San Antonio and St. Louis

These two stops came on two consecutive days, with about five hours of travelling in between. So it was all fairly hectic.

San Antonio was probably the smallest group I have had, – maybe about fifty people in an annex off a bookshop.  But they were a varied and interesting group. Dignity, the Catholic organisation for LGBT people, were the main sponsors. So there were a good few of those attending. There were a number of former priests, including one from Roscommon, and a really interesting family from Hawaii — who said they had come all the way to meet me!!!!  The fact that the crowd was smaller, and the location was so intimate, gave this gathering a relaxed ease that was not possible to have at most of the other, larger groups.  So I really enjoyed it. One of the Hawaii family, a young woman who is lecturing in Austin, Texas, talked about a colleague of her’s who is gay and would like to become a Catholic, because a lot about it attracted him.  But she wondered where could he find a place that would accept him as part of the church without making demands that he would find it impossible to comply with.  That led to a really interesting discussion about the whole US church scene.

St. Louis was different.  We were in a very large old, Polish church, with a statue of John Paul and lots of hard surfaces, so the sound was muffled, and I ended up speaking without a microphone to a fairly large crowd, so it was fairly energy sapping. Among the crowd were an amazing group of about ten who had come all the way from Chicago to attend.  There is a strong feeling nows among US reform groups that we are living in a critical time, and also a time of great opportunity.   So there was plenty of discussion about how best to use this time, how to make our voices heard, and how we can best influence what is going to be happening in the Vatican.

While each place I have been has had a lot of similarity in the issues discussed, they all come up with new angles and approaches. I am constantly impressed by the quality of people I am meeting, their knowledge of theology and scripture, their desire for a better Church, their willingness to give of their time and energy to bring it about.  It is very frustrating to see how the official church ignores these people, and treats them as if they were the enemy, whereas, with a bit of openness, they could be one of the greatest resources at the disposal of the Church.  It is a constant source of sadness to me that the discussion I have had with people right around this country cannot happen in church property. The people I am meeting love the church, and in a real sense are willing to give their lives for it.  And they are looked on as renegades!  How stupid!