While reviewing news stories and opinion pieces for this blog, I tend to avoid pieces which scream of sensationalism, of which there are many since this blog deals with two journalistically volatile topics: religion and sexuality.
One story came across my computer screen a few weeks ago about a priest in Italy recommending an exorcism for a young gay man. Reading the headline, I initially wrote this off as a sensational story. Yet someone sent me the link recently, and when I read the whole story, I realized there was more to it than just the exciting headline.
Indeed, the story is not so much about the priest, but about a mother who is a strong advocate for her son and LGBT people.
Gay Star News reported the incident this way:
“A faithful Catholic mom was comanded to get an exorcist and leave the church, after her priest discovered her teenage son was gay.
“His condemnation came after she begged him to read a letter to his congregation in favor of gay rights on behalf of her and her son.
“But he replied: ‘Your son is a devil. So, please, go to an exorcist. And, please, leave this church.’
“The incident earlier this month in Palermo, the capital of the Italian island of Sicily, has now been reported by LGBT Christian group Ali d’Aquila.”
But buried in the story is the fact that this mother was a fearless advocate for her son:
According to Ali d’Aquila coordinator Giovanni Capizzi:
“She asked the priest to read a pro-gay letter during the service. But this is how the priest reacted.”
More importantly, Capizzi also noted that he sees this priest’s response as uncharacteristic of the Catholic clergy that he knows:
“Ali d’Aquila is hosted by priest Padre Cosimo Scordato in the San Francesco Saverio church in the Albergheria area in Palermo.
“We have to thank all the wonderful priests who believe in us. Not all the church people are homophobic or anti-gay.
“Some priests don’t want us to pray and hold public meetings, but some of them are really friendly and pro-gay.”
So, far from being a story about a priest’s ignorant reaction, the story turned out to be about a mother who was advocating her son, and the fact that Catholic priests in Sicily are more welcoming of LGBT people than is usually thought. I’m glad I read the story past the headline.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry