Yet another friend has been fired by a Catholic employer for being gay. Not for being in a relationship or making heterodox public statements – he’s committed to Catholic orthodoxy. Just for being gay. The firing happened some time ago, but he recently had the reason confirmed, affirming what he had suspected all along.
This news came just as I had a very frank conversation with a friend of mine, a longstanding member of our local Catholic community. She confirmed what I had suspected: because of the things I have written, I will probably never be able to teach at one of the “orthodox” Catholic high schools in my area.
Ironically, my public writing has often been focused on defending the Church’s views on homosexuality. But these writings have come from my own experience of being gay and Catholic and have included admissions that I have failed at times to live up to the Church’s call to chastity. Because I’m “out,” conservative parents would be unhappy with me teaching their children, and schools wouldn’t want to have to fight to defend my place in them. It would be easier to avoid the issue altogether by not hiring me.
Speaking out about being a gay Catholic who affirms the Church’s teachings has been a detriment to my career. But, oddly enough, it’s only been a detriment to having a career in the “orthodox” Catholic world. Secular institutions have been happy to hire me, while I have had at least one job offer rescinded from a Catholic organization over my sexuality. My friend suspected that the more “liberal” Catholic schools would probably be willing to hire me, though none of them have the kinds of curricula or emphases that I would find compelling in a school.
This is a poor state of affairs for a Church that’s already accused of discriminating against and marginalizing gay persons. The organizations that would insist we live up to the Church’s teachings or get out would often not be willing to hire us, whether we live up to them or not.
And I’m sitting here at my secular workplace, thinking to myself: “But I really do believe in the Church. I really do.”
And as I realize this, there’s a kind of odd comfort, a strange consolation. Even with this state of affairs, I really do believe in the Church. And not just in a self-effacing martyry kind of way (though there probably is a bit of that), but in a genuinely hopeful and grateful kind of way. For me, personally, there’s a grace in being moved by belief that not only transcends but also moves within hypocrisy.
This hypocrisy, oddly enough, doesn’t necessarily diminish the truth of the Church, but might affirm it. I still believe. And how could I so firmly believe if it weren’t so firmly true (or, I guess my detractors would say, unless I were thoroughly brainwashed)? I really do believe. I think I’d be shocked by my little bit of belief if I didn’t believe in grace.
Chris Damian is a writer, speaker, attorney, and business professional living in the Twin Cities. He received his B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame and his J.D. and M.A. in Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas. He is the author of “I Desired You: Intellectual Journals on Faith and (Homo)sexuality” (volumes I and II). He is also the co-founder of YArespond, a group of Catholic young adults seeking informed and holistic responses to the clergy abuse crisis. In his free time, he enjoys hosting dinner parties and creative writing workshops.