By John-Henry Westen

December 7, 2009 ( – Last month on the Jesuit-run America magazine blog, Associate Editor Fr. James Martin, S.J, wrote a column headlined, “What Should a Gay Catholic Do?” In that post Fr. Martin painted a picture of a life of misery for faithful Catholics who are also same-sex attracted, backing up his statements with official Church teaching.

But the perplexing and heart-wrenching question posed by Fr. Marin has now been convincingly answered by a man who is the very subject of Fr. Martin’s discourse—a ‘gay’ faithful Catholic.

“Imagine you are a devout Catholic who is also gay,” began Fr. Martin. “Here is a list of the things that you are not to do, according to the teaching of the church.” The priest then lists “enjoy romantic love,” “marry” (a person of the same sex), “adopt a child,” “enter a seminary,” and cites Church teaching for each to demonstrate that it would be forbidden. Fr. Martin also says that one would be forbidden to “work for the church” or “be open” (about one’s homosexuality), although he provides no Church teaching for these, but does point to evidence of active homosexuals being barred from working for the Church.

The Jesuit priest concludes: “Nothing above is surprising or controversial: all of the above are church teaching. But taken together, they raise an important pastoral question for all of us: What kind of life remains for these brothers and sisters in Christ, those who wish to follow the teachings of the church? Officially at least, the gay Catholic seems set up to lead a lonely, loveless, secretive life. Is this what God desires for the gay person?”

But John Heard, an Australian Catholic, freelance writer, soon-to-be lawyer and blogger has responded to Fr. Martin’s question on his own increasingly famous blog, DreadNought. Heard, 28, describes himself as “‘gay’ Catholic and faithful.”

Heard begins by comparing Fr. Martin’s “provocative” phrasing of the question in terms of “what is left for same sex attracted Catholics,” to an analogous situation for faithful married Catholic men. “What is a faithful, married Catholic supposed to do in life? He cannot date women,” writes Heard. “He cannot enter a seminary .. and be open (about wanting to date women).”

Only a “testy, cruel vision of Catholic thinking,” says Heard, sees it as the Church “of the resounding ‘no.'”

The crux of Heard’s reply to Fr. Martin is this: “As millions of same sex attracted men and women will attest, the Church offers same sex attracted individuals the same life she offers all men and women: eternal life via the Cross. Those who go about their daily lives, those who go to Mass, and struggle to model obedience, and fail, and try again – these are Christians.”

“We understand, indeed, that a Christian is not to look for life beyond obedience, rather obedience – even obedience unto death on the Cross – is true life.”

“The result is not the remains of a life,” writes Heard, “it is life. It is life in Christ, life with Christ.”

(To read Heard’s complete reply to Fr. Martin, click here.)