A Pew Research Center study of 1,197 LGBT adults released on June 13, 2013, found that 79% of those questioned rated Catholicism as “unfriendly” to LGBT people. Only 4% view our Church as “friendly.” Sadly, I think this has more to do with a false perception of the Church, rather than to what the Church actually teaches. Essentially, the purpose of the Church is relatively simple: “To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin, the Father willed to call the whole of humanity together into his Son’s Church. The Church is the place where humanity must rediscover its unity and salvation.” (CCC #845) God did not send His only Son to condemn, dominate, or destroy, but to heal. In fact, this is directly in line with the words of Christ himself: “They that are well have no need of a physician, but they that are sick. For I came not to call the just, but sinners.” (Mark 2: 16-17) Therefore, the Church is made up of sinners, the broken, the wounded, the diseased, and the fallen. And, Jesus wants to restore us completely, for: “…he has come to heal the whole man, soul and body; he is the physician the sick have need of. His compassion toward all who suffer goes so far that he identifies himself with them: “I was sick and you visited me.” (CCC #1503)
Regrettably, and partly because Catholicism is comprised of sinners, the entire structure of the Lord’s Church is oftentimes disdained because a few of its members have made certain very bad decisions. For instance, in my own life: some of the finest men that I ever had the grace of knowing were Catholic priests; the first that comes to mind is the saintly Fr. John Harvey – the founder of Courage. Conversely, some of the wickedest individuals that I ever came across were also priests; one in particular, that was blessedly afterward laicized. But, I have never held that against the Church, because: could I ask the Lord to be any less charitable towards others than He was to me. After all, the Church is home to many – from all over the world and from all walks of life. Just like the gay community: it has attracted the honorable and the ugly. For instance, would it be fair to judge all homosexuals by the actions of Jeffrey Dahmer? Of course not. For myself, I would rather remember some of the noble characters I met, such as the honest and dauntless Randy Shilts. For, there are Universal truths of goodness and kindliness that we all recognize and strive towards. Yet the Church treasures the divine spark within all Men, and therefore justly calls us to always reach for the highest possible goal; ultimately towards Sainthood.
Since the Church desires that all God’s children reach perfection, she asks that we go to the Lord for healing. And, because of Man’s fallen nature, we have all been wounded and tormented by the evils of the world. This fact has invariably caused us to seek out and become attached to earthly holdings of fleeting pleasure and security. In the gay lifestyle, this means our reliance upon the fabricated existence of the gay orientation, the false freedom of sexual liberation, and the modern hope of acknowledged normalcy through same sex marriage. Because the Church wants something better for us, than to be slaves to our passions, it does not mean that she is heartless, prejudicial, or homophobic. In reality, the Church is the antithesis – for she receives all, no matter their current state of being. The Church has admitted its desire to save souls, even in its brokenness, because like Man: “the Church…travels the same journey as all humanity and shares the same earthly lot with the world…” (CCC # 854) Just as the Lord forgave the proud and ultimately weak St. Peter, He will also pardon our many limitations and raise us up to the heavenly altar. But, this glory requires, as Peter submitted to be crucified on his head, our all-embracing sacrifice and renunciation of self. To my gay brothers and sisters, this mean admitting to ourselves that we are more than just a sexual tendency; we are a distinct person made in the image of God.
In Swallowed by Satan, Joseph Sciambra reveals the inner torments which drove a suburban California boy to become an actor in gay fetish pornographic films. He traces his early adolescent exposure to softcore pornography, then his later descent into the more degenerate world of hardcore. He explains the inherent dangers awaiting those within the seemingly harmless pages of Playboy and Penthouse magazines, and the desensitizing and liberalizing impact this material has on the growing male mind. Once in the hormonal throes of puberty, with a brain already mired in the soup of porn, Joseph begins to question his sexuality and the true meaning of love, desire, and human affection. The popular culture of the day, as well as his faulty and watered-down religious education, offers little guidance or help, but only succeeds in confusing him all the more. Searching for his missing sense of masculinity, at nineteen years of age, Joseph goes to the dance-clubs, bathhouses, and dungeons of San Francisco. Despite the ever lurking presence of AIDS, he jumps into the gay lifestyle and never looks back, until the mouth of hell opens up and begins to suck him in.
Once entrenched within the homosexual subculture, Joseph is willingly seduced, abused, and then abandoned by a descending series of older and increasingly sick men. The security and acceptance that he longed for, incessantly escapes him. Through the porn-fueled sexual fantasies of these wealthy deviants, he is first introduced to the lower echelon of gay-produced porn. As he falls further into degradation, not even the violent scenes of pornography could cover over the pain of loneliness and self-hate. Looking for other phantom ghosts of salvation, Joseph delves into the darkest recesses of the occult, Satanism, and eventually Neo-Nazi ritualism. Every corner that he desperately turns down, results in another dead end. With little left to lose, he begins a life as a sadomasochist master. When the worshiping slobber, from the elderly men who pay him, begins to dry up, he starts his final career as a common street hustler. After being nearly murdered by a client; he ultimately seeks destruction in the nightmarish realm of BDSM. Nearing death, the Lord offers His hand one final time. In fear, Joseph accepts the salvation of Jesus Christ.
During the next few years, Joseph struggles with the latent reverberations stemming from the evils of his former life and the inability to fully perceive the ever-present forgiveness of Christ. He embarks on a hapless quest, that will take him from the forests of Pennsylvania to the medieval monasteries of France, in order to escape the memories of his life in San Francisco and the grotesque pictures which continually flash through his mind. Eventually, he must go back to the sight of his near annihilation and face the horrors of the past. Through the intervention of a kindly and newly ordained Catholic priest, Joseph is finally delivered from the wicked entities which possessed much of his existence. Back in the loving arms of Jesus Christ, Joseph is able to believe in the all forgiving mercy of the Savior, and to bathe within the healing light of God’s everlasting presence. But, always, he looks back to the countless innocents who were silently deceived, then slaughtered upon the tottering altar of sexual freedom. For the desolate and confounded, still walking its streets, he wrote this story.