Gay and Catholic: Memories of Trauma and Compassion During the AIDS Crisis (Originally broadcast in June of 2022)

Journalist Michael O’Loughlin covers Catholicism in the United States – after a decade on the beat he was drawn to investigate how the church’s relationship evolved with its LGBTQ members. Digging into the history, he found untold stories of compassion, mercy, and suffering. His work led to, the limited series podcast Plague: Untold Stories of AIDS and the Catholic Church – produced by AmericnaMedia – and its companion book Hidden Mercy: AIDS, Catholics, and the Untold Stories of Compassion in the Face of Fear. This week, our conversation with O’Loughlin and excerpts from the podcast’s first episode.

“These are heavy stories”
For ten years religion reporter Michael O’Loughlin covered the Catholic beat for America Magazine, a Jesuit publication. His coverage led him to question an unexamined chapter of church history: the Church’s role at the height of the AIDS crisis. O’Loughlin shares what he learned and how that painful period of suffering, loss, and anger led to a shift inside and outside the Church to make it more welcoming.

“I felt like I was being thrown out of my home”
In this first episode of the limited series podcast Plague: Untold Stories of AIDS and the Catholic Church hosted by O’Loughlin, we meet David Pace who shares his first memories from the early days of the AIDS crisis. Pace recalls the day he and his partner Bill discovered they were infected with HIV and turned to the Church for spiritual comfort. Initially, they were welcomed. But things changed in 1986 when AIDS support groups like Dignity were asked to leave parishes and Roman Catholic leaders publicly opposed public health measures to prevent the spread of the disease. O’Loughlin tells stories of private acts of mercy and compassion from clergy and laypeople.


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