Springtime is upon us, and we are beginning to recognize its signs: the blooming of the flowers, the longer, and warmer, days, and the feeling of renewal and new life.
As LGBT Catholics, we are going through a springtime of our own.
In late April, marriage equality advocates gave oral arguments in front of the Supreme Court. This effort started many years ago, when Hawaii was the first state to consider marriage equality, and is reaching its climax; a decision is expected in late June. If the Justices rule in favor of the marriage equality proponents, they will be laying the groundwork for marriage equality for the entire United States. We are hoping that the days of discrimination, our long and hard winter, will give way to a springtime of marriage equality for all.
We have also seen some thawing of relations between the Vatican and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), an umbrella group representing 80% of the 57,000 nuns in the United States. On April 16, the Vatican announced that they would be ending their investigation and takeover of the LCWR, declaring that the “implementation of the mandate has been accomplished.” The Nun Justice Project, which assembled Catholics and others to speak out against the takeover of the LCWR by the Vatican, helped to bring a good end to the investigation. I remember the sidewalk witnesses who sprang up in droves to support the nuns, standing in the heat of a hot summer to speak out against the Vatican’s treatment of the LCWR. People across the country took action and were finally being heard. Here again, another long and cold winter has given way to a new springtime.
As I reflect on these issues, I think of the changing seasons in my own life. I recently lost both my mother and my grandfather who died within ten weeks of each other. We celebrated many seasons together, and both individuals were my heroes. My mother had celebrated 27 years of sobriety before she died, and during those years she helped countless others along their own roads to sobriety. Last year, on her 75th birthday, she was surrounded by family and friends, all celebrating the footprint she left on the hearts of many, and the springtimes she helped to create for others.
My grandfather died right before Easter, at almost 103 years old. He lived a rich and service-filled life: service to others and to the Church. In addition to supporting his family, he brought renewal and new life to his parish and parochial school, working hard to raise money for their missions. After retirement, he got involved in the local first aid squad, raised money for various causes, was appointed trustee of his parish, and served as an altar server and usher for his Church.
It is not just our planet that experiences seasons. All of us do: our congregations, our community, our legal environment, our Church, our families, and ourselves. I pray that the end of winter and the beginning of springtime bring for each of you the renewal that you seek.