August 26, 2013
Most Reverend Larry Silva Bishop of Honolulu Diocese of Honolulu 1184 Bishop Street Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Dear Bishop Silva,
I am a devoted mother who felt compelled to respond to your August 22, 2013, "Urgent Letter to All Catholics in the State of Hawaii...". Your letter, addressed to the Catholic community of the Diocese of Honolulu, is an alarming address and directive to your Diocese that is reminiscent of the Westboro Baptist Church (see: http://www.godhatesfags.com/
) long-standing demonstrations of hatred that incite violence against mankind and divisiveness towards other faiths or forms of spirituality. I am shocked that you, as a spiritual leader, would behave as an infallible authority who would intentionally and without conscience qualify discrimination as justifiable against our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.
Your "call to action" letter urged all Catholics in the state of Hawaii to protest adamantly against marriage equality for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) children, who are all children of God. Not only was your letter about disgust and judgment about our own brothers and sisters, but it dangerously classified our LGBT families into a place in their earthly existence as a lesser human form. Though your letter to the Catholic parishioners in the Diocese of Honolulu incites, I cannot imagine that persons of deep faith, particularly in the teachings of Jesus Christ, would hold feelings of condemnation as you would assert and encourage your flock of followers to hold that conviction in their heart and soul.
As I began this letter, I identified myself as a mother first. My life experience encompasses the life of a minority, Asian-American immigrant woman. I am Filipina-American and was raised Roman Catholic. I have received five of the seven Catholic Sacraments: baptism, reconciliation (penance), Eucharist (communion), confirmation, and marriage. I was educated from kindergarten to high school in parochial schools, both in the Philippines (my country of birth) and here in Southern California. In all my Catholic education, despite that I attended "quality" schools, the study of "scripture" was not a part of our curriculum. The rote, passive readings of both the Old and New Testament of the New American Bible, was not one of discussion as to the context of the historical/ time period, as to who wrote it and interpreted it, and the several translations the recorded stories had undergone. Yet, as a formerly devout Catholic girl, student, and young woman, I adhered to its teachings of morality, conscience, obeying and feeling the guilt of "original sin" as my understanding of Catholic faith proselytizes as mankind's punishment at birth for Adam and Eve's succumbing to temptation. I prayed daily; did penance (confession) to be "worthy" of communion, loyally attended Sunday mass every week, including the holy days of obligation, and participated in novenas with complete rosary as protocol dictated. It was a religion I was born into and that my particular culture (Filipino) predominantly practiced. I was attuned to service of the destitute, the sick, and the oppressed. I idolized the saints
and as a young lady, aspired to live a life of missionary work like Mother Teresa of Calcutta led. I even contemplated entering the convent. I was not aware during those formative years that it was really my deep spirituality that was at the core of my being. However, I was also born to be a critical thinker. As a female, I recognized at a very young age the misogyny as well as racism I was surrounded with. I especially noted the superiority complex of patriarchal religions and societies.
Without knowing your history, but only the statements and conclusions you made in your letter, I wonder if in your own formal schooling and seminary years, and thereafter, your interaction with your parish, and novices, if you actually studied and understood human development, which includes sexuality, ethnic identity, moral development, and attachment. These should have been crucial and relevant principles to connect with the social doctrines of practicing Christianity.
I cannot help but compose this letter with an angry tone because you are speaking about one of my children. You are speaking against my gay son; against a group of individuals and their families, whom I believe, are, by far, brilliant, creative, and keenly aware of the long-standing oppression they have to deal with from the moment of realization of sexual orientation or gender identity. Because of this, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals are masterful at accommodation and global compassion. You have “demonized” my son and the LGBT community he belongs to. My son’s world is also my world because he is my son. My son is not defined solely by his sexuality; just as I am not; just as you are not. Thank goodness that my son was surrounded by my love and care; my constant vigilance of his personhood. I may have been more privileged than other families of LGBT who may not have had the environment to have the capability; the opportunities; the means; to protect their sons and/or daughters from harm caused by violence against their self-expression of who they are, and maybe that they were socio-economically disadvantaged; or perhaps, their faith blinded them for a period of time, until they realized that their child’s sexual orientation or gender identity was not God’s wrath; was not a mental illness; was not a choice.
In what I learned about being Catholic, I grew up with the notion of compassion and service to others. Perhaps I am also raised in a collectivist society, and my desire to help and serve others is not because I feel superior to them; or that I am infallible. No one is perfect. No one is the ultimate sage of Life.
I have a gay and a straight son. Both of my sons, like all human beings, have commonalities and differences; but they have unique personalities. Both my sons, regardless of who they are attracted to, are not motivated to aspire to their fullest potential by their sexual hormones; but by their intellect; their rational thinking and their humanistic stance. You label the LGBT as promiscuous individuals who are not capable of love and commitment; who are not worthy of raising children.
You also conclude that every marital state is about the woman being obliged to reproduce, whether she wants to, or that she is physiologically able to. What of the barren woman? Does that make that woman unworthy and dispensable? Does the patriarchal God figure proclaim in His Scripture that the female species must keep on having babies? And, what of the man who is infertile? So many children in this world are born into a world, whether the
family is broken or still together, the children are abused, neglected, physically and/or emotionally abandoned. It is not just a church ceremony, precluded by a legal civil union, that will raise individuals who will be healthy, well-adjusted, and productive citizens of a society. It is the love and commitment of a set of parents; and yes, even if it is only a single parent. This has nothing to do with the sexual orientation or gender identity of the one raising the child(ren).
The foster care system is overwhelmed. Many foster kids and orphans need loving adoptive families. Are you aware of the statistical data of what types of families the kids in the foster care system come from? You seem to have generalized that they come from maladaptive, same-sex couples; or that the causes of dysfunction in even a heterosexual family is only dependent upon a single factor; not a compilation of variables that disadvantaged the parent or caretaker of that child that was taken away from them by social services. I have known many children adopted by same-sex couples. Their adopted children have all been raised well and turned out well. Same-sex couples have the same aspirations and family values as heterosexual families or parent(s).
I remain a deeply spiritual person, but am no longer attached to an organized religion, because of my personal belief and negative impression of conservative religions’ persecution of people they view as not fitting the status quo of misogyny, of homophobia, of the belief that their religious institution is the one with the right God-figure. I have seen in my lifetime much ignorance by religious leaders the likes of you who do not deserve my patience nor should have any influence with all my loved ones.
As a mother and as female, I do dream of a world where there is equality for all; where diversity is celebrated; where gender fluidity, and sexual expression is a part of one’s humanity. In one’s psychology, we have both masculine and feminine traits. This is scientific fact. At any given moment, one’s representation adapts to what is conducive to one’s interaction or inter-relatedness to their social or physical environment. Humanity is not a definitive masculine vs. feminine.
It is also my hope that whomever or whatever is responsible for Life in the universe, that that Creator will enlighten you. I ask you now, what would you have expected your own mother to treat you if you had realized that you are gay, bisexual, or transgender? Would you have wanted her to cast you away? Would you have wanted her to exorcise you? Would you have wanted her to be ashamed of you and to keep it secretly in shame? Or would she have still loved you and understood you? Would she have held you up and looked into your eyes and embraced you for who you are? A mother’s real love and devotion is measured by how much she knows and is willing to learn more about her child.
-Carol Mannion Chapter President of PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays)- San Gabriel Valley Asian Pacific Islander Proud Filipina-American mother of a gay son www.sangabrielvalleyapipflag.com