Monday, October 17, 2005

A Man Stands Up

You know, I'm somewhat dreading the comments this will get, but this guy deserves praise for his courage. It's Syracuse, for the curious.
It wasn't until two years after his ordination as a Roman Catholic priest that the Rev. Fred Daley acknowledged he might be gay.

"I was coming down the stairs for morning Mass, and I felt this real deep ache and pain in the pit of my stomach," he said. "It was the first time I was recognizing an ache within that my activity and work and ministry was covering up, and avoiding something."

A light went on, he said.

"I began to become aware of my sexual feelings and desires," he said. He was 27.

Almost 30 years later - after a painful, prayerful and mostly lonely journey - he disclosed his sexual orientation to his Utica congregation in May 2004. As speculation grows that the Vatican is preparing a document that would bar gays from ordination, Daley says he's proud to be a celibate, gay priest.

He said news of the forthcoming Vatican document and visits to American seminaries worries many people - clergy and lay, gay and straight - that the Roman Catholic Church does not welcome gays in its pulpits or pews.

"The church is least faithful to Jesus when it is in the business of excluding," Daley said. "The church should be rejoicing that gay men are ready and willing to use their talents to energize the church. To deprive the church of these gifted men would be a terrible loss."
You know, I've gotten a lot of flack for saying that not every gay priest is a Ryan Erickson waiting to happen -- an exurban legend, and a bad one at that. (Even now, it seems, he's still the conservatives' dream priest. Ugh.) And I know that, by the time this is posted, there will already be five vexed-out e.mails in my box from people who really should have better things to do than scream at me. But, as I see it, it all comes down to the sheer fact that the overwhelming majority of the gay priests I've known have just been incredibly good priests and, in my experience, their orientation lived in chaste celibacy has been no impediment whatsoever to the sterling service they've provided to the People of God.

OK, so there was the one who tried to come onto me during a liturgy at which he was the celebrant -- he was one of those big bells, smells, fiddle-back and adoration types, hmm-hmm -- but, honestly, I thought nothing of it and it was actually good for a laugh. (And, guess what, it still is.)

Maybe I'm either too well accustomed to reality or my ecclesiastical travels have made me comfortable with clerical camp, but at the end of the day, priests are people, too. And I'll just shrug my shoulders and recognize that while Mount St. Blog's erupts with vengeance.

Also from Syracuse, we've even got a straight supporter playing backup -- welcome company for me
The Rev. Brian Lang, pastor of St. Joseph's Church in Camillus, said he has received more than 120 e-mails and letters affirming the piece he wrote for his church's Sept. 18 bulletin.

"If they do bar gays, they are making a mistake," said Lang, who said he is heterosexual and celibate. "They are insulting a number of men who are in the priesthood who are in chaste and holy lives."

In his essay, Lang wrote that Vatican visits to American seminaries seem to be positive. But he questions the motivation and criticizes the comments of the organizer of the seminary visits, Archbishop Edwin O'Brien, who has said gays should neither apply to nor be accepted in the seminary.

O'Brien later qualified his point, saying he was speaking for himself and not the Vatican.

Lang said initial news accounts of the controversy may have been inaccurate, but he stands by his main points. He said the clergy abuse scandal unfairly links homosexuality and pedophilia, and the scandal's root causes are about church structure and power and transparency.

"I think my point of view is a fairly common perspective," Lang said. "People are saying, 'Hold on, let's look at the interior of the church and what are the real issues here?' "

Lang, 45, was ordained in 1998. He attended St. Mary Seminary, in Baltimore, a school he said had a reputation as "a pink palace," a reference to a gay subculture.
Hmm-hmm. If I had a dime for every time I heard an ecclesiastical institution referred to as a "pink palace"....

-30-

22 Comments:

Blogger Jimmy Mac said...

Thanks for printing these, Rock.

Now let's see ...

"Why can't the love that dare not speak it's name, shut up?"

"Why do these guys have to tell everyone ... just keep it to themselves?"

"I don't wan't to know about their personal lives."

"Ewwwwwww .. how gross!"

"They're just sinners and are going to hell. I don't want them around my children."

OK, folks ... add more idiocy to the ones listed above.

17/10/05 17:34  
Blogger justplaincath said...

Jimmy Mac--

Are you a Wally Lamb fan?

Or an Abbysinnian Baptist Choir fan?

"Said I wasn't gonna tell nobody
But I couldn't keep it to myself
What the Lord has done to me."

[Actually, Wally Lamb and the women of York Correctional Institute wrote a book called, "Couldn't Keep It to Myself". York Correctional Institute is in Niantic, CT. The stories could be from anywhere.]

17/10/05 21:48  
Blogger Tony said...

I just have a hard time understanding why a priest would stand up and admit something that will make half his congregation lose respect for him and half his congregation reflexively support him (so they look oh-so-non-judgemental).

What if he stood up and said: "I'm Father Smith and I'm an alcoholic". Pretty much the same kind of thing.

17/10/05 23:49  
Blogger Jimmy Mac said...

Well, Tony, I have had priest admit to their alcoholism from the altar and get LOTS of support from the parish. There ARE some Catholics who don't automatically reject priests who admit to their differences/problems/whatever in public. Plaster saints belong in niches, not on the altar.

Besides, a good priest will tell the truth and let the chips fall off of the plate anytime.

JPC: Yes, the Abyssinian Bap. Choir is OK, but I prefer Aretha Franklin and the Southern California Gospel Choir. Their 2 disc CD entitled "Amazing Grace" will blow yer sox off! Any church music that gets my toes to tapping and my adrenalin pumping is my kinda music. If the blood don't flow, the soul don't go. And you can quote me, too.

18/10/05 01:42  
Blogger RightJack said...

"What if he stood up and said: "I'm Father Smith and I'm an alcoholic". Pretty much the same kind of thing."

This is actually standard practice for priests who go away for substance abuse treatment. After a period of time, they return to the parish they left and do/say exactly this.

Part of the problem in the abuse scandal was that people were so sure that priests could do no wrong. Knowing that our priests are human beings, struggling with sin and grace like everyone, is ultimately a blessing for the parishes they serve. No, I am not advising indiscrete revelations or public confessions. But any appropriate way for a priest to share his own struggle makes his preaching and ministry more effective tools in the gospel mission.

18/10/05 08:40  
Blogger neblo said...

"Hi I'm Fr. Smith, and I don't understand you families out there. I respect families, of course, and I had my own parents to observe, but something went wrong and I never developed the same instincts 99% of you have; instead I developed inverted instincts of attraction to men, indifference to women or even feeling comradeship with women. I'll certainly do my best to hear your confessions and understand your struggles with family, chastity, and relationships, but honestly, I have no basis on which to relate. I have my own cross to bear in this regard, and I know that you don't really understand what I face either. So now we understand that there is this barrier between us, and that I am more comfortable in a gay culture than here in this parish. I hope this clarifies things and allows us to get along better. Those among you who have THE modern virtue of tolerance will surely go out of your way to make it seem you understand."

Rednecks like me would just leave the parish.

18/10/05 09:07  
Blogger Jimmy Mac said...

Neblo: rednecks feel very much at home in the Duck River Babtist, AOG, Holiness Pentecostal Snake Handlers, and other similar churches.

Maybe you would, too. They LOVE to restrict and control.

18/10/05 11:42  
Blogger neblo said...

Hey, Jimmy Mac, I am comfortable in the Catholic Church, with its aggregate historic teaching intact, not changed by modern political correctness. Gays as priests has been addressed numerous times, including by John XXIII, always declaring them unsuitable. That's why we have the Episcopal Church, with Bishop Vicky Robinson, for you to feel at home, since you suggested I can leave because I don't like what you're trying to turn my Church into.

18/10/05 12:16  
Blogger Tony said...

Daley says he's proud to be a celibate, gay priest.

So is that like being proud to be a sober alcoholic? Or is he saying he's proud to be gay? There is a huge difference.

Daly also states:

He credits a 10-year prayerful relationship with that spiritual adviser for helping him to accept himself.

"He helped me to accept my sexual orientation and recognize I was OK and that God created me that way," he said. "Then I was able to break through my homophobic fears in my heart and accept myself."


This is reasonable, in my opinion. I guess it is very much like accepting yourself as an alcoholic and being vigilant about avoiding temptations that can cause you to fall. The same applies to heterosexual priests.

I question the wisdom of sharing this with your congregation, but if homosexuals are feeling persecuted and closeted (from their spiritual advisors and confessors) this could be a very bad thing.

18/10/05 12:29  
Blogger Ben said...

I hear very little talk of things spiritual.. especially from JimmyMac. We don't go to Mass to get our blood pumping with music. Maybe you are pumping up a spirit that shouldn't be. Jimmy you are just speaking on sociological terms and according to your own thoughts. Lets talk about God's thoughts and why the Church has always been agaist ordaining outright homosexuals. I say outright because we are not talking about people with a few disordered thoughts or even actions in the past. We are talking about those that feel and see themselves as "Gays" and never to change and to see it as normal for them or a blessing from God. To consider oneself "gay" already admits acceptance and giving up on oneself to a disorder.

Now don't take my comparison literally and discount everything I am about to say but please follow my thought. Say a normal priest began to have thoughts and fantasies about some of the parish children. Of course he would never act out on the thoughts but every once in a while he would have them. Now should this priest "admit" he is a lover of children. Should he "come out" and "accept" "who he is"? Or should he deal with his problem with God and maybe his confessor and try to live a chaste life in his mind. To say "I have special gifts as a child lover priest to give the Church" would be rediculas.

Just as "comming out" "accepting" and "giving in" to being (a child lover) so would be the same for a "Gay"(lover of men) priest. Being "Gay" doesn't offer anything good to a parish. The individual, regardless of his disordered sexual identity, may have gifts to give but not because of it.

When a priest is ordained he is confered to act as Christ for us. He is wedded to the church, His bride. He sacrifices his earthy marriage in order to answer the higher calling to a mystical marriage with the Church. The male priest must harness his natural desire for his earthy bride(a woman) and let God transform this desire to a desire for his mystical bride, the Church(which is female). God can accomplish this in those that wish God to. But those that don't even understand this or care for this or don't have the capability for this, should not be ordained. For a priest to "give up" his earthly bride for the greater good, he must first have a healthy heterosexual desire in the first place. That would seem to exclude say, those men that by chance hate women and always have, though not gay, and don't appreciate the holy sacrament of matrimony.

We are not judging fallen humanity here. We are ALL fallen and have no right and are not righteous enough to act in persona chrsti. It is a gift that God gives to those that the Church trusts to live it out as best as possible. The church does not recommend it to those that who are confused about it's basic orientaion towards the mystical marriage between Christ and His Holy Bride.

18/10/05 14:22  
Blogger George Collie said...

I think being gay is within the bounds of being normal, so I have no problem with gay priests, as long as they follow the same rules as straight priests.

The sublimated marriage thing is fine for someone struggling with celibacy, but is hardly a requirement for being a celibate and holy priest.

And of course a lot of priests are celibate but have sex lives nonetheless. They engage in masturbation. Should we bar them from the priesthood? I think not.

Note that homosexuality and masturbation merit about the same level of comment in the Catechism.

Much too much here about men who desire other men.

"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

This counts for gay people, too.

18/10/05 16:48  
Blogger Ben said...

George, George, George.... Homosexuality is normal? The desire to have anal relations with a man seems normal to you? Isn't "natural" the same as "normal"? Anal sex is not natural. The Catechism calls these desires disordered. Do you believe the faith that comes to us from the Apostles? I am not sure what your motives are. Yes, we love our brother but do we say everything they do is good no matter what? Masturbation is a sin. If one has a masturbation problem yes he too must be kept from the priesthood. Especially if he thinks that his "habit" is fine. To be chaste is to be free from masturbation. I just can't believe how sexually screwed up our society(including those in the church) is today and there moral compass is so off. The ignorance also of the understanding of in persona christi and the priests relationship with the church as a mystical marriage is dismal.

Ben

18/10/05 21:05  
Blogger RightJack said...

Neblo: your proposed announcement by Fr. Smith is a good example of a totally inappropriate approach to the issue - not to mention that it is chock full of things that aren't true of gay men. Gay men do understand families - they all came from one like everyone else and absolutely everyone they ever met or interacted with also came from one. And gay men understand the struggle to be faithful in relationships. A gay priest's sexuality need not be a barrier between him and his people: there are hundreds of parishes in the US where no such barrier exists between a gay pastor and his people. (Your fictional Fr. Smith, however,builds a huge barrier in his announcement."

And this one! "...instead I developed... indifference to women or even feeling comradeship with women." Neblo, do you know NOTHING about gay men?

19/10/05 11:49  
Blogger RightJack said...

Ben wrote: "The church does not recommend it (priesthood) to those who are confused about it's basic orientaion towards the mystical marriage between Christ and His Holy Bride."

I've been a priest for more than three decades and I have never met a priest who thinks of himself in a mystical marriage with the Church. I'm not saying they don't exist, but I've known a lot of priests in 30+ years (four decades if you count my time in the seminary) and have never heard any speak of priesthood/celibacy in these terms.

Celibacy is something priests take on for one or both of two reasons:
1) they believe themselves called by God to priesthood, desire that work, and are willing to live single and chaste for its sake
2) in any of a variety of ways, they are using celibacy to avoid working through their own sexuality.

19/10/05 12:04  
Blogger Ben said...

RightJack.. I either can't believe what you are saying or our Church is even more screwed up than I thought. Priests in your area don't know WHY they are celibate? Such ignorance. I guess that is what happens when tradition is thrown out and liberalism comes in. Complete ignorance!!!! Celibacy is a beautiful and should be a much desired thing and somthing that draws one to the Priesthood. The priest acting "in persona christi" is obviously misunderstood. The priest stands in the place of Christ for us. We, the faithful are Christ's mystical Bride who through Baptism is wedded to us and comes into His bride in Holy Communion.

What if the Pope came out with a beautiful encyclical on Celibacy. I guess you and 'your priests' would just ignore it. It seems you have just ignored eveything eles. Your two reasons to take on celibacy are both wrong and those candidates should not be ordained. A well understood reason and appriciation for celibacy needs to be taught, preached and made clear..especially for those seeking the priesthood

19/10/05 17:39  
Blogger RightJack said...

Regards Ben's response to my post:

Ben, I believe priests in my diocese know why they are celibate: it is required of priests in the Latin rite. I know no priest who felt himself drawn to celibacy, and then decided to pursue priesthood. The men I know experienced a call to priesthood, and celibacy was the only path open thereto. I don't know if you, Ben, are celibate. If you are and find it beautiful, I sincerely praise God for the gift you have found. Most priests, I believe, find celibacy to be, on the one hand, a burden and, on the other, a way of life that frees us for greater service of God's people.

I don't know how many priests read this blog, but would any priests who do -and who pray, preach, speak or think of themselves as being in a mystical marriage with the church- please chime in?

Lay men and women who read this blog: when was the last time you heard your priest preach, speak or define himself as being in a mystical marriage with the church?

19/10/05 21:11  
Blogger Jimmy Mac said...

Excuse me, neblo, but it is MY church, too! If you don't like that fact that me and my folk have been in it and have had a lot to do with keeping it going over the centuries, then tough s**t!

Ben et al:

You are good at tossing the term "gay" around. I have been gay for most of my 60+ years and 33 years of committed relationship with one man, and I know what gay means. My gay friends know what that means. But do you? You drop the term with impunity. What do YOU think it means? Speak up kiddies and expose your ignorance.

As an incentive, the one(s) who get it right will be made Honorary Queen for A Day.

20/10/05 14:29  
Blogger Ben said...

Jimmymac: If you have a gay relationship with a man that makes you a man living in perpetual adultery, therefore commiting mortal sin. The type of "gay" that you are is completely condemned by Christ and His Church. You are not the man struggling with the disorder trying to live a life for God. You have given in to sin and are now justifying it. Your soul is in jeopardy and the good that you can bring to Christ's Church is nihl. By the way it is not YOUR Church and it never will be YOUR Church. It is Christ's Church.

Ben

21/10/05 12:06  
Blogger Rocco Palmo said...

*BREAKING*

Hot off the presses, from the newest ICEL translation of the Nicene Creed:

"He shall come to judge the living and the dead with Ben, and their fury shall have no end."

Good God, people.

21/10/05 12:19  
Blogger Ben said...

You don't believe in sin Rocco? He admits he has a gay relationship with a man. Show me where this is not considered a mortal sin. The bible says we will judge the angels. I too am hoping to be on the judging side as well as opposed to the judged side. Only God can save us and I pray that I will always condemn the sins which I myself find myself. Homosexual acts can never be stood up for just the same as any other sin. If you don't feel like standing up to the truth then go back and watch Howard and feel good about yourself and all the sex you are thinking about.

Ben

21/10/05 12:38  
Blogger Jimmy Mac said...

Ben:

I truly feel sorry for you. I hope your life as as perfect as you demand others' to be.

I'm very prepared to meet my God on judgement day. I hope you can say that with the same degree of hope and faith. But, before you do, you had better take that forest out of your eye and stop worrying about the toothpicks on others' shoulders.

And, besides, you didn't answer my question; all you did was spew and attack. Maybe English isn't your language?

21/10/05 13:43  
Blogger Jimmy Mac said...

Ben:

Neblo said that he didn't like what I am "trying to turn HIS church."

I just said that it is my church, too. But I guess you Really Good Faithful Catholics believe is that it is yours unless someone claims it as well, then it is Christ's.

If the church is the people of God, then the people belong to it.

21/10/05 16:39  

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