Withdrawing from ministry in the Catholic Church

by Darren Theoret
(Ottawa, Canada)





The following is the letter I emailed to my friends, family and Catholic Church officials advising that I have decided not to become ordained as a Deacon. It is dated 16 January, 2008.

When I rededicated my life to the Lord, I was 19 years old and living a very high-risk lifestyle. I was trying every vice in order not to feel the pain of being different from societal norms. You see, since I was a young boy, I knew that I felt things and saw things differently than other boys. As I got a little older I found the word for it. It turns out that I was gay whether I liked it or not.

When I came back to the church, I was told that God loved me just the way I was but that He had a plan for my life which included curing me of homosexuality and making me a straight man with a super testimony that would bring many people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. This happened in a Pentecostal church in Montreal.

I was 19 and had just experienced a wonderful touch on my life from the Holy Spirit and I believed everything that I was told - that as I turned control of my life over to God, He would fix my sexuality. The same-sex attractions never went away so I figured that I wasn’t doing all the right things or saying all the right prayers. All I knew was that I could no longer talk about these feelings as I was being groomed to be an ex-gay minister.

There are many groups around North America who offer this false hope to gays who want to follow God and be good Christians. I was the director of one of these ministries, Liberty Fellowship, here in Ottawa back in the 80’s. Liberty Fellowship was under the umbrella of Exodus International, a collection of similar ministries. We had as many as 40 men and women in our group. To my knowledge, only one man was able to make an adjustment to a heterosexual orientation. The rest of us could not.

I even went to New York to meet with Fr. John Harvey and Benedict Groeschel who were rolling out Courage, the Catholic version of Exodus. The position of Courage is that some people, through no fault of their own, are burdened with a homosexual orientation. In order for these individuals to remain in good standing with the Catholic Church, the Church insists they must remain celibate the rest of their lives with no hope of any intimacy whatsoever.

I didn’t feel that was an answer for me. I didn’t feel that God would create me as a sexual being to deny me any opportunity to express myself in a legitimate, fulfilling relationship. Only a sadistic monster would do that, not the God of Love.

So during this time, I did try and date women but as much as I appreciated them as individuals, there was no sexual attraction so none of the dating relationships lasted very long. And I kept having the fear of marrying someone and ending up ruining their life because I am not straight.

The feelings of helplessness were overwhelming at times. I kept myself busy with every ministry, committee, group or cause that I could find to keep myself pre-occupied so I wouldn’t remember how lonely I was. I cried myself to sleep often wondering what I had done to deserve this situation.

I kept praying, “God, I know there’s something wrong with me, but I don’t know how to fix it. Please have patience with me and heal me.”

I recently have come to the end of my patience with this prayer and started more risky prayers like:

“OK God, what’s going on here? How could you do this to me? Do you take some kind of pleasure in seeing this suffering?” And then I would say sorry really quickly and the whole thing would keep repeating itself."

The Church promised me something it could not deliver - a change in orientation. Then the Church required too much by insisting that I live without a loving, fulfilling relationship. It is my considered opinion (for what it’s worth) that the church is not sufficiently motivated to really understand same sex attraction, explore the mind of God on the subject or to provide practical pastoral care for those of us who are gay and Catholic.

I have a very good conscience about all the efforts and attempts that I have made to be what the church would like to see. I have come to the conclusion that if I continue this way, it will kill me and as much as I love the church, I don’t feel that that love is reciprocal for openly gay Christians.

I have recently been doing research on the whole topic and in a nutshell here is what I have discovered.

  1. Most people who attend ex-gay groups do not change into straight people.

  2. Those who became straight were usually bisexual to begin with.

  3. Ex-gay groups are responsible for damaging thousands of lives including suicides, self-hatred, and sense of failure when they cannot change as expected.

  4. The expectation for individuals to change has caused many innocent gay Christians to become rejected by their church, family and friends just because they could not perform the impossible.

  5. People are reluctant to leave these groups due to social pressure from the church who demands that they become straight or leave their church.

  6. That there is a large community of people who have successfully integrated their gayness and their Christianity.

  7. There are many church groups, who after much dialogue, prayer and study of the facts, now embrace gay Christians as full members.

  8. There are many, many well adjusted same-sex couples who live in mutually supportive, loving relationships, even as Christians.

  9. All scripture verses that are used to condemn same-sex unions are either mistranslated, misused, taken out of context or don’t fit with the entire Christian message of redemption for all. They are usually referring to temple prostitution, pedophilia, straight people “indulging” in gay sex for kicks or sexual abuse. There is no scripture against committed, loving same-sex unions.

  10. Until the 13th century, from Ireland to Istanbul and in the heart of Rome itself, homosexual relationships were accepted as valid expressions of a God-given ability to love and commit to another person of the same sex, a love that could be celebrated, honoured and blessed both in the name of and through the Eucharist in the presence of Jesus Christ.


I have written this and sent it to those I thought needed to know or who would wonder why I have decided to withdraw from the deaconate program. I don’t feel that the Catholic Church is ready to welcome an openly gay Deacon and I am at a point in my life that I have to accept myself and make the best of an unwelcome situation.

I shake my head when I hear people say that homosexuality is a choice people make. What kind of crazy person would choose to be hated and despised?

These scriptures keep coming back to me.

“My yoke is easy, my burden is light.”

The burden the church places on gay people is not light or easy and so cannot be from God.

“If you ask God for an egg, will He give you a scorpion? Even you wicked men do better than that!”

If I ask for love, will God condemn me?

“You did not receive the spirit that makes you slaves to fear, but you received a Spirit of sonship whereby we cry Abba.”

I will not continue to live in fear of what will happen if the church finds out I’m gay and a Deacon. And I will not listen to anyone who wants me to feel shame or guilt. I have worked harder at this than anyone has a right to ask. For 26 years I have tried to change. I think its time to take the hint that my orientation is not changeable. I have sought the face of God and His will for my life daily and I am satisfied that He is well pleased with me.

I am still single at the time of this writing but I am open to the possibility that God will provide an appropriate partner as I continue to serve Him.

I know that this is awkward for a lot of Christians to accept and I know that the church does not support this kind of thinking. Well, I’m sorry, but I employed my God given intelligence and conscience to come to this conclusion.

I also realize that this decision will cost me my standing in the church, my ministry in the deaconate and many friendships that I value. That makes me very sad. It is my hope that those of you who love me enough will take the time to pray and ask God to reveal His heart on the matter. I have and I received the answer that God accepts me as a gay man if I remain responsible to live out the gospel the best way I can.

If this has been helpful to you, I’m glad. If it has caused you concern, pray for me. I’m not interested in changing the church or persuading anyone’s opinion. I am simply sharing my experience and explaining how I have come to be in this painful situation.

It is funny though. Over all these years (and still) I have always had a strong sense that God loves me and has a purpose for me. God uses me every day to touch lives and I expect that will continue. I don’t need a title to serve God. I felt that I have good contributions to make to the church and I am disappointed that that likely will not happen now.

You know, its easy to say, “Jesus, I trust in You!” when everything is going well. I have the challenge of trusting Jesus while the majority of the church would condemn me as an immoral deviant.

Many of you who know me well know that I am Spirit-filled. I am reminded of a “word” I received very early. The Spirit said to me, “There are many who are willing to serve Me and be successful. Are you willing to be a failure for Me?” I wasn’t sure what that was supposed to mean, but I have never forgotten it.

I remain your servant,

Darren Theoret

Comments for Withdrawing from ministry in the Catholic Church

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Feb 12, 2008
My Love To You
by: Yellow Thunderbird Man

The Roman Church does not deserve such a sweet and loving man as you. One must remember this is NOT a grass roots organization; this is a multi national theological conglomerate, built in tandem with the State using various means, including the politics of sex, the rite of ceremony and the theft of maternal legitimacy.

In my mind, any truly spiritual organization would be seeing someone for who they are in their heart, not their sexual preference. The Roman Church has suppressed sexuality in it's church as a means of controlling their priests, women in the church and people throughout the community.

Their excercising of "male reproductive consciousness" is based entirely on investing in the continual male to male transference of power, the rite to perform "sacred" acts and exorcise the female legitimacy within culture (ie nature).

The whole idea that homosexuality is a "sin" in the Roman Church is based entirely on man "denigrating" himself to performing a female role in sex. When you consider all the trouble it's caused over the two thousand years the Church has strangle-holded people, it would have been so much more "balanced" to have allowed females to participate in ritual and acceptance of homosexual peoples.

Ultimate power and control in tandem with the state has made for interesting "bedmates": the state protects the religion and the religion protects the soul of the state. Together they sleep and fornicate - these MEN of power.

I've seen up close the mean and evil reality of dealing with a racist, sexist and homophobic corporation that is the Holy See. They've hurt my friend but have not stopped him. Continue to love your Jesus my brother - thou needest not the machine to be holy.

Feb 12, 2008
Christianity is for the White Man
by: Anonymous

Such sad torment. Such shame and guilt. Christanity has imposed itself upon many indigenous peoples of the world and our home and native land did/does not have such shame/fear/guilt based religious dogma.

Perhaps there within lies the real dilemma - you have embraced a foreign religion that does not sit right with you - because it denies you of the truth of who you are and all that you can be.

Twenty-six years you have been practising this religion that disallows you the Truth?! How hypocrytical! As you embrace your right to be two-spirited, why not go the full monty and embrace the beauty and simplicity of native spirituality - it comes to us with purity - direct from the Creator who made you - exactly as you are.

No need for books, doctrine, translations, interpretations, sermons, collection plates, confessionals, priests or deacons - just the knowledge of honour, respect, love, humnility, courage, truth and wisdom...does that not speak the loudest and the clearest?!

Feb 12, 2008
Congratulations Darren
by: Anonymous

Hi Darren, you are to be congratulated on your perseverence with faith and your demand that the Church and society realize and accept that being gay is not a choice. How many of us have fought over many years to 'become straight' and wasted years of our lives in feeling guilty over something that we not only cannot change but should not.

Oh, if we could only realize at 19 that what we feel is acceptable to God if we live healthy and positive lives and enter into a truly loving relationship, regardless of sexual orientation. The Church is changing and will change, but some denominations faster than others, but courageous stands such as yours will help keep the Church moving in the right direction.

Feb 13, 2008
Great Article!
by: Anonymous

David:
Great article. Have you been in touch with Beyond Ex Gay? You can find them at
http://www.beyondexgay.com/
I'm sure your story would be welcomed and would gift others. Blessings in Christ!
Doug

Feb 13, 2008
support
by: Anonymous

Dear Darren,
I thank you for your courage and your struggle to be whole, faithful and loving.
Linda Privitera, chaplain, Integrity, Ottawa

Feb 13, 2008
Thank You.
by: Paul Harvie

Darren;
I give thanks to God for your letter and your courage.
Paul Harvie

Feb 14, 2008
thank you for your witness
by: Pat Bonell

Dear Darren,

This is a powerful piece of writing. Thank you so much for describing your faith journey. All blessings to you as you live out the new ministry that you are being called to.

Pat Bonell
Integrity Band, Integrity Ottawa

Feb 26, 2008
Bless you, Darren
by: Gillian Wallace

I am so glad you have seen the light, Darren, and are finally at peace with yourself.

You have studied the Bible, struggled so hard to hear God's word despite people's attempts to tell you they know what it is for you - and you have won through.

I know God is rejoicing with you.

I have a Bible verse for you:
1 John 4:7 "All who love are born of God and know God."


You are born of God. And I am glad you will continue to live your God-given ministry.

Bless you. And thank God that God has blessed us with you.

Mar 04, 2008
Inspiring
by: Fred Lafontaine

Thank you for sharing this story and for the help it brings to me on my path. I like many, was "kicked" out of my Roman parish for being openly gay, They were quite happy when I was in the closet. Now I'm an Anglican and the future is a lot brighter.

Apr 02, 2008
We Need Christian Diversity And Unity
by: Anonymous

Go to an interdenominational diverse type church that has a policy to not discriminate against gay people. For your gift of prophesying, speaking in tongues or telling messages, only the Pentacostal denomination is open to that but they discriminate against gay people.

I wish we could have a Eastern rite and Pentacostal denomination united.

I live in Montreal, My name is Rajan and I am bisexual.

I know the frustration when you are excluded from your own community. Find a church that is denominationally mixed like Christ Cathedral in Montreal, where Catholics and Protestants worship together.

Ask the Bishop to place you in the Diversity ministry.

I live in Montreal and was raised in the Serbian Orthodox Church. I wish we had an alternative service that is open minded for those of the Eastern rite and Pentacostals under one roof.

Rajan


Jan 05, 2010
Update from Darren 2 years on
by: Anonymous

This is Darren 2 years after I wrote this initial story. I thought I would give you all an update of how things are now going.

After I sent that letter via email, most of my Catholic friends returned a very positive response but I have not heard from most of them again; so that has been sad for me.

I have been extremely blessed to find a partner that I love with my whole heart. We have been together since 15 Aug 2008 and recently we bought a house. We have been worshiping at St. Michael and All Angels Anglican Church in Ottawa and both of us serve on Parish Council.

We were formally received as a gay couple by the Bishop and we were overwhelmed with cards, gifts and expressions of love and acceptance.
Also, at synod last fall, I was elected to the Diocesan Council for a 3 year term to assist the Bishop in governing the Diocese of Ottawa.

I won't lie and tell you that this transition has been easy, I've lost a lot of friendships that I valued. But then what kind of friends will only be friends if you fit their ideas and not allow people to grow into what God has made them.

I also have some acquaintances who choose to stay in the Catholic Church and live below the radar and they try to persuade me to do the same. My response to them has not been well received and so they also choose to avoid me.

My response is, "We have a responsibility to those who come after us to be witnesses to the truth even if it causes us a little discomfort".

Gay teenagers who grow up in Christian homes are committing suicide at alarming rates because they lack these witnesses to tell them God loves them as they are.

We are commanded to let our light shine so I hope I'm doing my part. If you are deciding to come out as a gay Christian all I can tell you is its difficult, you will have losses but you will be making an honest witness to the love of God - Its so worth it.

God bless you all and we'll check in again soon.

Darren Theoret in Ottawa

Jan 06, 2010
A courage to be admired
by: Luis

My dearest Darren-

As you know, I am very happy for you and Jacques, I admire your courage for having come out to the whole office the way you did and now to the world.

May God bless you both with many years of happiness and love.

Your friend,

Luis

Jan 06, 2010
You remain my friend
by: Clayton

Dear Daren,

We have been acquainted for almost a decade, oh where did it go?

Although I could be considered a homophobe as a youngster, my mind broadened as I left my little town for the big city. My prejudice was not rooted in religion, I thought it was just about being a guy.

I understand now what damage this did: particularly how ostracization and other forms of bullying could lead to death at one's own hand.

I understand Christian charity & forgiveness, and it would be easy to just say sorry, say a few insincere prayers and move on blithely.

I am sorry for how I treated 'homos', or bullied weaker heteros with such 'taunts'.

For such offences and others, I work now to uphold the human rights of all people or groups that I had formerly disdained.

You shouldn't have to feel proud to be yourself. You should have had the opportunity to just be yourself. The tragedy that you had to forego your true potential for so many years, that you had been taught to hate yourself, that you needed to change that which could not be changed; that is time and effort that you can not get back, despite my contrition or attempts to make amends.

Daren, I can only believe that a just Creator will judge you by your good deeds and conscience.

Peace, Brother

Jan 06, 2010
My Memory of this day...
by: David

My brother Darren, I remember clearly the day you sent this letter out, how I wept both with and for you as I could feel your pain. I knew you too well and knew of your struggle all along during our 3 years together in formation. I phoned you right away and said that I "knew all along". I assured you that I would always be your friend. I am happy to say that this has not changed. I wish you peace, my brother.

Jan 07, 2010
I am happy you are free my friend.
by: Daniel

Dear Darren;

I am glad that you are free and happy. I am proud that you can be a little of Jesus' Love to others.

I still fellowship openly with my Two-Spirit Friends and Accept myself as a Whole Person - Which means I am attracted to the same sex also.

I mainly attend now my Native Masses, and Participate in Native Ceremonies; where I am open about my love for Jesus, my sexual identity, and my Culture.

You have been and were a great help to me to come to accept my Native Blood, and Christian Life, as well as my Two-Spirit Spirituality.

We even began a Two-Spirit Healing Grandfather Drum Practice and I love it when Men and Women Drum and Sing together as One.

Again, Thank you and I do hope to see you again soon.

Daniel

Aug 13, 2010
Thanks Darren
by: Danny

I so loved this testimony, Darren. Especially the ending note... are you willing to be a failure for me?

It was all very encouraging.

Danny

Nov 21, 2010
Wish I could chat to you in person
by: Mike

Deacon Darell Theoret -

I honestly wish i could contact you directly... am a 30 year old guy - and well I love God Dearly - "truly" believe in the true presence of Christ in the "Holy Eucharist".... but does he reject me???? Even after many years feeling that I was called to the priesthood I don't know anymore!

The Church (which i truly love dearly) has no support structures for me... I'm BI (yes Bi not even Gay!) - and there is no doubt about it - I would like to find a guy/gal whom i could spend the rest of my iife with... but what now... I can't receive communion? Am i Going to hell??

No but really... am I? I love the Holy Father too... but he condems my way of life if i get into bed wuth a guy?.... yet i still love Christ - who is God with the Father and the Spirit... I LOVE GOD!!

If i accept this reality those around me - some will be happy... others will wonder - what an unloyal Christian - even worse - I wont be able to receive Christ in Holy Communion.... Don't know that i could live with that!!?

Nov 21, 2010
We can know for sure that we're saved
by: Rick Brentlinger

Mike-

Its possible to know for sure you are saved when you trust by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

The key is not in trusting religious observances or church affiliation but instead trusting Jesus alone as your Savior from sin.

How to know for sure you are saved?

God bless you for seeking the Lord with an honest heart. These Links provide additional information.

What does it mean to believe in Jesus?

How do I believe in Jesus?

Dec 06, 2010
response for Mike-nov 21
by: Darren Theoret

I didn't see your comment before today Mike, but it sounds like Rick gave you some good feedback. I feel similarly re the real presence. For me the answer was to convert to the Anglican communion--in the States I think you call us episcopal.

It's the same service as the Mass but many parishes are open to gay people. We don't live in a perfect world--we just have to make a life that works for us and allows us to serve God the best way we can. Remember the Bible says to fear God; not what man can do to you.

Dec 06, 2010
Thanks
by: Mike

Just a quick note to say Thanks very much for the reply... honestly appreciate it, and thanks very much for the additional literature!

God Bless you too!

Mar 17, 2012
Checking in 4 years on
by: Darren Theoret

This is Darren now over 4 years since I initially wrote this letter. First of all, I can’t believe how quickly time has flown! I thought I would give you another update.

Jacques and I are still together and more in love than ever! I continue to be immensely grateful to God for allowing me the privilege of sharing such a pure and godly love with this godly man. Jacques has integrated easily into my family (I am the youngest of 4 boys). My mother said to Jacques, “You’re one of my boys now!” And my brothers are really great too. My brother’s kids referred to us as Uncle Darren and Uncle Jacques.

I am still persona-non-grata to the Catholic community with a few exceptions and it continues to sadden me when I see all the hurtful things the bishops are saying about us as they wage their war against marriage equality.

It’s like they think that God loves them no matter what vile things they say and do and that God hates us no matter what we say or do and that with impunity they can make our lives difficult. It reminds me of the Pharisees in Bible times and we know what Jesus thought of that crowd.

Confidence that I’m on the correct side of this culture war increases daily. Life is good and I am at peace with the universe, my conscience and God. I look forward to what God has next for me to do. I will leave you with a quote from JP2: “Do not be afraid!”

Blessings on you all, Darren Theoret

Oct 15, 2012
An Impressive Journey!
by: Bruce Garside

I remember Darren from the time I was a social worker working with so-called troubled youth. He stood out in two regards: the first was the intensity of his conflicts, anguish and resulting risky behaviour; the second was his intelligence and sensitivity.

Often I feared that he wouldn't survive. It was only when he found a relationship with his Christ and a supportive, evangelical congregation that his life took on a dimension of structure and hope. Unfortunately, that evangelical community could not support him in the totally of who he is.

I'm very pleased that Darren has passed through the experiences of a futile and destructive attempt to change who he is with his integrity intact; that he remained true to himself and to his relationship with his God; that he has found the intimacy of a loving relationship with another man and a spiritual community that celebrates his love. Darren has so much to share and to teach to those faced with a similar journey of rejection and acceptance. His story illustrates that hope should never be abandoned.

Oct 16, 2012
YOU are too good for the catholic church.
by: Cher

You area absolutely perfect just the way you are! I don't know you well Darren, but being an energy worker allows me to connect with people on a totally different level than most and I love that because it allows me to see beyond the physical form of a person. Your energy, my sweet new friend, is vibrant, bright and so full of love and goodness. I think the catholic church would have killed your beautiful spirit. No God would want that to happen. My sadness is that as a gay Deacon you would have probably saved so many from a life of self hatred and could have taught so many how to recognize that regardless of sexual orientation, they were created by God so therefore they are perfect in their own way. It is the catholic church that makes us fear God, not God! I have also left the catholic church. It infuriates me that the church blames their prejudice, rigidity and over inflated egos on God.

Seeing you and Jacques together totally warms my heart. Not only can I see how much you love each other, but I can physically feel the love and the adoration. You have both been blessed finding each other. I am sure that Jacques has had his own fears along his journey with his physical challenges. You are a true gift to each other.

Congratulations on staying true to who you are and for having the strength it took to survive the journey because now you can be a wonderful teacher for those who need it and I feel that this is what your life plan was meant to be all along.

You are beautiful and awesome; and I am very grateful that I have had the gift of meeting you and Jacques.

Big hugs to you both!

Cher

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