9 episodes

In "Plague" journalist Michael O'Loughlin investigates stories of the AIDS epidemic and the Catholic Church. Mike is America’s national correspondent and he’s covered Catholicism for more than a decade. Mike is also gay and Catholic—and he’s curious how others manage this sometimes complex identity. No time in modern history has been more volatile for gay Catholics than the height of the AIDS epidemic. So he spent the last few years interviewing people who were right in the middle of it. People who fought, worked and grieved through it.

Plague: Untold Stories of AIDS and the Catholic Church America Media

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.8 • 268 Ratings

In "Plague" journalist Michael O'Loughlin investigates stories of the AIDS epidemic and the Catholic Church. Mike is America’s national correspondent and he’s covered Catholicism for more than a decade. Mike is also gay and Catholic—and he’s curious how others manage this sometimes complex identity. No time in modern history has been more volatile for gay Catholics than the height of the AIDS epidemic. So he spent the last few years interviewing people who were right in the middle of it. People who fought, worked and grieved through it.

    Surviving the AIDS crisis as a gay Catholic

    Surviving the AIDS crisis as a gay Catholic

    Please support "Plague" by getting a digital subscription to America: tap or click here!
    In this episode of "Plague," Michael O'Loughlin tells the story of David Pais, whose journey exemplifies the experience of many gay Catholics who were personally affected by the AIDS epidemic in the early days. He describes the role his faith played helping him cope with his own diagnosis—and his struggle as he walked away from the church in anger. 
    You can learn more about "Plague" at americamag.org/plague.
    You can find Mike on Twitter @mikeoloughlin.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 40 min
    The Catholic hospital that pioneered AIDS care

    The Catholic hospital that pioneered AIDS care

    Please support "Plague" by getting a digital subscription to America: tap or click here!
    In the second episode of “Plague,” Mike asks: how did a Catholic hospital become a safe haven for the gay community? It turns out, the path wasn’t straightforward. This episode tells the story of St. Vincent's Hospital, run by the Sisters of Charity of New York. Featured voices include Dr. Ramon Torres, the young gay physician hired by the sisters to lead the AIDS clinic; Gerri Wells, an ACT UP protester; and Karen Helfenstein, S.C., the soft-spoken sister who served as St. Vincent’s vice president for mission.
    Learn more at americamag.org/plague
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    • 34 min
    The cost of AIDS ministry to a gay priest

    The cost of AIDS ministry to a gay priest

    Please support "Plague" by getting a digital subscription to America: tap or click here!
    Early in the AIDS epidemic, there was little in the way of medical treatment available. But spiritual guidance and accompaniment was in high demand. Patients had questions similar to those anyone else with a terminal illness might have: Are my affairs in order? Am I reconciled with my loved ones? Am I ready to die? 
    The third episode of “Plague” tells the story of the AIDS crisis from the perspective of a priest, trying to figure out what he could do to help. Father William Hart McNichols, a gay priest who was an early volunteer at St. Vincent’s.
    Bill talks to Mike O’Loughlin about his mission to accompany hundreds of men in their final days, and how his vocation as an artist came into play.
    “It was everything I ever wanted to be as a priest,” Bill told Mike. “And I got to do it all with these people.”
    Learn more at www.americamag.org/plague.
    You can follow Mike on Twitter @mikeoloughlin.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 37 min
    A gay Catholic Church in the Castro

    A gay Catholic Church in the Castro

    Please support "Plague" by getting a digital subscription to America: tap or click here!
    In the fourth episode of “Plague,” Mike visits a Catholic Church in the Castro–San Francisco’s LGBT neighborhood–that transformed itself during the 80s and 90s into what parishioners called a “gay church.” It took the delicate balance of an innovative pastor, committed gay parishioners, and open-minded old ladies to bring life to the now iconic church.
    But the parish didn’t just survive. It transformed itself into a place where the neighborhood it served could rely on it for spiritual sustenance and physical help during the height of the HIV and AIDS crisis. As one member put it to us, Most Holy Redeemer became a place that helped save souls, and save lives. 
    In short, it became a model for what a parish should be. 
    Learn more at www.americamag.org/plague.
    You can follow Mike on Twitter @mikeoloughlin.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 39 min
    A Catholic Sister learns to serve people with AIDS

    A Catholic Sister learns to serve people with AIDS

    Please support "Plague" by getting a digital subscription to America: tap or click here!
    In the fifth episode of "Plague," Mike visits the small Midwestern city of Belleville, Illinois, where a Catholic Sister broke ground in the 1980s by opening an organization to provide services for people living with HIV and AIDS. Though she was a trained ICU and ER nurse, Sister Carol Baltosiewich had much to learn about the disease before she could help treat it. So she journeyed to New York City with another sister to volunteer at Catholic hospitals on the front lines of the AIDS crisis.
    That experience dramatically changed Sister Carol's perspective. She witnessed firsthand the suffering people with AIDS experienced, along with their partners and family members. But it was the deep love present amidst the suffering that truly changed her. She would come to realize that ministering to people with HIV and AIDS first required a sincere self-examination. As she put it, "You can't even deal with AIDS until you first face your own prejudices and biases."
    Sister Carol returned to Belleville and got to work. She set up a helpline to answer questions about HIV and AIDS, which turned into a highly respected AIDS service organization known as "Bethany Place".
    Learn more at www.americamag.org/plague.
    You can follow Mike on Twitter @mikeoloughlin.
    You can listen to “Plague” on Apple Podcasts  here, on Google Play  here, or on Spotify  here.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 35 min
    AIDS, the Catholic Church and LGBT issues today

    AIDS, the Catholic Church and LGBT issues today

    Please support "Plague" by getting a digital subscription to America: tap or click here!
    In the series finale of ‘Plague,’ Mike looks at what’s happening in the church in HIV and AIDS care today and then reflects on comments and questions from listeners about the ongoing debates over LGBT issues in the Catholic Church.
    In Rustenburg, South Africa, where today AIDS is disproportionately impacting girls and young women, a Catholic bishop and religious sister promote education and empowerment, and offer a pro-life argument for the use of condoms in HIV and AIDS prevention.
    Then, returning to the United States, Mike speaks with medical doctor and Jesuit priest Jon Fuller about the stubbornly high rate of HIV within marginalized communities, and how remembering the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 90s can break down intergenerational barriers between people living with HIV and AIDS.
    Finally, the series wraps with a reflection on the key takeaways from the podcast—and a consideration of what’s at the heart of the broader debates over LGBT issues in the Catholic Church today.
    Learn more at www.americamag.org/plague.
    You can follow Mike on Twitter @mikeoloughlin.
    You can listen to “Plague” on Apple Podcasts  here, on Google Play  here, or on Spotify  here.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 35 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
268 Ratings

268 Ratings

Nate88888888888 ,

A true gem

Catholic, LGBT persons, and historians owe a debt of gratitude to Michael O’Loughlin. This podcast captures a part of history that gets virtually no recognition and we’re all so lucky for it. If you appreciate nuance, history, catholicism, LGBT subjects or just have human empathy, this is a wonderful podcast and I highly recommend it.

Patrick8645 ,

Perfect

More brilliant content from America Media. I love the work you do. This podcast, in particular, is moving and important.

sisyphus216 ,

Powerful

Listened to this while in RCIA. Really beautiful and moving podcast on an important chapter in Church and American history.

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