“Shame on you Sisters, for Hating Us”

By: Sr. Clare Hunter

“Shame on you sisters for hating us. May God have mercy on your souls.” As I turned my head to look at the young man who slowly and sincerely spoke those words to me and Sr. Judith, I saw the look of pain in his eyes, and I desperately wanted to stop and talk with him in the midst of the crowd. I knew that attending The Marriage March at the Supreme Court would be a very different experience than the March for Life. With just a few thousand gathered, it was much more intimate and personal. One could easily see the whole crowd, the diversity of Christian churches represented, bibles and religious images being held up as well as American flags and signs for marriage and family, equality, etc. – but mostly, one could have many face-to-face, eye-to-eye, encounters with someone holding the opposite position. It got very personal.

I didn’t stop to speak with the young man, and I have spent hours imagining the conversation I wish I could have had with him. Sister and I carried no sign, and wore no buttons, but our habit and veil instantly told him we were there to support marriage as one man, one woman, and our identity as Catholics labeled us in his mind as “haters.” Why did his words sting my heart so much? I certainly know this is the impression of most people, that the Catholic Church “hates” those with same-sex attraction. It baffles me as the Catholic Church has been profoundly compassionate and crystalline in her deep love and concern for those who have same-sex attraction. In fact, a specific ministry in the Catholic Church, The Courage Apostolate, is solely given to the mission of spiritual support and outreach to men and women who have same-sex attraction.

As I heard Archbishop Cordileone’s opening words in his address at the Marriage March rally an hour later, I thought of that young man, and really wished he was there to hear these words:

“I want to begin with word to those who disagree with us on this issue and may be watching us right now: we love you, we are your neighbors, and we want to be your friends, and we want you to be happy.

Please understand that we don’t hate you, and that we are not motivated by animus or bigotry; it is not our intention to offend anyone, and if we have, I apologize; please try to listen to us fairly, and calmly, and try to understand us and our position, as we will try to do the same for you.” Entire message

And yet, I realized that the Archbishop’s words could not be heard, nor comprehended. Once the spirit of “hate” enters, the steel walls are erected to make hearts, ears and minds impenetrable. It was “steel” that I saw in the eyes of my young friend. It was painful, as I wanted to connect with him. I want him to experience true happiness and freedom, but not at the cost of denying the goods of marriage.

After receiving Holy Communion at Mass before leaving for the Marriage March, I prayed for the gift of humility and for courage, for a confidence in Christ’s love, that I might be a true walking tabernacle and bring Him into the crowds gathered at the Supreme Court. What a mystery to be weaving through a crowd on First Avenue in Washington, D.C., on the Tuesday of Holy Week, as a Consecrated Religious, and be called a “hater.” Only through the grace of God could I say that I was able to look back on the young man, and love him.

12 thoughts on ““Shame on you Sisters, for Hating Us”

  1. It utterly mystifies me how the family and friends of someone who harbors SSA or identifies as “gay” can SAY AND BELIEVE that they do not agree with a lifestyle that acts on the inclination or label, that they do not agree with SSM – and NOT be called haters (at least the case 10 years ago)…but anyone short of that immediate circle is fair game – including nuns, who can point to open and publicized statements by the Church utterly contrary to the claim of “hate”. Is the assumption now, that love is so limited and confined that strangers cannot both love someone who identifies as gay and disagree with their chosen lifestyle without HATING them?…

  2. Thank you, Sister. Thank you so much. The gentle and kind ways of religious sisters are such a balm to our wounds. Thank you.

  3. Perhaps the problem is with the image that the church projects, which is far from crystalline compassion: “God loves us all, we are all his children…except you. And you…”

    • Where have you seen *the image you just painted* made by The Church, which is to say NOT by expurgated media coverage of some cardinals statements or some headline? Those aren’t sources of what the Church projects – they are the product of media coverage.
      Where in statements available *to all* FROM The Church, *directly from The Church and not filtered through other sources* – do you see love and a Loving Father is NOT claimed for all of us? Peruse vatican.va

      • People see the Church through its members, not through vatican.va. It is the responsibility of the members of the Church to learn and live by its teachings. Many do not, and the Church suffers for it.

  4. If you cannot imagine why lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people (many of them Catholic) cannot see the church as anything other than a hateful organization, you have not experienced the other side.

    • as ANYTHING but a hateful organization? Why would they remain Catholic? Do even groups like Dignity and CtA, with many LGBTQ identifying-people and their allies, make such a wide claim of hatred on the part of The Church?

  5. Drew, the feelings you describe seem to stem from frustration that the Church does not change her teachings based on cultural practices. It frustrates many people that the Church is not going to support homosexual marriage – that doesn’t mean we hate anyone or that the Church teaches hate.

  6. Thank you for your courage, witness and faith sister. You are a chip off the old block, both spiritually and physically (like your terrific father!). Love is so misunderstood in our society that people believe hearing the truth when they don’t want to hear it is “hate”. As a brother of a sibling afflicted with SSAD I understand the pain you feel. I love him and have spoken truth in candor to him but he has chosen his own path. I pray for him and we must pray and sacrifice for all who are so blinded by human “feelings” that they wish to ignore the truth (as I do myself each time I sin). God is love. Feelings (so often fallible) can be a small aspect of love but God, and love, is so much more expansive than selfish feelings. Thank you for your vocation and may God bless you during this holyTriduum.
    Long live the heart of Jesus through the heart of Mary,
    Andy O from New Haven

  7. Speak it sister!! You do so with great love and compassion. May God continue to speak the truth-even when it hurts!
    We need to pray for all of our separated brethern!

  8. If we do not condemn, do we condone? When will such heart-wrenching love be thrust upon those who live for their children and love their spouses? We as Christians aren’t hateful, period. But we risk being the weakest, most ridiculed religion if we continue to apologize for possibly having offended someone. We need to defend our faith unapologetically and with fervor.

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