the gay priest imposture
By Diogenes (
) | Oct 11, 2005
This week's NCR has an interview with -- don't be shocked -- an anonymous gay priest. The editorial aim is to demonstrate the irrationality of the Church's stance on homosexuality; in fact, the article does just the opposite. A few observations:
The priest interviewed identifies himself not simply as homosexual but as gay. He's not pointing to a condition but to an elected identity. Affirming this identity entails a rejection of the Church's teaching that the homosexual inclination is intrinsically disordered. To call himself a gay priest is equivalent to calling himself a Calvinist priest or a monophysite priest, which amounts to saying, "I'm Catholic, except where the Church is wrong." Well, so is Louis Farrakhan.
Asked the reaction of gay priests of his acquaintance to the Doomsday Doc and the seminary visitation, the interviewee says, "They're angry and they're hurt and they're scared. They're terrified." Why terrified? How many Catholic clergy can you name that publicly acknowledge themselves as gay? Even priests like Robert Nugent of New Ways Ministry and James Schexnayder of NACDLGM stay one micro-millimeter inside the declarative closet, on the grounds that their personal orientation is irrelevant to their politics. So what do they have to fear from a new policy, even supposing it called for defrocking gays?
Asked if and how he "comes out" to his parishioners, Father X says, "there will be times when someone will say something like, 'Don't you miss having a family?' and I don't think I should lie to people. It's almost sinful to conceal those kinds of things ..." He makes it clear that such revelation is an exceptional circumstance, which means that he does lie to people -- or at least allow a false understanding to go uncorrected -- for the greater part of his ministry. One can see the obvious reasons for this, but it points to the basic problem at the heart of the issue: no matter how sharply we draw the contrast between the condition of same-sex attraction on the one hand and the gay lifestyle on the other, the real-world demands of Catholic ministry make it impossible for the homosexual priest to play all his cards face-up all the time. Sure, self-selected groups of professionals and academics are cool with "out" homosexuals, but don't kid yourselves, sexual openness will never go down with First Confession prep. And that means concealment and deceit are bred in the bone from the seminary onwards.
Remember that there's a colossal asymmetry between hetero- and homosexual men regarding the struggle of vocational discernment. The Catholic straight guy finds the prospect of giving up wife and family a daunting one, and usually goes through a wrenching period of self-testing to see whether he has what it takes inside to attempt lifelong chastity. The man for whom marriage is a threat rather than an allure is in the opposite situation: for him, the priesthood solves far too many problems. It explains his wifelessness; it makes his parents happy; it mitigates the prospect of loneliness. The ample testimonies to the reality of seminary life make it clear that gay seminarians typically go squirrelly after a year or two because they can't keep up the pretense that the priesthood was ever anything more than a means to a self-gratifying end; they haven't undergone the spiritual process of severing oneself from the world. God knows hetero clergy have shown themselves pretty miserable in regard to chastity, but anyone who believes there's parity here is delusional.
In performative refutation of his claims to sound churchmanship, the NCR's priest illustrates that mind-warping that exceptionlessly attends the move from "same-sex attracted" to "gay." As in a room of distorting mirrors, every human perception is twisted out of recognition in service of an occult personal need:
You know Paul's image of the body? We are basically going against Paul's image of the body -- we are saying we have no need of the hand or we have no need of the eye. ...
It's as if Jesus came back to the disciples and said, "Oh, by the way, the truth doesn't set you free."
Deny it if you will, but this kind of language betrays its author as unambiguously as stiletto heels and a feather boa. It's Father's faith-warping, not his sexual recreation, that renders him unfit to serve and that vindicates the rightness of the Church's teaching. We're talking about a sickness, a disorder. Those afflicted with the disorder are being lied to on a massive scale. Speaking the truth in this situation invariably brings a hostile reaction, and the moral cowardice that makes peace with the aggressors typically flatters itself with the name of charity.
It's a fraud, folks.
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