When I joined the Catholic Church in 2007 it wasn't for an easy life. The moral and ethical stimulus challenges and enriches me in equal measure. I haven't tended to talk about it on this blog too much, and don't feel sufficiently comfortable with the scripture or the doctrine to pour forth. It's also a fact that most people I come across who on hearing I'm Catholic think it's akin to being in a right-wing political party. In so many ways it is so far from that.
To me it veers from being beautifully simple to achingly hard. Yet proper Christian love remains at the centre of it all. Christ's love and the simple message we used to hear at the end of every Mass - "go in peace to love, and serve the Lord". The comma is important.
Here's what the Pope had to say at Easter: "[Jesus Christ] is present as a force of hope through his Church, which is
close to all human situations of suffering and injustice."
But here's a thing. At the celebration of Easter our priest's homily took a diversion from a message about Natural Law to one of the core issues of the day - gay marriage.
This is what priests should do - poke at your faith and remind us that it's not just the easy stuff about forgiveness and doing good, but the hard bits too. It was uncomfortable, as it should be. It causes you to reflect and sometimes recoil, as he should do. I make no bones about that, but what follows is where I am at the moment. Homosexuality has always caused a problem for the church, in fact for all faiths for all time, it has been one of the lines in the sand.
Evoking Natural Law brings the issue to the heart of faith, God's gifts and human existence. My difficulty is that I don't see homosexuality as a sin or against that natural law. I see it as a part of some people's human make up - their capacity to love and to share, but with someone of the same sex.
I tend to the view of controversial gay priest Father Bernard Lynch, who said this weekend: "I do feel there is need to witness to the fact that gay is good and gay
belongs to God. There are millions of lesbian and gay Catholics who
need a witness to the fact that their love is not evil."
So, while it's possible to take all of that on board and still say - "hang on" over accepting marriage between same sex couples in a union blessed by the Church, I find the logic here is towards taking the argument two steps backwards behind that line in the sand on homosexuality itself.
This isn't my doctrine, this isn't even me saying I have all the answers, as you can see I haven't really said anything, but it's where I am with this issue at the moment. Any guidance gratefully received.