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what problem?

By Diogenes (articles ) | May 07, 2003

A six-month old Boston Globe article surfaces points of current interest:

As a student at Harvard and then Yale, where different lifestyles mix uneventfully, Gavan Meehan found it easy and comfortable to be publicly gay. But after an inner tug to the priesthood drew him last year to St. John's Seminary in Brighton, his upfront acknowledgement of his sexual orientation brought a far different response.

There's an important point here: it's absurd to pretend that gays can put the toothpaste back in tube when they enter the seminary and just toddle through like anyone else. If a man was openly gay in Cambridge, does he magically switch to a "none-of-your-business" category by crossing the river to Brighton? Are fellow seminarians who know his past supposed to pretend he was born 15 minutes before he crossed the St. John's threshold?

By March, amid a cascade of revelations about priests molesting children, Meehan's openness had become a source of discomfort for his superiors. The rector at St. John's, Bishop Richard G. Lennon, told him that some students were concerned about his homosexuality, said Meehan, who took the remark as "a warning that I had to somehow change my behavior." Meehan wasn't about to do that. Instead, he remained outspoken, complaining at school forums about homophobia and criticizing the seminary for a climate that he said punished openly gay students and protected closeted ones.

Imagine what life is like for a straight, orthodox seminarian in this setting. You must pretend gay seminarians are as chaste as the heteros, or else you are judgmental and unsuited for ministry. You must pretend the gays support Church teaching, or else you are judgmental and unsuited for ministry. You must pretend the closeted gays are not gay, or else you are judgmental and unsuited for ministry. You must pretend the holes gay faculty pick in Church doctrine are matters of purely academic controversy and are unconnected with personal appetites, or else you are judgmental and unsuited for ministry. You must pretend that gay candidates are accepted and "rigid" candidates are rejected by the staff simply for the good of the Church, or else you are judgmental and unsuited for ministry.

Now suppose you survive the four years' scrutiny and are approved by the staff for ordination. How intrepid a priest are you likely to be?

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