Tuesday, December 30, 2008

REVIEW: Since My Last Confession, by Scott Pomfret

Since My Last Confession: A Gay Catholic Memoir, by Scott Pomfret. Published 2008 by Arcade Publishing. Hardcover.

Click here to buy Since My Last Confession via IndieBound.org. I'm an IndieBound affiliate and receive a small commission on sales.

Author Scott Pomfret is a Boston-area attorney who, along with his partner, also runs a publishing company specializing in gay porn. Until very recently, he was also a lay lector at Saint Anthony Shrine in Boston, Massachusetts. His book Since My Last Confession: A Gay Catholic Memoir, chronicles much of his time there as well as his involvement in the fight to legalize gay marriage in Massachusetts.

It's a terrific read.

By turns funny, snarky, angry and full of love and affection for the Catholic religion- if not always for the hierarchy of the Catholic Church- it's as full of contradiction as any Catholic life can be. Pomfret does a wonderful job illuminating the conflicts and commitments besetting a dedicated, faithful liberal Catholic. He talks about his family life, including his inter-faith relationship with partner Scott (a- gasp!- Protestant), the multifarious purposes and meanings behind the pew that decorates their home, and the business they run together.

He also presents a vivid and entertaining picture of the Boston Catholic community- its leaders, its acolytes and its zealous watchdogs. He talks instructively about Catholic liturgy and ritual, offering a mini-education in the nuts and bolts of Catholic worship. He talks about priests both loyal to the leadership and dissidents, and the different organizations that exist to serve gay Catholics, both within and outside the Church. Part of the purpose of the book is to humanize the gay marriage debate and really send the message that a Church that refuses to embrace its gay believers, and then takes that intolerance outside the Church doors by involving itself in secular political battles, causes real damage to real people. Through his involvement in gay Catholic organizations he tries to show how the Church's policies on homosexuality affect the lives of gay Catholics. He succeeds on all fronts.

I devoured Pomfret's book in about five days. I laughed when he made jokes, I got angry with him at Cardinal Sean O'Malley and others in the Church hierarchy, and I sympathized at the plight of priests who tried to do right and were punished for it. In the end that's what happened to Pomfret as well- not long after I finished the book, I heard the news that Pomfret had been removed from his post at Saint Anthony Shrine. Their loss. What I loved most about Since My Last Confession is how Pomfret's love for the Church shines through every page- even at his angriest, he's angry because he loves the Church so much and wants it to be the best it can be, but is continually frustrated as he hits dead end after dead end in his quest to make Church leaders understand his point of view. I can sympathize with many of his struggles as a liberal Catholic myself and was happy to see someone criticize the Church out of love and respect, as opposed to pure bitterness and rancor. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in gay marriage debate (on either side of the aisle) and to those interested in the state of religion in America. It's a great story of a battle right from the front lines.

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review from the publisher.


Candy Schultz said...

As an atheist and former catholic I find the catholic church beneath contempt. They are hypocritical, completely unbending and truly hateful. I just do not understand how any gay person can belong to this denomination. But then I can't understand why anyone belongs to any denomination.

Your review piques my interest but in the interest of my blood pressure I will probably forgo it. I could write a book on my own difficulties growing up catholic.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I think this book does sound really interesting. I'm Catholic myself, but I do think they can be horrible about certain things...especially when it deals with someone being gay.

Sounds like a really good book. I'd love to read it.


bermudaonion said...

This sounds very thought provoking.

Shana said...

Great review, Marie. This is going on my to-read list.