Friday, September 23, 2005

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?

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