"There are so many of us living in fear of ideas because we've attached God to our ideas so inextricably that we fear God will not be found outside of them," musician Audrey Assad told NCR in her first interview with a Catholic publication since announcing she is no longer Christian. "And I do not believe that's true." Following are NCR readers responding to Assad's interview. The letters have been edited for length and clarity.
I read with interest Stephanie DePrez's article, "Musician Audrey Assad seeks permission and freedom for all to feel at home." As a gay Catholic man in a 40-year relationship, I often feel like an exile in the Catholic Church because I believe the hierarchy are wrong in condemning faithful and loving gay relationships. God called me out of a promiscuous past to a faithful relationship with my spouse.
I love that Audrey Assad acknowledged that some persons need to stay in the institutional church, just as some leave as she did. I believe that I am called by God to live out my baptismal call by remaining in the Catholic Church. I believe I am called to proclaim to others how God has graced my life with my gay spouse.
This is my vocation: to be a gay Catholic man in relationship with my spouse and with God within the institutional church.
This story is so sad. Again a case of bigotry and pseudo-spiritual guidance that reveals itself as sectarian exclusion and brainwashing by a priest who has proved himself to be anything but Catholic.
I have myself read Franciscan Fr. Richard Rohr on some occasions. I may not agree with the totality of his ideas, but to dogmatically brand him as dangerous, a wolf in sheep's clothing is anything but true. I hope Audrey Assad will recover, and whether she finds her place in the church or elsewhere, I do hope she finds herself and the love of God who, fortunately for us, is much more open-minded than some self-appointed gurus under the cover of ordination to the priesthood.
Once again, I must say how sad I am at this show of bigotry and dangerous ignorance of everything taught by Jesus in the gospels.
(Fr.) GEORGES CHEUNG, SJ
Rose Hill, Mauritius
That's no surprise for a woman to leave a religion that consistently degrades her. Our only hope is the church being forced (hold back collection contributions) to accept women and married priests. That counterbalances the top consumer of credibility, the abuse cover-up crisis. With some credibility restored, the church can begin to perform its mission of transmitting and maintaining the faith.
Without women and married priests, the church perishes. That's the issue NCR needs to laser focus on. Time is short.
DAVID G. O'BRIEN
Mt. Sinai, New York
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