Talk about a gay, old time…
As we await the rise of smoke from the Sistine Chapel, a number of things don’t seem so black and white with the Catholic Church these days where homosexuality in the Priesthood is concerned…
Daily Dish publisher Andrew Sullivan made a comment yesterday on Chris Matthews‘ show about whether the Catholic Church’s view of same sex marriage would ever change and if that issue might affect which Cardinal would be elected Pope.
“There are so many gays electing the next Pope that who knows whether that would happen,” Sullivan said.
Did he really just say that?
Andrew’s theory is that the leadership of the church is gay.
“You mean the cardinals?” Matthews asked.
“Right,” Sullivan answered. “I think the most interesting thing about that poll (on same sex marriage) is that all Christian denominations favor this, except white evangelicals. That’s the Republican base. They cannot compromise on this, and that issue is going to kill them, as it’s killing the Church.”
For the past five years I’ve had two book ideas in the back of my head, homosexuality in the priesthood – more specifically, AIDS in the priesthood – being one of them. Because it suffers a death rate four times that of any profession or group.
When the Catechism states “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered” and “under no circumstances can be approved,” why is it the single biggest problem from the lowest to the highest levels of the Church?
The topic caught my attention again as the Pope resigned unexpectedly amid rumors for his abrupt exit attributed to an undercurrent of controversy and dissension within the “gay contingent of the Vatican.”
And on the heels of the Pope’s announcement, we saw the extremely popular Archbishop of Edinburgh, Cardinalresign over unwanted sexual advances. The Archbishop would have attended the Conclave and voted on the new Pope.
Which brings us back to Sullivan’s controversial comment…
Just after the Pope’s resignation, I spoke to Hearne about doing a multi part series on this topic and he thought it worth pursuing. So this is the first of what I expect to be several installments on the topic. It’s not going to be pro/anti gay or pro/anti Catholic.
I have large groups of both gay and Catholic friends that I love dearly, so that’s not going to be the focus of the series. I’ll to attempt to uncover the why? How it came to be the problem it is today.
There have been thousands of stories written on this topic but no one has ever addressed the question of how or why this has become the problem it has within the ranks.
We had an example in our own city with Father Thom Savage - the President of Rockhurst - a well-known local celebrity and activist who lost his battle with AIDS in 1999. Father Thom was more-or-less openly gay, by most accounts, or so it seemed to some.
I have my suspicions, but at this point they are little more than that.
I’ll examine them in the upcoming stories. I’ll interview activists, Priests and hopefully one very famous one for insights into this issue. But back to my initial suppositions:
There are about 370,000 Priests and Bishops in the Church worldwide, according to CARA, a not-for-profit, Georgetown University affiliated research center that conducts social scientific studies about the Catholic Church.
So is it just a basic issue of math and percentages?
I don’t think you can assign a percentage rule of thumb until you address the issue; might gays may be more attracted to the priesthood? If we just did the conventional math, that could lead one to believe there could be around 20,000 to 40,000 gays in the priesthood.
Second, as I’ve seen firsthand being a product of the 1960s and 1970’s, there was far less of a wide acceptance of homosexuality then. I was friends with a prominent Catholic family who had a son so clearly gay there was no mistaking it. And his mother and father’s continuous topic of conversation at any opportunity was, “Our SON was chosen by God to be a Priest.”
The term gay was never mentioned, it couldn’t have been very easily then.
Did that happen to a lot of young men whose families pigeonholed them into the priesthood to save face and not have to deal with a gay son?
Third, does the issue of celibacy have anything to do with it?
I’ve heard that offered as a reason, but if that was the case, why wouldn’t there also be a disproportionate number of heterosexual affairs?
Fourth, is there an undercurrent of secrecy that keep Gay Priests from getting tested for AIDS or venereal diseases? And if so, might that veil of secrecy lend itself to even more high risk behavior?
Finally, I’m not going to touch the child abuse issue.
I don’t see that as being related. Being gay doesn’t lend itself to pedophilia or predatory sexual behavior anymore than it would to heterosexuals. Those are two different issues and totally unrelated.
If any of you have anything you’d like to add, feel free to comment. If you know a Priest willing to talk to me, I’d be more than happy to have that opportunity.
Again, it’s not going to be a hit piece but I think it begs an answer as to why it’s become the issue it is.