Tuesday, November 29, 2005

'Romano DID NOT bend my life'

During my absence, I got a couple of e-mails from the subject of a post last month. J. David Enright IV wrote to protest that the New York Post got wrong the details of his threatened lawsuit, with their Page One tabloid head (quoting from memory): "Suit: Priest made me gay."

His initial note to me said:

Tidy thinking and writing. The NY POST being the sensationalistic tabloid it is portrayed me as quite the jackass. NO, Father Romano's molestation did not make me gay and I was adamant about this with the reporter as I noted him attempting to steer me in that direction. Pls. refer to Wayne Besen's blog reportage ... he checked the facts, interviewed me and hopefully the false accusation will dry up.

Here's a link to the post Mr. Enright refers to by homosexual journalist Wayne Besen. The article also contains a link to the initial column Besen wrote, denouncing Mr. Enright.

I responded in part:

But I'd like to know what you're saying the Post got wrong. Are you saying the Post made up the quote from whole cloth? Or are you saying you said something they misconstrued (though it's hard to see what's ambiguous about "I believe that my life would be very different now ... I'd probably be married, living in Greenwich, with four children in boarding school.")
As I interpret the NYPost story, you've merely filed notice to sue, not the actual suit. May I take this note to mean that when the lawsuit proper is filed, it will not cite "making me gay" or anything similar as part of the damages you would be seeking to collect.

He responded, in part, as follows:

I never said that Joseph Romano "made me gay" which would be a ridiculous assertion. Yes, The Post made that up all by themselves. Father Romano introduced me to homosexuality by repeatedly molesting me as a seven- eight-year old child explaining that it was an accepted "rite of passage." He, given his stature, told me that to lie, to cover-up, tell no one, was also part of growing up. He forced a "dirty little secret" upon a child with his sexual molestations. He caused elaborate childhood depression robbing me of an otherwise happy childhood. At such a tender age, sexuality isn't even part of most children's thinking. Whether it had been hetero or homosexual pedophilia, I knew something wasn't quite right - the man damaged my natural happy and curious spirit. He stole a big chunk of my childhood away from me and that is what this suit (in part) is all about. He did BEND my life dramatically by his pathetic, sick deviate child molestation.
Whether I'd be living in Greenwich with a wife and children in school, otherwise, is anyone's guess. The Post swamped me
on this as well. The answer is, who knows what might have been? My issues with Father Romano and the Diocese of Albany (NY) are far larger than what has been suggested by The New York Post, a sensationalistic tabloid where I bet a young reporter could learn plenty - hands on - about yellow journalism.


No, my actual suit will not have any mention of Romano "making me gay." Now that would be preposterous.
Yes, The Post did a hatchet job with my words and intent for the sake of their sensationalistic journalism and ambition to sell newspapers. Thank you for checking Mr. Besen.

As Mr. Besen wrote, the Post stands by its story, and it has not issued any corrections as best I can tell. As long as Mr. Enright's lawsuit will say what he says it will say (or not say, actually) and he says the molestation did not "make me gay," then I withdraw the comments I made about his lawsuit and case, plus the snarky asides.

I do not, however, withdraw the general point that the gay ideologues' insistence on homosexuality's supposed inborn-ness or God-given-ness in on a collision course with reality and even the pro-gay APA itself.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

What West Coast diocese?

Time magazine has an article on how the Church uses head-shrinkers, including some non-Catholics and others not especially sympathetic to Church teachings, to learn about prospective and current seminarians' sexuality, sexual history and other mental-health related matters.

Obviously there's dangers in using psychiatrists given the American Psychiatric Association's PC litmus tests on homosexuality, but the article is informative on how the Church does and doesn't use head-shrinkers, and in principle there can be nothing wrong with making use of secular expertise in at least some fields (to pick an uncontroversial example, a good carpenter who is Protestant is preferable to a bad one who is Catholic. Though I hear Jewish carpenters are best of all.)

But one passage in the second section caught my eye:

When a psychologist reports a candidate's describing his prior dating life as "'I didn't go with a girl, I went with a guy for three years,' that's usually a game stopper," says Monsignor Steven Rohlfs, rector at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmetsburg, Md. But most in his position are more accepting. Plante reports that one West Coast diocese responded to rumors of Rome's new hard line by asking him to keep homosexual designation out of his final reports, for fear it would hurt gay priests' careers down the line.

Did everybody catch that? ... one West Coast diocese ... [asked the head-shrinker] to keep homosexual designation out of his final reports." I wonder what West Coast diocese that might have been. Hmmm ... there are other possibilities too numerous to allow the listing of every potential suspect.

And there's more to be disturbed about. One of the big excuses for bishop malfeasance in re The Situation was that "the expert head-shrinkers told us pedophiles could be cured." Set aside all the various ways this is not an argument even if true -- this little tidbit buried in the Time article still indicates that the dioceses are the dog and the head-shrinkers the tail in their relationship (thus giving the factual lie to the bishops' post hoc excuse).

But even beyond that, the "please don't tell us" bit also illustrates the depth of the American Church's contempt for Rome, and the way large chunks of it are essentially wedded to the homosexual agenda. If we have to do X if we know something ... don't tell us that something. In discussing The Document None of Us Have Seen, those of us skeptical of the reports it would issue a blanket ban on all homosexual men argued that it wouldn't really address the problem because AmChurch would just ignore it. I consider us vindicated.

'Romano bent my life'

A "Which Part of Our Ideology Is Most Important? test is coming up, according to a report in the New York Post (link below requires subscription). A New York socialite (J. David Enright IV ... I am not kidding) claims he was made gay by repeated sexual abuse at age 7 by a priest. J. David Enright IV is planning to sue the Catholic Diocese of Albany, the bishop and the priest in question.

This puts the homosexual groups and the jurist class (to the extent they are distinguishable) in a quandary in my opinion. Do they follow Worldview Postulate (1) "Stick it to the Catholic Church"; Postulate (2) "Homosexuality is an inherent given"; or Postulate (3) "Being Gay is Super (Thanks for Asking)"

If (2) is true, and that's the Gay Orthodoxy (remember the "God made Mary Cheney gay" shrieks last fall), then the sexual abuse, horrible and legally-actionable though it may have been in itself, could not have had anything to do with J. David Enright IV's current adult homosexuality. And so (1) goes by the wayside. Further, if suffering same-sex sex-abuse as a child disposes one toward homosexuality, then *there* is the perfectly rational basis for excluding homosexuals from Scout leaders, teachers, priests, adoptive parents or any other positions with access to children or authority over them.

If (3) is true, and the gay groups obviously have to say THAT, then there's no legal cause for action at all. No harm has been done to this man J. David Enright IV by being made gay. And so (1) goes by the wayside. Further, this man doesn't seem to have damaged much in his life prospects in general, and he seems to move in those social circles least likely to disapprove of homosexuality. And the New York Post, bless their working-class tabloid hearts, plays this part up -- "dressed in a custom-made English suit and French cuffed shirt." (Ouch.)

Will (1) go by the wayside? My inner cynic says no. Some rationale will be cooked up.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The other side

This site might look like I am down on orthodox/rightist/conservative¹ Catholicism, posting mostly about The Document. But that's merely a function of having expectations of people. As much as it might subjectively sting to hear that "men" like myself are somehow not really men, it's objectively-speaking nothing compared to the proudly-hateful, anti-intellectual, butt-ignorant and frankly-psychotic attitudes toward Catholicism that *constitute the mainstream* at the progressive-left end of the spectrum. Every so often, it's good to be reminded of that.

Earlier today, I was searching GoogleNews for an AP link to the Document story and I got the Huffington Post, among others. As I sit down to write this, there are 65 comments to the Reuters article I linked to below. These are the samples from just the first 25:

When is this monolithic institution going to finally crumble under its own weight? Hopefully, taking with it, the non-thinking, non-feeling members it attracts to its cult(ure).
You know what this means guys...
That’s right,
#1) no more penances for touching yourself.
#2) All good fags get go to heaven.
Everyone remember: dense thinking comes in all religious flavors.
"Drink from the cup of hate and you end hating." Matthew 10:7
In other words the Kingdom of God shall not be occupied by human beings. Sounds like a lousy place to end up, this 'Kingdom of God'. Good thing it's all just silly fantasy made up by angry impotent men who hate women.
And just how does one 'prove' they've been celibate for three years?
Guess this underscores just how bad off the Catholic Church is these days in their efforts to recruit new perverts to fill the ranks of the clergy.
I just think that the all the lace and robes that the pope wears looks an awful lot like drag to me.
This is going to open up a whole new area of religious controversy, summed up by the question:'How many angels and devils will fit on the engorged head of a gay priest's erection?'
I find it difficult to respect and give any credence to a fascist organization run by a Nazi. Pope Benedict XVI IS a Nazi. There is no doubt about it. Not only is he a Nazi but Joaquin Navarro Valls is a member of Opus Dei which was founded by a staunch supporter of Franco. The RC Church, thanks to the "good" JPII boo, is now in the hands of the good ol' New Spanish Inquisition (Opus Dei). The Vatican, as well as the city of Rome, is overrun with Opus Dei members, whose founder was placed on the VERY fast track to sainthood as now is JPII. I'm sure Christ is spinning where he is as is John XXIII.
So that "they" condemn homosexuality as an evil is beyond my comprehention coming from the devil's minions themselves.
Vatican sounds a lot like the current White House administration--lies upon lies upon lies, then burying the truth so much (child-moleting priests) that their leaders forget why they joined "the club" in the first place!
Does anyone else regard 'biblical scholarship' as an oxymoron? Such as the 'science of resurrection'? The 'physiology of virgin birth'? The 'intelligence of Robertson'? The 'wisdom of Dobson'? The 'knowledge of Falwell'? The 'competence of Bush'?

There is a difference between annoying and nauseatingly evil.

¹ Yeah, yeah ... none of these terms is perfect.

My addiction

"What does cocaine make you feel like. It makes you feel like having more cocaine."
-- George Carlin

I have two interrelated compulsions that constantly threaten to consume my soul -- to Internet porn and to self-abuse. I can't say no to them, even though I know they are both wrong. And have repeatedly confessed to them through tears. There. I've said it.

In all honesty, before I had Internet access at home, porn was never a serious problem for me. Sure, I would steal glances or extra-long looks at masculine or beefcake images in legitimate magazines, TV shows and movies (I had done that since before puberty). But such furtive looks often occur in public and around others, so taking it to the next impure step was not an option. And an awareness of the closet and your public persona as a devoutly orthodox Catholic will do what fear of God's (future and thus in some sense unreal) wrath might not. Sneaking into the red-light district in a trenchcoat with a hat pulled over my face on a rain-swept night -- it was not me. I was better than that. Better than them. I knew that.

What's so pernicious about Internet porn that makes it qualitatively different from hard-copy porn is that it's available privately (so avoiding public shame), and just one click of the mouse away (or at most two; for the "subscribers-only section," where they keep the best stuff). I have already clicked the keyboard hundreds of times while working on this (at this instant less-than-half-done) post. In fact, and to my shame, I would sometimes post on some orthodox Catholic site about something-or-other, click twice, sate myself, and then go back to posting. Let's face it, most people (myself not excluded) are slothful about most things. We'll do what's most convenient. Internet porn is just too damn easy. To use economist's language, the barriers to market entry for the purchaser are nonexistent. It's like putting an unlimited supply of cocaine before the lab rat, available at a touch.

But it also contributed to my depression -- within five minutes of finishing, I'd be angry at myself for stumbling again. The humiliation would then make me want to act out again, and sometimes not especially for pleasure's sake, but as a way of deliberately hurting myself bodily or defiling my soul. I would be like someone who scratches himself bloody. And the bloody wounds itch, so then you need to scratch them some more, etc. All the while knowing I was doing something wrong and immoral, that I'd have to admit in shame to my confessor (now someone who knows me as a human being). But I'd had so much cocaine that I needed more cocaine.

I did some things around my computer space to deter myself. As I look to my left, I have taped to my desk overhang a laminated Divine Mercy card from the Archdiocese of Krakow, with a picture of the altar at St. Faustina's church. As I look in a prominent place to my right, I have from the health department the results of a negative HIV test (suffice to say the contrary result was not impossible). I can't say either helped tremendously, particularly since hatred and resentment toward God on the one hand and self-destructiveness on the other are factors that have motivated my bad behavior. And frankly, there was pleasure too and an inability from years of inexperience to imagine what life could be like without wanking daily. In St. Augustine's formulation: "Make me chaste, O Lord, but not yet."

About six weeks ago, a week before I launched this site, I had, to quote Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction, what alcoholics call a moment of clarity. I won't detail what happened as it's too long for a digression, but when I described it all to Father during Confession after the chapter meeting the next Tuesday, he said in a peremptory way that the incident proved "how severe your problem is" and called my saying that I had my life under control "crap." One of my Courage brothers, a techno-computer-whiz I will call "Jim" and who had been involved in extracting me from the bad situation, said "when can I come over and fix up your computer." Not "can I" but "when can I." We had some technical difficulties, because I am a Mac person, and Jim only knows two porn filters available in Mac versions. One he couldn't install because the instructions were written in "japlish" so bad that they even stumped this man experienced in dealing with computer instructions written in that weird tongue. The second was SafeEyes, but my two-year-old iMac runs an OS version not compatible with the program. And then there was a couple of weeks stumbling around each other's schedules.

But then, I made the ultimate modern American proof of committment -- I spent money. I went to a Mac store to get the $100+ upgrade to OSX Tiger (which I never would have gotten otherwise; I was quite happy with my existing OS, though Tiger is sweet, I will say). "Jim" came by the next night and installed SafeEyes with no technical problems (well, one minor imperfection involving the ADMIN password, which we quickly corrected). The program is available here.

After Jim left, I did three or four tests of my most-commonly-used porn/hookup sites -- not to get around it, but to "test the locks" like the heroin addict who has locked himself in a room to go cold turkey. (There was also an element of "trying out the new toy," I will admit). Now if I try to go to a site (I just tried one obviously-banned site to get the wording. Honest.), I get a page reading "The website was denied because of the banned sites categories your administrator has selected. You will not be able to reach websites which fall under banned categories unless your administrator removes the ban on those categories." In addition, "Jim" gets weekly reports of my attempts at banned activity, broken down by day. That was 11 days ago, and I'm amazed at how much easier life has been. Obviously a technical fix isn't interior chastity, and I'm under no illusions about the size of the mountain a yearslong habit is. But I have lived porn-free close to perfectly; less so with self-abuse though still far better than before. Anyone with a computer at home should get one of these filters -- there's no reason not to.

There's no way to overstate the importance of not having a gazillion pictures at my fingertips. No way. And hard to see what possible benefit there can be to have it THAT easily available. If there are, let us stipulate, people who can consume porn without it warping them as badly as it does me (I don't doubt that, though I also don't believe it can have no effect. It's purely a matter of degree in given cases), it shouldn't be too much difficulty to expend some effort. I'm realistic about what a liberal society can do, so I've become more convinced than ever than porn needs to be ghettoized, both in "live" life and the Internet. If it can't be banned (for now), everything that can be done to make it more difficult and awkward to acquire is for the good. Even if such laws can be gotten around by those determined. My confessor once said something to the effect of "part of the reason I rail against TV is my own weakness. If I watched it, I'd likely just waste my time with Adam Sandler movies or somesuch." The reason society exists and laws passed, after all, is to benefit or protect the weak and vulnerable. The rich and strong don't need government; they can generally handle themselves naturally.

Good news on The Document

I have to break my silence, because I'm just too happy. According to several reports, starting with the Milan daily Corriere Della Sera, the new Church document on homosexuals in seminaries will not impose a per se rule againat all men with same-sex attractions. Those whose Italian is up to it can see the first reporting here). Language wimps like myself can read the first pick-ups from by Reuters and then as independently confirmed by the Associated Press. The most comprehensive English report is from the National Catholic Reporter

These are the money paragraphs from NCR:

A forthcoming Vatican document on homosexuals in seminaries will not demand an absolute ban, a senior Vatican official told NCR Oct. 7, but will insist that seminary officials exercise "prudential judgment" that gay candidates should not be admitted in three cases.
Those three cases are:
• If candidates have not demonstrated a capacity to live celibate lives for at least three years;
• If they are part of a "gay culture," for example, attending gay pride rallies (a point, the official said, which applies both to professors at seminaries as well as students);
• If their homosexual orientation is sufficiently "strong, permanent and univocal" as to make an all-male environment a risk.

In addition, the article goes on, whether these criteria are met in a given case will be decided "in the context of individual spiritual direction." The specificity of detail -- the three-year period, the Gay Pride parade example, the three adjectives each referring to something different (degree, length, and mix) -- makes me think the document is completed and, at a minimum, that reporter John Allen's source (and possibly Allen himself, though he'd be bound not to say that) has actually seen it and was able to quote from it.

This is a relief, I must say. It is consistent with both the need to act against homosexual cliques and uphold the overall Church teaching on homosexuality. Appearances aside, I actually don't object to the notion that, especially in this time and place with the dangers of a widespread "out" homosexual culture, men with homosexual attractions have to be put on a shorter leash during formation. Men with SSA have a steep mountain to climb -- and none of us are under any illusions about the constant banana peels the broader culture strews around us -- and so we tend to fall hard. That's a legitimate concern. Also homosexuality itself can underlie a legitimate cause for exclusion

What this rule would do, and this may turn out a good or bad thing depending, is put the ball in the hands of the bishops and seminary officials, to make sound judgments. Which is what they should have been doing all along. Now there's a specific instruction with criteria that can't be ignored. Oh, those determined to ignore it, either from ideological wilfullness or personal blackmailability, may in fact do so (the Church really isn't the top-down tyranny most of its haters and a few of its more rabid supporters believe it is). And I take second place to nobody in my distrust of the judgment of, say, Cardinal Mahony. But in such cases there really is a much more fundamental problem, one that no rule from Rome, whatever its content, could affect. Ultimately, there really is no substitute for holiness in the trenches.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Last night's meeting

Our Courage group meets Tuesday night, and to go this week, I did some juggling with my work schedule (which prevents my routine attendance). Naturally, it was largely about The Document -- the consternation it had caused among individual chapter members being something to which Father already had been exposed. After the opening Rosary and recitation, Father read the following beatitude:

"Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me."

He read it back more than once during his opening remarks, always emphasizing the word "falsely." He was emphasizing among other things, I think and especially in light of his advice to me to avoid discussing The Document, a need to cultivate some distance from Fortuna, from chance, from things beyond our (my) control. After all, it's the easiest thing in the world to say to yourself "I'm just correcting Person X's error" or "I don't mind being criticized for true things, Person X, but at least accuse me/us of something right." And then sinking back into the Comment Box Whirpool when Person X insists the accusations are true or not errors. I've been tempted several times thus in the two days and then remember the promise I gave Father (which frankly so goes against my contentious personality that, for now at least, I have to rely on external things like oral promises and public words).

At the meeting, Father didn't quote the Catechism verbatim IIRC but I believe he alluded more than once to the teaching contained in 2358: "These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition." To offer it up. In other words, to be, rather than not to be. "To bear the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune," because it is not "nobler to die" (in Christ, at least) but to "unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross."

ADDENDUM: I wrote this post primarily to repeat and disseminate Padre's words. It's accurate, names no group member's names, reveals nothing even potentially embarrassing, and violates nobody's confidentiality. (And believe me, I could have written a very interesting post had I been a moral cretin and just repeated the substance of Tuesday's meeting.) But I don't wish to leave the impression that it is generally acceptable to write about Courage meetings or repeat what people say. It is not, and, so as not to inadvertantly leave a false impression, I have taken advice not to do it again. I will say it: This blog doesn't matter; Courage itself does. Nobody who could benefit should avoid a Courage meeting for fear that it'll be splashed all over the place the next day. Like the confessional, what makes us free to say whatever is on our mind at the meetings (and the other guys in the Arlington chapter could do some terrible damage to me with what I have said) is the guarantee that whatever is said stays among us. And it always will around me, despite whatever impressions this post might have left.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

But maybe it's not so bad

I went to confession earlier today, and though I mentioned it briefly as the proximate cause for a bout of despair and depression, and Father called it then "the document that nobody has seen and may not even be finished." But he made a point of discussing it after, despite my stated preference to the contrary, as a way of underlining for me that these last few days have really not been good for my soul. He reminded me, "you can't do anything about it." He said some reassuring words that this will not change or kill Courage or alter teaching in any way. And I'm not going anywhere, I told him. "So what's the point?" he gestured.

I promised Father that I would stay away from discussions of The Document. (The post below was in the draft folder already more than half-written and, I decided, was not really about The Document but the reaction from the Catholic Right, something I actually do have first-hand knowledge of and power over). And I had seen some sensible words from Eve Tushnet earlier in the day.

All this by way of saying, I'm imposing a silence on myself on these damn reports, at a minimum until The Document is officially released. And maybe even after that -- after all, it won't affect me and I'm bound not to dissent.

UPDATE: Apparently, Padre told David Morrison something similar.

UPDATE 2: I think Father Martin Fox covers all the needed ground without my hefty helping of Angst.

Monday, September 26, 2005

A sinus-clearing moment in re the Catholic right

I don't want this post to sound bitter, as I'm generally quite happy right now. In these last few days, I've already done more than my fair share of polemicizing (surely the 336 comments at that last link is a record for Amy's site). And I hate whiny little bitches. But it will sound bitter.

These last few days have been a wake-up call to me. Last week, I could truly say that never had my fellow Catholics made me feel ashamed or humiliated me over my homosexual attractions (I can do a pretty good job of that on my own). As I've said here, never has Topic H been a problem with any Catholic or Christian who knew me as me. And I've always dismissed charges of "homophobia" against the Church or Catholics generally from The Gay Activist Crowd as just so much illiterate bleating from people who'd consider me a homophobe for stating that gay sex is sinful and wrong.

But no more.

Now, don't get me wrong ... GLAAD, HRC, Lambda and the rest can still go piss off. But it's been discouraging to find out what some people who should know better, who wear the mantle "Catholic," really think about people with same-sex attraction. Directly contrary to what the Church teaches about homosexuality, quite a few seem to believe reductionist (i.e., persons with same-sex attraction can be described or categorized merely by reference to that sin) and deterministic (i.e., persons with same-sex attraction must inevitably act on their irresistable desires) theories about homosexuality. And not a few others, in a bid to justify what can only be an administrative rule, turn it into an ontological issue about the possibility of ordination via some truly bizarre combinations of circularly-reasoned personalist psychology and overliteralized mystical theology. It always included some riff on the melody: "a man with same-sex attractions is not *really* a man" (and therefore ordination is impossible). Some of the worst gloating in St. Blogs, the former of which I was alerted by a friend, at CWN, or from Diogenes(though this last one actually makes an interesting point; it's the comments that are off the wall) and others.

These discussions took place, and this is Key Point #1, OUTSIDE the context of the Kulturkampf and red-blue stuff -- i.e., Dom, Mark and Amy¹ probably run the three largest "conservative" or "orthodox" Catholic blogs and so we're among friends. Also, and this is Key Point #2, OUTSIDE the context of arguments about the morality of homosexual conduct itself -- i.e., none of us were arguing for that. In other words, this is not a discussion with Voice of the Faithful or with Dignity. (One of the earliest comments at Amy's thread above was a pro-gay type who said he was "glad that the good little Courage quislings are squirming. Kiss a** too much and all you get is painfully chapped lips." To which I gave a retort that felt really good at the time).

But over those days, it just became impossible to avoid the conclusion that for some people, against whom I have no interest in specific "J'Accuse" finger-pointing, this was just about prettifying a prejudice against Those Sodomitic Butt-Burglars. People who were gleeful for a chance to stick it in the eye of Those Disordered Preverts. Who couldn't imagine that somebody could have same-sex attractions and be committed, by God's grace, to living chastely as best he can, with God's grace.

I have always denied to liberal friends that there was any homophobia in the Church, dismissing the claim as an artifice of their trumped-up definitions.² I can do that no more. Like many a naive man, I've been gobsmacked. Mugged by reality.

¹ Lest I be understood, I am describing the subsequent discussions, which did not involve the blog hosts themselves, all of whom I respect.

² Which I obviously still believe to be the case, to an extent.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Courage Conference and a seminary environment

I did something last month that may speak to the question of whether a same-sex-attracted man is capable of life in a seminary situation -- probably the main argument in favor of this per se rule against "gay priests." I went to the annual conference of Courage for the first time in August. It was a mixed-sex environment, so not exactly like a seminary (though it was mostly male, I'd guess about 2-to-1. And there were a lot of priests there). Still it was structured around "Churchy" things and I knew, as a point of fact, that nearly every single man around me was same-sex attracted.

I have a problem with self-abuse, to the point of its being an addictive compulsion -- I know backwards and forwards that it's wrong, and yet I do it anyway with a clear head. On average daily -- and so on some days more than once. So you'd think, and a Church per se rule would seem to endorse, that my being surrounded by a bunch of other same-sex-attracted guys in an environment with some resemblance to a seminary-type situation would be like putting the crack before the lab rat.

But no. To put it in the most crass way possible (moi?), I enjoyed 10 days of chastity -- before during and after. It was the anticipation and later fact of a holy environment, with daily Mass and availability of confession, *despite* the temptations of the people surrounding me. The whole weekend was just ... hopeful. It was more than fellowship, more than the holy environment and daily sacraments, but my just being able to *be* for four days without any fear or shame or worry or Angst. To breathe easily with everybody always already knowing the thing I hate most about myself and most fear others knowing/guessing/finding out. I hate the word "liberating" (it carries the aura of Che Guevara posters), but that's what it was. I was not sunk in my customary gloom, trapped in the whirlpool of frustration, anger, acting out, despair and depression.

Or in a phrase: a holy, at-ease environment trumps the temptations of SSA, when it's provided, available, and we cooperate with it.

Another blast from the past

Last year, I wrote some thoughts on Amy Welborn's site on why I think the priesthood has become so filled with homosexuals, both practicing and not. It was in the partial context of the best-selling book "Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul" by Tony Hendra (who played the manager in "This is Spinal Tap").


Regarding the homosexualization of the priesthood, I basically agree that everybody has a part of the reason:

I think that the above posters are right that many young Catholic boys who find themselves struggling with same-sex attraction either see the priesthood as a way of dealing with "that" or see 'that" as a form of "calling," God's tap on the shoulder and whatnot.

The first layman I ever told about "that" was a nationally-known and very orthodox Catholic law professor who I had a class with. He published something about homosexuality that I thought was grossly incomplete and I wrote him a lengthy, very confessional note saying what I thought the article didn't grasp (although nothing in it was exactly "wrong"), and we discussed it for a couple of hours. He suggested to me that perhaps God was "blessing you" (his term) with a calling to celibacy and perhaps the priesthood as well.

In a similar vein, the mother who's very proud of "my boy, the priest" is such a stock and recognizable character that it has to have some basis in broad experience. And there's enough psychological-anecdotal evidence that domineering mothers produce gay boys that a connection to priests (particularly in big ethnic ghetto families -- which is the situation whose vocational fruit we have decades later) seems reasonable.

In addition, a Catholic boy who has these mysterious desires for male companionship that he probably only half-understands (and probably doesn't yet see in sexual terms ... I speak from experience here) is probably going to gravitate to priests -- plus there's all the loveliness of the smells and bells.

So you have an unnaturally large share of men thrown together with homosexual inclinations. Some stumble and become compromised and blackmailed. Then discipline becomes impossible (or very painful) and the result is the Lavender Mafia. Church teachings become harder to credit, and downright ugly behavior becomes normal and, in some places, orthodox men find the environment intolerable, the bad money driving out the good as that fallacy of Lutheran pseudo-science Gresham's Law would predict.

At the risk of touching the third rail, I agree with [Rod] Dreher that among the worst fallout of the scandals is that so many parents (quite rationally, in a certain sense, if irrationally in another sense) can no longer trust priests with their young boys, and all the good priests have to operate under such a cloud of suspicion as to make impossible some of the good they can do. Thus boys like Tony Hendra are less likely to find men like Father Joe who can save them. In fact, particularly for a young boy struggling with latent homosexuality, a chaste gay priest might be the best friend he could have. If nothing else, such a priest would personify the Church teaching that these inclinations are not the end of the world even if they never go away, and that the boy is still called to serve God somehow and be part of the Church family somehow. But what parent in this environment would trust a son that they "had worries about" with a priest?

When there's not a damn thing you can do ...

... think of Flannery O'Connor.

It seems to be a fact that you suffer as much from the Church as for it, but if you believe in the divinity of Christ, you have to cherish the world at the same time that you struggle to endure it.


What people don't realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross.

I've always tried to avoid the "tortured homo" persona, but sometimes it's just unavoidable.

Enemas hurt

The last few days have frankly been very difficult for me, with every news outlet in the country following CWN in reporting that sometime this fall, the Church will bar all men with homosexual tendencies from seminary.

I've said that I can understand a temporary ban in given cases according to a bishop's prerogative. But I posted on Mark Shea's site last night that this still hurts, partly because of its universality and partly because of the reasoning. Even though I saw it coming. David Morrison put his finger on "why" I can be depressed at something that I saw: "it's a vote of 'no confidence'." It's like any other rebuke or punishment -- no matter how much you steel yourself on the way to the woodshed, no matter how you tell yourself you can take it, no matter how reconciled you might be to your deserving it, no matter how much you tell yourself to be Christ-like and accept an unjust punishment that might be for the greater good in the overall sacramental economy -- whippings still hurt; votes of no confidence still humiliate. But here's what I wrote in Mark's comment field. The first, italicized, paragraph is from another poster.


I'd put the alleged ban on SSA ordinations in the same genre as the Charter -- an overly zealous zero-tolerance policy intended to make up for decades of pastoral neglect.

Y'know, I understand that. And the overall need for the priesthood not to be seen as a "gay thing." And that we're in a crisis/mobilization situation, which sometimes requires measures you would never take in ordinary times. And I can see with my brain the overall legal-theoretical legitimacy.

But after this past week of news reports, I still have to say ... this effing hurts. Effing. Hurts. Not because I want to be a priest and see this as an "infringement on my rights." No. I do not, and I have no such right. But because the Church I love and cannot leave -- "Master, to whom shall we go," and all that -- is betraying its own Catechism. And betraying its teachings on sexuality. For as long as I've been with the Church, it has said: that however I sinned (and I have), I was not beyond God's grace and the chance of at least some improvement; that I was not compelled by my condition to cruise bathhouses or bars; that the pangs of conscience after buying a prostitute or having an anonymous hookup (I have done both) proved I wasn't completely dead to sin; that God saw me as something other than a perverted sodomite.

I know this rumored document, assuming the reports are accurate (a big "if"), doesn't strictly speaking repudiate any of that. But it does deny its underpinnings, which is that temptations are not character- or soul-defining. (The glee some are taking in it is no help either.) Or in David's words, the teaching is neither reductionist nor deterministic. This document appears to treat people as a class, uniformly and always, as defined by a nonsinful temptation. To quote the military aphorism: This is not what I signed up for. I get that from the gay activists or the secular culture: "self-hating repressed homo" and all that. I just expect better from Christ's Church.

Despite my anger, I'm not gonna pull an Andrew Sullivan. I've never denied the Church teaching on sex or withheld something from my confessor. Or even tried to use the "addiction" line to minimize my compulsive self-abuse (I frankly wonder how he can stand to listen to me at times). And to be fair, the situation on the ground isn't bad: my SSA has never been a problem with any Catholic or Christian who knows about it (though I have cherry-picked, I admit). I went to the Courage Conference for the first time this year and it was one of the happiest weekends I've ever had.

But enemas hurt, and what Mr. Shea calls the Great Enema is no exception. Stoking my anger and succumbing to despair (a constant problem I have, quite apart from Topic H) have gotten a lot easier in recent days.

So to those priests who committed the acts of sex abuse that contributed to the situation; to you I say: "I sure hope it was a great orgasm."

And to those bishops and chancery rats who covered up the acts, shuffled around the perps, intimidated or hoodwinked parents, etc.; to you I say: "I sure hope you enjoy purgatory or worse."

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Lest I be unclear ...

... I really have no personal dog in the fight over ordaining men with SSA. One can never say "never" in matters of God's calling of course, but otherwise, and quite apart from homosexuality issues, I am as convinced as one can be that I am not called to the priesthood. I am approaching middle-age for one thing, and I simply don't have the temperament or personality of a priest. Or to be more precise, my temperament and personality are almost the perfect opposite of all the good priests I have known, my current confessor included.

Monday, September 19, 2005

It may happen

A ban on any and all men with same-sex attractions entering seminary has been approved by Pope Benedict, according to Catholic World News (link requires registration).

I’ll wait to see what exactly the document says, whether it’s couched as contingent, a response to circumstances, or as necessary, something essential to the priesthood. Whether it emphasizes the universal call to holiness and chastity (and the current social degradation therein) or categorizes homosexual persons as a class apart.

The first-named option in each pair would sting, but I’d accept it as collateral damage from the recent sexual indiscipline (part of the cause of which was poor formation) and the lavender mafia. The latter-named options … well, I don’t want to think about them or say more than that they would prompt one crisis of conscience. They would not be compatible with the last 30 years of teaching on homosexuality.

But any blanket ban, which I don't favor despite my acknowledgement of its legitimacy, will always face three problems:

(1) "sexuality" is a continuum, not a polarity, making a blanket ban for *any* degree of same-sex attraction absurd (does having an pubescent crush on your best friend count?);

(2) a blanket ban, like any rule, will still rely on those who have to ask The Question, and thus depends on their reliability and honesty (not to speak of honesty on the part of prospective seminarians). And like in many other matters, the orthodox will obey, and the dissidents will find a way to get around it or just ignore it. So, perversely, we might have fewer men with SSA, but more of them will be of the bad kind; and

(3) a blanket ban will guarantee that Topic H will never come up during formation, meaning that if any men with SSA do wind up in seminary, they will be entering an environment closer to the poor pre-V2 formation (the reason why checks and balances exist is for situations that DON'T go well). So perversely, we might have fewer men with SSA in seminary, but more of them will be of the bad kind. Ultimately there is simply no substitute for sound judgment on the part of the men in the trenches -- the bishops, the vocation directors, and the seminary officials. And if the bishops and chancery rats are as bad as widely believed in St. Blogs, this rule will not affect them, while the blanket ban will convince people (wrongly) that something will have been done.

Monday, August 29, 2005

"Coming Out" as a self-fulfilling prophecy

Our Courage chaplain had an article in the last issue of First Things on how teenagers and even tweens are being encouraged by public schools to identify as "gay" (or "straight" or "bi" or "transgendered" or whatever), contrary to their current pedagogy in every other field of student endeavour -- i.e., don't label yourself, don't form cliques, etc. That prompted me to write the following note to him:


One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is how eager the Gay Activist crowd are to convince teens to "come out," while at the same time insisting that sexual orientation is determined at birth or (at the latest) the earliest pre-sexual years of one's life. But look, even if the Gay Activist crowd is right and "sexual orientation" is some determined-for-life facet of one's soul, then if it's determined at 12, it'll still be determined at 20 or at 30. So why the eagerness to convince teens to self-identify? To ask the question is to answer it -- "coming out" as a recruitment tool -- self-definition as self-fulfilling prophecy.

Speaking personally, God protected me well by never forcing me to "come out" to myself until I had my first serious love-crush on a male friend, at age 24. By which time I was in the process of coming back to the Church and, even apart from that, was just mature enough to handle better an unconsummated, unrequited crush with grave potential for sin.

But god-knows-what I would have done had I had Comprehensive Sex Education as a teenager or gone to a high school that had a Gay-Straight Alliance or whatever. I had had "feelings" for as long as I could remember, but just always shunted them off to the side and gave them no significance. Not from shame exactly -- more out of innocent incomprehension. My father never had The Talk -- the self conscious, Eugene-Levy-in-AMERICAN-PIE "Son, your body is undergoing some changes now that may confuse you. Let's discuss the birds and the bees" bit. I didn't even know what an erection meant for most of my teen years -- and not from not having any.

And although I was a media junkie as a boy, this was before the Gay Moment in the culture. It was not until about the 1985 death of Rock Hudson that expressing contempt for homosexuals became socially unacceptable and gays became an Official Oppressed Minority rather than some pitiful eccentrics at best and a bunch of perverts at worst. My musical tastes as a boy (and even a young man) were Gay Stereotype Central Casting and I was completely unaware of it. I liked Sweet, David Bowie and glam-rock in the early 70s without ever picking up anything "queer" (in both senses) going on. Nor did I know that camp or disco -- Hot Chocolate, Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor, Cher, Sylvester were my favorites -- was for poofs and fairies (to use the terms I probably would have used at the time, and without really knowing what they meant or what they referred to). When I was about 30, I was discussing Erasure's ABBA-ESQUE with a 23-year-old coworker, and she was stunned that I was oblivious to what she called the "obvious" homosexuality in them or in Depeche Mode, who hit it big in my early 20s. Looking back now, I can hardly believe I didn't recognize at least "something."

Every time I think to do so, I thank God for keeping me innocent and allowing me to grow up in a world that allowed it for as long as it did. A kid is not competent to make the kind of life-decision that "I'm gay" or even "I'm same-sex attracted" or any other formulation. Kids are too susceptible to advertising and cultural cues, and while this has one set of implications for the sales of Fudge-Coated Sugar-Munchies breakfast cereal, it's rather higher stakes here and the plain fact is that our cultural image of homosexuality is too tied to ephemera and detrita -- you like "Will and Grace" and all that.

Now the way things turned out in my own case, I've never had any sexual desire for women at all and have come to accept (in some sense and however grudgingly) that this is how God wills it and my most extravagant prayer is just to have no sexual feelings at all. Still, it's hard for me to believe that had I been potentially at least somewhat straight, that had the "gayness" of these cultural icons I identified with pre-consciously been made a conscious fact, that it might have encouraged some straight version of me to wrongly self-identify -- thinking that all these baubles of gay culture "proved" I was gay. (I mean, did no breeder ever dance to "YMCA"?)

And had I been told in Sex Ed class or by GLSEN that "you're gay and that's super" ... well, one never knows. You become what you do and you do what you become. You justify what you do and you do what you justify. You become what you justify and you justify what you become. (Those sentences are true of all human behavior). And, to put a gentle point on it, my years of peak hormones (the early 80s) were the most dangerous years to have been engaging in the gay lifestyle.

Defining oneself too early, or in one's teenage years, is crucially damaging without any discernible concomitant benefit ("if it's determined ..."). And this is true EVEN IF one accepts the language of "sexual orientation" and "identification," and even the morality of homosexual actions. Nothing is lost by keeping teens, even gay or "pre-gay" ones, innocent of sex or sexuality for as long as feasible. Your gayness or straightness will assert itself soon enough, if it's determined, and there's plenty of time to get screwed up by sex and all its ancillary issues as an adult. And to the extent there are any waverers, too much "gayness" might lead them to overinterpret a few innocent facts or a few innocent fleeting crushes that might go away later in life. Heck, even that Fundamentalist Fag-Basher Kinsey graded his men from 1 to 6, not A or B, and acknowledged changes over time. Our implicit anthropology of homosexuality is just too binary and deterministic (you're gay/you're straight with nothing in between), which when combined with the above-mentioned frivolities, just makes for a poisonous understanding of the soul, quite apart from the specific morality of homosexual actions. While on the other hand, it also include our time's most curious dogma (and that's saying something): that a "straight" man can one day "realize" that he is really "gay", but a "gay" man who one day decides he is really "straight" has become "self-hating", "inauthentic", or "in denial." Huh?

The personal intro post

I hate doing these. Particularly since I have little to say, owing to my decision to post at this site anonymously, for reasons that I think should be obvious.

What can I say? I am a Roman Catholic male, around 40, in the diocese of Arlington, Virginia. Though I don't get to go to meetings as often as I'd like because of scheduling issues, I am a member of our local chapter of Courage, which is a Church spiritual support group for people with same-sex attractions who wish to live chaste lives in accord with Church teaching. I say "wish to," because, well ... I have some severe shortcomings and have to admit an addiction that is out of control.

I may provide more detail later on the event that forced me to admit this, but frankly I'm not experienced in the "public confessional" mode of discourse (in fact, I pretty much hold it in contempt) ... one reason I'm starting this blog only now despite having been involved in the blogosphere under my own name for years. But this addiction was something I had to admit for the first time in my most recent confession, the prompting event for this site. Still, I love the guys from our chapter, several of whom have become my friends (one might have even saved my life), and our chaplain, who is also my regular confessor (first time in my life I've had one ... and I find it discomforting, frankly, but this is how it must be).

I wrote a note to Courage Online back in October explaining, in the context of John Kerry and John Edwards' mentioning Mary Cheney, why I prefer to remain in the closet, which I will repost at the end of this note. To be honest, I really do prize the public persona I have of a devout conservative Catholic yuppie, I have a good job that lets me work with my mind and live without material care since I have no family to support, and I'm sufficiently masculine-acting that I'm only certain of having been "accused" of being gay against my will once in my life. But my SSA is pretty comprehensive -- that is, I have no sexual desire at all for women, never have, and the thought of sex with a women fills me with as much disgust as (I imagine) the thought of sex with men does most men. Unlike a lot of guys in my situation, I never had a girlfriend-for-show throughout high-school or college, but I was (and am) studious enough that this was not considered remarkable -- "he's just the class bookworm," etc. Anyhow ... here's my Apologia for the Closet at Courage Online. It ran under the subject line "I hate the Democrats":

Despite the provocative subject line, this is actually on-topic (I think) and the point isn't (really) partisan politics.

I remain closeted to my family and to most of the world, primarily for a cluster of reasons that crystallized around Wednesday night's debate -- what John Kerry did to Mary Cheney (and Edwards did a few days before that). I will never be a public homosexual, because -- no matter what you do, what level of discretion you try to maintain, what other things you think of the world, whatever difficult accommodations you might reach with your own family or church -- none of it matters. It's all sand. The Abortion Party takes you as their charge, their ward, their pets -- personal property fit mostly for turning into their poster child. That's the world we live in, and that party has the loyalty of (loosely speaking) half the country. And this is so whether we like it or not, depressing as it is.

Even some self-identified gay writers have written that there was once a time (the "bad old" pre Stonewall days and for even a time after that) when the closet was the one absolute of gay life -- the one thing inviolable, that no homosexual would ever violate. From Mutual Assured Destruction, if nothing else. Every so often, I get tempted to maybe just chuck the closet, tell my family about my struggles with homosexuality and quit denying it to the outside world. But as difficult as the closet is, these incidents are nice sinus-clearings. They show that, in this day and age, living outside it doesn't give you any more freedom or security from public humiliation and worse. Now, washing other people's dirty laundry in public, "outing" people to at least part of an audience, referring to other people's family situation in a way about which you have good reason to think they'd rather you not -- these are all now an acceptable form of political discourse. And from the party that is "pro-gay" no less (there's at least a certain perverse consistency in people who despise homosexuals "outing" them). I fear the culture wars and their viciousness ... it's just depressing in its ... depressingness.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Homosexuals and the priesthood

I hope this UPI article linked to at Catholic Light is wrong. Here's the original article from the Manchester Guardian-Observer, which UPI picked up. The original states that:

The new Pope faces his first controversy over the direction of the Catholic church after it was revealed that the Vatican has drawn up a religious instruction preventing gay men from being priests.
The controversial document, produced by the Congregation for Catholic Education and Seminaries, the body overseeing the church's training of the priesthood, is being scrutinised by Benedict XVI.

Now obviously, anything written by secular reporters about Church teaching requires a few grains of salt. For example, this article itself is fairly incomplete merely as journalism -- i.e., it has no sourced material to back up its principal point in the form of direct quotes (not unexpected) or even indirect ones (quite strange) from sources either named or unnamed. Further, same-sex attraction is not exactly the topic on which they're most attuned to the subtleties (note the reference to "gay men" in the first paragraph). And the Guardian-Observer is something less than the journalistic outlet with the greatest sympathy for religious orthodoxy.

But nevertheless, and with all these appropriate caveats noted, I'm still starting to fear the worst. This is not the first such report I've read in the past few months. It's made The Word from Rome last month. The night of Benedict's election, I had dinner with my Courage group and, as ecclesial nerds are wont, we kicked around ideas about what the new Holy Father's first encyclical would be about. And when I suggested homosexuality and the priesthood, our pastor, who is very orthodox, nodded sagely at me. I don't know whether he had inside info, but he didn't laugh at my suggestion.

Many US bishops are faced with seminaries with a reputation now or in the recent past as a hotbed of “Pink Palace” dissent, and the Lavendar Mafia there might make it difficult for a homosexually-inclined man even with the best of intentions. And so as part of a general cleaning out of the Augean Stables there, including equal efforts against heterodox teachings, poor formation and indiscipline, I think it a reasonable exercise of a bishop's governing prerogative to, as a temporary measure, refuse men with homosexual inclinations until things can get straightened out (uh … so to speak) and a better environment provided for everybody. Indeed, I live in one of only three or so dioceses in the US which has such a rule.

But what I don't see is how any blanket ban on ordaining any homosexual person could be compatible with the Church teachings on sexual morality and homosexuality, as stated in CDF letters and the Catechism for the last 30 years. It's not simply that Father John Harvey and Father Benedict Groeschel, who've been done heroic work for decades with Courage, have both come out against an absolute ban on seminarians with some SSA and said such a blanket ban would not address the problem of clerical sexual abuse. But it's also that one of the most important documents, On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons was even written by then-Cardinal Ratzinger himself. Here are some samples:

What is at all costs to be avoided is the unfounded and demeaning assumption that the sexual behaviour of homosexual persons is always and totally compulsive and therefore inculpable. What is essential is that the fundamental liberty which characterizes the human person and gives him his dignity be recognized as belonging to the homosexual person as well. As in every conversion from evil, the abandonment of homosexual activity will require a profound collaboration of the individual with God's liberating grace.


The human person, made in the image and likeness of God, can hardly be adequately described by a reductionist reference to his or her sexual orientation. Every one living on the face of the earth has personal problems and difficulties, but challenges to growth, strengths, talents and gifts as well. Today, the Church provides a badly needed context for the care of the human person when she refuses to consider the person as a "heterosexual" or a "homosexual" and insists that every person has a fundamental Identity: the creature of God, and by grace, his child and heir to eternal life.

What I don’t believe the Church does or can teach is the kind of blanket rules that leave no room for discretion and particular cases, and so no room for the liberating grace, which Cardinal Ratzinger describes, to work in a particular man’s life. What I also object to is the (Ratzinger's words again) "demeaning" and "reductionist" assumption, on which the Church's Ultramontanes and its Andrew Sullivans are at one, that orientation always implies behavior. And a per se ban would cement that degrading belief. To have a blanket ban is essentially to treat men with SSA as an "essential" class, the most important characteristic of which is his SSA, rather than his being a human person made in the image and likeness of God. A per se ban would, to use some high-falutin' language, turn homosexuality into ontology, define a man by his temptations and/or sins. And so reverse the Church's entire response to the modern homosexual moment. I'd like to believe that is not possible.