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08/20/2018

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Okay, I grew up Protestant and don't know what "PK" means.

I'm glad people don't talk to me too much about the Catholic Church pedophilia scandal(s), because there is not a good answer to: "How can you remain Catholic when this sort of thing goes on in your church?" All I can say is how horrible it all is, and give my own testimony (so to speak) on all of the very good men I know and have known who are priests, whether I believe they are gay celibates, or hetero celibates.

Preacher's Kids.

AMDG

PK = Preacher's Kid. Surprised you don't know the term. It carries a suggestion of bad behavior as a rebellion against the pressure to be super-good.

I've know a few priests who I thought were fairly obviously gay, and by their general manner and speech made me wonder if they were celibate. And I'm sure that there have been great saints who were sexually attracted to men (or women, if they were women) (not to mention a whole lot of unknown ones.), but who were either more or less unaware of it, or dealt with it the way we're all supposed to deal with temptation. But a clique or "subculture" of consciously and probably actively gay people...very very bad news.

Cross-posted with Janet.

Well, the key thing is to remain celibate. If you cannot do so, then at least don't be a predator. If you cannot sustain celibacy, then leave the priesthood. But the predator part is so horrible that it is beyond words.

Indeed.

I have more to say, but I've got some things to do first. I will say, since these two things have come up--

What Stu says about talking to people is a big concern for me. What will I say to my son who just came back to the Church, and his wife who was just baptized? And to my sister, whose daughter is in a same-sex marriage? And to my protestant friends?

Also, I think that these men and done a terrible injustice to homosexuals--especially to those who are trying to live a chaste life, but also to those who are just honest about their lifestyle.

AMDG

True. I hadn't thought about that angle.

I have no idea what one can say. It's very hard for it not to sound like platitudes. One specific and relatively minor thing I always want to do is correct the idea most people have that all or nearly all the cases are child rape. But it tends to sound like you're making excuses when you try to do that.

And: second only to the injustice against the actual victims and their families is the massive injustice to the vast majority of priests.

"If you cannot sustain celibacy, then leave the priesthood. But the predator part is so horrible that it is beyond words."

Here's the thing though. The secular media are so pro-homosexual that they seem loath to admit that there is even such a thing as predatory homosexuality. Hence, the pederasty angle gets all the attention, while the McGarrick angle is ignored. But what someone said on Dreher's site seems to be true: much of the attention to young males by the gay abusers, whether adolescents or seminarians, appears to be a "grooming" phenomenon. This would make the "gay" angle difficult to separate from the "pederasty" angle, at least when adolescents were targeted.

The fact of the matter is that there is such a thing as predatory homosexuality, and it often seems not to differentiate much between minors and adults. But this is exactly what pro-gay journalists, politicians, etc., do not want to hear.

Well there certainly is such a thing as predatory homosexuality. But that should not distract folks from thinking there is not predatory heterosexuality too. You don't have to be the pro-gay media to realize that damage and stigmatization comes to a group of people if we pretend they're the only ones who commit these sort of crimes.

That comment wasn't meant to be addressed to Janet in particular, though I guess it looked that way. It was just a follow-on thought, one of several that didn't make it into the post itself.

"Well there certainly is such a thing as predatory homosexuality. But that should not distract folks from thinking there is not predatory heterosexuality too."

I doubt anyone thinks otherwise. That's certainly true, and there are far more cases of heterosexual abuse in the world at large than homosexual. But predatory homosexuality is a bigger problem within the Church. The use of seminaries as hunting and grooming grounds for actively gay priests is by definition a homosexual problem, and the effects are huge. The stories told by some of those who fled those seminaries or were corrupted by them are horrible.

It does sound awful, and maybe married clergy is indeed the answer. The Church is just too political, reminds me of the government. Change needed from within that depends on those in charge to change it. Worse in a way, since we the laity don't even get a vote that means very little.

There's a piece up at First Things, "Why Men Like Me Should Not Be Priests", written by a man with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies”. The first reason he gives is that "men with homosexual tendencies find it particularly difficult to live out the demands of chastity. The vast majority of scandals in the Church since 2002 involve homosexual priests profoundly failing in chastity. This is no surprise to me. Chastity, I’m convinced (and the evidence bears this out), is much harder for men with a homosexual inclination than for others."

As you can imagine, the article is getting quite a bit of pushback in the comments -- as of now there are almost 500 of them. Anyway, definitely worth a read, I think.

I read that a few days ago and it was one of half a dozen or so links that I had marked for possible inclusion in this post, but didn't, since the post had gotten sort of out of hand anyway. I had not read any of the comments, though. I'm slightly surprised that it would get a lot of pushback there.

A lot of reports from the pews:

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/today-at-mass/

"Well, the key thing is to remain celibate." I think the key thing is whether the seminarian/priest can be chaste. This will apply to married priests if we ever get them.

True. People tend to use "chaste" and "celibate" interchangeably.

From the semi-official Ordinariate blog:

https://anglicanorumcoetibussociety.blog/2018/08/20/regarding-the-present-crisis/

Fr. Dwight Longenecker:

https://dwightlongenecker.com/the-coming-catholic-renewal-and-the-tree-of-gondor/

And here's something from a young ex-Jesuit wanting to know why he can't be openly gay and a priest. "Train wreck" is the phrase that comes to mind.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/confessions-of-a-gay-jesuit-how-i-was-forced-to-leave-my-churchand-calling

This is an excellent homily by Fr. Thomas Schaefen, O.P. It is the best things I've seen or heard so far. He is one of the Dominican Friars that I wrote about on my old blog who made a pilgrimage from New Orleans to Memphis during the summer.

AMDG

That is very good.

I'm glad you think so.

AMDG

I have been wanting to ask why you think having married priests would help. In theory, I have no objection at all to married priests--I just worry about how they will support their families--but I can't see how it will help in this case.

This isn't a criticism; it is a search for understanding.

AMDG

It's a moot point in any case. And it's really kind of grasping at a straw. I'll say more about it later today. I really have to close the browser and work now.

Oops, I mean it's a mute point. :-)

Ok, let me see if I can briefly explain why I think a married priesthood might help.

I don't say this is necessarily always true, in fact I hope it's not, but as things stand now, in our culture, the priesthood is bound to attract homosexuals by offering a path in life which does not involve romantic/sexual involvement with women and at the same time offers a respected place in society (or at least used to). It gives them, so to speak, a place to hide. That's not *necessarily* a bad thing, but obviously it has the potential for going bad, especially if these people are fully "gay" in the modern sense--i.e. not just having same-sex-attraction but making that their essential identity. And of course really disastrous if they're not truly prepared and able to be chaste. If there are a lot of these it's pretty much inevitable that they'll form a sort of clique or subculture in which they lead a secret life. Hypocrisy, blackmail, etc...that dynamic seems to be very much involved in the abuse cover-ups.

A sort of secondary problem is the sort of clericalism which sees the clergy as the real Church and the laity as a lesser class. This also is a big part of the cover-ups.

What a married priesthood *could* do is open up all that. The priesthood would no longer be a place to hide one's problem sexuality, the environment in which sexual cliques grow would be much less hospitable, and there would be less distance between clergy and laity, especially women. Or maybe I should say "might" instead of "would."

I fully recognize the difficulties. And also the advantages of a celibate clergy. Like I said I don't think this is going to be on the table anyway. I bring it up partly out of a desperate sense that something fundamental *must* change.

Did you read that piece I linked to above by the young Jesuit? That, and this one paint a very disturbing picture of the way homosexuality and the celibate male priesthood are tending to work out these days.

I will have to think about that. Not that anyone will ask my opinion.

AMDG

Someone pointed out to me, in response to this married priest discussion, the account of the life of Federigo Borromeo in this month's Magnificat. A married priest could not have done what he did.

Fr. Martin Fox in the comments section on that seminary story you linked to above (I don't how to link to just his comment, so I copied all of it):

I’ve been reading a lot of these threads on Mr. Dreher’s blog, and of course lots of information elsewhere, on these matters. I am a Catholic priest, and it is profoundly upsetting. And I’m grateful for Mr. Dreher’s work.

It may be foolish of me to weigh in, but here’s how I see it:

– There’s no question there was a big problem — such as Mr. Giella describes — in many seminaries, especially in the ’80s and ’90s. Michael Rose told the story in Goodbye Good Men 20 years ago.

– I am in no position to say whether there are seminaries still like that. But I don’t think it’s widespread, based on conversations with priests and seminarians over the years.

– Nevertheless, I do believe a lot has changed. I was in the seminary from ’97 to ’03; I entered at 35 and was ordained at 41. My seminary had had its problems, but if there was a “gay subculture,” it was invisible. The environment I knew was a healthy one. I’m in touch with priests who came after me, and seminarians there now, and all I can see tells me the environment is healthy. Nothing like what Mr. Giella described.

– Most Catholic seminaries are graduate schools, only a few are college. The average age of seminarians is trending a little lower than in my time, when it was in the 30s; now I think it’s in the high 20s. That, I think, bodes well for men not being so naive and easily manipulated, doesn’t it?

– Some people seem to have the notion that priests all know each others’ secrets. Again, I must not have been invited to those conversations. I hear very little, other than when I hear another priest’s confession, and even then, I hear very little. I’m not naive, I’m sure there are problems, but I am not “in the loop.” My priest friends and I meet regularly to pray together and visit over dinner. Pretty boring.

– I don’t blame anyone for covering this story or expressing anger, but there are a lot of good men in the seminaries, and in the priesthood, trying to grow in holiness and help others to do so. Someone above compared the addictiveness of these stories to porn. There is another comparison; spending too much time with this stuff is unhealthy. Don’t forget to look up and around at the good things happening.

Fr. Longenecker, himself a married priest, wrote on mandatory celibacy, and came to this conclusion:

Would not the formation and support of our priests be better if those who were celibate were also members of a religious community? This is the practice of the Eastern Orthodox. Then would it not be a complement to the celibate priesthood if more tested and mature married men were to be ordained?

If bishops were to be selected from the celibate members of religious orders this would continue to honor the vocation of celibacy. Such a solution would also be an ecumenical outreach to the Eastern Orthodox. It would honor both celibacy and marriage and allow both vocations to be nurtured in the church. It would not only help with the shortage of priests, but bring new gifts to the presbyterate and help to support both marriage and the gift of celibacy with a good dose of both realism and the hope that we can learn from the present crisis and by God’s grace grow into a stronger and more competent church.

Thanks very much for those, Marianne. That first one is *really* encouraging. In the post I emphasized that comment about wondering about every priest because that's something that really bothers me. The three married priests I know are exempt, not only because they're married but because they didn't go through the seminary system as young men. But the others: I can't help wondering--were they part of something like what the former seminarians describe? It's unfair but the thought presents itself unbidden.

I've seen a number of comments here and there making more or less the same point that Fr. Longenecker makes and referring to the Orthodox (and to Eastern Catholics). I could argue it either way in the abstract, and for that matter there is no obviously correct answer. But as an adaptation for the times a married priesthood seems worthy of consideration. That's ignoring the problem of a parish supporting a family, not just one man, which in practical terms seems pretty much insurmountable.

One of the things Fr. Longenecker mentions is that most priests these days live alone, and that's not a good thing. I'd been thinking along those lines myself, remembering that when I was a child there were at least three or four priests living in the parish rectory, who "shared a home and life together", as Fr. Longenecker puts it.

That reminds me of something from 30 years ago. My wife's parents were not Catholic and lived in a very small south Alabama town. That whole area of the state is pretty sparsely populated--not many people and therefore not many Catholics at all. But this town does have a Catholic church. Once when we were visiting there my father-in-law remarked that the priest seemed to be a decent guy. Then he paused and added "Seems like an awful lonely life." That kind of struck me because it seemed so likely to be true.

We had a pretty good homily about the horribleness at Mass this morning. I'm curious to know if anyone else did.

AMDG

We did not. Our priest (not the usual one--long story) talked about the reading from Ephesians, and did a great job of it. But we did have a letter from Archbishop Lopes, the bishop of the Ordinariate, on The Subject. It was good. Not quite as hard-hitting as I think it should have been, but still good.

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