Luc was my confessor (as much as an agnostic Catholic can confess) and no subject was out of bounds.
We couldn't avoid our sexuality and the Church's objection to same-sex marriage.
What follows are excerpts from the letter Luc sent to the Church in his defense (and provided me shortly before his death). It is time for Father Luc to re-enter the public debate.
The Defense of Father Lucian Kemble, O.F.M.
The integrity, dignity, standing-tall uniqueness of the human PERSON before God, and the need we all have of developing a profound one-on-one, Person-Person relationship with Christ and each other, the basis of Christian religion. I drew on a number of current readings from seasonal Scripture texts: Amos' denunciation of temple sacrifices and rituals without heart; Jesus' "This people honors me with their lips and not their hearts"; "I want mercy, not sacrifice"; Paul's "In the kingdom there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free"; the whole New Testament thrust so radically different from the Old Testament and all other religions, that we are called to an I-Thou relationship that goes beyond specifics of race, sex, creed, culture…
I based my next development on how this relationship with the Person of Jesus [and, in the Church with each of his members] is grounded on two solid principles in Theology:
1. Baptism opens the door to ALL the sacraments [I believe the word used in seminary classes was "deputes"].
2. The receiver of any sacrament is the PERSON, not one's sex, one's color, one's culture, etc. i.e. only a Human Person, with intelligence and free will, can receive a sacrament. In this respect, then, for example, it was not my maleness, nor my Franciscan status, nor my French/German descent, etc., that was ordained: I was ordained to meet and minister to and with Christ in his Personhood. I also mentioned that IF, IF, IF the question is ever opened for discussion, which seems extremely unlikely in the present climate, debate and free dialogue about women receiving the sacrament of ministry, it will have to be on these grounds and not on questions of maleness vs femaleness, right to ordination etc.
In this respect I did say that, yes, Jesus did chose only men and that choosing women in his culture and times would have been unheard of. Incidentally he also chose only circumcised Galilean fishermen [of which I am neither -therefore unfit for Orders????]. Half of Christian human Persons are, by Church law, barred from one of the sacraments. On what grounds?
There is a precedent, you know. I have never yet seen in any book, and most people, including priests, seem surprised on hearing it, the question of the totally radical, unheard-of breakthrough in religion when, on Pentecost, Peter and the Apostles preached the good news and baptized MEN AND WOMEN, without question, without theology, without dispensation, without canon law. They were simply armed with the good news of Jesus' liberation of PERSON, without questioning if they were Judean or Samaritan, or women, or whatever. To my knowledge, and I've studied and taught history, no other religion ever had anything special for women - they were always presumed saved by their belonging to men [like an ox, an ass, or any other thing coveted].
Husband and wife are united, are bonded, to Christ through each other, Person - Person, in love. Concentrating solely on sexual aspects male/female, etc., reduces marriage to the level of animal sex without love and intimacy. In this treatment I did not dwell on kinds, etc., of sexual activity, but insisted on the PERSON/PERSON relationship, out of which could flow sexual intimacy.
We have seen too often the reverse.
[As an aside here, I learned more modalities of male/female sex in the seminary class on "De Sextu
— the 6th commandment" — all in Latin, of course, than I have in any porno flick I've seen since — LJT
Non-marriage relationships. Yes, I did touch on same-sex love, again from the perspective of PERSON/PERSON love relationship. I did not even hint at homosexual promiscuity. In all of this I deplored the fact that the Church has insisted too much on the male-female thing [never much on the Man-Woman love relationship] and the need for all of us, especially in marriage, to develop a strong sense of what it is to be Human Persons, especially baptized in Christ.
I am I, not a thing with genitals [though I do - after all, I had a 50/50 chance of being male]. To quote Shakespeare, "I am that I am, and they that reckon my abuse, wrack up their own"
. And this "I" am called, with the most wonderful gift as PERSON, to an I-to-I loving relationship with Christ. Then, and then only, can I express this with my whole being, in the Eucharist, ritual, song, rejoicing. God manifests himself to me, as it says in Hebrews, in the diverse signs and wonders of Creation, in Scripture through the Prophets or all those great men and women of history who have shared their insightful wisdom, and in the Person and Humanity of Jesus Lord. Then, my PERSON can respond to this revelation with my whole being.
Feel free to circulate Father Luc to the world. It would be what he would have done if the Church had let him.