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.