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This is the possibility that divorced and now. Thewrap spoke with jerusalem gets myth, articles and their feet, lesbian,. Aug 24, grave old plodders, 'surviving r. Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates on Jerry Sargeant and Star Magic Healing events. Then it came flowing out of me. Other gay priests, more self-aware and cynical, find there is a career to be made in all of this falseness. Everything was suppressed, no questions were asked in seminaries, and psychological counseling was absent and even now is rare.
Scarred, scared men became priests, and certain distinct patterns emerged.
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One, as we have come to learn, was sexual acting out and abuse. To conflate sexual abuse with the gay priesthood, as many now reflexively do, is a grotesque libel on the vast majority who have never contemplated such crimes and are indeed appalled by them. It is classic scapegoating. At the same time, to decouple the sexual-abuse crisis entirely from the question of gay priests is a willful avoidance of an ugly truth. Pedophilia is a separate category outside the question of sexual orientation. But some abuse of male teens and young adults, as well as abuse of other priests, is clearly related to homosexuality gone horribly astray — and around a quarter of the reported cases involve to year-old victims.
The scale of it in the late 20th century was extraordinary — but, in retrospect, predictable. If you do not deal honestly with your sexuality, it will deal with you. If you construct an institution staffed by repressed and self-hating men and build it on secrecy and complete obedience to superiors, you have practically created a machine for dysfunction and predation.
And the hideous truth is we will never know the extent of the abuse in centuries past or what is still going on, especially throughout places in the world like Africa and Latin America where robust scrutiny of the church is still sometimes taboo. Another pattern was externalized homophobia: What you hate in yourself but cannot face, you police and punish in others. It remains a fact that many of the most homophobic bishops and cardinals have been — and are — gay.
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Take the most powerful American cardinal of the 20th century, Cardinal Francis Spellman of New York, who died in He had an active gay sex life for years while being one of the most rigid upholders of orthodoxy. Monsignor Tony Anatrella, an advocate for conversion therapy consulted by the Vatican, was recently suspended for sexual abuse of other men. Anti-gay archconservative Cardinal George Pell was recently found guilty of sexual abuse of boys in Australia. The founder of the once hugely influential hard-right, anti-gay cult the Legion of Christ, Marcial Maciel, was found to have sexually abused countless men, women, and children.
Those in the hierarchy obsessed with the homosexual question often turn out to be gay; those who are calmer tend to be straight. Benedict XVI has described himself as a bookish boy, averse to sports. But this is because so many in the hierarchy still cannot see homosexuality as being about love and identity rather than acts and lust.
As we uncover layer upon layer of dysfunction at the very top of the church, it may be time to point out how naked these bejeweled emperors can appear. And this, of course, has added another layer of complexity to the story of gay priests: Generations matter. Those in their 70s and 80s grew up in a different universe, where the closet was automatic and the notion of even discussing gay priests was scandalous.
But their reaction to the modern reexamination of homosexual love, and the consideration of sex as distinct from procreation, was panicked retrenchment. Those in their 50s or 60s or younger, by contrast, are generally much more self-aware, and their Catholic peers and families much more accepting.
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Suddenly the entire system of secrecy, clerical self-protection, cover-ups, and scandal was brutally exposed. For most gay priests, this was a huge relief. They were as appalled as anyone. But they knew, too, that the system now being dismantled had concealed not only the crimes and abuses of bad priests but also the sins and consensual adult sex of good ones. They had secrets too.
Gay Priests and the Lives They No Longer Want to Hide
Celibacy is not an easy task. It is impossible for most human beings to avoid falling in love or physically expressing their sexual being at some point in their lives. In practice, these failures have often been confronted and confessed; as long as the priests are honest and recommit to celibacy, they are allowed to go forward. Some of the gay priests I spoke with acknowledged lapses but insisted that, in consultation with their spiritual directors and superiors, they chose celibacy when the choice became impossible to ignore or avoid.
The goal, they explained, was to be free of any particular attachment so they could devote their entire selves to the church as a whole. But most had some kind of past incident or failing that could be used against them if made public, even if it were only their identity as a gay man. Mundane failings — like a brief affair — can become easily blurred with profound evils like child abuse. If you expose a child molester to his superior, for example, he might expose your own homosexuality and destroy your career. This dynamic has made the clerical closet — not the fact of gay priests but the way that fact has been hidden — a core mechanism for tolerating and enabling abuse.
On top of all this, the vow of obedience to superiors gives gay bishops and cardinals huge sway over their priestly flock. Some, of course, realized this power could be leveraged for sex and abused it. New procedures for the protection of minors were put in place after But so much damage from the past has yet to be confronted.
The McCarrick case in particular revealed that the pattern of concealment and toleration of abuse went to the very top of the church. That some of the sex criminals were also responsible for directing vast sums of money to the Vatican — Maciel and McCarrick were legendary for their fund-raising — makes the toleration seem particularly cynical. We still do not know why, exactly, the traditionalist Benedict XVI decided to be the first pope to resign the office, but some were quick to note that he had compiled an extensive dossier on sexual abuse in the church … and yet somehow felt unable to act.
Was he simply overwhelmed by the task, taken aback by the scale of it, and fearful that the entire church could collapse? Francis, in one of his first press conferences as pope, struck out on a different course. He reiterated the distinction between sins and crimes and, while denouncing abuse, did not insist on sexual perfection in the priesthood, as long as failures were confessed, sins absolved, and the priest was committed to a future of celibacy.
Then he went further in allowing for good gay priests in the church: It also, perhaps, worried some powerful sex abusers, who recognized the role of the clerical closet in keeping everything quiet. He called on the pope to resign: The lull may be temporary. In September, Francis appeared to lose his equanimity. He tries to uncover the sins, so they are visible in order to scandalize the people. It may well become a moment of reckoning for his papacy — and those of his two predecessors. It may force some kind of decision about the role of gay priests, clerical celibacy, and homosexuality across the church.
But how? O ne possible option is the preference of the Catholic right: Countless lay Catholics would watch their priests be outed and fired by the church.
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How would they react? The mass firings would brand the church as baldly homophobic and easily lead to mass resignations and a further decline in vocations. So be it, the traditionalists say. They want a much smaller, purer church. But few potential popes would want to be the one who precipitated the implosion. More to the point: It could make the problem worse.
The church would lose all those priests who are adjusted enough to be honest about their orientation and keep all of those who are the most deeply damaged, closeted, and self-loathing. The potential for sexual abuse could increase. A second option would be a fudge, a rerun of , when the church said all gay priests should be fired and no gay men be admitted to the seminary … and then did nothing much about it. This would be, in some ways, the worst choice.
It was precisely the simultaneous retention and anathematization of closeted gay priests that, over the decades, helped fuel the abuse and its cover-up. A third option would simply encourage an end to the clerical closet, which is to say, ask all priests to obey one of the Ten Commandments: It would require gay priests to identify as such to their superiors and parishioners and, in clearing the air, make a renewed public vow of celibacy.
Encouraging an end to the closet would underline the distinction the church formally makes between homosexual identity and homosexual acts. It would deter disturbed closet cases from entering the priesthood and provide priestly role models for gay Catholics who find themselves called to celibacy.
Those gay priests who refused to be fully transparent could leave. Cardinals and bishops and directors of seminaries could insist on frank discourse on the matter. Double lives would become far less common.
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If a priest is committed to celibacy and doing a good job, why is his public gayness a problem? The only obstacle standing in the way of this path is the homophobia formally embedded into church doctrine in by the future Benedict XVI. A better analogy would perhaps be the infertile, who also, simply because of the way they are, cannot have procreative sex. In fact, the church embraces every other minority, person with a disability, and individual persecuted or marginalized by society because of some involuntary characteristic.
At some point you realize that this is, in the end, the bottom line. The task, it seems to me, is not to rid the church of homosexuality, which is an integral part of the human mystery, but of hypocrisy, dishonesty, and dysfunction. I admit to, at times, a crushing fatalism. But I also believe, as a Catholic, that nothing is impossible with God.
O n a Sunday morning in late , at the conservative parish of St. Bernadette in Milwaukee, Father Gregory Greiten was extremely nervous. The next day, the National Catholic Reporter would be publishing an article he wrote in which he would come out as gay. No one in his congregation knew in advance, and now he was about to say Mass. He wanted to tell his own parish first.
‘Ex-Gay’ Men Fight Back Against View That Homosexuality Can’t Be Changed
He found his way in to a retreat for gay priests run by New Ways Ministry, a gay-friendly Catholic group. I drank that poison most of the years of my life. If you need me to lie about who I am, then the priesthood is a sham. As we spoke, there was no anger in his voice, just a midwestern folksiness. He told me that the toll of the closet was immense on many around him, including suicides that had been hushed up. He was aware that it was relatively easy for him to come out; he knew his own record of celibacy was unblemished since he was Others were more compromised and could be more easily targeted.
That Sunday morning, when he stood up to deliver his homily, he felt his mouth dry up. The church was packed, and as he started to tell his story, the silence was close to unbearable. He soldiered on. No response. Eventually, a woman stood up in the pews and he braced himself. God bless you! And then, all at once, the congregation rose and applauded. At the end of the homily, another standing ovation.
He did get a kind voice-mail on his birthday, though. I wish other priests could have some of that freedom. My mom has done for me what the church has never done — which is to love and respect me for who I am and who God has created me to be. Subscribe Now! From a Wall Street Journal report on Friday: Foreign powers including the U.
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Log in or link your magazine subscription. Account Profile. Sign Out. Governatorato S. A young priest in Rome, Ambrose St. John left and John Henry Newman.