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Center for Action and Contemplation
Loving Neighbor, Loving Self
Loving Neighbor, Loving Self

A Painful Conflict 

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Advocate Carl Siciliano recounts how relationship with his LGBTQ community has often placed him at odds with what Christian churches have taught:  

The love I discovered in God when I was younger was wild and boundless. But as I grew up and grew into my queerness, I had to reckon with some heavy questions. How could leaders of a religion devoted to a God of love vilify my community? Why must they value their dogmas over the lives of God’s queer children? How could the spiritual tradition that nurtured my early years of service be the very same entity that so recklessly brought devastation upon the young people in my care?  

Now an answer began to present itself: What if I was not meant to turn away from this conflict but in fact called upon to confront it? What if I was meant to witness the devastation inflicted on LGBT youths and use my voice for truth, to cry out that such cruelties are not the way of Christ?…

Thomas Merton wrote of an “eternal conflict” [1] within Christianity—a conflict between those who become self-righteous and judgmental of the sins of others and those who learn to humbly accept their essential unity with their fellow humans. I hope the Church will come to such humility and repent of the terrible harm it has done to queer people, especially queer children. I don’t know if I will live to see that. All I know is I cannot imagine how the harmful elements of the Church can be healed if I cannot uproot the rage and division in my own heart. I’m tired of being angry.  

Over three decades, Siciliano has supported LGBTQ youth suffering from addiction, rejection, and heartbreak. He witnesses their grief through his understanding of Christ’s death and resurrection:  

As a teenager, I longed to see the face of Christ with my own eyes. I spent many, many hours in prayer and meditation, desperate to catch a glimpse of my beloved God. That longing has changed. For I have seen the face of the crucified Christ, over and over again, for decades. I saw Christ when Cheri was choked with tears in the SafeSpace kitchen. I saw Christ when Ali sat with me in sorrow at the subway station, and when I looked into the stunned, grief-stricken eyes of KJ, Rashon, and so many other young people as they told me how it felt to be abandoned by family and sleep in the streets.  

For the better part of my life, I have looked upon the broken Christ, the Christ of the persecuted, the Christ bound to us in our desolation. Now my deepest yearning is to see the healing of their wounds, the binding up of what was broken, the wiping away of every tear, the “making all things well.”  

[1] Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer (New York: Herder and Herder, 1969), 30. 

Carl Siciliano, Making Room: Three Decades of Fighting for Beds, Belonging, and a Safe Place for LGBTQ Youth (New York: Convergent, 2024), 242–243, 245, 263. 

Image credit and inspiration: Cynthia Magana, untitled (detail), 2016, photo, Unsplash. Click here to enlarge image. In order to care for each other, we must also take care of ourselves. 

Story from Our Community:  

I am deeply grateful for the Daily Meditations and this community which continues to deepen my spirituality, shedding the dualistic God of my upbringing. I am coming to see each moment as a portal to Reality, an opportunity to transcend my small self and choose Love, which is who we are.
—Maryann R. 

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