Friday, September 30, 2005

The Slippery Slope

Thanks to one of my favorite readers for sending along an amazing piece from Slate....

I've gotta say, the longer this pre-Gay Ban period perdures, the more it'll be rued by the Bosses, because every single last story (and the stories could go on forever) about the campy gay clerical culture we've all come to know and love will be blared before the eyes of the world.

Here's a snip
First, banning gay seminarians will only drive the issue underground, precisely the situation before the sexual revolution permitted people—even priests—to be more honest about their sexuality. The most notorious clerical child molesters were all ordained before the sexual revolution and before the changes wrought in the church by the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). Secrecy and silence encourage immaturity and duplicity, necessary precursors for inappropriate sexual behavior. Second, as my exchange with my friend indicates, many of those priests the right wing considers "their own" are also gay, and only a willful ignorance would fail to see it.

Such a willful ignorance must exist. When I was in the seminary in the mid-1980s, a local bishop came to visit. The bishop dressed for mass in the rectory next door. We seminarians were a bit late in arriving and were met by the bishop's secretary who said, "Come on boys, get into your dresses. Grandma is coming." Grandma was the bishop. The secretary had a feminine nickname, which, I am told, his intimates still use. To complete the screenplay quality of the experience, one of the priests who was in attendance that day left the priesthood shortly thereafter to become a flight steward or, as he called it, "a waitress in the sky." This kind of campiness was common both in the seminary and in my experiences with those already ordained. As for the secretary, he is now a bishop much in favor with conservatives.

The anger about the ban among priests, gay and straight, was more visceral than anything I have ever seen. It is an unwritten rule of gay life that you never, ever "out" a closeted gay person. Everyone has the right to come to terms with their own sexuality in their own way. (I need hardly add that Christians take their name from the master who famously warned against judging others.) Yet, there were threats of outings last week. The hypocrisy of trying to hang the sexual abuse crisis around the neck of gay priests, most of whom are celibate and hardworking, was too much. I know some gay priests who have truly wrestled with their sexuality. As with straight priests, some have fallen from their vows on occasion or on holiday, but most have been largely faithful. Some gay priests are liberal and others are conservative. Some are still conflicted by their sexuality and others are not. What they all share is an almost heroic sense of integrity. To try and blame them for the shiftless careerism that caused bishops to look the other way while children were being abused is beyond the pale.

The last thing the church needs is an anti-gay auto-da-fé.

Reform of the church must always draw upon our tradition, and if Pope Benedict wants to truly address the source of the sexual abuse scandal, he will reinstate the ancient tradition of the church that prevented bishops from being transferred (the technical term is "translated") or promoted from one bishopric to another, more important, diocese. In a stroke, he would remove the careerism that fueled the sweep-it-under-the-rug-at-all-costs syndrome that fostered the crisis. If a man wants to be the bishop of... let him be the bishop of... for the rest of his life. But do not tempt him to fail to face problems in the hopes of becoming the archbishop of New York.

-30-

9 Comments:

Blogger Jeff said...

Piffle.

Why is the assumption that "gay" people are less honest than others? That if a prospective seminarian is asked if he has homosexual tendencies, he will lie rather than own up to it? Is this what proponents of rights for homosexuals think about their friends?

What kind of person thinks that he has an absolute right to be a priest, no matter what the Church requires of him, and he will do anything, including lie, to get his way? Let's try to find ALL the people with this attitude, "gay" or not, and weed them out before they start their seminary programs.

Liars will always hide things that can be hidden. In this way, I suppose, asking for the truth benefits liars who have something to hide. But that is a singularly jaded and cynical way to look at prospective seminarians.

30/9/05 17:46  
Blogger Jimmy Mac said...

Jeff:

I don't think you realize how strong fear can be. I was in the Air Force for 8 years and was gay for 6 of them. If I had been confronted with the question as to whether I was gay or not, I would have lied through my teeth!

Any man who realizes how his vocation will be denied if he owns up to being homosexual (being "gay" usually means being at peace with oneself and being "in the life") and he really believes that he has a vocation and can live a chaste life, of course he will probably lie. That happened in the past, undoubtely happens now, and it will happen in the future.

Many homosexuals learn to SURVIVE based on their ability to deceive. And that is not a healthy way to live!

Dont come back with me about dishonesty as a basis for being ordained. Straight priests have affairs with women and are dishonest about it. Ecclesiastical superiors have hidden church scandals of all stripes and have been dishonest about it. Non-ordained folks are dishonest about lots of things,i.e., marital infidelity, tax cheating, etc.

We are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God up until the time we meet God face to face. Then God will judge us all for the real and final time. Until then, don't be too quick to throw those stones.

30/9/05 18:51  
Blogger Jeff said...

Well, Jimmy Mac, I thought I was very careful to say that I thought ALL people who were liars and deceivers by habit should be kept out of the priesthood, not just gays.

But the overall tone of your message is different from what I usually find when I read you. You seem like you're TALKING rather than just yelling. I'm impressed and I must say, I really appreciate it. Thank you and God bless you!

I can argue with you til the cows come home, but I think in this instance, let me just say that I will reflect on your words and leave it at that. Okay?

30/9/05 19:03  
Blogger Jimmy Mac said...

And thank, you, Jeff. Dialogue is always possible, even if it seems improbable.

I'll try to keep the yelling down to no more than daily. Unfortunately, I have been angry about this matter for more years than I can care to remember.

30/9/05 23:41  
Blogger Ben said...

There is a big difference between liberal gay priests and a conservative priest that has had some struggle with same sex attraction. I can see the honest conservation priest with same sex atraction being allowed to persue his vocation and in the process holiness. Someday he will not struggle any more because God will free him from that. But a liberal dissenter that wants to water down church teaching and claim that his homosexuality is a gift from God and a blessing must not even be given a chance. He must repent!

30/9/05 23:48  
Blogger Ben said...

What I don't understand about the whole thing is why not keep it to yourself. What is "coming out". Why would one want to give up and say "well this is who I am". It is a disorder guys! I am not saying that you can snap your figuers and make it go away. With much prayer and also by looking at it the right way you can overcome. Lets compare it to priests who look at women sexually. This is not even a disorder but natural but since they have given themselves to their bride, the church, they much stay pure for her. With much prayer, penance and most importantly a change of mind they can find themselves not "looking" anymore. Sholud this priest give up and say "well I love women" can't help it, it is who I am. Should a married man who "looks around" say well this is who I am or should he strive to purify his mind. What I don't believe is that we should difine ourselves by what we are tempted by. To come out and say "I am gay" is basically saying that your temptation which is not from God is from God. Do I tell my wife anytime I have an impure thought? If I contemplate some sinfull things do I broadcast it to everyone around me and then have them define who I am by it? The problem today is that "coming out" is seen as good which makes the disorder of homosexualllity a good thing. And that is very far from the truth. A holy person who is seeking the priesthood who has trouble in this area must see it as a grave disorder that if he can't conquer it will keep him from the priesthood. Conquering it must be the objective. Coming out and openly "being gay" is unholy. It is holiness that our priesthood is lacking, along with spiritual fatherhood.

1/10/05 10:51  
Blogger patrick said...

"There is a big difference between liberal gay priests and a conservative priest that has had some struggle with same sex attraction."

And what about the "liberal" gay priest who, while having private reservations about the Church's teachings is neverthelss chaste and obedient to the Church? And what about the conservative gay priest who is well known for agreeing with and preaching the Church's teachings on the subject, yet has sex with men on the side? These priests do in fact exist and things are not always what they seem.

"I can see the honest conservation priest with same sex atraction being allowed to persue his vocation and in the process holiness. Someday he will not struggle any more because God will free him from that."

Oh! So if someone struggles and prays hard enough, God will free someone from any sexual interest in the same sex? I don't think Courage makes such claims. Such claptrap claims usually come from idjit evangelical/fundamentalists who preach "name it and claim it" theology, pray the "Prayer of Jabez," and participate in para-church sponsored multi-level marketing schemes hoping to get rich.

1/10/05 11:29  
Blogger Ben said...

In response to Patrick I would like to say.....

Someone who is liberal and doesn't hold true what the Church teaches should not be admitted to the priesthood. It would be very difficult if not impossible for him to remain obedient. Anyone whether conservative or liberal must strive for holiness. Priests are especiallly called to live a life of example. Any priest who is sexually deviant should be punshed.

Patrick's second concern might be due to a little misunderstanding. All I was trying to say is that we are called to struggle through prayer (work out our salvation with fear and trembling) to overcome our tempations. I didn't mean that God will neccessarily change someone who has homosexual tendences to a healthy heteosexual. I do admit that it could definatley happen. What I was tryig to say is that even married people like myself don't have to struggle with looking at other women. Married people are called to desire their wife only. And priests can get to a place where they don't have a desire to be with a women. The same goes for a homosexual priest. They don't have to struggle with wanting to be with a man. Through prayer and penace they can get to a place where their bride, The Church, is all they desire. I think that should be the goal for every priest... a singular desire for their Bride.

1/10/05 13:49  
Blogger Richard said...

Reform of the church must always draw upon our tradition, and if Pope Benedict wants to truly address the source of the sexual abuse scandal, he will reinstate the ancient tradition of the church that prevented bishops from being transferred (the technical term is "translated") or promoted from one bishopric to another, more important, diocese. In a stroke, he would remove the careerism that fueled the sweep-it-under-the-rug-at-all-costs syndrome that fostered the crisis. If a man wants to be the bishop of... let him be the bishop of... for the rest of his life. But do not tempt him to fail to face problems in the hopes of becoming the archbishop of New York.

If nothing else, i think this is a solid suggestion.

1/10/05 16:13  

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