the appropriate branch of the Vatican bureaucracy thanking him for his letter and reminding him that as Roman Catholic it is expected that he abstain from sex outside of marriage. That the Church does not accept same sex relationships at present leaves him in a bind.
I was for a time a very pious Roman Catholic. I attended mass every day, I said my prayers, I studied theology and accepted the authority of the Sacred Scriptures and the Apostolic Tradition. Throughout it all, however, doubt always nagged at me. I remember following the Easter Sunday mass at the Mother House of Sisters of Providence of Saint Vincent DePaul (my great aunt Olive was a member of the order), joining in with a priest who was reciting Revelation 11:15 “And He shall reign for ever and ever.” The priest added emphatically that “yes, forever and ever.” “Oh wow, you really believe that” was the first thought that crossed my mind. Doubt was ever present while I tried to practice Roman Catholicism. Some years later at a suburban parish at the Easter Vigil, a woman behind me was pouring candies from a bag into her children’s hands while the priest was busy reciting the words for the lighting of the Sacred Fire. The sound of the candies pouring out of the bag was an annoying distraction and it was following this that seemingly out of nowhere, doubt struck and I found myself wondering “what on Earth am I doing here, do I really believe any of this?” I left the Vigil as I felt it was hypocritical of me to stay. Continue reading
In Canadian law, enshrined in the Constitution Act and in federal statutes, Northwest Territories Act, the Yukon Act and the Nunavut Act, what is known as separate school boards are allowed to operate along side the public school boards. The law allows for separate school boards to accommodate members of the Christian faith, either Catholic or Protestant, where their numbers make them a minority–this right does not apply to faiths outside Christianity–in the provinces of Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan and in the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut. In practice, most separate school boards serve Catholic populations. Both public and separate school boards are funded by provincial an territorial governments respectively and are subject to legislation governing curriculum. While there are separate, that is Catholic, school boards in these provinces and territories, they operate under the auspices of the provincial or territorial civil authority. The Catholic Church does not have a constitutional, legal, or proprietary interest in the separate school boards. In recent history there is an ongoing controversy over Catholic teachings on homosexuality and their place in the separate school curriculum in the Province of Ontario. Continue reading
The election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis I on March 13, 2013 strikes me as interesting in that he makes me think of one of his predecessors, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli (1881-1963) who became Pope John XXIII (1958-1963). Like Pope John, he comes across as a humble and personable man. In choosing his regnal name, Pope John commented “I choose John … a name sweet to us because it is the name of our father, dear to me because it is the name of the humble parish church where I was baptized, the solemn name of numberless cathedrals scattered throughout the world, including our own basilica [St. John Lateran]. Twenty-two Johns of indisputable legitimacy have [been Pope], and almost all had a brief pontificate. We have preferred to hide the smallness of our name behind this magnificent succession of Roman Popes.” (As cited in Wikipedia) As for Pope Francis, his choice of regnal name is inspired by Saint Francis of Assisi whom he admires as “the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation. These days we don’t have a very good relationship with creation, do we?” he said. “He is the man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man.” (As cited in Wikipedia)