A nun has explained why she feels she is called by God to “affirm and celebrate” her lesbian identity in the Catholic church.
Sister Janet Rozzano is part of Sisters of Mercy, an international community of Catholic nuns who “take vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and service”, since 1956.
She described her journey, “filled with both struggles and joys”, in an op-ed published by Reuters, ahead of a new anthology titled Love Tenderly: Sacred Stories of Lesbian and Queer Religious which she has contributed to.
Rozzano said it wasn’t until she was in her 40s, and had already spent 25 years as a nun, that she “began to deal with and integrate [her] sexual identity”.
She said: “During those years I struggled with a church and society largely silent about and often unwelcoming of LGBT+ people.
“I struggled to overcome my own fears – of disapproval, rejection, internalised homophobia – if I told others I was lesbian.”
She hunted for resources, hoping to find a book or an article written by another lesbian nun, and for a long time “struggled with uncertainty and anxiety” about what coming out would be like. Eventually, however, she realised that she had to focus on what God called her to do, rather than the reactions of the people around her.
“As a woman of faith, I am invited to set aside my personal fears and to discern very consciously what the Holy Spirit might be asking of me,” Rozzano said.
She added: “In this whole process of coming to understand and accept myself as a lesbian sister, I believe I have been powerfully touched by grace.”
While Rozzano said she acknowledges and has experienced the “pain” of queer people who have been rejected by the church, she has also found acceptance among other LGBT+ Catholics, including her fellow sisters, which she described as “a very precious gift”.
She explained: “I am most a Sister of Mercy when I continue to respond to the call to affirm and celebrate my lesbian identity and the LGBT+ people with whom I have journeyed.”