the gay priest imposture

By Diogenes (articles ) | 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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    Show 13 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
    • Posted by: - Oct. 13, 2005 2:12 PM ET USA

      Diogenes, I love it when you prove a person wrong point by point. Besides making for interesting reading, you usually bring up something that not many people would consider. Keep it up!

    • Posted by: - Oct. 13, 2005 11:49 AM ET USA

      Peter Akinola call your office. Your flight to Rome has been rescheduled and the ticket price has risen very high. High like Noah's Flood that is.

    • Posted by: - Oct. 12, 2005 10:35 PM ET USA

      "Jesus then said to those Jews who believed in him, "If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." Jn 8:31-32 (The quote seems more meaningful in context.)

    • Posted by: - Oct. 12, 2005 4:47 PM ET USA

      "Apparently, the upcoming document will allow for more honesty, so that priests with homosexual tendencies will no longer be forced to lie. They will simply be in compliance with the document, which will ask them to not be public about it." That ought to solve the problem .....

    • Posted by: - Oct. 12, 2005 1:45 PM ET USA

      Fiducia? I do believe you've been reading Bishop Spong! He is yet another reason I'm now a happy Catholic and no longer a frustrated Episcopalian...

    • Posted by: - Oct. 12, 2005 1:37 PM ET USA

      Fraud invalidates marriage, because it is based on consent, and fraud prevents the freedom to consent. A homosexual man who receives holy orders, even if he is not honest about his orientation, is validly, although possibly illicitly, ordained. This is an important distinction and the Vatican upholds it. The validity of the sacraments does not depend upon the faith or righteousness of the priest. The Vatican does not question the validity of sacraments conferred even by pedophiles.

    • Posted by: Ignacio177 - Oct. 12, 2005 1:25 PM ET USA

      Diogenes great piece. I like the analysis. More than a document we need religous orders and diocesis to publicly state that there policy is no to accept homosexuals or other sexual perverts. You would see their ranks swell. Should there be future charges against liars they could be fired outright and defrocked. It is an invalid sacrament if one receives it under false pretexts.

    • Posted by: - Oct. 12, 2005 12:17 PM ET USA

      Apparently, the upcoming document will allow for more honesty, so that priests with homosexual tendencies will no longer be forced to lie. They will simply be in compliance with the document, which will ask them to not be public about it. What's more, if the three independently confirmed reports of the Italian newpaper article are true, then the document will demand that priests and seminarians with SSA not accept the "gay" identity or subculture. Hopefully, this will improve orthodoxy.

    • Posted by: John J Plick - Oct. 12, 2005 11:45 AM ET USA

      It is hard to believe that the above reasoning is not obvious to the Bishops... And if so.... Why are they discussing whether or not to "throw open the gates" as far as Eucharistic reception goes instead of safeguarding the well-being of the flock by dealing practically with this homosexual problem which is already within our midst?

    • Posted by: - Oct. 12, 2005 10:19 AM ET USA

      The example of warping for purposes of self-justification that you note is mild stuff. I have heard Jesus' relationship with John the Apostle pointed to as proof that He was/is gay.

    • Posted by: - Oct. 12, 2005 10:02 AM ET USA

      Why does this priest -- celibate or not -- identify himself as "gay" above all other things. Perhaps it is a sign of our sexually preoccupied times, or perhaps a sign of capitulation with the world. In past ages, a celibate man who gave in to temptation would have though of this as a sin to be confessed, not a definition of his soul and person. Perhaps priests who identify themselves as "gay" retain an attachment to the lifestyle that goes along with this status? Only God knows.

    • Posted by: - Oct. 12, 2005 9:44 AM ET USA

      The fact that Fr.X can testity to the reaction of gay priests reveals more of the problem: a gay network and clerical subculture which is at odds with the teachings of Christ's Church they are supposed to be serving. This is why the Church's document needs to be hardhitting leaving no wiggle room. The priesthood must be purified of these networks and this subculture for real reform to take place. Saint Peter Damian pray for us.

    • Posted by: - Oct. 12, 2005 8:52 AM ET USA

      In addition, Diogenes, it's interesting to note this comment: "But I sure have preached about it, I’ve preached about homophobia and persecution of gays." Note that he does NOT preach about the immorality of homosexual acts or the fact that the inclination is a disorder or the truth that freedom can be had from these proclivities. Therein lies the true weakness -- if they identify with the 'gay' lifestyle as this priest does, they cannot preach the fullness of truth.