Parents have much to say about the church and their children.
The young priest preached on the sanctity of life at a Denver hospice. Afterward an older couple asked him if their son, who had died of AIDS, would be in hell forever. The priest said he couldn’t answer that.
More than 20 years later Shawn Reynolds still remembers the anguish on the couple’s faces. “He didn’t say anything about Christ’s love,” Reynolds says.
Those were the days of “tears and fears,” says Mary Ellen Lopata, co-founder of the support group Fortunate Families. “Now parents are reacting with fire and ire. Things have changed dramatically. The church has lost so much in not welcoming our gay and lesbian children. They have left the church in droves because they are not welcomed. They can stay if they’re silent, suppressing a big part of who they are. Now the church is starting to lose their parents as well.”
Her husband, Casey Lopata, says that the role families play is crucial, and that while gay and lesbian Catholics are often dismissed, their parents are not. “Gay and lesbian children are growing up in our parishes,” he says. “We need to be conscious of that. Are they good or not? Parents have a lot to say.”