Predatory Homosexuality In The Church (Opening Thoughts)
There are so many good articles out there and it is really hard to find that "one" that will sum up the nature of the scandal in the Church. While The American Conservative is not a Catholic journal, Rod Dreher, of the Eastern Orthodox faith, contributes many articles on religion because as he would say "it's what I care about most." I would probably recommend following him on Twitter since he seems to be the one who is on top of this story as it develops. HERE is the link to The American Conservative where you can find him and his info.
In addition to Rod's work I do want to give you a head's up on a few things as you come across them in your reading regarding the present state of affairs in the Church today, not just here in the US, but also throughout the world...there are eruptions in Chile, Austria, Guam, Honduras, just to name a few, not to mention in the Eternal City of Rome itself. What I would like to do is to give you a set of tools that will help you to critically read what is being reported because, quite frankly, there does not seem to be one bishop willing to stand up and clearly articulate the nature of the scandal and how we can extricate ourselves from this mess and move on. So here we go...
ONE: Notice how the bishops are presenting themselves as the "victims?" They are "horrified," "shocked," "hurt," "angry" and some admit to have been "naive" or to have "misplaced" their trust in some of their brother bishops. (One bishop even confessed that this crisis has caused him to believe in the devil!) In formulating their statements it would seem that every bishop consults his thesaurus looking for that one word to use that will make him sound more hurt and more angry than the other bishops. I think it is safe to say that we do not care about their feelings. An opportunity to correct what is ailing the Church was given to them back in 2002 when the scandal first broke. An extensive independent study was prepared by the John Jay Institute clearly identifying the problem, but the bishops did not like the findings of the report and so they archived it and forgot about it. (More on this and a link to that report later.)
TWO: Notice how the scandal is framed in terms of a "failed" human resource strategy regarding policy and procedure. Note well the endless references to the "Charter" (for the protection of children) and how it seems that the bishops have not fully implemented the Charter in every way that it could be and so this is why the problem persists. I guess it is the Charter's fault.
THREE: Take careful note of the artful fan dance that is being presented before the eyes of the Catholic faithful with regards to the words that are selected for describing the victims of sexual abuse by the clergy. Nearly every statement given by a bishop and nearly every story prepared by many "catholic" new agencies describe the victims as "children" or "adults." Notice anyone missing? Think. What is the common understanding of who a "child" is? A grade-schooler? More than likely. How about an "adult?" Someone in their 20's or 30's, right? So who is missing? I will tell you who. The REAL victims...adolescent males and males in their late teens and early twenties. This is what the John Jay report made explicitly clear. (Click HERE to see the full text of the report. Be warned, it is a mind numbing read! It is an investigative and statistical report after all.)
FOUR: If you are a bishop or priest who insists that the Church has a problem with "predatory homosexuality" within the ranks of the clergy, you are dismissed as "the lady that doth protest to much" and must be gay yourself.
It has been known, and known for a long time that the Church has a very clear and persistent problem with predatory homosexuals in the ranks of the hierarchy. And it is not by accident. As a seminarian in the 1990's I recall many, many resources that were brought to bear upon young men preparing for the priesthood that were intended to weaken their resolve to live a chaste, celibate life in perfect continence as did Jesus Christ. Such resources were, in my particular case, "psychology" classes (in quotes because it was a label used to disguise the nature and content of the course) that centered on human sexuality that had nothing to do with psychology and more about how to actually have sex with instructions and graphics (the current edition of the text book we had to buy, yes buy, is HERE), days of recollection offered by the notorious nun/priest team of Sr. Fran Ferderer and Fr. John Heagle, and the openly homosexual "staff" psychologist who counseled seminarians and helped them work through their "issues." I could go on and on.
In the two seminaries that I attended, visibly openly homosexual sub-cultures were tolerated and permitted to flourish. If a homosexual seminarian misbehaved by advancing in an unwelcome manner against another seminarian the victim was the one who was usually punished. In rare cases certain homosexual men were dismissed from the seminary but I know of at least two who were quickly picked up by religious communities in other states. I mention that I know of at least two who were "shuffled" because one of them was the upperclassman who assaulted me during my second year of theology just a month or so before I made my candidacy for the priesthood. I could go on and on with anecdotes and they are endless.
In my first year as a newly ordained priest I had come to find out that my pastor was enlisting the services of a local male hustler when it was presumed that I was absent from the rectory. On one occasion I was at home and I overheard my pastor tell the hustler that he had another priest client that he might want to contact. After a couple months of fear and disgust I finally mustered the courage to tell my bishop who very casually responded to the news with "he knew" and that it was his understanding that the men in question were over 18 years of age. Well, as it turns out my pastor began enlisting the services of this one particular hustler when he was around 16 years of age and when he found out that suing the Church was more profitable than servicing its priests that is exactly what he did. My pastor was suddenly granted a sabbatical and the bishop told me to keep my mouth shut and that I never saw nor heard anything. (This is one of the reasons why I left the diocese of my ordination to incardinate in other. The bishop in question died earlier this year.)
The point that I am trying to make in all of this is that what we have on our hands is a systemic problem that is tearing at the Church at every level and nearly in every place (except it seems in Africa). And if that were not enough, otherwise good men, bishops and priests, are paralyzed by fear and would rather keep their mouths shut and play along to get along under the rubric of "not doing further harm" to the Church than that which She is already miserably suffering. Every priest out there (and bishops too) have a lot that can be said but they are not saying it. It is akin to the highly dysfunctional family that would rather die a thousand deaths rather than give up their horrific secret. But why?
The answer to that question is where I would like to conclude for now and it is this; human nature abhors evil and finds it most, most distasteful, but we have a mechanism within ourselves that makes committing evil seem good and potentially pleasurable and that same mechanism can make evil tolerable to those who are otherwise repulsed by it, and that mechanism is the abuse of our intellect by forcing it to generate an aspect of the good under which the evil might be considered as good, therefore making the consent of the will possible. (If you teach moral theology don't pounce on me if that was not as elegantly stated as it could be!) What am I suggesting? The ranks of the clergy are blind. They only see a certain shallow good that ought to be preserved; i.e., unity, brotherhood, not harming the Church, and so on and so forth, and I say "shallow" because of the enormity of the evil that we are up against, but at what cost do we seek to preserve these shallow goods? At what cost?
The only way I see out of this mess is the grace of God working in the individual hearts of good bishops and priests that will dispel their fears and bring them forth in courage to confront this horror head on and call it what it is...a scourge of predatory homosexuality. Period. And so we pray and make reparation begging God to free the Church from this bondage and from the paralysis that has seized our Shepherds down from the Holy See itself to the very rural heartland of the United States; and everywhere in between.