Central PA's LGBT News Source
If an LGBT former or currently practicing Catholic wanted to worship in a welcoming environment, the region is home to The Old Catholic Church
Locally, the Most Rev. Michael J. Scalzi shepards the Parish of Saint Joseph, domiciled at Saint Andrew’s in the Valley Episcopal Church, 4620 Linglestown Road, Harrisburg.
Bishop Scalzi shares with readers why his congregation may be a resource for them.
Central Voice: If an individual or couple wanted to return to The Old Catholic Church, are the traditions they may have grown up practiced there? Sacraments? Holiday traditions?
Bishop Scalzi: If by “returning” you are referring to “lapsed” Catholics returning to their Catholic faith tradition (but who are not interested in “returning” to the Roman Catholic Church), they would find themselves in a very familiar and comfortable place. The seven Sacraments are the same (although the requirements for the reception of them may be quite different). The Sacraments are offered freely to all without any artificial barriers.
CV: Is The Old Catholic Church an LGBT church or an LGBT accepting church?
BS: The Old Catholic Church is not an LGBT church as we are not a straight church. Are we an LGBT accepting church? I sure hope so! We perform same-sex marriages and a number of our clergy are gay/lesbian. One of our priests is transgendered. Doesn’t get much more accepting than that, wouldn’t you say?
CV: If an individual or couple were before your right now, what would you say?
BS: The first thing I would do is ask them to tell me their story: who are they, what are their backgrounds, what brought them here. I would then ask them if they would like to hear my story. I would tell them everything about me (I have no secrets). And then I would ask them what they think The Old catholic Church can do for them, and what, if anything, I could personally do for them. I would do what I could to develop a relationship with them and go from there.
CV: Add anything you think is important.
BS: So many people have walked away from their churches because they have felt unloved and unwanted. Church membership and attendance across all denominations is down dramatically. We, as “Church,” have helped to make people feel that they can be “spiritual without being religious.” People feel that they do not need to belong to a faith community; they can walk in the woods and be with God. Of course, that’s true. But it is the sense of “belonging” and being with others who accept and love you for who you are without judgement or prejudice.
We all face some much hatred and fear in our world today: Are we helping to promote that intolerance? So many mainline denominations preach one message but behave differently. Sadly, those who were raised Catholic may have found that they are no longer welcome in a church with their spouses, partners, etc. Oh, yes, they can come and sit in the pew, but they are told that their lifestyle is “disordered” and sinful. The Old Catholic Church has gone back to the way the church began many centuries ago. We are not a hierarchical church: clergy and laity sit side-by-side and worship together and build up the Body of Christ together.