Today was a day full of interesting experiences and interactions. Lots of adventures trying to navigate public transportation and good conversations with other pilgrims. Trying to retell it all would go on got pages, so for now I will just focus on our morning experience of catechesis (for any non-catholic readers, catechesis is religious education).
Jul 25 2013
Our catechesis was done by an Australian bishop in a church overflowing with youth from Australia, the UK, USA, Jamaica and India. The teaching itself was somewhat bland, but all of our ears perked up during the question and answer period when someone asked, "Can you talk about traditional gender roles and how we can better live them out as men and women?" The bishop of course took this opportunity to remind everyone that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that the church needs to stay strong in this wisdom. I had a physical reaction to his statements and could feel my stomach twisting and my ears and neck getting red. I felt angry and discouraged. Luckily, the interactions we had during the break gave me a lot of hope and inspiration.
During the break between the bishops talk and the mass that followed, we set up outside, holding our banner and ready to pass out stickers, prayer cards, and our other rainbow trinkets. We got a lot of people who were happy to see us there and thanked us for our courage, including a Jesuit from India, a small group from Australia, a mom from Colorado, and two young adults from Minnesota. We also had in-depth conversations with a group of teens from Jamaica about how LGBT people are treated in their country.
One of my personal interactions was with a small group of young people who just said they wanted to know more. I explained who we were and what we were doing, and got a lot of blank stares, but one girl did ask questions. She wanted to know if we were Catholic, and I explained how we were all raised in the church, but don't always feel welcome because of statements like the one the bishop made earlier. She then asked the clarifying question, "So you believe everything else the catholic church teaches, you just don't agree with what they say about homosexuality?" Even though that's not exactly true, I confirmed her question because I could see the wheels turning in her head. She was comprehending that we are still fully catholic, but we are also affirming of LGBT people; that is is OK to be Catholic and still disagree with some of what the church teaches. I gave them more information to read and they dispersed. I don't know whether or not they agreed with me, but I felt like I at least planted the seed for them to start thinking in a new way. Those conversation where we get the quizzical looks, but are not outright rejected, are the ones that feel most rewarding to me, because I feel like we are at least helping these young people to see things in a new light.
(photos: Equally Blessed pilgrims listening at the catechesis session; Equally Blessed pilgrims going to communion wearing rainbow sashes donated by the Rainbow Sash Movement - the pilgrims were not deined communion)