I’ll never forget hearing His Holiness Pope Francis saying, “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” It’s hard to believe that was nearly eight years ago. That moment was monumental for me and led me back to the church. It led me to launching The Gay Catholic. It led to an invitation to the White House from President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to welcome Pope Francis to the United States. And to my delight, it led to my then-boyfriend, now fiancé, returning to the church with me.
Tim and I had finally found a local parish that felt like home, for the first time in our entire lives. The community is loving, inclusive, and open to people of all backgrounds, including the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, I was chosen for Parish Council. Over the past few years, Tim and I have talked about how, when our dream to adopt children comes true, that we would proudly attend church as a family. That image gives me so much joy and happiness because after decades of alienation, disappointment and heartache, we found our place within the Catholic church.
On Monday, the Vatican, under Pope Francis, fractured the beautiful stained glass image we recreated in returning to the church. The Vatican said that priests cannot bless same-sex unions and that such blessings are not valid.
We were heartbroken at first. We had planned to ask an influential priest in my life to bless our marriage and our local parish if we could enroll in pre-Cana, a course or consultation for couples preparing to be married. With Monday’s setback for LGBTQ+ Catholics, we do not know if either are possible.
The Catholic church has not made any progress in including the LGBTQ+ community, especially into the Sacrament of Matrimony. Perhaps it never will. However, Tim and I do know from church teachings that all people are created in the likeness of Jesus and we all have equal human dignity in His eyes. That’s more important to us than what any person on earth thinks.
On October 23, 2021, I am marrying the man of my dreams, surrounded by the love and support of our entire family and closest friends. When we picture that day, we know we are already blessed, with or without the Catholic church.
Editor’s note: This essay was first published on Medium, and is republished here with permission from the author.
Photos by Arianna Belle Photography