Letter to Pope Francis (by Elisha)
My name is Elisha and I want to tell you how much I love you! I have to admit that my heart had still been with John Paul II until...you came. The personal history of John Paul II had something to say to my history. When I saw him, when I listened to him, something was moving inside of me. His message for the youth gathered in Rome in 2000 still ardently resounds within me. And that's because it's true! Our thirst for love, beauty, truth...It's Him that we seek! I'm sure that John Paul II and even Benedict XVI, whom also I admire so much, won't mind my new affection towards you.
Pope Francis! With your cheerfulness you have captured my heart. I was under the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica the night you were elected. That night we really lived the Pentecost through silence, the prayers we said together, as well as every single word you pronounced. When you greeted us, the crowd was so happy that celebrations could have gone on and on. All of a sudden, for me it was clear that the Church hadn't fallen asleep like many want us to believe. The Church was more alive than ever!
Who am I? I'm a young adult, and I have same sex attractions. I'm still surprised that nowadays media are so focused on what you said or didn't say about gays on your flight back from Brazil, while forgetting the amazing words you spent for young people from all over the world in Rio.
But I'll remind them! You encouraged young people to go spread the Gospel! Even to the peripheries of existence, where you often encouraged priests to go as well, so that they may have the smell of their sheep on them. You talked about these young people who can't wait to be leaders of change, and you mentioned Mother Teresa saying that if we want to make the Church and the world a better place, change must start with "you and I".
Pope Francis, I want to talk to you about the peripheries of homosexuality. I identified three of them.
The first one is the periphery of those who become aware of their homosexuality for the first time. It is the periphery of loneliness. I remember that when I realized that I had same sex attractions, my sight got blurred. I was going to daily mass while wondering why it had happened to me. The teenager who comes to realise he is homosexual feels like a monster and is clueless about whom to speak with. His parents? Why giving them such a burden. His friends? They would make fun of him. Priests? They would tell him it's a sin. When I talked about it with God, I found this word in the Bible: " but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." It was Isaiah. And I considered his reference to strengthen a promise for me. That's because I had never considered myself masculine enough, and definitely not so strong as my friends. Then I found the courage to talk about my issue with some priests, and after a while with some trusted friends.
The second periphery is the homosexuality of those who are believers. We all know that there are many homosexuals who believe in Jesus and yet they don't accept what the Church has to say about homosexuality and sexuality in general. Here I'm referring to those who love the Church instead, and would like to follow her teachings. Homosexuality has a fundamental problem. It brings you to live a disordered sexuality. Homosexual persons feel a compulsive sexual drive within, which can either lead to promiscuity or sometimes be accompanied by real affection. The proposal of chastity or celibacy may seem as an act of heroism, a martyrdom that only few can engage in. These Christian men are less and less understood because society, including some catholics, is more and more skeptical about the value of chastity. As if that wasn't enough, these men are mocked by gay activists who often times despise them and consider them traitors.
Many fight while hoping to heal from same sex attractions, a healing that will leave some scars though. You'll always be particularly sensitive in that area.
The third periphery is the hell of homosexuality. That's where homosexuals lose their dignity of human beings. I'm talking about gay chat websites. They are like a shop window where you show shreds of your body in order to find someone who is willing to buy you, sometimes for a low price. And not necessarily for money. Often times the price is your own dignity. This periphery is also made of those streets where men seek other men at night in order to fill their void. It's also gay bars and clubs, or those new brothels passed off as cultural circles ( there is one in Rome called "The Devil Inside"), where you can practice every kind of depravation. It's the parades where gay people ask for dignity while losing it instead.
Pope Francis, you demand us to reach the peripheries of the existence and to do it together. I'm still very fragile, but I ask you to pray that I may have the strength. I see what's happening in Italy with the parliament debating an "anti-homophobia" bill. To this regard, I have recently written a letter to a Catholic blogger (Costanza Miriano). With my great surprise, this letter had an unexpected echo, with people reaching out and encouraging me to keep standing out for the Truth.
Has time come for me to come out of the Cenacle? I'd like to be close to those who live in solitude, to tell them not to lose Hope in God, because each one of them is precious in His Sight. I'd like to fight with those who struggle to be better Christians, to live the beauty of a pure love, and the amazing adventure of sanctity, knowing that my wounds, like those of Christ, can become source of healing for those who are in need.
Lastly, like Jesus did, I'd like to descend into hell. That same hell I have been rescued from, and where I sometimes fall again. Maybe there is still some righteous man worthy of some talking on God's Mercy in 2013's Sodom and Gomorrah. How many times I wished I would meet a soul in that inescapable hell who could bring me back to Life!
The change starts with you and me, Mother Teresa said. Pope Francis, I can see you descending into such thorny peripheries of existence. I thank you for the tact you've always had while dealing with this question. You've never been judgmental not to divide humanity according to its sexual instincts. You know that the human being is far deeper and more complex than that.
Pray for me and for all of those who will decide to cross the threshold of these peripheries to bring the Good News of Jesus. Some of them might decide to do it after reading this letter, who knows. At least, the good thing about it is that homosexuals smell much nicer than sheep...Pardon my joke! But I, too, love laughing. By the way, your joke on Blessed Imelda was great. You are a great man. I will pray for you, as a son.!
Elisha of the Desert
*translated by Sun Rise