"A Catechism of the Heart speaks candidly and truthfully about the desire to be an openly gay Jesuit priest. This book speaks not only candidly about the hurt, but also about the resiliency and dedication of gay Catholics in the quest to serve their church as ordained priests. I highly recommend it."
--Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, Krister Stendahl Professor, Harvard University
"One man's painful journey to harmonize sexuality and faith reaches a breaking point, not because of how he is treated by parts of the Roman Catholic Church, but in how church institutions treat other committed and faithful LGBTQ members. This book is insightful, angry, self-deprecating and, at times, very amusing. An original memoir which shows, above all, how one relies on acceptance from others before one can aspire to genuine self-acceptance."
--Mark Dowd, author of Queer and Catholic
"Benjamin Brenkert's book, A Catechism of the Heart, is a must-read for those who care about the future and relevance of the church in society. Brenkert is a wise guide as he seeks not to denigrate the church; rather, he helps us all negotiate the healing of controversies in the church and society that so often appear as closed doors to human beings."
--Michael Battle, Herbert Thompson Professor of Church and Society, General Theological Seminary
"Benjamin Brenkert's ardent and witty memoir recalls his quest as a member of the Jesuit Society of Jesus to become the first officially ordained 'gay' priest. Challenged by his Catholic family's rejection, he holds on to the all-tolerant Jesus, a man he can love openly, as he navigates between erotic misadventures and spiritual abnegation. Fluctuating between confession and expose, this memoir draws the curtain on an enigmatic fraternal order, its spiritual and, yes, carnal appetites."
--Barbara Lekatsas, Professor of Comparative Literature, Languages, and Linguistics, Hofstra University
"Benjamin James Brenkert's new book A Catechism of the Heart is a wonderful example of speaking truth to power. To speak truth to power means to demand a moral response to a problem, and that is what Benjamin Brenkert does in this book. In sharing his experiences in the Jesuits Order as an openly gay man, he does not seek an expedient, easy, or selfish response. Instead, he chooses a God-centeredness approach over the privilege of a Jesuit priesthood, to craft a vision of an LGBTQ liberationist theology--that could faithfully espouse an acceptance and love for LGBTQ people that does not exist in today's Roman Catholic Church."
--Gerald P. Mallon, Julia Lathrop Professor of Child Welfare, Associate Dean of Scholarship and Research, Silberman School of Social Work, Hunter College
"Ben's story of trying to integrate his conservative faith and his love so that he could be both true to himself and G*d and minister to LGBTQ people, whom his faith rejects, is one that will resonate with many. It is also the story of a deeply patriarchal religious order that tries to maintain its dogma and domination in the face of a changing world. Ben wants to change it from the inside, but the internalized homophobia that he is met with, the privileges that the order has, belies their focus on social justice for the poor and the marginalized. These contradictions he can no longer overlook when the church starts to fire their loyal LGBTQ employees, because his silence would make him complicit."
--J. A. Myers, author of The Good Citizen: The Markers of Privilege in America
"Through all the bracing honesty of this moving memoir--its searing exposure of the homophobia of Roman Catholic teaching--the most impressive aspect of this book is the sheer spirituality of Brenkert. His confession reveals a closeness to God and Jesus that is breathtaking. I found myself moved to jealousy by his love for God and desire for Jesus. In pain, irresistible love."
--Dale B. Martin, Woolsey Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, Yale University, and author of Sex and the Single Savior
"Brenkert's confession is a story of faith, family, and freedom told with sincerity, sensitivity, and an uncensored memory. It is also the story of a generation coming to terms with sexuality in ways that would force historical changes in the structures of social norms. This song of self is beautifully told, inviting the reader to share a journey of blindness and insight, guided by a search for personal awareness and unwavering commitment to love."
--Greg Moses, Philosophy Lecturer, Texas State University
"For those who want to understand how Catholic teachings on homosexuality and celibacy impact the lived experiences of faithful people, Benjamin Brenkert's A Catechism of the Heart is 'must' reading. How does a gay man answer God's call to apostleship? How do family and church nurture his vocation? Brenkert follows God's call where it leads him, to love and serve, as his authentic self--not in spite of the Jesuits and the Catholic Church, but because of them."
--Lisa McClain, Professor of History and Gender Studies, Boise State University
"Benjamin James Brenkert's thoughtful memoir reveals the story of his religious formation among the Jesuits and his 're-formation' within a community of gay-affirming and sober friends. Encouraged to suppress his homosexuality as an observant young Catholic, Brenkert initially found openness and spiritual inspiration in the Society of Jesus, or the Jesuits. Once Brenkert began his training for the priesthood, however, his fellow Jesuits withdrew their support, leaving Brenkert to doubt himself and his future in Catholic ministry. Brenkert offers readers a powerful narrative that exposes the troubling distance between Pope Francis's message of acceptance toward gay Catholics and the policies of Catholic organizations and clerical leaders."
--Sally Dwyer-McNulty, Professor of History, Marist College, and author of Common Threads: A Cultural History of Clothing in American Catholicism