Terence

New documentary depicts Jesuit’s struggle for LGBT rights

In Sexual Orientation on June 19, 2012 at 2:29 am

With the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s very public battle against same-sex marriage and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s recent condemnation of Mercy Sr. Margaret Farley’s sexual ethics book, Just Love, it seems hard to remember a time when the Roman Catholic Church wasn’t fixated on LGBT issues.

In “Taking a Chance on God,” Irish-born filmmaker Brendan Fay reminds us that not only is this struggle relatively new in church history, but the momentum behind the movement began with one courageous priest and his groundbreaking book.

Filmmaker Brendan Fay and John McNeillThe film offers a portrait of John McNeill, the Jesuit priest who was silenced in 1977 for his book The Church and the Homosexual and, nine years later, was expelled from his order for refusing to stay silent in his ministry to gay and lesbian Catholics.

The film had its New York City premiere this weekend as part of the 40th anniversary celebration of the New York chapter of Dignity USA, a community McNeill helped found. The film includes a number of insightful interviews from fellow priest activist Dan McCarthy, theologian Mary Hunt, openly gay priest Bernard Lynch, gay rights activist Ginny Appuzzo, and the late activist Jesuit Fr. Robert Carter.

Fay’s documentary offers a full depiction of McNeill’s life as well as a window into the gay struggle for liberation in both church and society amid the terrifying backdrop of the AIDS crisis. Two sections of the film are particularly powerful: McNeill’s calling to the priesthood and his calling forth out of the silence imposed on him by the Vatican.

– full report at National Catholic Reporter

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