Dear Friends and Parishioners,
There is a saying that I heard many years ago: preach the whole truth from the pulpit, make the truth understood in the classroom, and handle any pain of truth in the confessional. In other words, as preachers and teachers, we have the duty to teach what the Church teaches with enthusiasm and without compromise. However, we have the privilege to walk with individuals who wrestle with those truths as we serve in the pastoral setting or within the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
As many of you are aware, Bishop Malesic recently distributed a document entitled Parish & School Policy on Issues of Sexuality and Gender Identity.
These issues have been raised by principals and pastors seeking clarification over the last several years and the Bishop has been asked to articulate Church teaching and offer guidelines, especially for those who minister to children and young adults.
As I read the policies, there really aren’t any new or novel positions the Diocese of Cleveland assumes. They reflect what we have always held about human gender and sexuality. However, I certainly understand the shock and possible dismay for many within our local Catholic community. This is especially true as many in our society (including some Catholics) have embraced new ideologies which accommodate varying positions about sexuality and gender identity. This societal shift has also called into question the role of parents – who we believe to be the primary educators and formators of their children – as these emerging positions are introduced into the education environment.
Acknowledging the makeup of our own parish community, I continue to work with both parishioners and others who identify as being LGBT+. Many of them are sincerely seeking relationship with the Lord as they wrestle with our teachings. In light of the Bishop’s recent statement, I have received emails this past week from several of these individuals. Some have described their personal pain while others have expressed appreciation that the Church is offering clarification on these important matters. And messages have been received from others who love and support our brothers and sisters experiencing same-sex attraction or gender identity issues.
As with all matters of faith and morals, I realize that there is a pastoral dimension to each situation. While the teaching is to be preached and taught with clarity, the pastoral conversations also need to continue. As your parish administrator, I stand ready to walk with you. To love each and every parishioner – regardless of one’s struggle – is my privilege and my promise. May we continue to walk this journey together as we seek Christ’s light, wisdom, and peace.
Sincerely yours in Christ Our Good Shepherd, Fr. Gurnick