Sunday, October 30, 2016

Joseph Sciambra is one of my heroes. Please, get to know him.

I have a few heroes in contemporary America, folks who are not afraid of speaking and living Christ's Truth, in season and out, no matter the cost, no matter the derision they face, and when there is no (worldly) personal gain. These heroes speak that Truth in love. They don't seek to hurt souls, ever, but only to help them attain Heaven.

Joseph Sciambra is one of those personal heroes (though he barely knows me and likely does not know how highly I regard him).

Day in and day out, Joseph works to reach those caught up in pornography and homosexuality, as he himself was for many, many years. He was not only an active homosexual in the San Francisco area (Castro district), but he was also an amateur gay porn star who fell into the occult as well.

When I first heard/read about Joseph, I admit my initial reaction was admiring but dismissive. His story was so "over-the-top," so extreme. A gay porn actor in San Francisco? A man caught up in perversion, sexual violence, and even Satanic influence? I believed it all of course (I am not naive to what Satan can do to a soul, and how easy it is to spiral downward into boundless depravity), but I didn't think someone like Joseph could be relatable to others.

But I friended him on Facebook, and I kept reading his posts and watching his videos. I began to look at his blog. This was not a man who dwelled on the sickness and evil that permeated his own life for so many years, but rather a man actively ministering to those still caught up in darkness.

Joseph not only talks the talk, but he walks the walk by meeting with and talking to the men at the gay street fairs and "pride" events in California, often to his own detriment. He still suffers many health effects from his years in the brutality of the gay/porn lifestyle, and he is weary, both in body and soul. He cannot get volunteers to go with him to these gatherings anymore. Some will go once, but not again -- it's simply too overwhelming. There are many of us who pray for him now, but almost no one who will accompany him into the heart of it all.

And yet he never stops reaching out and truly loving those who are so lost, those who are in the place where he used to be. He is right there, ministering to the walking wounded, i.e., the gay men (and women) who need the light of Christ so desperately:

Joseph is doing all of this while at the same time trying to alert the Church in America that her outreach to the gay community is largely ineffective, counterproductive, and even harmful: The "gay ministries" in too many dioceses seem to affirm the "gay" rather than point toward repentance, redemption, renewal, and the joy of salvation found in obedience and surrender to Christ Jesus.

So much of what he says, and warns, falls on deaf ears.

Joseph does not get asked to speak at Catholic conferences, he does not get asked to advise those in gay ministries (even though he has so much wisdom and experience!), he does not get profiled or consulted by the major Catholic news outlets. It's baffling and confounding. The more I get to know him, the more I scratch my head at how this gem of the Church can be consistently ignored.

Some might argue that his story and all he encounters now is too gritty, too explicit, too graphic. The details of his life in gay porn and the gay community are dark and ugly, yes, even to the point of physical revulsion for those who are exposed to it. And yet... we know that when the subject is abortion, for example, we Catholics do not shy away from the ugly truth of it. The wonderful Abby Johnson speaks all over the nation at diocesan events, even though the details of abortion are gruesome, violent, bloody, deadly, heartbreaking. That she and others speak, and are welcome to speak, is as it should be! It is right and just that the evil of abortion is exposed.

Why, then, are the rules different when the sin is homosexual activity? Why do we not wish to see, and why do we even sugarcoat (or celebrate) this particular sin?

If you follow Joseph (and I encourage it), you will see that he gets frustrated and disheartened. He is often burnt out. And yet, somehow he keeps going. I'm not going to lie -- I worry about him and so do many others. He needs massive prayer coverage (his ministry is incredibly dangerous, spiritually), and he needs friendship and physical support as well. He carries a heavy burden that most of us cannot imagine.

For months, I'd wanted to read his full story, which is laid out in his book, Swallowed By Satan: How Our Lord Jesus Christ Saved Me From Pornography, Homosexuality, and the Occult, and this past month I finally did. I highly recommend it, not for its literary perfection (it really deserves a professional editor and publisher) but for its content, insights, wisdom, truth. His is a powerful, tragic, and ultimately hopeful journey, one that every Catholic, especially every Catholic parent, should understand -- especially in this age of pornography. But be warned: It is not for the faint of heart, and not for overly sensitive souls. 

Joseph is two years younger than I, and I found myself nodding along with his description of his Catholic upbringing and the poor catechesis that our entire generation received in the '70s and '80s. Some of his words were eerily similar to my own story, and culturally I knew exactly what he was talking about at all times. We both went off the rails, morally, and so when he spoke of his own dark years, I recalled where I was at the same time, my sins just manifested a bit differently.

His book is available on his website (click here), or you can get the Kindle edition (click here).

And now I want to lay out where Joseph's true courage comes in, a courage that is only possible when one's soul is full of the grace of Christ and when one is willing to take whatever consequences may come.

As I said above, we have a big problem with "gay ministry" in the Church today.

Joseph unceasingly calls out the scandals in our Catholic parishes. Scandals that harm the very souls he is trying to help save and that are not, for whatever reason, addressed and corrected. Just a few examples:

In the Diocese of San Jose, there is a longtime LGBT ministry leader, Young Adult ministry leader, Mass Coordinator, Eucharistic Minister, and Lector who is "married" to his same-sex partner.

In the Archdiocese of San Francisco, there is the longstanding, ongoing, and truly inexplicable scandal in practice and leadership positions at Most Holy Redeemer parish, including with the Parish Manager (if you scroll down, be prepared to be heartsick at what you see). In another parish, the bulletin directs parishioners to a retreat led by an outspoken pro-gay "rights" activist priest. And honestly, I don't have words for the fact that the man in this article is a candidate for Deacon (Holy Orders!) in the diocese. How can this be? I feel sick to my stomach when I consider it.

In the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, there are leaders, including speakers at the 2016 and 2017 Catechetical Congresses, who celebrate "gay" and confuse the faithful about grave sin. There are even altars draped in "rainbow pride" colors. A mother whom I know personally pours out her heart about what she encountered when trying to find help and support for her lesbian daughter. Joseph is one of the only people who would hear of her heartbreak and would tell her story.

There is never a time when the "gay pride rainbow" is appropriate on the altar of God.
(St. Matthew's Catholic Church in Long Beach, CA)

In the Archdiocese of New York, one parish's official LGBT outreach recently celebrated the Supreme Court's gay "marriage" ruling; this Facebook page of St. Francis of Assisi LGBT outreach is full of "love is love" and rainbows, including "Pre-Pride (event) Mass" and a link to a hospital that does transgender surgery.

St. Francis of Assisi parish, New York City

Parishes in Boston, New York, Hartford, Atlanta, Sacramento, Chicago and elsewhere confuse the faithful and contradict the teaching of the Church on homosexuality and the seriousness of sexual sin, which has eternal consequences. Christ came and suffered and died to save us from grave sin; how can Catholics downplay or celebrate sin? How can those who celebrate gay "marriage" be in leadership positions in our dioceses, especially in ministry to those with same-sex attraction? It is unconscionable.

Joseph is also one of the few people (and the only one I've heard lately) who is being honest about the health risks and high rates of sexually transmitted diseases inherent in gay sex acts right now in 2016. He is one of the few people who explains the real reason that gay men leave the Catholic Church (and it's not because the Church is harsh and mean).

I have so much more to say about Joseph Sciambra and his ministry, but I hope that I have given you a glimpse into the heart and mission of this wonderful man. Please, stand with him. Please, support him. Men with his strength and courage are few and far between, and while it's a lonely place to be, let's make it a little less lonely.

Friend him on Facebook. Buy his book. Read his blog. Pray for him.

God bless you, Joseph!


  1. Thanks for this, Leila. I admire Joseph's urgency. The way of the cross is lonely, but remember Simon the Cyrene who helped Jesus carry his. Sometimes we are called to be a Simon.

    I am reminded of Saul's conversion in Acts 9, where he tries to join the disciples in Jerusalem "but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple" (9:26). Barnabas "took charge" of Paul and brought him to the apostles. I pray Joseph may find his Barnabas, since it seems now he is a voice crying out in the wilderness of the Castro.

    As a fellow convert, I will say I feel a little like Joseph sometimes--not as much with the single-minded purpose and jarring urgency with which he attempts to rescue people from their headlong destruction through exposure of what really goes on in the gay community--but with the not quite fitting in the Church in a neat and tidy Catholic box and, as a result, feeling out of place or that I don't have a voice that is worthy of recognition, or even one that has a place in the New Evangelization.

    I think renewal in the Church will be a mutual building up between the Pauls and the Peters. Converts and reverts LOVE to tell their stories, because they are on fire with the Holy Spirit and love TRUTH, but many (at least in the early years) need to be tempered and refined into the unique culture of the church, for better or worse. Lifelong Catholics may have gotten a little bit 'sleepy' over the years, but are invested with deep roots, with much to share. I really think we need both. The church is a big place, with room for all those working out their salvation who bring different gifts to the table. I will make a point to pray for Joseph, as I feel he has an important (albeit, specific) message to spread.

  2. Leila,

    Thank you for introducing me to Joseph awhile ago and his incredible story of suffering, faith and love. I have been telling many people about Joseph's story already and his book. I will keep him in prayer and pray that he will find many men/women that he rescues from the pits of hell. God bless and protect him always!

  3. I read Joseph's book. I suspect he isn't asked to speak because of how extreme his story is. Most gay people are not living as he did. They live just like most people do.

    1. This mentality "Most gay people are not living as he did. They live just like most people do" part of the deception which he tries to correct and shed light upon.

  4. LizaMoore, in what way do they live as most people do? What do you mean? And what of the many people that Joseph ministers to (you see them in this post and on the blog, etc.)? Are they too extreme to be helped? And, why wouldn't he be called to speak about them? And, what do you think of all the gay-affirming parish ministries that encourage people in their sins rather than turn them to repentance and Christ (even those who try to get help, like Joseph did, and like so many parents do)? Those folks get speaking gigs and even speak at Catechetical Congresses, but Joseph is shunned, even though he is in line with the Church and they are not. Thoughts?

    1. PS: Those questions, rapid-fire, look like an interrogation. I don't mean it that way. I truly am curious about what you mean, and why the "extremes" (if they are) aren't worth talking about?

  5. Thank you, Rob! I wish it were just that cradle Catholics were "sleepy". For me, it was complete ignorance. Bad catechesis does not begin to cover it. Cradle Catholics are mission territory. It's converts like you who have to help to catechize those like me and my generation! :)

  6. Most gay people live like the rest of us. They go to work, pay taxes and sometimes raise kids. Their sex life or even lack of a sex life is a very small part of their life.

    If you are going to insist that most gay people live like he did, you are wrong.

    Feel no obligation to answer the rest of your questions.

  7. Wow, LizaMoore, what's with the attitude and the unwillingness to answer the rest of Leila's questions?

  8. Thank you for using your platform to promote Joseph. I heard him first on the Catholic Answers Focus podcast (with Patrick Coffin) and have since followed his blog, Facebook, read his book, listened to his podcasts, etc. He has taught me so much. I am a convert, and the heresy he is exposing truly breaks my heart. However, I have come to believe that while many consider his story to be "extreme," it's not necessarily that extreme. That's part of the lie we are sold, that the lifestyle is an innocuous alternative. When we do an apples and oranges comparison between the Church teachings on abortion and the Church teachings on sexuality - there is a stark contrast. We are okay with the "extreme" stories of abortion (as you and Joseph point out), but the equivalent in the sexuality world would be like appointing pro-choice Catholics as our pro-life ministers. It makes no sense. There was a recent outcry by my bishop (and others) about a full-page ad taken out in several major cities that was supposedly from Catholics for Choice. A very articulate letter was read from the pulpit about how one cannot be pro-choice and Catholic. And yet, we have those who do not promote chastity and who do not support the Church's teaching on marriage and sexuality WITHIN the Church, openly dissenting from Church teaching. It is a scandal and so disheartening. I think part of the problem is that abortion is an act, a one time event that occurs. One can repent or change one's mind on that act or the political stance. However, being "gay" is seen as an identity. As Joseph points out, it is a false identity. There is so much nuance that is required when discussing this. We do not call people disordered, nor do we believe they were born that way, nor do we define people by their sexuality. Joseph and Dr. Jospeh Nicolosi have helped me see the light. Unfortunately, he is currently a voice crying in the wilderness. Thank you for bringing more support to him.

  9. LizaMoore, I'm not sure that the extent of the lifestyle makes a difference. In comparison, there are gutter drunks and functioning drunks. AA has a place for all who suffer with the sickness and sin of alcoholism and desire freedom from it. Many people walk into a meeting and say, "But I am not like them!", only to find out that they are.

  10. LizaMoore, Joseph and his friends also went to work and paid taxes and many had kids. So, I'm not sure how that figures in?

    I'm interested to know what you are thinking, and the questions were pretty straight forward.

    1. And I don't recall "insisting", much less saying, that "most gay people live like him." So, what gives?

      My endless frustration: Folks putting words in my mouth, then not answering actual, direct questions. Sigh...

  11. R, yes! Thank you! That is exactly right.

    Michelle, great point.

  12. Liza, You are correct about 'most people' but that is like putting money in the collection basket at church versus actually going into the streets, and ministering to the homeless people instead of driving by. There are 'normal' families that are homosexual but the community supports the scary stuff, and, well its much more accepted and integrated. And hostile towards anyone who questions them. If you have friends who are homosexual you know this to be the truth.

    People reach out to those in the gay lifestyle, either by engaging or falsely supporting what they see as real love. But catholic ministries don't touch these areas of the homosexual community with a 10 foot pole because they are very hostile towards religion. God bless this man who reaches out to them, who goes to a modern day spiritual Calcutta slum.

  13. I am equally disturbed by the church's bipolar attitude in this area. This is my first hearing of Joseph and I will begin to pray and follow his blog. I have no personal connection with anyone in the SSA lifestyle. I have promoted Courage and their ministry to other interested parties. In my diocease, actually my Vicariate, there is a priest promoting an organization that is attempting to further the cause of "gay marriage" in the church. Our Archbishop has spoken out against this group. The group advertises in the Vicariate newsletter which is included in all church bulletins. I have written a letter to that priest, of course no reply. There was a three day SSA education event in my archdiocease just over a year ago. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend because of health reasons. I am stymied when I see people receiving Eucharist when many know they are cohabiting. I have learned to keep my eyes closed during communion and pray for them and offer a prayer of apology to God. In a few weeks I may have an opportunity to speak to our archbishop personally. I pray God sends the Holy Spirit to give me the courage and the words. Thank you for your courage to share these things.

  14. I think, with Liza's comment, that in a way we could compare it to heterosexual couples who live an unchaste life but end up in stable marriages anyhow, somehow avoiding the many bullets that could have hit them in their single life - STDs, unwed pregnancy, abortion, broken heart after broken heart (I doubt they avoid that one), and a weakened sense of commitment that affects the strength of their marriage. Sure, some people manage to end up ok, but it would be cruel to ignore the many, many who don't.

    And we can't ignore that the gay lifestyle is given to extremes. There is more - much more - promiscuity in that lifestyle. The potential for extremely serious illness is much higher. The rate of physical abuse between partners (even ignoring the abuse that is done to a man's body by typical genital contact, with the body being used in ways for which it manifestly was not intended) is higher, the rate of drug and alcohol abuse is higher, the rate of suicide or suicidal thoughts is higher. That makes it even more cruel to focus on those people that - at least from what we can see - live simply a quiet, monogamous (by gay standards) lifestyle.

  15. Another thing to consider is that a heterosexual relationship has at least the potential to be raised to a sacrament (and redeemed from sinfulness). There is never a chance that this can happen with any sexual relationship between two men or two women, as this type of pairing is always gravely and inherently sinful. Always. Whether monogamous or not, whether they "pay taxes" or not. Why aren't we doing what we can to lead souls out of sin? Don't we love them enough to do that? Joseph does.

  16. I am equally disturbed by the church's bipolar attitude in this area. This is my first hearing of Joseph and I will begin to pray and follow his blog. I have no personal connection with anyone in the SSA lifestyle. I have promoted Courage and their ministry to other interested parties. In my diocease, actually my Vicariate, there is a priest promoting an organization that is attempting to further the cause of "gay marriage" in the church. Our Archbishop has spoken out against this group. The group advertises in the Vicariate newsletter which is included in all church bulletins. I have written a letter to that priest, of course no reply. There was a three day SSA education event in my archdiocease just over a year ago. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend because of health reasons. I am stymied when I see people receiving Eucharist when many know they are cohabiting. I have learned to keep my eyes closed during communion and pray for them and offer a prayer of apology to God. In a few weeks I may have an opportunity to speak to our archbishop personally. I pray God sends the Holy Spirit to give me the courage and the words. Thank you for your courage to share these things.

  17. I suspect the particulars of his former lifestyle has very little to do with why he is not promoted/invited to speak. Had he embraced the idea of "acceptance" and "love" he would be the poster boy for gay ministries.

    As Catholics we often talk about how people seek the divine unawares. I also think we flee evil without understanding what we do. So many count souls as already lost, the obvious example would be those Joseph ministers too. We intellectually understand that souls can still be saved while they still lived, but we (as a Church) seem to write off the more "extreme." They become the "enemies of the Church." No they are not, they may serve those masters but they are still our brothers and sisters.

    It is understandable that we flee. We are taught very little about evil. Most of what we know, we know instinctively or through the few encounters we all have. We know it is clever, we know it is seductive and we know all of us have fallen for its charm at one point or another. Most are too scared for their own souls to willingly walk into a nest of evil.

    We also think we are ineffective and largely we are at first. We only learn how to fight by fighting. We start to see patterns and recognize what moves and arguments are powerful. But it is very hard.

    We fear we will be tempted by evil and we doubt we are doing much good trying to reach those who appear to be unreachable. That's when we just have to remember our job is not to win the battle, that's what Christ will do, our job is to keep fighting until He comes.

  18. I owe a thank you to the Bubble.

    I spent a good part of last week in a very heated pro-life/pro-choice debate. I realized the years I spent reading and engaging on the Bubble helped me really sharpen my arguments and helped me avoid obvious traps. It also helped me avoid personal attacks and ignore attacks that came my way.

    Some may remember when I started here I was nominally pro-life. I had more arguments against my position than for it. So thank you everyone who shared their thoughts or outright argued with me. I appreciate your patience and fortitude.

  19. Juli, thank you for your courage! It's heartening! Keep going. God sees all, and we need you!

    StarFireKK -- Your thoughts are illuminative and there is much to mediate on there. Thank you! And, your second comment is so appreciated. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! I am so humbled and honored that you have been blessed by the conversations here. You are a warrior for Christ, and I know you will teach your little one well. That is what it is all about!

  20. Honestly, Leila, if I'd been in St. Matthew's church that day to see a rainbow flag on the altar, I would have walked up there and ripped it off. Talk about desecrating the Holy of Holies!!
    Same with those rainbow banners all over the church. Rip.Them.Down.

  21. I am afraid I would laugh at those men dressed as dogs even if I were at a Halloween party. Maybe LizaMoore meant most gay people aren't participating in the porn industry. Maybe they are sitting in traffic on their way home from work after a day at the office where they had to sit through a long boring meeting while a manager droned on and on the third quarter sales results. Then when they do get home, they have to make dinner, load the dishwasher, clean the kitchen, throw some laundry in the washing machine, and take out the garbage after they sort through all the mail. Then they are tired and wiped out and forget to move the clothes from the washer and dryer. Then to top off the day, the average gay persons ready to hit the sack and discovers that the real pet dog threw up on the comforter.

    How about the Catholic church affirming those of us who are human and use the proper linens and cloths that correspond with the liturgical year. Since we are all human, we are all sinners in one way or another, then the mass would apply to all of us.

    I kind of get why the church may want to reach out to those with same sex attraction or the confused because some may not really feel welcome. It's kind of like when I as a single, childless woman go to the ob/gyne office. I feel odd being in that the waiting room with a bunch of pregnant women and baby pictures all over the walls, and all that baby, baby stuff and parenting magazines in the waiting room. I'm like, "Hello, some of us have empty uteruses, and other interests in life besides babies. I am just here to to keep myself healthy."

  22. Lena, but again, even people who work in gay porn have to do the laundry and have dogs who throw up on the comforter. I'm still not sure how mortal sin can be anything less than mortal sin, even if it looks mundane.

    And, I agree about the linens and the liturgical year. Not to mention that gay "marriage" is a sin, and a Catholic church is the last place on earth it should be celebrated. What a slap in Christ's face as He hangs on the Cross to defeat sin and save us!

    Absolutely, the Church should reach out to gay people, and we do. With the truth, and with help, not enabling. Joseph talks to a lot of gay men, ex-Catholics, and he talks to them about the reason they leave the Church:

  23. It appears that you've drawn a line in the sand in favor of the largely discredited ex-gay trope. Perhaps you should read a few more Catholic blogs written by gay Catholics who identify as gay but are trying to live in accordance with church teaching. It isn't easy for them, and not because of identifying as gay. I'll just leave the words of this man for you and your readers.

  24. PRG, stay with me here.

    First, I read the article you linked. How is someone like Joseph not compassionate?

    Also, the "spiritual friendship" folks, many of whom she listed, are having their own problems right now. Some are publicly having crises of faith, even when they are not in any way being persecuted, and in fact, they have been accepted warmly to the Church. But they are falling, and in my opinion it's because they want to hang on to some sort of core "identity" of "gay". It's been excruciating to watch recently.

    Also, the fact that she mentions Matthew Shepard as a victim of anti-gay hate shows that she is not even close to understanding that situation. He was killed by men who were also gay, because of a drug thing. He was not killed for being gay, so why does she use that example, which has long been debunked?

    1. And you read this, right?

  25. PRG, in fact, Joey Prever (aka Steve Gershom) was mentioned by the author you linked. This blog (Little Catholic Bubble) was the vehicle he chose to introduce his blog to the world (I was so happy to give him the platform!), and please note that he specifically mentioned that the Church was very much kind and welcoming to him:

    Sadly, he is one of the ones going through a crisis right now. I pray for him, and we all should.

  26. Leila! Hey that's the blog post which first drew me to the Little Catholic Bubble!! One of my facebook friends "liked" it so I clicked on it, read it, and became Bubble-obsessed!

    That saddens me to hear about Joey Prever; I will remember him in my prayers! Without his post, I might never have discovered the Bubble and would never have been blessed to (virtually) develop relationships with you and your wonderful daughters!

  27. Thank you for this post, Leila. Certainly the world needs more heroes, who truly lead heroic lives. I thought of all these good people who posted or were referenced here as I sat in the chapel last night, the long night. And I thought about the world we now live in.

    Sexual temptations are everywhere in our culture; "It's only sex." Meanwhile, the moneyed are condemned as sinners --- and yet envied. Good and bad; blessings and sins; they seem just one big confusing muddle in our culture, which no one agrees about. And no matter what you DO believe, you will find many who hate you for it.

    He came to love us and show us how to love. And while He IS love, He told US to love, together, as family, and as community. How easily we forget: we are not alone. And even in the darkness, we can huddle together, in words (as here) and in prayer, and know He is with us. Keep praying for our country; there IS a solution. He knows it.


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