Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Michael O’Loughlin On AIDS And The Church

By Andrew Sullivan, The Weekly Dish

He’s written a history of the nuns and priests who defied the Catholic leadership to help gay victims of the AIDS crisis.

Many of you will recall the horrendous way in which the Catholic Church hierarchy responded to the AIDS crisis. Many blamed homosexual sex and refused to endorse condoms for heterosexuals. It was extremely hard for me to hang in there in this period, and I had to take months away from Mass after various appalling statements. It was a time when I first experienced the love of God and the intimacy of Jesus in contrast to the church that claimed to represent Him on earth.

But it was not the only story. On the ground, many lay Catholics, priests and nuns defied the hierarchy and came to the aid of the young and sick and dying. Michael O’Loughlin, another gay Catholic, has written a history book, “Hidden Mercy,” about this other story. We talked faith, sex, disease, and redemption.

You can listen to the episode right away in the audio player embedded above, or right below it you can click “Listen in podcast app,” which will connect you to the Dishcast feed. For two clips of our conversation — on the nuns and priests who fought AIDS in spite of the Catholic leadership, and on how gay Catholics have wrestled with their faith — head over to our YouTube page. Pope Francis recently replied to a letter from O’Loughlin, posted in a NYT op-ed, that “Gives Me Hope as a Gay Catholic.”

A reader looks back to last week’s episode with Dominic Cummings:


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