Is ‘Owning Our Faith’ Disowning Our Faith?


The poetically provocative title to this post refers to “Owning Our Faith,” a group that started earlier this year with the mission of “sharing life stories of LGBT persons in the Catholic Church,” according to its Facebook page. The group’s web site features a main video, plus accompanying in-depth videos, of the subjects of these life stories and their family members. Does the website, the videos, and their originators’ clear rejection of Church teaching count as “disowning” our faith?

“Owning Our Faith” seems untouched by any obvious concern or intervention of ecclesial authority, and the answer to the question I pose certainly seems to be above my pay grade. So, I’ll just leave it to you, dear readers, to decide, after sharing some of the more interesting facts associated with “LGBT Catholics: Owning Our Faith.”

‘Grass Roots’ Or ‘Doing Business As’?

Is “Owning Our Faith” (hereby abbreviated as OOF) a “grass-roots organization” as noted on its Facebook page? Or is it a project of St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, in New York City, the mother church of the Paulist religious order? Both? On its website’s “donate” page, it says: “The Church of St. Paul the Apostle d/b/a OwningOurFaith is a registered 501(c)(3) organization, and all contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.” 

Who Is On the OOF Development Team?

The Development Team for OOF includes two Paulist priests: Fr. Gilbert Martinez, Pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Parish (Paulist Order mother church), and Fr. Mark-David Janus, President of the Paulist Press, the publishing arm of the order.

What Are the OOF Video Subjects Saying?

Here are some quotable quotes, minus the subjects’ names, from the website:

*“I’ve found a place [note: his parish is St. Paul the Apostle Parish] where I can live as an out, gay man who’s dating, and has great friendships and has a full life and can also come every Sunday night and talk about faith.”

*“What the Church is saying is you cannot live fully. You can be gay, but you can’t live that life. And so that inherently is discriminatory.”

*“It’s just not a matter of accepting us…or tolerate us, you have to encourage us to be who we are. We are God’s creation. And to deny that is to deny that He knows what the hell he’s doing.”

*“If we leave it, if we abandon the Church then it’s never going to change. So we have to continue living here, being an example and encouraging other people to be that example because that’s what’s going to change the Church.”

What About the LGBT Parish Group at St. Paul’s Parish?

Regarding same-sex attraction, the US Bishops’ 2006 document on same-sex attraction teaches that in parish life, “general public self-disclosures are not helpful and should not be encouraged.” The LGBT group at the parish “doing business as” OOF is called “Out At St. Paul’s.”

What Does “Out At St. Paul’s” Do?

One notable offering was in 2013. The parish group “Out At St. Paul’s” sponsored a three-part series, audio-recorded and made available online, called “Being Gay, Having Faith.” Parish Pastor Fr. Martinez was present for the last two sessions, and the aforementioned Paulist Fr. Janus made a presentation, as did invited author Todd Salzman, who wrote “The Sexual Person: Toward a Renewed Catholic Anthropology” (2008).

At the “Out At St. Paul’s” event, Salzman presented the concept of “perspectivism,” which he insists is not moral relativism. But with “perspectivism,” the assertion is that every expression of truth can only be partially true. Thus, the person with same-sex attraction can view two different sets of truths—such as 1) the Church’s teaching and 2) dissent from the Church’s teaching—and simply choose which of these “partially true” assertions should be believed as being more true than the other. Salzman even applied this to complementarity, comparing “biological complementarity” to what he coined as “holistic complementarity.” Of course, “holistic complementarity” leaves room for homosexual relationships and behaviors, which we are therefore free to accept as being “more true” than Church teaching.

Among the comments offered at the final session, a panel discussion, two were particularly interesting. One participant was asked about the Catholic bishops’ track record regarding same-sex attraction issues. This person had “relatively low expectations of the Church hierarchy, all of which have been fulfilled.” Another comment came from a panelist who said he couldn’t care less about what the Magisterium said because he had excommunicated the bishops a long time ago. Finally, one stated that, if ever a time came that, for some reason, the Paulist Order would split from the Catholic Church, he would remain with the Paulists.

Who Are We to Judge?

Move along, dear readers, there’s nothing to see here. Pay no attention to the Catholic religious order behind the curtain. These LGBT Catholics and their supporters are merely owning their faith.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of


About Author

Deacon Jim Russell is a lifelong St. Louis resident, "cradle" Catholic, husband, father of eleven, and grandfather of two. Ordained to the Diaconate in 2002, Deacon Russell serves as Family Life Coordinator for the Office of Laity and Family Life in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, Missouri. He previously worked in full-time parish ministry for the last fourteen years. He remains an active supporter of Catholic radio and the Catholic blogosphere (some of his posts can be found at the “Virtual Vestibule,” the official blog of the Archdiocese of St. Louis ( Deacon Russell’s theological interests include the sanctity of marriage, the work of Pope St. John Paul II, and Catholic teaching on same-sex attraction. Follow Deacon Russell on Twitter at @MarriageSTL.

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