June 12, 2016 – I Remember

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On Sunday night, June 12, 2016, I was sitting in front of this box, watching this news come in. That night, I threw in my religion towel and told God to go Fuck Himself, that He would let this happen to kids, hanging out in a bar, that I hung out in, when I was their age, and that gunman killed all those young men and women.

It turned my world upside down for more than a year. It was the WORST, cathartic emotional event in my life, since the day I was diagnosed with AIDS on July 8th, 1994.

TURNED MY WORLD UPSIDE DOWN !!!

I remember them. And will never forget this night.

The Family Afterward

 

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This painful past may be of infinite value to other families still struggling with their problem. We think each family who has been relieved owes something to those who have not, and when the occasion requires, each member of it should only be too willing to bring former mistakes, no mater how grievous, out of their hiding places. Showing others who suffer how we were given help is the very thing which makes life seem so worth while to us now. Cling to the thought that, in God’s hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have – the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. PP. 124 B.B.

We’ve never discussed this chapter of the book before tonight. After the reading, I waited for a more educated friend to give his take on this particular paragraph. And so it went. This chapter, written by the first 100 who got sober, are addressing the family afterwards, those families who had seen recovery happen for those first 100.

Well before the dawn of ALANON. Well before there was support for those who had suffered because of an alcoholic in their lives and families.

Which is why, at most large sober gatherings, ALANON is represented and afforded a place at the table. This past weekend, we had a representative from ALANON from Oakville, speak to the Round Up gathering.

In the Promises that come in Step NINE, we are told that
“We will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.”

Those who come into the rooms, do so at their own peril, for the road to recovery is fraught with hard truths and hard work, to clear away the wreckage of the past, make inventories, speak those inventories, and figure out what makes us tick, then as the steps progress, we make those lists of people we need to make amends to.

Family, Friends, Employers, Institutions …

I’ve said many times before that sobriety is cyclical. Each pass at the steps, and each discussion, and each share, and each inventory we process, we make our lists. We process that list, and we file it away for posterity.

But as it always happens, some things die-hard. And quite often, the same issues pop up on inventories, over and over again. We read the same book, we work the same steps, and over time, we discuss and retread the same material over and over again.

As the cycle repeats itself, our lives are like the rough rock (read:Jewel) that finds itself on the polishing wheel of the master jeweler, Let’s call him GOD.

When we come in, beaten and bruised, we settle into our seats. Conventional wisdom speaks to the need to begin steps right away. I’ve heard this said by many old timers with solid track records in working with others.

I take a more Liberal View of Recovery.

I’ve been around a few 24. I know what happens when people come in the door the first time. We welcome people from far and wide, and invite them in for coffee and conversation.

People need to find their feet, so to speak. Before we throw steps at them, they really need to get a bearing on their surroundings, first. They need to find their seat, and get comfortable sitting in that seat. For many, that takes a long time.

Even though they might walk into a Big Book discussion meeting, does not necessarily mean that we throw them into the deep end of the pool right away, which is why we are discussing the book.

Steps begin, as usual. And the first pass at the stone occurs. The first cut is made. Then the Master jeweler looks at the stone to see how his cut looks, and then decides on which next direction he is to take or which cut he wants to impress on the stone.

Each pass at life issues, in the cyclical manner that recovery is, we tread over old material, but each consecutive pass, over the years, we see old pain and experience in the light of the day we are looking at it. In the moment. 

Each day moving forwards allows us to see each issue with new eyes, in new light, with a little more sober experience, strength and hope under our belts.

Every time we tell our stories, they become founts of wisdom for some, and for others, their stories are brutal reminders of just what kind of animal the alcoholic was, before he or she came in.

But in the light of a new day, may come to see the wisdom of the above referenced passage.

Cling to the thought that, in God’s hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have – the key to life and happiness for others.

We all have stories. Some far worse than others. Listen to a gathering of old timers telling stories about their lives, after decades of sobriety. Women and Men.

The themes are usually the same, the circumstances, though, differ widely.

They stuck around until the miracle happened for them. As we are advised, to stick around ourselves.

Families afterwards, and families during the clearing of that wreckage need a place to go to figure out who THEY are. And they figure out, for some, like our ALANON speaker this weekend, had to figure out for herself, because she was clueless at the start, that she indeed had been affected by an alcoholic during her lifetime.

Telling stories is not only beneficial for the drunk, telling stories is also beneficial for the families, friends, and significant others, of those who are with US in the ROOMS.

The offshoot of sister programs for people in recovery are as numerous as the (A) Groups that exist today. Which is why A.A. and ALANON work in tandem with each other so well.

We all have STEPS.

We all figure out who we were when we were using and drinking, and the sister members figure out who they are in tandem. They, like us, find solutions to their problems, as we find solutions to ours.

When I moved away from home I was 21 years old. What did I know of the big wide world I was walking into, I had no idea, but my ALCOHOLISM knew very well.

It knew who I was, it knew what I was. And it dictated where I was going to go and what I was going to do. All that valuable education and values, and morals went out the window when it came to my ALCOHOLISM.

I told strategic lies to certain people, because I was drinking my money away, faster than I could make it. And back then making money was the problem I faced over and over.

I’ve been out of my family home for thirty years now. I’ve seen my family, namely my mother and father a few times over the years. And I saw them even less, after I got sober.

I did not see my brother at all, after I moved away except, once, for Christmas many years ago.

All three of them tell the same story about me …

To this day, they blame for all of their problems. AND they blame me for the lives that happened, even though I was not even in the same state, or today, even in the same country.

Even though, when my father died in January, I attempted to make contact, to be a brother, and a son, to my brother and my mother, respectively, they kept the line, that I was not a part of this family, and that I was the cause of all of their problems.

None of them would have ever thought to find help, in ALANON or any sister program, because over the past twenty-five years of my life, I have been in and out of the rooms.

And since I got sober this last very long stretch, I made countless attempts at reconciliation and amends. Every attempt fell on deaf ears.

Fuck me for trying …

I wrote last night, about the forty-five year sober woman who spoke on Saturday night, at the keynote address. And I told that story to the group tonight. About my conversation with her.

She really did not want to make time to listen to me, after learning, after the fact what she had said and done to other sober members, over the weekend.

And her assertion that my behavior as a member of A.A. was unacceptable, casting aspersions, on my ability to know how to behave in a meeting, and I did not argue with her. I took her advice, and just walked away. shaking my head.

She told us her story and we are supposed to hold her up as a paragon of “right sobriety” seeing that she is as old as God. And we are told to never question the wisdom of an old-timer, because they have so many years of lived sober experience.

I call BULLSHIT on that.

I can tell you how many times old timers, or groups of them, have shunned me in a meeting. Telling me to leave, and never come back. That people like me are not condoned in the rooms of A.A. And that maybe I need to find someplace else to get sober, because they did not want me sitting in the same room with many of them.

And on Sunday, I shared ONE particular story of the worst day in my sobriety, when I was an emotional mess, the WORST day of my life in more than twenty-five years. And I told her how an old-timer with more than thirty years of sobriety, shunned me and insulted me and demeaned me.

And she had the balls to say to me that …
I DID NOT KNOW HOW TO BEHAVE IN A MEETING ???

I’ve been nothing but honest whenever I tell my story. I share openly here, because it really does not matter if I break my anonymity. As long as I don’t tell you I speak for anyone other than myself.

I represent nobody or any fellowship.

All I do here is tell stories.
I let you decide whether you want to read, comment or follow.

Every life matters. No matter who you are.

At the end of the meeting a member trans woman walked up to me and whispered in my ear …

I gather, that I understand what you meant when members told you to go. I get it that you were tossed out. She then told me how she was tossed out of meetings, and nail salons, and restaurants, because of who she is today.

Honesty is always the best policy.

You never know when someone in the room you sit in, will identify with you.

And say something kind in return.

Tight Rope Redux …

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Today is February 20, 2017 … And we revisit the stories in the back of the book. I wrote on this story back in May of 2016, the last time we crossed this story in reading.

This read comes, inside of a new group of people, in a new year, and the shares generated by this read were varied. There are a handful of LGBT folks in this meeting. Both men and women.

In the group, now, there are two of us who are HIV+.  I did not know this before. And after the meeting I spoke to my friend who has more than 35 years being POZ, from back in the First Gen of the AIDS crisis in the 1980’s.

He is heterosexual, and has a wife and children. And comes from the Old Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York Crowd. I am the other. I am Gay, and have lived with AIDS for more than 22 years now. I now have a new benchmark to aspire to. Because when I first moved to Montreal, when I met men who were sick, all I wanted to know from them was how did they get further up the road than I was at. They are all dead now.

I don’t know but a couple of people, over the years, who are like me.

And I said again tonight to a room full of heterosexual alcoholics, that I would gladly trade my medicine cabinet for theirs or give them sickness for a bit so they can understand what it is like to really suffer with an illness that has no cure. Which leads back to last night’s entry about Re-Orientation…

So I am sharing the post that I wrote more than a year ago, because it says everything that I wanted to talk about tonight. The sentiments I wrote about still exist today in our rooms here in Montreal. So you stay away from those sick meetings and abhorrent people.

**** **** ****

May 31, 2016 …

There is something to be said about “tolerance for those with different struggles.”

Somewhere I heard that it is easier to ACT yourself into a new way of thinking than to THINK yourself into a new way of acting …

This line appears in the above titled story when our man gets to his first series of meetings, after a crash and burn drinking experience. He sits with his sponsor, not so sure about God or Higher Power, and the suggestion of “Act as If” comes.

This story, appears in the fourth edition of the Big Book. Our man, in this story, is Gay. He cites that he is three years sober, he had surgery on his back, his father died, a relationship ended, and the AIDS epidemic started to hit home among his friends and acquaintances. Over the course of the next few years, almost half of his gay friends had died.

This is a Fourth Edition story. Because of the time period cited above. It could be placed anywhere from the 1980’s through the 1990’s, for the sole reason he cites the AIDS epidemic, specifically.

This story and mine are very different. But the writer says, in the beginning, that he comes from a conservative religious family, where alcohol was present. And he had not “Come Out” until he was in college when he began to consider his sexual orientation.

A familiar story in the gay world, in the beginning, when considering whether to come out or stay in the closet, the many lives we live and the faces we put forward, trying to fit all the boxes, with what society says we should be. A business man, a professional, an alcoholic, a friend, and maybe a lover.

So for some, we play the “Straight game” and we play the part, until either we hit that proverbial wall of self discovery, and stop the denial and make the jump, or we remain in the closet hating ourselves and everything about us, because we are living a lie, that, in the end, will eventually, end badly.

I had to play that game, for fear of loosing my life, until I could not do it any more.

Hence the death march into Alcoholism and Drug Addiction and Suicide for many.

Our writer, grew up, and moved away and began attending college, where he began to explore his sexuality. By then he was already drinking.

I grew up in a home where alcoholism was the norm. I knew I was different well before I learned what it meant for me. But my father, with homicidal tendencies, was never my friend. However he had his moments.

I remember the night he took me to the 94th Aero Squadron – a restaurant on the airport runway system at Miami International, for my Birds and the Bees discussion. I could not tell him the truth.

My story may not be unique, but I never tire of thinking about it, and how my life would have been very different, had I STAYED IN THE ROOMS the first time I got sober. But that was not my experience.

Getting sober in the age of AIDS was difficult. Because I could not drink, I had quit. Todd had given me that ultimatum and made it stick. So I was getting sober, and learning how to survive, while all my friends around me were going down in flames. Every night, was as if they were living the last night of their lives, with the copious amounts of drugs and alcohol that went around under my nose.

They are all DEAD.

I think that when it came down to it, with the bar, and Todd’s influence, I had everything I needed. I could have done without the room I was getting sober in, because those men were not kind at all, and made the first year hell for the newcomers.

Having to compete for your year chip is much harder than working for it freely. Sobriety is NOT a RACE. There are no horses to bet on, just a human being trying to get better, under seriously awful circumstances. And this truth did not make it any easier, although it should have.

Then you move to a new city and a new room. And you get asked to speak. And after that event, a man walks up to you and says: “We don’t condone people like you here, leave this meeting and don’t come back!” W.T.F.

Obviously this story had not been printed in the late 1990’s, and from what I remember, not many of those folks, had even the Big Book in the room.

During this time, the preceding years and for many years after, straight people, straight businesses, churches, funeral parlors, you name it … banished sick gay men to the gutter and left them there to die alone. Awful Hateful Abhorrent Prejudice. 

That event in my early sobriety just killed any ambition I had towards sobriety.

To this day, there are hateful people, in our rooms.

With all that is going on in the world, we need all the help we can get. Rooms should welcome and be supportive. But that is not always the case.

Even today, being any shade of L.G.B.T.Q is perilous.

There is no room, in this world, for hatred of a human being because of their chosen way of life. I talk of just how fluid life has become, and how binary it has been for eons of time.

There are a handful of people I know in the rooms I go to who fall under L.G.B.T.Q.

Some are allowed, and nothing is said, then there are those, who, for one reason or another, come and go, and many of them are back out there drinking, because of intolerance and stupidity.

Here is the kicker in this story …

In all the service positions our man held (GSR) and others, He never felt obligated to conceal or deny his sexuality. He says… I always felt that the representatives of the groups in my area were concerned only with HOW we carried the message of recovery, NOT with what I might do in my personal life.

Only if that were reality for ALL meetings in general.

It is not…

Monday: Seasons – Who Are We ?

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Tonight we read another “Woman’s Story.” Because I am an Alcoholic, was written by our writer, in the 1950’s. By the end of the story, we find out that she is also 28 years sober, at the time of penning her story.

Trying to find out “Who We Are?” is a question that I think is universal, and not uniquely  an alcoholic problem.

For every man or woman in the room, there is a story about who they thought they were as kids, then progressing throughout their lives, to the point they drank trying to figure it out, and finally coming to the rooms, where FINALLY, we figured that out.

In the end our lady found out that she was gay, she moved from the city to the country, and built a garden, where she found peace and serenity.

For me, I knew I was gay which was why I had to leave home. And the one bit of advice I took as gospel was that … “In order to be part of you had to drink…”

That was SOOOOO Wrong !

There were several point in her story that I identified with. Her life began in the country and a solitary childhood and her imaginary friends, then moving to a big city, where she encountered other kids, she still felt apart from, different.

Her odyssey of alcoholism took her all over the world, looking for connection and inclusion. But those tell tale signs, the massive drinking bouts, and black outs and not knowing what she did the night before, began to haunt her.

In her mind though … She just could not be an alcoholic.

Through a series of unfortunate, or maybe fortunate events, in the presence of her therapist and friends, she came around to see that actually, she WAS an alcoholic.

How many of us, just don’t see it while we were IN IT. How many of us came around at first, thinking that “I could not be an alcoholic!” How much time did we sit in the rooms trying to figure it out, justifying our habitual drinking, until we could not fight it any more.

We hear those same words again: Fear, Guilt, Anger, Rage …

We are in a season of “feeling” right now. Something I had not necessarily seen, but the signs were there. My circle of friends is tight. And we’ve been in each others company for a while now.

We have had losses of family, the loss of friends, communities. We’ve seen insanity come to other places, and tragedy occur here at home. I guess you could say that there has been a confluence of “current events” that have shaken the equilibrium of our people.

Our writer talks about finally being able to see and experience the world around her. Be that in her garden, or among her friends, or in the rooms, she mentions the word Seasons.

In my life, I think about the first time around, and what really mattered about that period in my life. Life was coming fast and furiously, and I really did not have time to stop and breath for such a long time.

I HAD coasted to the four year mark, relatively alive.

The familiar Geographical is a common theme in many alcoholic stories. As was apparent in our writers story. I had gone to the many places she did, in my own story.

My first stint in sobriety, did not offer me what this round did. There were too many unhealthy people in my vicinity. The messaging was all wrong. I was too disconnected to know better, that I was disconnected. And nobody knew to say anything before it was too late to affect change.

Even if I did know that, the HOLE in my SOUL, was running the game at the very end …

When I got sober the second time, I was all alone, save the people in the SOBE room who took care of me. I had no friends, no family, no relationship.

I reflect on the year 2001 … I was numb through a national tragedy.

The opportunity to make One Final Move presented itself. I had nothing to loose and everything to gain. I made that move, and did not look back.

I got to Montreal, in April of 2002. In the buffer zone between the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring. During that first year of time, I was living alone, going to meetings, attending after care, and I stayed sober, by doing everything I was told to do without argument.

I had eight months of being able to experience my surroundings. The people in my life, then, kept me very busy and on a short leash. In the end, it took me about two years to fully integrate into Canada and find my footing.

I remember that I had time to breathe. You might not think that that is so important, but coming out of the scourge of AIDS and surviving, knowing how hard that was and how we held out collective breaths, hoping to live, because expectations were not very high, nor were the prognosis-es, realizing that I could breathe was very important.

I had come to the point that I was One, alive and Two, sober. With those two markers out of the way, I could concentrate on living life for the first time in my life.

I was almost a year sober before I met my now husband. I had all the time in the world to get to know my world intimately and soberly. And by the time we did meet, I was ready for that portion of my life to flesh out.

The book says that the only thing that has to change in sobriety is Everything.

We see, right now, that people are feeling. In Open Community. I did not notice this until now, having spent the last year and a bit feeling, myself. But over the past few months, feelings have been on our dashboards for some time.

Spend enough time with your friends, and life happens.

My fifteenth year was, as I have said, the most emotional year I have experienced, since I got sober this time around. I’ve been “feeling in open community” and in the end, those people, whom I thought were my friends, punished me for feeling, openly.

I had not known a time where my shortcoming would be used against me by people who watched me crack under my emotions, and then say that they just could not be part of my life anymore.

Alcoholics and Addicts have very selective abilities. Many of them, placed me on a pedestal and it seemed to me, in the end, that I was supposed to be this “Vulcan type” hybrid a.l.a Spock.  Not allowing myself to feel anything.

Because when I did feel and express myself “in open community” people ran for the hills screaming and yelling…

I just cannot wrap my head around they way my friends turned around and ostracized me.

But it is what it is. I’m involved in new meetings and a new social circle.

Living in a four season country, if you take the time, there is so much to look forward to. So much to see and so much to experience.

My favorite season is Fall.

That is the season where the most happens. Falling leaves are amazing. Fall is beautiful in a country where trees and green spaces matter.

It is a religious experience, the very first night it snows. I wait for that night to happen every year. The first snow for me, is Holy.

Had I stayed where I was, in Miami, in a 2 season state, Wet and Wetter … Living in the hole I was living in, alone, I would never have flourished the way I did here.

This last move had to work, and I did all the right things.

I would never go back to the life I had for any amount of money.

Coming up on my fifties soon, all I have is time. And I need to remember to appreciate every day, because I never know when this other shoe is going to drop.

Twenty three years later, nobody knows what is going to come, or what life is supposed to look like, so we are all playing the game very carefully.

One day at a time …

 

Is Pope Francis campaigning for married priests?

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Just weeks after the conclusion of the Year of Mercy, life for gay seminarians and priests in the Catholic church took a turn toward the merciless.

As was widely reported last week, Pope Francis approved a document called “The Gift of the Priestly Vocation,” which bans gay men from seminaries and ordination.

Or, at least, most gay men. The document states,

“…the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture.’”

Though the Vatican leaves to the imagination what precisely the “so-called ‘gay culture’ might be, the guidelines suggest that gay seminarians who act like straight guys, conceal their sexualities, repress their sexual desires, and oppose any campaign for LGBT rights might be given a small window of clerical opportunity.

The guidelines further note that “such persons in fact, find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women,” and, therefore, “one must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies.”

If the church does have “profound respect” for these men, it has a twisted way of showing it.

Less publicized last week was the homily that Pope Francis’ gave at Casa Santa Marta Dec. 9, the day after the release of “The Gift of the Priestly Vocation.”

Though Francis intended to use his message to critique “worldly and rigid priests,” a homophobic, misogynist anecdote in his text seemed to amplify the previous day’s barring of gay men from ordination.

According to Vatican Radio, the pope said:

“About rigidity and worldliness, it was some time ago that an elderly monsignor of the curia came to me, who works, a normal man, a good man, in love with Jesus — and he told me that he had gone to buy a couple of shirts at Euroclero [the clerical clothing store] and saw a young fellow — he thinks he had not more than 25 years, or a young priest or about to become a priest — before the mirror, with a cape, large, wide, velvet, with a silver chain. He then took the Saturno [wide-brimmed clerical headgear], he put it on and looked himself over. A rigid and worldly one. And that priest — he is wise, that monsignor, very wise — was able to overcome the pain, with a line of healthy humor and added: ‘And it is said that the Church does not allow women priests!’”

Francis describes the elderly monsignor as a “normal man, a good man” perhaps as a counterpoint to the abnormal, dandyish young man dressing in the mirror. The elderly monsignor is “in love with Jesus” — the only man, apparently, that a priest should ever fall in love with.

The monsignor is so agonized by this preening young cleric, Francis says, that the only way to alleviate his pain is to make a joke. Sadly, this “healthy dose of humor” amounts to one contemptuous punch line aimed at ridiculing the two gravest threats to the Roman Catholic priesthood: women and gay men.

If Pope Francis were simply commenting on the way in which the young man’s prideful posing was a demonstration of the corrupting power of clericalism, his lesson might be worthwhile. But by repeating a joke that mocks the man’s sexuality and belittles the struggle for women’s equality in the church, the pope reveals a disturbing resentment of women and gay men who seek to serve the church in ordained ministry.

The elderly monsignor’s punch line is as homophobic as it is misogynist. It characterizes female behavior as vain and affected. Worst of all, it suggests that the best way to demean a man is to liken him to a woman.

How ironic that Pope Francis uses such a humiliating story to call for humility, and takes such a judgmental tone as he denounces rigidity. How strange that he criticizes a pretentious, worldly young priest by promoting an elite, exclusionary vision of the priesthood.

Though some might argue that the Francis’ joke was just another one of his off-the-cuff remarks, many signs indicate that a more calculated campaign may be afoot.

It’s interesting to note that, in this same homily, Francis claims that we can know “what kind of priest a man was by the attitude they [have] with children.”

“If they knew how to caress a child, to smile at a child, to play with a child . . . it means that they know this means lowering oneself, getting close to the little things,” Francis says.

Is his homily suggesting that heterosexual men and fathers make the best priests?

The pope has never been shy about praising the holiness of the heterosexual family unit. He has called the family the “masterwork of society,” and frequently reminds us that Jesus “begins his miracles with this masterwork, in a marriage, in a wedding feast: a man and a woman.”

In the past six weeks, Francis has made his vision of the priesthood starkly clear. On Nov. 1, he confirmed the finality of the ban on ordaining women, and now he has reaffirmed the ban on most gay seminarians.

All of these clues lead one to wonder whether Francis is preparing the faithful for a new model of the priesthood: one in which young, married men may become candidates for ordination.

Many have lamented the pope’s ban on gay seminarians as a betrayal of his legendary “Who am I to judge?” statement. But perhaps Francis has a much larger agenda at work, and his desperate need to fill the priesthood is taking priority of whatever desire he may have had to be kinder to gays.

Perhaps the movement to push out gay seminarians is part of a concerted effort to make seminary life straighter and manlier for a new crop of hetero hopefuls.

Francis has given clear indications that he is receptive to a conversation about married priests.

This past August, Vatican insider Austen Ivereigh penned an essay declaring: “Next synod likely to focus on ordaining married men.”

Ivereigh cites examples in South Africa and Honduras where teams of married men with families were chosen by their communities to minister part-time while continuing to work in their professions.

“Francis has given many signals of his willingness to open up the question of ordaining married men, even encouraging local Churches to put forward proposals,” Ivereigh wrote.

Some theologians argue that the shift to a married priesthood is relatively simple. Unlike the church’s ban on women’s ordination and same-sex relationships, which are held as “doctrines,” the celibacy teaching is considered a “discipline,” and, therefore, easier to change.

The institutional church has much to gain in instituting a married priesthood. Obviously it would stave off the looming crisis of the priest shortage.

It may also serve as a tool for evangelization and promotion of family, since a priest and his wife would model the gender complementing roles frequently praised by Pope Francis. The husband would be both the father of the parish and the family, and his wife would be the serving, nurturing mother.

It might bring back into the fold all of those heterosexual families who care less about justice for women and LGBT people and more about having a relatable priest who is a husband and father.

The shift would certainly inspire wealthy donors who fund causes that seek to defeat same-sex marriage. They might see married priests as a beacon family values and “traditional marriage.”

Many Catholics often complain that our young, celibate seminarians are very conservative. But they should be warned that there are plenty of young, heterosexual, conservative Catholic men with equally conservative wives who are willing to join the priesthood. And they would gladly vow to uphold the church’s teachings on women, gender complementarity, LGBT issues and even contraception.

If the pope were to begin ordaining married men, most people would immediately laud him as a great changemaker. But when we look at Francis’ reaffirmation of the ban on gay seminarians and women priests, we must wonder whether such a change would truly bring about genuine progress, let alone justice, in our church.

A married priesthood would be a giant leap forward for heterosexual men, but many steps backward for women and gay men who feel called to ordained ministry in their church.

Those who push for a married priesthood must face the reality that they are, wittingly or unwittingly, advocating for the advancement of straight male dominance and privilege in the church. What might seem like an incremental step forward in our church might ultimately create an even more exclusionary priesthood.

[Jamie L. Manson is NCR books editor. She received her Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School, where she studied Catholic theology and sexual ethics. Her email address is jmanson@ncronline.org.]