The Second Vatican Council’s landmark document Gaudium et spes called Catholics to cultivate robust, mutually enriching dialogue with the modern world by attentively and discerningly listening to the “voices of our times.” This distinctive new publication, the first of two volumes that explore sexual diversity and the Catholic Church, gathers an important set of these voices: the testimonies and reflections of Catholic and former Catholic LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) persons, their friends, family members, and those who teach and accompany them.
Drawn from a series of conferences held in autumn 2011 and offering a spectrum of professional, generational, and personal perspectives, the essays in Voices of Our Times suggest the breadth and complexity of Catholic experiences of and engagements with sexual diversity. Each writer locates her or his reflections in careful attention to how ways of experiencing sexuality and speaking about sexual diversity are embodied in and shaped by particular practices—familial, interpersonal, professional, ecclesial, cultural, and political.
Part I, “Practicing Love,” introduces the voices of singles, families, couples, parents, and children who reflect on their experiences of sexual diversity in light of their experiences of Catholicism and of Catholics. Part II, “Practicing Church,” offers the perspectives of clergy and lay ministers, casting light on what pastoral workers, Catholic and otherwise, encounter as they walk with people who are grappling with issues of faith and sexuality. In Part III, “Practicing Education,” writers discuss their experiences with sexual diversity in Catholic educational settings as teachers, as students, and as witnesses to the lives, loves, and struggles of LGBTQ young adults. Finally, Part IV, “Practicing Belonging,” spotlights contributions by authors who have struggled with their identities and place within and around the Catholic community.
Striving to acknowledge, honor, and respect the truth and value embodied in both LGBTQ persons’ lives and in the Catholic tradition, this book provides a close-to-the-ground look at the state of the conversation about sexual diversity among contemporary Roman Catholics in the United States. Along with its companion volume, Inquiry, Thought, and Expression, Voices of Our Times represents a unique opportunity for readers inside and outside the Catholic community to engage in a conversation that is at once vibrant and complex, difficult and needed.