Alumnus reflects on experience as gay, Catholic

first_imgChristopher Damian, a graduate of the University of Notre Dame class of 2013, discussed the intersection of homosexuality, Catholicism and theology in his presentation “Gay and Catholic,” hosted Thursday evening by the Gender Relations Center and the Institute for Church Life.Damian spoke about his journey toward reconciling his sexual identity with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Damian recounted his struggle to understand his identity throughout his undergraduate years.“How could I see my studies through a unified lens, if I couldn’t see myself as a unified person?” he said.Damian said one of the most difficult aspects he encountered while accepting his sexuality was how to understand the Church’s teachings regarding homosexuality and intimacy. Damian said he frequently questioned whether or not he would be able to fully engage in relationships with others, a question which poses a significant problem for LGBTQ-identifying Catholics.“I was worried that I couldn’t have friendship with anyone,” Damian said. “I wondered if my life as a Catholic was doomed to failure.”Damian said the language and rhetoric of the Catechism regarding homosexuality tends to be misrepresented and misunderstood by Catholics, specifically passages that refer to homosexuality as an intrinsic disorder. Damian said the focus on condemning the identity of LGBTQ individuals often leads to unnecessary rejection.“We should be careful about the things we say about sexual-minority students,” he said. “If Christians make claims about these people that seem blatantly untrue, this will cause others to question these issues and Christianity as a whole.”Damian said there is a need to define adequately the nature of the celibate vocation established for gay Catholics as well as address the definitions of friendship and intimacy for LGBTQ Catholics. He said celibacy allows others to engage in a life of self-giving love and reflect on the true nature of desire for intimacy.“The Church’s limitations are not meant to close us off, but rather, to open us up,” Damian said. “The Church places limitations so that we may be drawn deeper into reflection on where our intimacies and desires can lead us.”Damian said the definition of homosexuality can be highly misunderstood within the broader cultural context. Although sexuality and sexual orientation are frequently understood to be rigid and focused purely on sexual intimacy, “sexual attraction is very fluid and contextual,” he said.“I’m going to argue that the way in which the Catechism treats homosexuality is actually quite different for how it’s understood in the broader culture,” Damian said. “The more I’ve thought about it, it seems to me that while the desire for sexual intimacy with a person of the same sex is a significant part of the gay experience, it is only one aspect of it.”Damian said understanding homosexuality and identity requires understanding the transformative nature of the Church.“Catholicism never leaves things as they are,” he said. “It deepens, purifies and transforms all things it comes into contact with. So history becomes more than just history. For the Church, it can be deepened into salvation history.”Tags: Christopher Damian, Gay and Catholic, Gender Relations Center, Institute for Church Life, LGBTQlast_img read more

MESSENGERS OF PEACE

first_imgThere is something about harnessing the latent energy of young people for peaceful conduct of the next Presidential and Parliamentarian elections that we believe has not yet been revealed or dialogued about, something that the rest of us need to know.Young people need to know from all the presidential aspirants what they have in stock for sustainable peace and what role young people would or should play in the upcoming elections.In a world where divisive politics and unholy partnerships are derailing governments, harnessing the latent energy of young people can play a bigger role in resolving electoral conflicts and violence. At Messengers of Peace (MOP)-Liberia, we would continue to preach reconciliation and advocate for conflict mediation in schools and communities.The young people in Liberia should be committed to the notion that their pursuit of sustainable peace can be harnessed to solve many of the country’s most pressing challenges. Young people should step forward to develop projects that would address electoral challenges. Young people should mobilize themselves and others to vote according to the dictates of their conscience and conviction.Elections to public offices should not be based on tribal, religious or other forms of affiliation but based on transparency, fairness and objectivity of purpose to serve. Our politics should be based on trust not reprisal, action not words and commitment to the upliftment of Liberia not money. It is not how much money is shared but how many persons reached for sustainable peace.Peace consolidation is quiet often driven by young people, who most of the time volunteer their talents, resources and skills to conflict mediation, peace advocacy, reporting on triggers to violence and providing assistance to others.Mounting evidence points to a powerful tool for staying on track in everything that we do. As young people we need to choose habits that increase our love and peace for the country. We also need to commit our energy towards peaceful elections in October 2017.Anecdotal reports show that young people are most ideal interlocutors to deliver constructive electoral messages about participatory processes, promoting dialogue necessary to build trust, civic responsibility and solidarity. It is our position at MOP-Liberia that partnership with young people should never be used to serve other political goals or organizational mandate. On the contrary, partnership is best served by strong government agencies and international NGOs, acting for the good of all.In the words of the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, “The interconnected nature of today’s crises requires us to connect our own efforts for peace and security, sustainable development and human rights, not just in words, but also in practice.” Harnessing the latent energy of young people requires us to connect, as the synergy of our efforts would result in a peaceful electoral outcome.Until next week when we come to you with another of our series on harnessing the latent energy of young people for peaceful elections-Part IV, let peace be your watch work, peace first, peace above all else. May peace prevail on earth!A mission to make a difference-February editionShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more