Catholic Culture News
Catholic Culture News

Trahison des clercs

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Aug 07, 2003

A Canadian priest catches the 11:00 news and blows a gasket:

In a letter published in Montreal's La Presse, Father Gravel said the Vatican's position against same-sex marriage is "discriminatory, hurtful and offensive ... for everyone who works to promote human rights and to re-establish justice and equality."

Woody Allen has a joke about a woman who approaches a Hasidic sage and asks, "Rabbi, why is it that we Jews are not allowed to eat pork?" "We're not?" says the Rabbi. "Uh oh."

For years Gravel's been a minister in a Church which has taught precisely those things he claims to be wicked. How can he now distance himself and judge her, unless he admits a) he read St. Paul to the Romans for the first time yesterday, or b) that he's been working all along to undermine the Church while falsely professing loyalty?

He attacked the church's hierarchy as outmoded and sick, saying that today's world needs "words of hope rather than a verdict of condemnation."

Presumably the same hierarchs are outmoded and sick in pronouncing a verdict of condemnation on, I don't know, cannibalism, whereas the Noumean tribesmen eating Aunt Betsy need words of hope. And ketchup.

In an interview, the 50-year-old priest explained that he has grown tired of the Catholic Church's hypocritical position on matters related to sexuality, such as homosexuality, abortion and the marriage of priests. "Every time the church speaks out on an issue, it's always to condemn. I can't stand it any more," he said. "We're trying to build things with people, and the hierarchy demolishes everything."

A priest who hates the Church his priesthood serves is like an intelligence agent who hates the nation that employs him. An honest man doesn't decide to become a secret agent first and leave as an open question whether to work for the CIA or the KGB.

On this topic, I have little patience for Catholics who say "Ours would be a drastically smaller clergy if all the gays were to vanish." Not only is the numerical reduction a price the orthodox would be willing to pay, we would give a lot even to have the opportunity to pay it: to convince a hierarch to implement the clean-up. The situation is not analogous to a military recruiter gauging how large a percentage of mentally borderline recruits he can admit without weakening the army. Rather it's analogous to CIA agents treacherously working for the Red Chinese. By getting rid of them you're strengthening, not weakening, the CIA. You don't bemoan the fact that you have fewer agents in the field post-purge. You don't say, "After all, they have a lot of gifts as people and as agents and they put in longer hours than most." Their very presence is detrimental to the purpose of the institution. The purpose.

Father Gravel said the Vatican is wrong to say that homosexuality is a deviance. "Everyone knows that sexual deviations are not exclusively related to gays, but to everyone who has to live his or her sexuality clandestinely. In this matter, the clergy has become masterful, as numerous priests frequent parks, saunas and public washrooms to let off steam," he said in his letter.

Letting off steam. Right. If I understand Fr. Gravel, the Vatican should teach as God's will that what it earlier taught to be God's will is not, so that the kind of men who "let off steam" in parks, saunas and public washrooms might serve their flocks in good conscience, free of earlier encumbrances. Presumably these are the "words of hope" we need to hear.

"I will receive a reprimand from my bishop, I'm pretty sure," Father Gravel said.

He probably will, alas. And there the matter will end.

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