by Sue McGlone, guest contributor
A Catholic video claiming to give insight into the compassion of the Catholic Church for homosexuals has been produced – by a priest who believes that being gay is the equivalent to being a pedophile.
(J. Patrick Redmond’s Queer Catholics and ‘The Third Way’ in HuffPost-Gay Voices.)
I haven’t been a Roman Catholic for well over two decades – probably closer to the quarter century mark. On a personal level, the Church does not really affect me these days, or to be frank, interest me unless something of wider societal import crops up in the news. I’m happy to live and let live. I can see that some people, including a very small handful of lovely individuals whom I am lucky enough to call friends, derive a great sense of joy and comfort from their faith. Who am I to criticize that? However, sometimes there are much bigger issues at stake and on those occasions I have to ask myself ‘who am I to stay silent?’ particularly if the issue in question is thrown in my face. This time, my conscience is refusing to keep its mouth shut.
Over the past week, I have twice been sent a link to a new Catholic video. Once by someone who thinks the film is extremely positive, once by someone who finds it dismaying. Produced by Fr. John Hollowell, a 34-year-old, American Catholic priest, the film is called ‘The Third Way’ and explores the relationship between homosexuality and the church. The speakers are predominantly gay and lesbian people though it’s unclear by the end of the film if this is how they all now prefer to identify.
As I clicked ‘play,’ I made a conscious effort to keep an open mind. The message started to trickle through early on that these men and women were claiming to have found a sense of peace, acceptance and belonging within the church. Fantastic. ‘How positive,’ I thought. However, as I watched, bit by bit, it became very apparent that there was something much more unsavory going on in this story and the sting in the tale hit me right in the eye with all the venom I had hoped would not appear. How disappointing.
Fr. Hollowell originally planned to call his video ‘Unnatural Law.’ He obviously realized that this was not going to be the most subtle or effective hook for his target audience and swiftly changed his mind. However, it may have been a more honest title. Sadly, ‘The Third Way’ is nothing more than propaganda and like all effective propaganda it draws you in. It’s very well made, the people interviewed are engaging and seem genuine (please persevere with what I write to understand why at least some of the group may not be as genuine as you may believe) but once you push past all the emotion and apparent compassion there is a simple and distasteful message lurking beneath the surface. We accept that you are attracted to people of the same sex. As a church, we also know that acting on this attraction is intrinsically disordered. You must come to accept that too. You are suffering from a pathological condition. If you opt for a lifelong commitment to celibacy you can be happy like these people despite this flaw. If you continue to have any kind of same-sex physical relationship, your life will end in misery. We love you but there are conditions to that love. It’s your choice.
There is of course absolutely nothing wrong with making a conscious decision to live a life of celibacy – whether you are straight or gay. However, when that decision is reached from a position of deep seated self- loathing, loathing from others in respect of an aspect of your sexuality, or indeed, emotional and spiritual blackmail, in my opinion, a certain unhealthy fragility creeps into the equation.
So, who are the makers and participants of ‘The Third Way’ and how are they making the compassion that they claim to have for the gay community a reality in their lives?
Given that a core segment of the video speaks to the interviewees’ experience of suffering emotional pain at the hands of bullies who, among other things, called them offensive names, and given that each speaker called for this unjust treatment to stop, it is somewhat ironic that Fr. Hollowell should have been involved in ‘The Third Way’ at all. Fr. Hollowell makes no apology for stating his belief that homosexuality equates to pedophilia.
On January 30 2014, as ‘The Third Way’ was entering its final stage of production, Fr. Hollowell posted a music track on his blog as an angry response to American rapper Macklemore’s well known track ‘Same Love.’ ‘Same Love’ calls for a stop to homophobic attitudes and for gay equality. The track that Fr. Hollowell posted – ‘Same Love – A Response,’ was a rap that had been released by the Christian, rapper, Bizzle. There is homophobic content throughout the rap but arguably the most offensive section puts forward the case that homosexuals are not just akin to pedophiles – they are, in some ways, actually worse:
“It angers you if I compare you to a pedophile
Cuz he sick, right?
And you’re better how?
(Man, I aint chose this)
You think he chose that?
(But I was born this)
Well prove he wasn’t born that
But, you were never a girl
He was once nine
So at one time in his life, it was just fine” (Bizzle, 2014)
Fr. Hollowell was fully aware of the lyrics of the track and felt no necessity to retract his post even after a respondent challenged him by quoting the above verse back to him. It should be noted at this stage that Fr. Hollowell is not only a priest but was until recently a high school chaplain. Due to his position of power he is in a position to directly influence the attitudes of young people. This is not this first time he had tried to link homosexuality to pedophilia.
On June 24 2013, Fr. Hollowell wrote an extremely offensive and insensitive post on his blog after a poster had criticized him for spreading hatred and using his position within the community to encourage others to do the same. The poster had ended his comment by writing a line stating that the Catholic Church was not currently in a position to cast stones. Seemingly infuriated by this, Hollowell wrote:
“The inference at the end is an old and tired one – “the ‘Church’ has sinned, so it can’t say anything is wrong, etc. etc.”… but using that poor logic, given the fact that the majority of children abused were boys and young men, wouldn’t that make the abusing priests also members of the LGBQT community? Therefore, by your logic, the LGBQT community has no moral authority to say that the Church is wrong either.”
To suggest that pedophiles, be they clerics or otherwise, are gay and that the LGBT community is by virtue of that ‘fact’ responsible for the incidents of sex abuse in the Catholic church is abhorrent. Pedophiles are pedophiles. Fr. Hollowell has an unfortunate habit of equating LGBT citizens with sexual predation.
In recent years, Fr. Hollowell has become known within anti-discrimination groups in the United States. In 2011, he was accused of trying to use his chaplaincy position at an Indianapolis high school to indoctrinate students with anti-gay attitudes and inflammatory false information about homosexuality. His activity came to light after he posted several of his teaching sessions on YouTube. There are hours of this material on the internet but there is a link to a few snippets below.
In these recordings, among many other things, Fr. Hollowell uses his interpretation of scripture as a launch pad to repeatedly refer to homosexual acts as an ‘abomination.’ He identifies a comparison between homosexuality and addictions such as alcoholism and implies that a person who identifies as gay might be aided to curb their sexual attraction by attending counseling or self helps groups akin to Alcoholics Anonymous. Fr. Hollowell claims not to be involved in so called ‘ex-gay’ or reparative therapy, where individuals are counseled to undertake a transition from homosexuality to heterosexuality. He assures the students that the Catholic Church is ‘not about that.’ I am not sure that I can be convinced that he does not condone it, given that at least several of the participants in ‘The Third Way’ work professionally (for want of a better word) in that movement. He is certainly supportive of Courage, a Catholic apostolate that runs programs to encourage homosexuals to remain celibate throughout their life as a response to their ‘addiction’ and refers to this group when talking to the young people.
Despite Fr. Hollowell’s references to alcoholism, Courage states that it does not draw such comparisons. However, whilst the apostolate rejects the notion that it is an ex-gay group, given that it does not provide ex-gay therapy, it is happy to support members to access conversion therapists on request. Courage undoubtedly shares many of the views of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuals (NARTH), which promotes the idea of homosexuality being a treatable disorder. The 2013 Courage Conference hosted two speakers affiliated with NARTH, including William Consiglio, author of ‘Homosexual No More.’ In his book, Dr. Consiglio writes that if emotional blockages are “successfully reduced, diminished or removed, human sexuality can resume its natural heterosexual flow” (1991, p.22). Unsurprisingly, the press took the presence of Courage’s speakers last year, as confirmation that the apostolate do indeed endorse conversion therapy, and the presence of Cardinal George at the event offered evidence in many people’s eyes that this endorsement also comes from church hierarchy. Dr. Consiglio’s book is officially listed as recommended reading for priests supporting those with attraction to the same sex.
As he wades further and further into blatant homophobia, Fr. Hollowell pulls statistics out of a dated study to try and stress the inability of same-sex partners to remain in monogamous, lasting relationships. Same-sex marriage and adoption are unsurprisingly presented to the class as abhorrent. Fr. Hollowell rants about the reasons that children are not safe in a same-sex family unit. His rather confused argument is probably easier for me to quote directly than to try and explain. I would hate to be accused of misquoting him. He states:
“Look, the state should not be putting adopted children with couples who are acting on their homosexual attractions. You don’t need sin for that because our society already does that. Our society already does not put people into situations where there is sex going on which that society deems to be not good. If there’s prostitution going on in the house we would pull the child out of that environment as a CPS. If porn was being filmed in a home, we would pull the child out of that environment. If sex was occurring in the home which was bondage or S & M type sexuality, the CPS would pull the child out of that environment.”
You have to wonder just how much time Fr. Hollowell devotes to thinking about all the sex fueled situations that might be equivalent to the horrors of being brought up by same sex parents. Either way, the bigotry in his message is clear. People in the gay conversion movement repeatedly refer to something called ‘The Gay Lifestyle.’ In fact you will hear this phrase being used repeatedly in ‘The Third Way.’ In case you need an explanation of why lumping millions of individuals into one homogenous group is both offensive and ridiculous click here http://www.beyondexgay.com/article/exgaylifestyle.html.
In respect of trying to play his role in eradicating homosexual relationships from the face of the earth, Fr. Hollowell is certainly a man on a mission. He uses as many forums as possible to get his version of the truth out, including the production for Catholics of recordings with titles such as, ‘Secrets to Evangelizing Your “Homosexual-Agenda-Friendly” Family, Friends and Acquaintances.’ His rather warped perception of homosexuality frequently emerges in a tirade of vitriolic text on his blog. Quite often this is interspersed with material which might lead the reader to conclude that the author is suffering from some sort of persecution complex. A good example is Fr. Hollowell’s reaction to the posting of the red and pink equality symbol that went viral on Facebook last year, when the Supreme Court started its hearings on same-sex marriage. Under a copy of the symbol which he refers to as ‘the Mark of the Beast,’ Fr Hollowell writes: ‘I just want you to know that if this is your sign then you are actively supporting my persecution, torture, imprisonment, etc.’ He then goes on to suggest that if gay marriage comes to pass then there is no logical reason why society should stop itself from condoning incestuous marriages between fathers and daughters or indeed unions between beings that are not ‘PEOPLE.’ I assume by screaming the word people in capital letters he means the marriage of non-human animals marrying each other or humans marrying pigs, dogs, pet iguanas or objects. In the same blog entry, alongside these poor and rather offensive attempts at logical argument, are more familiar examples of Fr. Hollowell’s homophobia. He writes:
“Of course nothing can defend homosexual sex. When homosexual sex is described to people using proper anatomical terms, and when a discussion is had as to the fluids exchanged and so forth, most people are repulsed.”
So, what we need to keep in mind is this man is the person who is sitting on the other side of the camera when the gay and lesbian interviewees in ‘The Third Way’ are talking to us. To get to the point where they are deemed appropriate for inclusion in the video the individuals have gone through a process which has led them to conclude that an aspect of their sexuality is repulsive and they are now managing any desire that they might have for an emotional and physical relationship with someone as if that desire were something that elicits disgust, and if acted upon, justifiable rejection from those they love and respect. The interviewees in the film seem happy. I am very glad for them and hope that they remain happy and at peace with their respective situations. I also hope that they will still have a support network should they have a change of heart and meet someone with whom they wish to have an intimate relationship, both physically and otherwise. Based on his various contributions and responses to gay individuals on internet forums, I would hazard a guess that Fr. Hollowell will not be sticking around for them, save perhaps throwing the occasional word at them from his pulpit to offer a reminder that they will be going to Hell.
What is truly sad, is that there is a high likelihood that most of the individuals in this video would follow Fr. Hollowell’s lead. On one level I feel for some of the interviewees, deeply. There is however a point at which it is very difficult to excuse an adult individual’s behavior just because their minds have been filled with the negativity of another. Off screen, most of the interviewees appear to be on their own homophobic crusades. This is key to understanding just why, truly unfortunately and despite any appearance to the contrary, the promise of compassion which is emphasized in ‘The Third Way,’ is based upon a pretense and why viewers should at least take time to consider what the real agenda of the producer and at least a significant number of the participants might be.
Julie Sponsler, the lady who opens the video has spoken on air about her experiences and the suffering in Hell that she believes awaits non-celibate gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. Julie has clearly had a very difficult life marked by sexual, physical and emotional abuse as a child and adult, drug addiction and a range of other very sad events. However, like many people who have been heavily influenced by religious homophobia and / or the ‘ex- gay’ movement, she appears to have projected her personal experiences onto the lives of all gay people and has a habit of creating fantasy statistics or twisting actual statistics to suit her world view. For example, whilst being interviewed on a Catholic Talk Radio blog she stated the following as facts:
“Over 50% of gay relationships are controlling and violent and abusive.”
“You are 100 times more likely to die in a gay domestic dispute than any other.”
“Disease and cancers among homosexuals are staggering. There are literally hundreds of STDs and cancers rampant in the homosexual community that did not exist 25 years ago – many of them unknown to the heterosexual.”
“The average lifespan of a gay man is 42. The average lifespan of a lesbian is 45.”
Julie’s final statistic about the lifespan of homosexuals is a variant of one used by many anti-gay groups. It stems back to a single paper that was written in the late 1980s studying groups in the US and Finland and was written to aid health planners in addressing HIV prevention, infection and subsequent care. The rate of mortality due to HIV among the gay population and other groups – including heterosexuals, has significantly dropped since the mid 1990s and in any event the authors have always been horrified that their work has been abused by homophobes. See their comments here http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/30/6/1499.full.
Quoting scripture, sadly Julie also states in her radio interview that the physical injuries that she received at the hands of her partner were deserved as a direct consequence of her homosexual relationship (audio mark 16:30 – 18:28). As she was once very active within a gay church she also seems tormented by her own chances of going to Hell as an enabler of others. I have to admit, I would like to just give Julie a big hug. She is clearly not at peace at all and is hurting – but she is very much hurting others too.
Another of ‘The Third Way’ interviewees who has been accused of hurting people is Richard. Richard Cohen was permanently excluded from the American Counseling Association in 2002 after violating six of its codes of ethics. He is heavily involved in the controversial ex-gay / reparation movement through his organization, ‘The International Healing Foundation’ http://www.comingoutloved.com/ which he runs alongside Christopher Doyle who also appears in ‘The Third Way.’ Additionally, both men are strong advocates of this type of gay to straight therapy for minors. In the UK, ex – gay therapy has been condemned by all of the main counseling and psychiatric organizations. Somewhat late, The Association of Christian Counsellors added its voice to this condemnation by banning the therapy at the beginning of this year.
The damage that ‘ex-gay’ therapy has done to individuals has been well documented. There is a plethora of reputable sourced information on the internet from scholarly articles, professionals and survivors but in summary, the main consequences for many participants are increased anxiety and depression, including suicidal ideation. Gay conversion therapists have been accused by many survivors of using pseudoscientific methods to plant false memories of sexual abuse in clients. They look for abuse to prove their theory that homosexuality is caused by harmful environmental factors and, bingo, they find it. This link will take you to a Sky News report covering the debate in the state of Virginia’s general assembly, as to whether or not conversion therapy should be banned.
The saddest part of this report for me is Gail Dickert’s testimony. An ‘ex-gay’ survivor, she was told as a twelve year old girl that her sexual orientation must have been caused by sexual abuse from her father. Her father died before she could tell him that she now knew that these accusations were false. She is far from an isolated case. As you will see, Christopher Doyle spoke in defense of ‘ex-gay’ therapy for minors in Virginia. The Republican heavy assembly apparently took his side. Terrifying. Gail Dickert’s feelings about the proceedings can be found on her blog. She also recounts a very interesting meeting with Christopher Doyle http://www.homospirituality.com/tag/beyond-ex-gay/. As an aside, on top of their other programs, Doyle and Cohen’s organization offers an online course, where for just $299.00 dollars members of the public, with no other training, can become a ‘Certified Sexual Orientation Coach.’ Which means exactly what and is regulated by whom? In the right environment, the ex-gay industry could be quite a lucrative one.
Desperate to reach young people with the ex-gay message and also sell more products, Doyle has also been recently accused of getting into schools by masquerading as an anti-bullying educator https://www.truthwinsout.org/blog/2012/04/24338/. His Acception programs have been pulled out of schools when it has become obvious to educators that their agenda is less about bullying than encouraging LGBT young people to seek ‘ex-gay’ counseling –http://washingtonexaminer.com/prince-georges-pulls-video-that-advocates-therapy-for-gay-teens/article/2520924. Doyle launched his Acception’program with a publicity video for schools that focuses on the harm that bullying can do to LBGT young people. The video makes no mention about his beliefs about the causes of homosexuality or how the program, once in direct contact with youth will encourage young people to look into an option of turning straight.
The propensity of Cohen and Doyle to be economical with the truth in order to make contact with groups and individuals as a means of pulling LGBT people into the ‘ex-gay’ movement is an important point. I hope that it is not lost on viewers when they try to take an objective view of ‘The Third Way.’ I have already illustrated Fr. Hollowell’s duplicity. Here is a link to an article discussing Richard Cohen’s moves to put a different slant on his own foundation.
Essentially, Cohen and Doyle along with others who champion gay to straight conversion therapy, argue that homosexuality is caused by homo-emotional wounds developed through physical, sexual or emotional abuse and/or unfulfilling heterosexual relationships in childhood and adolescence. Cohen states that he was sexually abused as a child but that these memories only surfaced once he himself was in therapy as an adult several years after marrying his current wife through the Unification Church. Before and after marrying his wife he had gay relationships.
There are so many controversies surrounding Richard Cohen’s work that it is impossible to list them all here. For example, in his books, he has been accused of trying to link homosexuality with pedophilia (Coming Out Straight, 2000 p.49). He has also stated that race can be a cause of homosexuality (Gay Children, Straight Parents, 2007 p.75). His so called ‘Holding Therapy’ has also been hotly debated. Richard is extremely proud of telling readers and viewers that he has travelled all over the world and helped thousands of people to become ‘ex-gay.’ Here is an example of how his theories are informing others http://www.truthwinsout.org/news/2013/09/37265/. In the link, there is also an interesting snippet of Cohen from a documentary about conversion therapy – ‘Chasing The Devil’ (2008).
In 2009, Cohen was accused of offering the Ugandan government homophobic ammunition which it went on to use in justification of the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. This was probably through sheer idiocy rather than any deliberate plan. You can watch him try to defend himself on these points at the bottom of this link: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2009/12/08/richard-cohen-on-the-rachel-maddow-show/ – believe me, it’s worth watching. Interestingly, in his capacity as President for ‘Voice for the Voiceless’, an advocacy group for people who are ‘ex-gay,’ Christopher Doyle has recently commented that the people to blame for the brutal anti-gay laws passed in countries like Uganda, Nigeria and Russia are, wait for it…gay people – who should stop rocking the boat and presumably keep their mouths shut about having equality with heterosexuals.
The ‘ex-gay’ therapy theme of abuse being the root cause of homosexuality does of course run right through ‘The Third Way.’ You might say the interviewees have been selected to specifically emphasize the point. In fact even one of the group has stated that she was disappointed by Fr. Hollowell’s decision making in respect of this. On her blog, Melinda writes on May 2 2014:
“The Third Way” doesn’t make any outright claims about this, but it subtly advances a thesis that is deeply harmful: homosexuality is caused by poor parenting, a lack of love from the same-sex parenting, or else by sexual abuse which parents do not adequately address.
The film-makers had access to other narratives. I went to a lot of trouble to ensure that I didn’t say anything in my interview that could reasonably be construed as supporting the “bad parents = gay kid” narrative.” http://sexualauthenticity.blogspot.co.uk/
In ‘The Third Way’ Melinda and perhaps Joseph appear to be the only interviewees who are open to the fact that abuse does not automatically equal gay. However, on his blog, http://www.stevegershom.com/, Joseph Prever does direct gay readers looking for support to an ‘ex-gay’ reparative therapy organization called ‘People Can Change,’ so he clearly supports the work that they do. He suggests that young people seek out this organization on others’ websites too http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/sexuality/se0259.htm. Along with Cohen and Doyle ‘People Can Change’ have also fought against US legislation that might ban conversion therapy for minors.
Finally, we come to Jason Evert. There are other interviewees and speakers in ‘The Third Way,’ and whilst I would like to tell you a little more about each of them, I need to wrap this up. However, Jason is a special case, so you will forgive me for rattling on a little longer. If you have read this far – you’re doing well. Thanks.
As you may remember Jason Evert was at the centre of a controversy in 2010 when he came to the UK to tour Lancaster Diocesan secondary schools and other Catholic youth venues. Jason was here in his capacity as a Chastity Speaker. This subject was not however what got him into the news. His talks included the distribution of his booklet ‘Pure Manhood’ (2007). The general secretary of the TUC wrote to Michael Gove to complain that the booklet contained homophobic content. It does. Prominent Catholics and the Catholic media seemed to rally around Jason Evert and criticized the audacity of anyone to think they should have any say in Catholic education and the teaching of Catholic doctrine. However, what they all conveniently chose to omit in their commentary was the fact that Evert was not only quoting from Catholic doctrine by stating that homosexuality is ‘disordered’ but was also pedaling the homophobic narrative of gay conversion therapy regarding the cause of homosexuality and the same type of twisted homophobic statistics that Fr. Hollowell, Julie et al are so keen to poison teenage minds with. For example, these are quotes from a section in ‘Pure Manhood’ entitled ‘What if you have homosexual attractions?’
“A guy who has these attractions may not want them, or even know where they’re coming from. Perhaps they stem from an unhealthy relationship with his father, an inability to relate to other guys, or even sexual abuse. Whatever the case may be, purity will help him understand the origin of his feelings.
Every guy needs male approval as part of becoming a man. But in this need for masculine love, some guys may question their identity and try to find it in sex. But that will not satisfy their calling to make a total gift of themselves. The homosexual act is disordered, much like contraceptive sex between heterosexuals. Both acts are directed against God’s natural purpose for sex — babies and bonding.
Even if a person does not believe in God, he cannot argue with nature. For example, the life expectancy of homosexual men is half that of heterosexual men. Furthermore, imagine what would happen if all people with same-sex attractions were placed in their own country. It would be empty in a century, because bodies of the same gender are not made to receive each other. Even if a man has same-sex attractions, his body is heterosexual.”
You can read summaries of the controversy that was sparked by Jason Evert below. At the time I remember feeling horrified that all of the Catholic commentary, at least that I was aware of, seemed to be backing Evert’s right to pour vile misinformation into young people’s minds. I still find it shocking and I would have found it shocking a quarter of a century ago when I was working as a Catholic youth worker – ironically, in the Lancaster Diocese. I believe my colleagues would have been equally alarmed. Has the church really veered so far to the right over the past twenty years that the majority of its members cannot even recognize prejudice and discrimination anymore? Trying to be objective, it is one thing for a religion to defend its right to say that something is morally wrong – it is something else completely to condone hateful falsehoods to try and give weight to your moral position. Perhaps the Catholic Church believes that teenagers can be scared straight if faced with the ‘truth’ of poor life expectancy. Where were the people from within the church who should have been publicly speaking out against Evert and protecting students from, if nothing else, bad education? If you are Catholic and reading this and you did challenge aspects of Evert’s text, I apologise for my tone. Unfortunately, your voices are being drowned out by others in the Church. http://www.theguardian.com/education/2012/feb/18/anti-gay-book-gove-row
So, why have I written this lengthy response to the distribution of ‘The Third Way.’ I’m not Catholic and I’m not gay. Is it any of my business? Well, of course bigotry is everyone’s business but I did think about my options. Criticizing the Catholic Church after you have left it often gets you the rather unimaginative label from some less open church members that you must have some kind of chip on your shoulder. A fairly patronizing, brick walled response that is worth avoiding for the sake of your own sanity. However, a casual visit to a couple of Catholic forums to see what people were saying about the video was the deciding factor for me.
Firstly, it appears that many viewers believe ‘The Third Way’ to be some sort of media milestone in proving just how real the church’s compassion to homosexual people is. That does not sit well with me for obvious reasons given the off screen attitudes and actions of the video’s participants.
Secondly, those making comments appear to be so wrapped up in giving themselves and their fellow Catholics kudos for being compassionate, that nobody has stopped to ask who those connected with the film are and what their agenda may be. To some extent I can understand why they might have been convinced, after all, surely it is just a bunch of people telling their story – isn’t it? Perhaps viewers already share the real views of Fr. Hollowell in terms of his gross homophobia. Perhaps they are unaware of the more public activities of the participants. Perhaps they are happy not to know.
Finally, the general message being passed on seems to be ‘Share this far and wide.’ The deal breaker for me was a comment that suggested that the film should perhaps be shown to young people – at which point my ‘ex-youth worker’ radar activated. Richard Cohen and Christopher Doyle do not also run ‘ex-youth worker’ therapy – it is just the way life has taken me. Nevertheless, like everyone else, I still have a responsibility to prevent young people from harm. Whether you agree with me or not – I strongly believe that ‘The Third Way’ is harmful, both in the layers of its content and its strong link to those who are involved in activities that damage people at times in their lives when they are most vulnerable.
Much has been made of Pope Francis’ ‘Who am I to judge?’ comment about homosexuals. I am yet to be convinced that the Vatican is going to make its response to homosexuality and homophobia one of substance over style. I’m keeping an open mind. Either way, my suggestion to the church hierarchy is that contributions such as ‘The Third Way’ and associations with some of its participants, will convince very few informed Catholics in the church or people outside of the church, gay or not, that a commitment to dialogue is genuine. My advice – press delete – and perhaps have a lengthy discussion with Fr. Hollowell.
Sue McGlone (May 8, 2014)
Writer’s Bio – Based in the north of England, Sue McGlone has over twenty years experience of working with marginalized youth and defending the rights and welfare of adolescents in and leaving care. She has also worked as a freelance consultant, trainer, writer and advocate. Having now taken a step back from this work, Sue is gradually trying to build a portfolio of young adult fiction – which she hopes that someday, someone might actually enjoy reading!
Sue has always championed opportunities for young people to express themselves creatively and believes that she also has a responsibility to spark discussion and make a difference through her own writing. She was, in part, inspired to write this piece as a result of her own memories of working with LGBT youth and after reading Carl Siciliano’s open letter to Pope Francis which pleaded for a change in Catholic teaching regarding homosexuality against the backdrop of terrible harm that it currently helps to create.