There is one, of course, The Holy Redeemer, smack bang in the gay district in San Francisco, and unmolested, respected, admired. Rod Dreher's conflicts are a fantasy of his own creation. The truth is that gays have long been amazingly tolerant of the churches that seek to strip us of civil rights. One ghastly exception was Act-Up's assault on St Patrick's Cathedral, but that proves the rule. If anything, gay men actually do more to support the church than attack it. A reader writes:

I am a non-Christian gay man dating a Catholic priest, and am struck by the Catholic Church's reliance on gays as priests. Many come from places and homes in which being a priest has been the only acceptable path for a devout gay Catholic boy. In answer to your question asking if it is bizarre that the Catholic Church finances a campaign to tell gay kids they cannot have a relationship like their parents: If those kids knew they could have happy, loving, same sex relationships, would they still choose to be priests?

There is something deeply, sadly sick about the whole enterprise: a nest of dysfunction and dishonesty and hypocrisy. I am peppered with emails asking me why I don't just leave or at least disassociate - especially since the anger on this blog is not contrived. It engulfs me at times - to my shame.

I do find it increasingly hard to attend mass after campaigns as in Maine that feel like an assault on my soul and others'; and a sense of exile - spiritually and psychologically - has marked my faith life since the sex abuse scandal broke.

Maybe I am too weak to leave and be done with it. But in my prayer life, I detect no vocation to do so. In fact, in so far as I can glean a vocation, it is to stay and bear witness, to be a thorn in the side, even if the thorn turns inward so often, and hurts and wounds me too.

I stay because I believe. And I stay because I hope. What I find hard is the third essential part: to love. So I stay away when the anger eclipses that. But the love for this church remains through the anger and despair: the goodness of so many in it, the truth of its sacraments, the knowledge that nothing is perfect and nothing is improved if you are not there to help it.

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