One of the great issues of our day is that we look for anyone and everyone to blame for the bad things that happen in society. This has led many people to vilify people of color, people of faith’s other than Christian, and people who identify as LGBTQ. We are even willing to start pointing fingers at those who are allies and supporters because they are not 100% perfect.
Recently, I received emails and social media messages from people calling for my death or great physical harm. Why? Because I am a minister and person of faith. Some of those people were LGBTQ individuals who assume that I am a bigot and hateful person simply because of my faith. Others are those who have either been hurt or angered by the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandal. While I understand both sides and their pain, I am a member of the LGBTQ community and a relative abused me as a child.
I have worked hard as Presiding Bishop of the Old Catholic Churches International, our parent jurisdiction, to make this a loving and accepting church. We have worked hard as a national jurisdiction to make this a safe and protected place where there is zero-tolerance for abuse of any kind. We require our clergy to undergo testing, background checks, and a discernment period that allows us to make sure they are not abusers or hateful people.
Despite all this, I refuse to allow myself to vilify others. We must take a hard look in the mirror before we start pointing fingers at others. We cannot allow ourselves to vilify others just because they are different.
Living as a Christian means that we take more time working to improve ourselves than trying to judge or change others. During this time of Lent, let us work to make ourselves better Christians rather than trying to force others to change.