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  Media Article

‘God's Kingdom should be Open to All’
   (The Age Newspaper, Letter to the Editor, Thursday, 27th May, 99)
  Name and Address withheld

Written following the Pentecost Sunday 1999 Sash event that highlighted the suicide
of Gay and Lesbian youth educated in the Catholic Educational system.

I have just returned home from St. Patrick's Cathedral, deeply ashamed of myself and deeply angry. I am a teacher in a Catholic school, and I hold a position of responsibility within my school of religious education coordinator. As a middle-aged woman, it came as a great shock three years ago to come to the realisation that I was lesbian. Since then, I have lived with the fear of being found out -- yet I have done nothing wrong. But today, I did do wrong, and in the spirit of Archbishop Pell's Pentecost homily, which spoke of the need for reconciliation, I wish to confess my sins.

My sins are not against God, nor against sexual purity. My sin is against the many gay and lesbian students that I teach and have taught; my sin is also against the students from Catholic schools who have found life too harsh and who have successfully suicided.

I ask for forgiveness of these young people, for whom I'm supposed to be an adult mentor, companioning them along the path of their own adulthood. I have failed you. Today, I entered the Cathedral and sat with people from P-Flag (Parents and Friends of Gays and Lesbians), but I grew fearful of being recognised, and so I moved to the very back seat of the Cathedral.

As the people wearing rainbow sashes stood silently during Communion, I remained seated. As they went up in the hope of receiving Communion, I remained seated. And as the Mass finished, I fled before anyone else had left the Cathedral. I drove around the block so that I could see the Rainbow Sash representatives lay wreaths at the gates of the Cathedral, in memory of students from Catholic schools who have died because being gay was just too hard.

I have returned home not wishing to look in the mirror, and next time I attend Mass I will mean it when I say the prayer before the Communion, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you..."

Theologians tell us that after the flood, God set the rainbow in the sky to remember the covenant between God and the earth; a reminder to God not to do harm again. The rainbow has taken on new significance for me today and I wish not to do harm by my silence in both word and action again. Yet even in pledging this, I cannot sign my name to this letter out of fear of loss of employment, but I speak in so far as I am able.

The Cathedral newsletter today had the words; "The Holy Spirit came to remind us that the love of Christ and his salvation extends to all peoples. All people are created in the image and likeness of God and are to be reverenced... All are to be included in the kingdom of God."

It seems that both Archbishop Pell and myself need to acknowledge the truth of these words.




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