“I don’t want to be called by my sin. I don’t think any sinner wants to be called by their sin,” she said. “The devil knows our name but calls us by our sins. God knows our sins but calls us by our name.”
Negative reactions to her tweet
Though the overwhelming reaction she has received online has been positive and supportive, Howell said she has also received much more hatred, from both the left and the right, than she expected.
“[I’ve been told] that I’m very evil and hateful and genocidal,” Howell shared. “But ‘blessed are you when others hate you because of me.’ What can I say? It’s part of the cross, it’s part of what I’m being called to do.”
“I’m not anti-anyone,” Howell continued. “We use the word ‘love’ in a very disordered way nowadays, and the word ‘good’ as well. ‘Love’ means affirmation and ‘good’ means getting my way. Whereas, in reality, love means to will someone’s good, and good means ultimate flourishing.”
“We cannot be unclear or mushy about the fact that homosexual acts are inherently gravely sinful,” Howell said.
“But from that love, we must then be exceptionally clear about God’s call to same-sex-attracted people, which is chastity. Just like his call to everyone, which is chastity, which is holiness, which is a life as a Catholic where we’re devoted to God, ordered toward flourishing, and ultimately ordered toward a full experience of God in the beatific vision.”
From same-sex marriage to Catholicism
Howell entered marriage with another woman and did not separate from her until the summer of 2019.
Though her thinking was still very much in line with LGBTQ+ ideology, Howell started studying theology at Belmont Abbey in January 2020 to start the process of becoming an Episcopal priest.
It was during this time that her academic adviser began inviting her to join his family on Sundays for Mass and lunch. She always felt loved and welcomed by her adviser’s family, even though they were Catholic and knew she was same-sex-attracted.
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Finally, Howell asked her adviser to explain the Catholic Church’s stance on homosexual marriage and was surprised by his logical response.
“He talked very logically and rationally without attacking or disrespecting,” Howell said. “It was uncomfortable in that I was being challenged and that is never comfortable, but he wasn’t unkind at any point. He was also not unclear at any point. At no point did he leave me doubting what the Church taught.”
At the end of it, Howell said she started to cry. Her adviser was concerned he had been too harsh, to which Howell said she responded: “No, I think I’m wrong.’”
“I started to see what I now call ‘the grid,’” Howell said. “With Catholicism there’s a whole kind of underlying logical framework and every belief and every position fits into that framework and kind of interlocks.”
She began attending daily Mass and started RCIA to join the Church. She selected her Italian professor, who was also a devout Catholic but single like her, to be her godmother (Howell received a conditional baptism due to issues with documentation of her baptism in a non-Catholic church).
‘I will never stop telling people what you set me free from’