Margaret, think nothing of it, dear. This place is as much your place as it is mine. Matthew says he can post the letter from your nephew here. I have no idea how many people will read it, but I think it is a beautiful letter and should be shared. Harold and I had many disagreements about the Catholic Church, but even he would have been upset by this.
In a world where politics can divide us so sharply into two colors, one would hope the church could paint a lovely canvas of how we should be. Sadly, the separation between church and state is razor-thin, and cuts from the church are so painful.
I mean it. Really.
The following is a letter written by Margaret’s nephew. I have removed the names to spare the bride any embarrassment. ~ Matthew
Dear Father _____,
My name is ______. I am a member of a large family that has a long and rich history with your parish. My father’s family is one of the founding families for both your town and your parish. I am writing to you today after attending my niece’s wedding this past weekend. I am sure you were aware that it was a wedding ceremony only and not a mass because the groom’s family is Methodist. Because of that, and because the bride comes from a very large family, I would have hoped that your words that day would have been welcoming and accepting of people from various backgrounds and beliefs.
I am gay. I attended the wedding with my husband. We were legally married in the State of Texas last December on our 15th anniversary as a couple. We attended the wedding with our daughter whom you might have seen turning the pages of sheet music for the pianist. That pianist is my goddaughter. Her mother is my sister-in-law. She was raised by two women. She was not raised Catholic but converted when she married my brother. You also might remember the very emotional Maid of Honor. That was my other goddaughter, the sister of the bride. One of the groomsmen was my nephew. In addition to his having two gay uncles, he has a lesbian aunt on his mother’s side. His mother and father and their other children also attended the wedding. His sisters were married at your beautiful church as well. In fact, the bride’s brother, my nephew, was also married at your church. Many of our long-time family friends also attended.
Most of the guests that day were seeing us for the first time since we announced our marriage. You might be surprised at how many congratulations and hugs were exchanged in the back of the church when we arrived. My cousin gave me a hug and let us know that her daughter, another goddaughter of mine, wished us well. Her daughter is in a same-sex relationship. Everyone was so welcoming and kind to us. That is what families, friends, and decent people should do when they see one another.
I am not sure why you decided to use my niece’s wedding as the time to speak out against same-sex marriage, but needless to say your unkind words upset many of the wedding guests that day. The fact that you linked your most unwelcoming tone to the teachings of Pope Francis was particularly sad as I had, in recent years, begun to think that maybe I might one day feel a little bit of comfort being back in the church of my childhood. I guess the Pope’s words of welcome, forgiveness and healing have simply been good sound bites for the press.
Father, you can rest assured that I am now even more resolved that there is no place in the Catholic Church for me or my family. After listening to you, I am even more content with my decision not to raise my daughter in the church. Two sisters-in-law, a brother and two nieces let me know that evening that they are also done with the Catholic Church. I guess if your plan was to turn people away from the church while blemishing an otherwise beautiful day for the bride, then you can feel good in your accomplishments.
Please know that I am not angry with you nor do I expect any sort of response. In my own way, I have forgiven you as I would forgive anyone who speaks from a place of ignorance. I actually feel sorry for you as I am sure it is difficult to follow in the footsteps of Christ when you are filled with such judgment and unkindness. Maybe in the future you can save your politically charged comments for a regular mass instead of a wedding where there are surely many guests who are not Catholic. But how sad that your words are not always comforting and kind.
At a time when our country and the world is filled with such violence and unkindness to people of different backgrounds and cultures, it would be nice to think that the church could be a place of peace, comfort and love. At a time when we see our politicians spewing words of hatred against other candidates’ wives, fathers and family members, it would be nice to think that church is a place where families can come together and not be judged. It would be nice, but that isn’t what I experience in your church. Of all the places to have felt discrimination and hatred, a house of worship should have been safe. It was not.
My only lasting sadness about this is for the bride who had to sit there and listen to you speak so unkindly about her family. And I am very disappointed as I had thought Pope Francis was having a more positive impact on the church. I stand corrected.