Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Martyr time in Britain?

A committee of the British government said Wednesday that its sexual-orientation non-discrimination laws will have no religious exemptions for Church-related charities and schools. Money quote from Liberal Democrat Evan Harris, a panel member:
In particular, the report makes clear that under human rights law, Catholic adoption agencies have no valid basis for continuing to discriminate against gay people when providing adoption services.
According to UK Pink News (warning: gay site), the panel recommended extending the non-discrimination regulations ...
"to schools and the curriculum, without an exemption for faith-based schools, so that homosexual pupils are not subjected to teaching that their own sexuality is sinful or wrong."
From my reading of the articles, it looks like this is the formal equivalent of a bill passing a committee in Congress, with several steps still to go. But this pro-gay proposal is much more likely to become law because Britain's Parliamentary system and unified powers, unlike America's perpetually divided government and weak party discipline, basically gives the ruling party or coalition a free hand. Once they've decided what they want behind the closed doors, they almost always get it.

Prime Minister Tony Blair has said the most the government will offer the Church is a short period of transition to The New Order. According to that article, the Archbishop of Westminster, the lead see in England and Wales, had been threatening to close Catholic adoption agencies on the grounds of religious freedom but his quote to the BBC seems to back off a little.

UPDATE from Friday's papers: Catholic adoption agencies in Scotland may get an exemption based on the non-discrimination legislation that passed the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh:
Education minister Hugh Henry is in talks with his UK counterparts to allow Catholic adoption agencies north of the Border an 'opt out' of new legislation which would make it illegal to discriminate against homosexual couples.
Under the compromise, Scotland's two Catholic adoption agencies would be able to pass inquiries from would-be gay parents on to other organisations.
I hope St. John Ogilvie (shown right) is coming through on this one.

The US isn't quite this "advanced," but this sort of law, trampling on how the Church can conduct its business, augurs what is to come, because it is very much the result of the internal logic of the normalization of homosexuality and gay non-discrimination laws. If the view that homosexual acts are immoral and ought not to be encouraged or normalized (i.e., the teaching of the Church, and the entire Christian tradition until the day before yesterday) is some kind of irrational prejudice analogous to racism, then these kinds of laws are, in fact, good and should pass. Calling racism a religion does not hold up under current law and social praxis, and there is no reason to think "homophobia" will either.

Make no mistake -- this "irrational prejudice" view IS the view of secularists, the US ruling class, one of the two major US parties, and thus the view of Caesar in more and more of his Western forms. As Pat Buchanan has warned, a nation that does not share a religion (broadly-speaking) ceases to be a nation because all laws, customs and mores presuppose a common culture and common moral understanding. Which only a religion can provide. Functionally-speaking, secular egalitarianism (and thus "non-discrimination") is now the religion of the West's rulers, and, like all religions, it cannot treat other religions perfectly equally. All religions presuppose themselves as the grounding norm for everything else in the culture and society (so the very term "multicultural society" is an oxymoron, though it is not to be confused with "multiethnic polity," which is not).

I think the Church in Britain now, and thus the Church in the US sometime soon, really only has two options in the long run, though it should still do whatever it can do to kick the can down the road and delay The Day of Reckoning:

(1) simply close up shop, with respect to any charitable work that requires cooperation with Caesar, on the grounds that Caesar is fundamentally corrupt. That would mean closing down basically all of the Church's charitable work. Running a hospital, for example, requires state licensing on practically every employee or procedure. Even a poor-relief center has licensing hoops to jump through (mostly pro-forma, but nevertheless). The Church in the US recently had the power to make Caesar back down with this threat. As when Cardinal O'Connor threatened to close all the New York Catholic hospitals rather than obey some proposed city regulation on contraception or abortion (the precise nature of which is evading my memory). The city promptly backed down, at least with respect to Catholic hospitals.
(2) refuse to obey Caesar and dare him to do his worst. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, the Church has hinted that it might do that and create "gay-rights martyrs." The pictures of nuns being arrested and Catholic schools being emptied would, one hopes, shame Caesar into backing down (maybe this is why the Church there may have won the minimum concessions that religious freedom requires). I don't wish martyrdom on anyone, even though jail time, not drawing-and-quartering at Tyburn Field, is the worst it could realistically be. And I don't see (1) as an acceptable end game either, as the Church's social work is both valuable to the common good and too integral to the Church's very self-understanding to be lightly tossed aside.

St. Edmund Campion (shown right) ... pray for us.

Monday, February 26, 2007

But this ...

... is how you do NOT do gay Masses. A church in Utah is hosting a monthly Mass that "caters to gays and lesbians." And do they get catered to. (HT: Cosmos/Liturgy/Sex)
"It's just a nice way to come together and feel the spirit," said Brian Minjares, who attended the Mass with his gay partner, Kim Coates.
The Clearfield couple said they enjoyed the Mass, even though they aren't Catholic. The couple, who normally attend a different gay-friendly church, said it's another avenue to celebrate their faith.
"It's OK to be gay and Christian," Minjares said.
Now I've said in earlier posts that I don't see a problem (indeed, in a certain sense, there cannot be a problem) with Masses as part of a special-outreach ministry. But how orthodox and truthful can a Mass be where two non-Catholic men openly living as homosexual lovers can feel so affirmed in their okayness? Not every day is the occasion for fire and brimstone, I understand. But, as I will show below, the Church has said quite clearly that ministry to homosexual persons is no place for ambiguity. And practicing homosexuals are, to use the politest possible language, sufficiently sensitive to any hint that homosexuality is less than the summit of all virtues and graces that the two open lovers' enthusiasm is just about an infallible indicator that the whole Church teaching was selectively scrimped on.

Nor is it the case that a secular reporter was cherry-picking. The two priests cited in the story commit what I will charitably call religious malpractice (assuming they were not misquoted or miscited).
During the Mass, he also alluded to the fact that some disagree with ministering to the gay and lesbian community, saying, "This week I've been under attack."
Afterward, [Father Robert Bussen] said he doesn't understand why some see it as controversial.
"It seems to be a no-brainer," he said. "Shouldn't every church be gay-friendly and gay-welcoming?"
Well, in a certain sense, yes, but more about that shortly. More importantly ... who ... exactly ... "disagree[s] with ministering to the gay and lesbian community," as opposed to disagrees with certain forms of ministry. Who? Names of persons or groups or Church officials ... please?

The article continues:
The Mass, [Father Bussen] said, is a response to a statement issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops last November on "Ministry to Persons with Homosexual Inclinations." ...
Monsignor J. Terrence Fitzgerald of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City said ... the November statement ... issued a dual call — to the gay and lesbian community and to the faith community.
I realize this is the reporter's formulation, not the monsignor's, but the implied parallelism and equal standing between "the gay and lesbian community" and "the faith community" is one that should repel. The Church is not another lifestyle- or hobby- or behavior-defined "community." It speaks with the voice of God, Who surpasses all in wisdom and understanding. This is not, as is presupposed in this very formulation, a discussion of two equals on an Augustinian "point inessential."

The Monsignor cited the USCCB document from November as inspiring the Masses. Does that document say anything more than tending "'a welcoming stance of Christian love' and for 'nurturing the bonds of friendship' to help bring gays and lesbians out of isolation"? Why, yes it does (PDF file):
All ministry to persons with a homosexual inclination must be guided by Church teaching on sexuality. The basis of this ministry, if it is to be effective, has to be a true understanding of the human person and of the place of sexuality in human life.
“Departure from the Church’s teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral.”30
Love and truth go together. The Sacred Scriptures tell us that the way to grow more Christ-like is by “living the truth in love” (Eph 4:15). The Church cannot support organizations or individuals whose work contradicts, is ambiguous about, or neglects her teaching on sexuality.31
30 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, no. 15.
31 See Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, no. 17: “All support should be withdrawn from any organizations which seek to undermine the teaching of the C
hurch, which are ambiguous about it, or which neglect it entirely. Such support, or even the semblance of such support, can be gravely misinterpreted.”
Check out the footnotes. They're to a 20-year-old letter by a man born as Joseph Ratzinger. He had a title then. And another one now. And that well-known hotbed of Reactionary NeoCaths called the USCCB reiterated the point last year. Then-Cardinal Ratzinger's 1986 letter noted one particular point for emphasis at the end of Section 3.
Therefore special concern and pastoral attention should be directed toward those who have this condition, lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not.
And Section 15:
No authentic pastoral programme will include organizations in which homosexual persons associate with each other without clearly stating that homosexual activity is immoral.
This is clear-cut. There neither can be nor should be ministry to homosexual persons that does not begin with the truth about human sexuality. And, particularly in today's climate, there is no room for silence or apparent neutrality on this matter. Yes, I cannot discern from the Deseret News article that anything actually heretical or false was taught. But that's not enough. Silence, neutrality or indifference are religious malpractice. Here is Cardinal Ratzinger (Section 15):
But we wish to make it clear that departure from the Church's teaching, or silence about it, (emphasis mine) in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral.
This is not something with which I am unfamiliar in my personal journey.

The first human being I ever told about "That" was a priest, in confession shortly after the first time I did anything sinful, in college. Frankly, I handled it rather badly and the priest guessed that this was the first time I'd ever told anybody. He suggested we talk afterward when his Confession time was over. During the conversation that ensued, Father tried to be helpful and said "maybe someday, Church teaching will change." Only the deference that a Roman collar always produces in me prevented me from slugging him. I understand that he was trying to be helpful, but all he could have done, had I stayed in the Church on those terms, was encourage false hope in me. For the flip side of what crushed expectations can do, compare Andrew Sullivan, post-Pope-Benedict, and his book "Virtually Normal" (which, no kidding, was a great influence on me).

At the other end, I asked my confessor once whether it was a mortal sin every time I wanked, which results in my staying in my seat during Communion about half the time I attend Mass. I pointed out that the Catechism said about masturbation (it's 2352 here) that "force of acquired habit ... [can] lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability." The exchange was as follows, near as I can recall:
FATHER: Obviously, if you genuinely were incapable of avoiding impure acts, that would make your acts inculpable. But some priests use that an easy out ...
ME: ... and I don't want that.
FATHER: ... and implying that purity doesn't really matter.
ME: The reason I'm asking you, Father, is that I know you won't do that. If all I wanted was a Roman collar to give me an easy "yes" to salve my conscience, I could get that easily enough.
FATHER: You're capable of periods of chastity, right.
ME: Yes.

(I had then-recently gone about 50 days while only abusing myself once. My annual two-week vacation is almost always cake. In several other circumstances of spiritual "high," I've gone about 10 days.)

FATHER: I can't judge whether every single thing you do is entered into with full consent; that's for your conscience to discern. You well understand what the Church teaches, whatever difficulties your heart has. But since you're capable of significant periods of chastity, when you break it, it probably is mortal sin. I certainly wouldn't assume otherwise merely based on the frequency of stumble.
In other words, my confessor was willing to make demands of me, even though he knew it would be, in a certain sense, "easier" on me for him not to do so. But the Cross is not easy. It doesn't, to not-exactly-coin a phrase, affirm us in our okayness. I honestly don't think the Church should chase people away. But it is false welcome to deny that following Christ means the Cross. Here is Cardinal Ratzinger again (Section 12):
What, then, are homosexual persons to do who seek to follow the Lord? Fundamentally, they are called to enact the will of God in their life by joining whatever sufferings and difficulties they experience in virtue of their condition to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross. ... While any call to carry the cross or to understand a Christian's suffering in this way will predictably be met with bitter ridicule by some, it should be remembered that this is the way to eternal life for all who follow Christ.
It is, in effect, none other than the teaching of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians when he says ... "You cannot belong to Christ unless you crucify all self-indulgent passions and desires." ...
To celebrate the Paschal Mystery, it is necessary to let that Mystery become imprinted in the fabric of daily life. To refuse to sacrifice one's own will in obedience to the will of the Lord is effectively to prevent salvation. Just as the Cross was central to the expression of God's redemptive love for us in Jesus, so the conformity of the self-denial of homosexual men and women with the sacrifice of the Lord will constitute for them a source of self-giving which will save them from a way of life which constantly threatens to destroy them.
It's obviously essential to be "gay-friendly" in a certain sense. Check. But when a priest or parish or ministry neglects what we might as well call the "gay-unfriendly" bits of the Church teaching, when they do not do what Cardinal Ratzinger called "bring[ing] the teaching of the Church in its integrity" ... their efforts are, objectively speaking, counter-ministry and counter-witness that encourage people to eat and drink their own damnation.
The Rev. Bussen said there's no conflict with Catholic teachings to hold a Mass that "says it's OK to be gay."
"Whether they are sinners or not — probably, the answer is yes," he said. "Like the rest of the people who come into the church."
Yes, every Mass, by definition, has nothing but sinners present. I get that. I really do. Lord knows I am quite aware of my own faults in this field. Church is like a hospital for sinners, and only there are only sick people in hospitals. But that simply doesn't speak about those who say that some sin they have committed is not a sin. To continue the metaphor, hospitals might be full of cancer patients (sinners) needing cures (the sacraments). But what good are cures to those who say they are not ill? Who live openly with their homosexual lovers and say "it's OK to be gay" (have cancer). Who deny their faults are faults.

Orthodoxy in notional belief is obviously not everything or even the most-important thing. But it is indispensable. And we are talking about people, with the support of the regnant secular culture, who frankly state that they have no intention of firmly resolving with the help of Thy grace, to do penance, amend their life and sin no more. And who deny that their repeated publicly-acknowledged behavior is wrong, and that the Church is wrong when She teaches otherwise. They ... and by reason of that last clause, not their homosexual attractions ... have no (current) place in the Church. And Masses to pander to them (and that is clearly what is happening here) are merely one step short of an Aleister Crowley Black Mass.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

On a lighter note ...

Andrew Sullivan described his Valentine's Day last week. And there revealed his penchant for foul and unnatural deeds. No ... not what you're thinking (it was actually a totally chaste post, viewed in itself. Not even an allusion from the grammatical genders. If you didn't know, you wouldn't know).

So what was this deep-seated perversion? This abomination in the eyes of the LORD?
"a bottle of champagne and freshly-made brownies"
Talk about "objectively disordered." Revoke this man's Official Homo Card. Where did he learn such bad taste? Brownies and milk ... great. Champagne and caviar or hors d'ouevres ... great. Brownies and champagne? Most worthy of death.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Special masses

There's been a bit of a fuss in Britain (and thus in the Internet age, worldwide) over the Archdiocese of Westminster's plan to have a biweekly Mass as part of pastoral outreach to homosexual persons. The reaction in St. Blogs was (rightly) suspicious, because, as LifeSite put it:
... such pastoral outreach by dioceses in the US and Canada typically have been little more than fronts for gay political activism ...
It was certainly spun that way by the gay press. Sample: Pink News UK's headline reads "Catholics win right to perform gay Mass" (I mean ... what does "gay Mass" mean? Music by Liza Minnelli and Maria Callas? Though actually ... that would be an improvement over "Gather." And what does "right to" have to do with it). The initial London Telegraph article was egregiously bad reporting and thimbleful knowledge of Catholicism and the issues at hand (and rightly ripped to shreds by Zadok the Roman).

Other noted, and it's a concern I have some sympathy with, that “special Masses” can be overdone. In era of both proliferating Mass rites in the Church, and multiculti identity politics outside it, this might seem like the latest crazy bit of fragmentation in the Age of Narcissus. Or as Domenico Bettinelli put it: "special accommodations for the politically correct sin." Amy Welborn also said this kind of thing called into question the unifying function of the Mass (her post was ironically titled "You are One Body"). She also doubted the need for such services in the first place.
What, in the present situation, in the Diocese of Westminster is preventing "homosexual people so as to enable them to enter more fully into the life of the Church?" What?
Are persons who experience same-sex attraction being stopped from coming to Mass? Are persons who experience same-sex attraction being prohibited from praying? ... (A series of similar rhetorical questions) ...
Well, that's terrible. I agree. That should be fixed, immediately, and shame on the Diocese of Westminster for putting up such obstacles.
I respect Dom and Amy enormously, and I don't think their criticisms are groundless, particularly Amy's point that nothing actually prevents a homosexual person from participation in the life of the Church now. The Diocese of Arlington, for example, has no gay Masses. Nor would I deny that this action by the archdiocese could be done badly in the particulars -- prayers for gay civil rights bills, blessings of unions, and all of that. Or that it could become a breeding ground for dissent or liturgical abuse -- the UK episode of Dignity Girls Gone Wild.

But I don't think it does any good to deny that there are a variety of unique practical issues (though no canonical or theological ones) surrounding homosexual persons that simply do not exist with adulterers or contraceptors. Most are indeed related to the objective facts of the "interesting times" in which we live, and thus lamentable as such. But not all. For example, "alienation and apartness" surrounding family and sex are acute issues for homosexual persons, but not adulterers, however analogous the sins themselves, considered as acts in themselves, may be. This was one of the things the NCRegister series I praised below spelled out -- that ministry to homosexual persons may require going an extra mile because of these unique difficulties.

Apparently what happened was that the archbishop was faced with the fact of a large *existing* dissident group in London's equivalent of Dupont Circle, and is trying to bring back those that are bring-backable. Certainly the Archdiocese of Westminster's statement makes it clear that Church teaching will be taught. And as this blogger makes clear, he was trying to bring "gay Masses" under diocesan control and in line with Church norms. And the secular and gay press got the story wrong.

Nor is the notion of a "special Mass" for homosexual persons really as unprecedented as one might think. At the annual Courage Conferences, we have daily Masses, some celebrated by the priests present, and others by the hosting bishops and by other pointed hats. I remember last year at St. Louis, a bishop from the other side of the state (Kansas City) presided at one Mass and struck me as a particularly good homilist. Are these special Masses? I doubt anybody would be turned away, and I know nobody was checking at the entrance for The Homo Cards. But these were clearly special Masses. Partially, just because they are at a conference of an identifiable group. But it was also the case that most (all?) of the homilies made reference -- implicitly or explicitly, glancing or at length -- to the conference's setting, and to Topic H, chastity and related issues.

I think that speaks to the "need question" that Amy doubts. If there is a need for pastoral outreach to a given group, one benefit of a "special Mass" is that it frees the homilist to speak to and about those issues, both absolutely and in relation to that week's readings. For example, one reason we often hear that priests rarely preach on Church's sexual teachings is because the inherent subject matter is awkward and "adult." With an audience of everybody, no priest wants to be on the wrong side of the euphemism line or hear complaints from parents about "I don't want my kids even to HEAR that" and introducing concepts (such as homosexuality itself) at an inappropriate age. I'm not saying a priest need to, or should, get into the mechanics of anal sodomy or anysuch. But if a Mass can be presumed to have a mostly-gay audience, this would alter the homiletic options. Nor is it just the language, but also general subject matter -- for example a homilist could explain even homosexual persons should oppose the gay tolerance laws that Britain is threatening the Church with at this very moment.

The questions are very simple -- (1) "is there a real pastoral need for ministry to homosexual persons?"; and (2) "can regular Masses be a part of that ministry." Number (1) is obviously yes. And while (2) is dicier and I'm persuadable to the contrary, I fail now to see why not (and certainly no reason to think not, a priori, before the first Mass is even celebrated in March). In other words, if the Archdiocese of Westminster is going to do it right -- celebrate reverently and preach truly -- I can't see the objection. And if it is not going to do these things, there's a more-fundamental problem than this biweekly Mass.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Article in NCR (the good one)

National Catholic Register has an excellent series of articles by Melinda Selmys, a former feminist and lesbian, called "Homosexuality: A Catholic's Journal" (HT: Frank). NCR said she "writes from Etibicoke, Ontario," so the poor Canuck woman is probably now on the lam, hiding in some remote part of the Yukon from arrest by The Tolerance Mounties for these vile acts of hate.

Here is Part 1 (subtitled: Psychology or Genetics)
Here is Part 2 (subtitled: Evangelizing The Homosexual)
Here is Part 3 (subtitled: She Helped Me Hear the Truth)

Now my particular experience of homosexuality differs quite radically from [now-Mrs.] Selmys's in a bunch of ways, besides the male-female stuff, the obvious ones being:
  • I have never really had a gay relationship. Unconsummated love-crushes on male friends, yes; sex with strangers, yes; but a boyfriend, no;
  • I never even attempted to date women or had a girlfriend "for show." This was considered unremarkable both by myself and others during my school and college years because I was a bookworm;
  • I have neither found nor ever sought "belonging" in the "gay community," which I have pretty much disdained since the Queer Nation/ACTUP activism of the 80s, i.e., my formative years as an adult;
  • I drifted away from the Church during adolescence for reasons unrelated to SSA and had already reverted and received the Sacramant of Confirmation by the time "That" had become an undeniable problem;
  • I have never denied the theological arguments against same-sex behavior nor have I found them "tremendously cold and theoretical." Or rather, maybe I have found them that but consider this a point in their favor.
In other words, homosexuality, the gay lifestyle, even the emotional attachments they may bring have always been nonissues for me. My reversion was to a very great extent intellectual. And while I've struggled with chastity in many ways, it's always been from within and while fully accepting the Church's teachings in principle, if not always acting in accord with them. This is consistent with my personality in other ways -- people who know me have always said I was "all head" and my nickname as a boy was "the little professor"; my favorite music, movies and literature tend to be emotional chilly and/or artificial and contrived.

The personal reservation aside, that her story is not mine, I still thoroughly recommend that everyone in St. Blogs read this three-part series, because there is a lot in them for some "conservative" Catholics to learn about homosexual persons, and in a publication that they cannot simply dismiss as liberal pabulum. (FWIW, this piece would never appear in Commonweal, the National Catholic Reporter, et al.) Here are some highlights:
many (not all) men with same-sex attractions ... try to find other male figures (usually lovers) who will accept and affirm them. ... (This is also why so many gay activists become insulted when their sexuality is treated merely as a sexual perversion — their experience of homosexuality is one of personal acceptance, not merely one of sexual pleasure.)

at last, they find that there are other people who are of their sex and who will accept them: namely the gay community. ... Again, you have a massive, and very real, psychological need being fulfilled by the gay community, and so, again, you have the perception of homosexuality as being something that goes beyond the confines of mere sex.

Thus, if you tell someone suffering from same-sex attractions that their sexuality is objectively disordered and their behaviors are immoral, but that you love them in spite of their sexuality, they are going to call you a hypocrite. This sentiment is baffling to many Catholics because we tend to see same-sex attractions primarily in terms of homosexual intercourse. We need to bear in mind that many people in the homosexual community feel that they have only ever really been personally accepted by that community — not just because the outside world condemns homosexuality, but because some significant part of the outside world failed to accept their personality even before they had any sort of homosexual feelings.
In a nutshell, this is why so many practicing homosexuals simply shut out the Church and refuse to listen. They are being irrational and anti-intellectual, sure. But there is a reason for it besides childishness (though the Combox-Activist type shows otherways that they simply ARE being immature). The gay community and/or a gay relationship offers many of these people their primary experience of love, and human beings cannot live without love. They hear "gay sex is not loving" and it's the equivalent of saying "the sky is green" -- prima-facie proof the speaker is nuts and don't know shit from Shinola. My confessor once told me that I try too hard to treat love as a luxury good -- something worth having certainly, but something you can live without if you must or if you'd rather. But with most people, no appeal to Natural Law or St. Thomas can persuade him (or even should) to live without love. And as Selmys points out, this means that one must first establish a relationship with a homosexual person before anything else can come. As generalizations go, that is accurate enough.
This is one of the reasons why fear, hatred or disgust directed towards those who are attracted to their own sex is so crippling when it is found within the Christian community. It repels those who have embraced the “gay” lifestyle, and alienates those who are struggling to remain faithful in spite of their same-sex attractions. When Christians use degrading language or demonstrate uncharitable attitudes, it interferes with our ability to reach out to souls who are suffering with these temptations.
I cannot tell you how disappointed I was last year at some of the St. Blogs reaction to The Vatican (well actually, I did). As the non-homo Mark Shea has noted (he scrubbed the occasioning remark from his combox), there are "combox writers who think insulting homosexuals as 'fags' constitutes a display of manly orthodoxy." Or insistence on using terms like "sodomite." It can feel good emotionally for the speaker to deliberately defy silly PC-ness, I well understand. But at some point, it becomes the equivalent on insisting on using "colored" or "Negro" ... i.e., objective counterwitness in this day and age. Even if it is right, as Selmys points out ...
It is advisable to avoid using terms like “unnatural” or “objectively disordered.” They are perfectly accurate, and if they are understood properly they are not at all offensive. The problem is that they sound offensive even though they aren’t, and they’re easily misunderstood. ... It is much simpler to paraphrase — rather than saying that homosexual acts are unnatural, say that they contradict the purpose for which God ordained sex. Both phrases mean the same thing, but ... the second ... is subject to less ambiguity and won’t evoke erroneous associations.
Nor is it necessary. This is not the Church of "Heaven Help Us" or "Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk" fantasyland. There are 30 years of Church documents on sexuality and homosexuality that e.g., avoid comparisons to sewers. Selmys says the right documents are out there for when the time comes to engage the intellect, as one must eventually.
The Church’s recent writings on sexuality, and particularly on homosexuality, are extremely rational and extremely charitable — and they’re not what most people expect. (emphasis mine) ... [I read] a copy of a little book printed by the Pontifical Institute for the Family called The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality. By the time I finished reading it, I was firmly convinced that Catholic sexual teaching was coherent and reasonable, and that it was not motivated by fear or hatred. I still didn’t believe in it, but I no longer resented the Church’s position on homosexuality, and I wrote my column defending the right of Catholic school boards to teach Catholic sexuality in Catholic schools.
I praised the USCCB's document "Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care" on these very terms a few months ago here and here. That it said everything that needed saying in a careful, precise, non-inflammatory and charitable way, neither overstating nor understating the sinfulness of homosexual acts. The Selmys article is obviously a bit more of a personal memoir than a Bishops Conference document could ever be, but it makes a nice compliment. Her humane practice and example to their humane theory and teaching.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

On the other hand

John Amaechi is just being dumb when he tells ESPN (publishers of his book) that Tim Hardaway's remarks threaten people.
One man has made hundreds of thousands of people now feel uncomfortable, unsafe, feel they should hide and run. What he has done has made life more difficult, perhaps more dangerous, for people in society, not just in sports. His views embolden those who hold the same views. When he depersonalizes it, it's not just a foolish comment. It's a foolish comment that echoes around the country. People will feel under pressure, like they are under attack. They will feel anxious. They will know there's a face and a voice for all those people out there who hate them.
Please. That a retired basketball player has that much power, to make "hundreds of thousands of people now feel uncomfortable, unsafe, feel they should hide and run" -- isn't even worthy of a response. And who, exactly, is "feel[ing] anxious"? I would say "this is only the reaction of Nervous Nellies," but there may be homophobia in that metaphor.

I'll tell you what, I'm gonna drive out to Dupont Circle tonight and see if I can find some of these hundreds of thousands running away from the threat of Tim Hardaway. Or maybe I can drive out to rural Virginia or some other suitably "Deliverance-ready" place and look for these secret homophobes, now feeling emboldened by the fact an ex-basketball player has given them a voice by saying he hates homos too (and is being punished by the league for it, rightly or wrongly).

Look ... as I said below, of course, the Hardaway remarks are stupid and vile. Sins. But have some perspective about actual consequences. If the gay groups and Amaechis of the world would just denounce Hardaway and move on, it would be easier to see that this is a pebble in the ocean. A vile pebble. But a pebble. Gene Wojciechowski said it best on the ESPN site:
This is all playing out so predictably. Former NBA center declares he's gay. Past and present NBA players declare indifference. One former NBA player, in this case, Hardaway, declares his outrage and hatred. Hey, just like real life. ... Hardaway's comments will be reviled and praised. Gay rights advocates will issue angry, impassioned statements condemning the remarks. Gay bashers will rejoice. And then all the noise will dissolve and we'll watch the NBA All-Star Game this Sunday. This isn't meant to dismiss what Hardaway said. It was a vile, reprehensible display of ignorance, but it isn't anything new. Hardaway simply gave his prejudice a name and a face for a news cycle or two. His bigotry, as well as his apology, will be forgotten, as it should be.
And, to my surprise, given what I've seen on ESPN itself (more on that below), there was another good comment on the sports network's Web site, from Chris Broussard:
Since Amaechi came out, I've read lots of columns [with] ... the implication -- or outright assertion -- is that anyone who believes homosexuality is wrong is not progressive or enlightened.
That's where this thing becomes problematic, because those who hold to that view are saying I must change my entire belief system/religion because of your belief system.
Where's the diversity in that?
Those folks don't want diversity. They want everyone to agree with their "enlightened" opinion.
Exactly. We're now at the point where you cannot express any reservation whatsoever about homosexuality or any expression of it, without being denounced as stupid, ignorant and worse. Everyone must step in line with the gay agenda and like everything about homosexuality. Even liking the chance of getting your ass grabbed. Not like that? Well, you're ignorant. Think I'm exaggerating? Before the Hardaway comment happened, but after the Amaechi book was being reported on, I saw Michael Wilbon on ESPN's Pardon the Interruption denounce 76ers player Shavlik Randolph in the harshest terms (and the bug-eyed look on his face and contempt dripping off his voice were positively frightening) for saying:
As long as you don't bring your gayness on me, I'm fine.
His teammate Steven Hunter said something similar:
As long as he don't make any advances toward me, I'm fine with it. As long as he came to play basketball like a man and conducted himself as a good person, I'd be fine with it.
Wilbon continued his frothing about these quotes as insufficiently pro-gay in the Washington Post. Even expressing doubts about cross-sexuality seduction and being exposed to unwanted sexual advances is, according to Wilbon, "dumb, stupid and homophobic." So far into gay totalitarianism was Wilbon fallen that he denounced the LeBron James comment I cited below that he'd more distrust someone in the closet than out (the exact quote is in this footnote¹) as "not particularly enlightened." Yes, you read that right. Someone who wants and demands a gay teammate to come out to him is "not particularly enlightened." It's a sad day (and a sad comment on the culture of newspaper sportswriters and the gap between them and their fans) when I find more to like in a column by LZ Granderson, an openly gay writer for ESPN Magazine, than in the Washington Post.
Isaiah Washington of "Grey's Anatomy" had to go into rehab to keep his job after directing an anti-gay slur at a co-worker. Twenty years ago, it would have been the co-worker worried about his job. This isn't "Gaytopia," but the movie studios aren't forcing you to marry a woman like they did in the old days.
I stood up and cheered when I read that column, based on Broussard's recommendation. Yes, Granderson is saying (not me, though I agree), being openly gay will earn you some raspberries, but have some perspective. Living an openly-gay life is not Hell-on-Earth (though it'll lead to Hell-elsewhere). I know this sounds hypocritical coming from me, who is closeted. But amen, amen, I say unto you: if it were purely about the bigoted reactions of religious and social conservatives, I'd have no reason to stay in the closet. But I know that, as long as I continue to hold to the Catholic faith and try to live under God's grace in as chaste a life as I can, I and those like me will be hated and hounded to the ends of the Earth by active gays.
¹ James said: "With teammates you have to be trustworthy, and if you're gay and you're not admitting that you are, then you are not trustworthy. So that's like the number one thing as teammates . . . we all trust each other. You've heard of the in-room locker room code. What happens in the locker room stays there. It's a trust factor."

"Heat" is an anagram for "Hate" (and Miami for "I maim")

Maybe Tim Hardaway thinks the ref is a homo: "No wonder he blows every call."

Apparently (it's WAY down in this ESPN story) Hardaway apologized later for saying the following on a Miami talk show (HT: Dale):
"You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States."
"First of all, I wouldn't want [a gay player] on my team.
"And second of all, if he was on my team, I would, you know, really distance myself from him because, uh, I don't think that's right. And you know I don't think he should be in the locker room while we're in the locker room. I wouldn't even be a part of that."
Apology aside ... what a maroon. Actually, let's wallow a bit in this statement.

That was not a slipped word like the St. Louis radio host who used "coon" in reference to Condoleezza Rice. Nor was it a disputable construction that gay groups are trying to get classified as a Thought Crime like "I hate the gay lifestyle." Nor does he have the Mel Gibson "the-Jews-made-me-get-drunk" excuse. That was a considered thought, articulately stated, using complete sentences and numbered points, and even includes a defiant flourish.

I don't expect athletes to be moral philosophers, but the distinction between the person and the act is pretty basic and hardly requires the ability to read Heidegger in German. (It's Jesus 101, for one thing.) But along with Dale Price, I predict Hardaway will be joining Isaiah Washington, Gavin Newsom, Mark Foley, and others using "rehab" as an excuse for a public moment of foot-in-mouth disease or sexual sin. The gay groups want their pound of flesh, and in this case, it'd be justified.

I saw last week on ESPN, the reaction from LeBron James to John Amaechi, the NBA ex-player who "came out." And I think he said the right thing, at least from the perspective of one co-worker to another: something to the effect of "That's his business. I'd have more problem with a guy who felt he had to hide it from me. As if we're not really teammates. You have to have trust."

All that said -- I do think ex-athletes like Amaechi publicly "coming out" is foolish (the reaction proves that today he'd have little to fear), and all the thanks and praise heaped upon Amaechi, as though he'd performed the Seven Labors of Hercules was silly. And ESPN should rename itself ESPCN for its coverage of the Amaechi non-event.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

God's short leash

Some of my 13 readers have expressed concern for me, either publicly or to my address. I really do appreciate it, more than I can say or show. But I am a very reserved person and not emotionally forthright. And even apart from that, I've never really understood why some people blog constantly about their own feelings or mood, as if tossing one's guts out for the world to see could be all that productive. I've written or started to write several such posts, only to trash them -- the writing having already given me whatever cathartic value "putting it all down and getting it all out" might have had.

Anyhoo ... this by way of leading into one such post in that unproductive genre.

I don't know if what I'm about to describe constitutes a "miracle" (actually I'm pretty confident it doesn't -- "the hand of Providence" is probably better lingo). But it was certainly uncanny. And a reminder that God always leaves signs around for us.

As some of you know, to quote a couple of text messages I sent a priest last week, "it's been shit for months ... Actually don't pray for me — it would just go to waste." I started (again) to feel as if I was at the end of the rope. A few facts suffice -- I hadn't gone to Mass since before Thanksgiving, I hadn't gone to my weekly hour at the Perpetual Adoration chapel since Christmas week, and I had been scheduled to go on a retreat in early December and couldn't bring myself to go.

But the old joke about women (as if I'd know .. haha) applies to God as well -- can't live with'm, can't live without'm. I was getting increasingly desperate and despairing the farther and more-determinedly I pushed God away. At one point, I actually pulled out a legal pad and drew up the pros and cons of whether I wanted to go on living. But then several things happened:
  • Over the weekend, I had five sexual encounters "set" -- i.e., specific time and place, agreed acts. Every last one of them fell through, for one reason or another, on one or another's part. I may describe some of the details at a more opportune time. Suffice for now to say that I was risking more things than impurity. And that one of the liaisons didn't happen for reasons beyond humiliating;
  • For unrelated reasons, Monday was time to clear out all the junk from my car and as I was sifting through a pile of old newspapers, junk mail, bills, etc., I came upon a solicit of a different kind, from the group Food for the Poor. It stood out among the envelopes, because it was actually a thin flat box, with a Miraculous Medal key chain and ring, one much sturdier than the one I was using but one tied to THE image of personal chastity in our culture (I'm holding the Medal in my hand as I type);
  • On Tuesday, about an hour before our Courage chapter's meeting, I was still of two minds about going or not going. I walked to my patio window to see what the snow was like. And right in the middle of the floor, in plain sight with lots of clear surrounding carpet (i.e., it was not shoved against a wall and thus easy to miss) was my Brown Scapular. Which I had neither worn nor seen since early January. So there was Our Lady again, suddenly in plain sight, forcing Her presence on me. Maybe it's a commentary on my housekeeping, but I honestly don't remember doing anything near that spot that day except move away from it a duffel bag that had no reason for the scapular to be inside it. I'm not going to claim disappearing-and-rematerializing or anysuch, but never have I been so floored by the uncanniness, the synchronicity, the (yes) Providence behind what I have to believe is, in natural terms, a "chance" event. The way God writes straight with crooked lines.
As I say, this last occurred about an hour before the chapter meeting and dissolved all doubts that God wasn't gonna do what I wanted -- i.e., leave me alone forever. Instead, He was telling me, "you know you cannot live without Me. In the words of the Brown Bomber: 'you can run, [John], but you can't hide'." I put the scapular on, put my keys on that new ring-and-chain, and headed for the first Sacrament in three months.

After hearing all this, my confessor said that God "has you on a short leash." A leash I often strain against, no question. But a leash whose tug I need and is finally undeniable. Father heard my confession (through my tears). When I got home, I split the money I would have paid for one of the liaisons from which I had been saved, between Food for the Poor and two priest-related Catholic charities that had appeals in my "In" stack -- North American College and the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. In my replies, I asked for Courage-related intentions. I threw away the "Pros and Cons of Suicide" list. Hopefully, my ship is righted and things are back to what-can-pass-for normal.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Brokeback Garage

Remember when the word "gay" meant "happy and light-hearted"? Remember when homosexuals had a reputation for wit, humor and a keen sense of irony. Remember the time of Oscar Wilde, Truman Capote and Liberace?

What happened? When did gays become obsessive, humorless scolds?

Both GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign got their panties in a twist over the Snickers ad that played during the Super Bowl — the former denouncing a version of the ad (more on that anon) as "promoting anti-gay prejudice and violence" and the latter screeching about a "VIOLENT AND HOMOPHOBIC MARKETING CAMPAIGN." And, knuckling under predictably (paging Karl Marx .... aren't businesses supposed to be conservative and reactionary forces?), Mars grabs its ankles and pulls the ad. Sniffs Joe Solmonese of HRC:
The makers of Snickers and its parent company at Mars should know better. If they have any questions about why the ad isn’t funny, we can help put them in touch with any number of GLBT Americans who have suffered hate crimes.
I know explaining a joke always kills the frog of humor, but gay groups have got such a case of cranio-rectal inversion that they need to have it spelled out for them. If these groups would actually pay attention to the ad, they'd see it's the ultimate joke about what these selfsame activists and complaint groups call "gay panic." It showed two men accidentally kissing while pursuing the far greater good of eating a candy bar. Absorbed in the heavenly deliciousness of a Snickers, their lips touched. And then they realized what they were doing and began acting as butch as possible. Which is why it is funny. They were not gay; they kissed; they acted as hyper-stereotypically manly as possible to reassure themselves. Even to the point of hurting themselves by ripping off their chest hair (and not coincidentally, showing off how much they had). That's funny.

But not to Judy Calhoun, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Colorado, who insists she is
... disappointed that the ending of the commercial is in a sense, normalizing a negative reaction.
Normalizing? What the colorful? It's making fun of the reaction, unless you think ripping one's chest hair off is a "normal" reaction. This is why the ad is what is called a "joke." And the reaction of the two men is what those in the biz call "the punch line."

The other versions of the commercial, available until recently on the Mars Web site, also got the gay groups' goat. One had the two mechanics fighting with each other. That's funny for the same reason -- hypermasculine brutishness as a defensive reaction to gay panic. How can the people who invented "gay panic" not see it when it hits them right in the face? Another had a bunch of Bears and Colts players watch the ad and they had a variety of reactions, including some negative -- "that ain't right." That reaction is simply totalitarian, and from people who endlessly cheer "diversity," no less. If the point is to display a range of reactions, it is hardly "endorsing" something to show it. In fact, if Mars hadn't included at least one player reacting negatively, the gay-complaint groups could have just as persuasively had a hissy over that too. Gay Group Playbook 34-Trap-Right claims that dealing with homosexual content without showing homophobia is to deny that said homophobia exists, which further perpetuates it.

I saw the ad myself in a roomful of other men with homosexual attractions — our Courage chapter's Super Bowl party. According to my memory (correction invited), the general reaction was that the Snickers ad was really funny, though there was some "ugh" and a more broadly shared "why do they think that will make you want to eat a Snickers?" bafflement. The instant I saw the candy bar hanging out of the mouth of the mechanic on the left, I called "Lady & The Tramp" for reasons obvious at the left. And then what we knew would happen happened and everybody laughed.

Another of the most famous scenes in the movies, from "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," has more or less the same premise as the Snickers ad. Steve Martin wakes up with his arm around the "soft fluffy pillow," realizes it's John Candy and the two jump to the other side of the bed and make macho talk about what they thought of (ironically) the Bears game and how they were gonna win the Super Bowl. Roger Ebert put it this way:
This is not homophobia but the natural reaction of two men raised to be shy and distant around other men — to fear misunderstood intimacy.
Ironically, one of the many ways I think that pro-gay groups are damaging society is precisely by misunderstanding intimacy by reducing all forms of love to varyingly sublimated forms of sex. Go to any Gay Studies Department, and every male friendship in the Western Canon from the Book of Samuel (David and Jonathan) to the Lethal Weapon movies (Mel Gibson and Danny Glover) has been quite thoroughly "queered."

One other thing. Let's assume the same ad. Now imagine the protests had come, not from GLAAD, HRC, et al, but from the Family Research Council, the Catholic League, the American Family Association and Concerned Women for America (as I write this, FRC has said nothing; CWFA gets some hits but not related to this; CL and AFA come up dry also). That they noted that this put a gay kiss into people's homes. It would have been Jerry Falwell and "Tinky-Winky" all over again -- the Mainstream Media would have reported from the template "nutty religious right groups complain about gays." The complaints would have been laughed at. And Mars would have ignored them and emphasized its commitment to diversity, etc. But the gay groups? No ... they and their complaints are taken seriously, by both Big Media and Big Corporations. That's media bias in a self-reinforcing nutshell. Some people's narratives are taken seriously; others not.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

"Completely heterosexual"

Well this IS a miracle of Biblical proportions, isn't it? According to one of the ministers overseeing Ted Haggard, the former NAE chief who resigned from New Life Ministries over charges involving a male prostitute and some crystal meth now is "completely heterosexual." (HT: Rod, who links to "The Nile").

Color me cynical about this too. I offered my intentions for Haggard before the Blessed Sacrament in one of my weekly hours, so it's obviously my duty to hope that this could be so, for his sake and his family's. But while the heart can hope, the head can only doubt. Obviously, everybody's experience of homosexuality is different, but all the known public particulars about what happened to Haggard point in the direction that homosexuality is something deep-seated in him, and that he is now kidding himself. Given these particulars, a one-month turnaround would be in the Lazarus category.

(1) The counselor used the word "completely heterosexual." In one month. Not "able to function as a husband in the marital bed" -- which would be believable. (Though he has five children; so that probably was never an issue anyway.) Not "completely repentant" -- which would be believable (personal experience talking here). No ... he said, functionally speaking, "not attracted to men at all." Apart from anything else, how would you know that objectively, short of hooking him up to something and getting out the dirty pictures ... which I doubt happened.

(2) The initial action wasn't a one-time thing, like two mechanics bonding over a Snickers bar. Nor was it a long-ago thing (puts on "American Pie" voice) "like one time, in band camp ..." But, assuming the prostitute Mike Jones was telling the truth (and there is no reason to disbelieve him; everything he's said that IS checkable has been verified), Haggard was a regular customer, who repeatedly hired him within the past couple of years, and their commercial relationship was, as they say, "fully consummated."

(3) In his initial resignation letter, he told his New Life congregants (PDF file) that "there is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I've been warring against it all my adult life."

What I'm saying is the following: there is such a thing as transitory homosexual attraction (maybe "fascination" or "curiosity" might be better terminology). And transitory fantasies of any other kind. And such a thing as a phase from adolescence that one might leave behind as one matures, particularly if one has a loving and successful marriage. But these cases don't fit what is publicly known of Haggard, who seems to fit perfectly into the category of what the Vatican calls "a man with deep-seated homosexual tendencies."

I am only approx. 40 to Haggard's 50, but I have had some knowledge of "that" since childhood, so I think I know whereof I speak. If a 50-year-old man has had homosexual attractions all his adult life; if they are sufficiently strong that he can fully-consummate a homosexual liaison; and if this is done repeatedly and within the past year -- if all that's true, they ain't going away to nothing in a month. Noway, nohow, given these circumstances, that this went away completely in a matter of weeks.

Absent water-into-wine or parting-the-Red-Sea territory.

The value of priestly celibacy

Well, one value of it anyway. Domenico Bettinelli has a post about Father Donald Cozzens recycling the same old anti-celibacy arguments. It seems a good time as any to tell of an appointment I made with a prostitute a bit more than two years ago (as God is my witness, that did not happen recently ... so nobody worry). And as I recount it, it will be quite clean, despite the subject matter. It is not an argument for priestly celibacy exactly ... more of an account of one way that a celibate priesthood contributes to the culture at large, even in places where one wouldn't expect it to.

In a period of weakness and depression, I had made an appointment with a male prostitute for the next day. But as usual, my conscience began to get queasy the closer to the appointed hour. On my drive out to his hotel, the Lord kept tugging at me, and I told myself "you can't do this, [John]. This is not what you want." Rather than stand the guy up outright, morally defensible though that would have been, I resolved to face him, tell him man-to-man that I couldn't go through with our transaction, and reach an accommodation that won't make an enemy out of him (keep in mind that he has my phone number, so it'd also be prudent not to treat him badly). When I get inside his room, I say something like "I'm sorry to do this to you, but I can't go through with this. Here's half the amount we agreed on, as a cancellation fee.* But my conscience won't let me do this." The guy said that was a fair deal and thanked me for not just flaking out on him. As I started to leave, he said "hold on, I'm curious about something."

It is for God alone to know how much of his end of the rest of the conversation, which I'm reconstructing from memory, was purely disinterested interest in me and how much an attempt to get me to go through with the appointment, so he can get the other half of his fee. In order to dampen the possibility of lust getting the better of me once I was there, I deliberately had taken only the half fee I intended to give him, leaving the other half in my car.

HIM: You say your conscience wouldn't let you.
ME: Correct.
HIM: We weren't gonna be doing anything that harms anyone ... just [description].
ME: Yeah, but we both know we'd be doing something wrong anyway: prostitution.
HIM: Well, we're just gonna spend time ...

I give him a "please don't kid me" look.

Are you religious?
ME: Yeah, by most people's standards. Though you of all people know I'm obviously not the most.
HIM: Are you gay? [John stammers a bit] ... Look, I'm just interested.
ME: Well, yeah. Most people would call me that.
HIM: Do you have a partner or are you dating someone?
ME: No.
HIM: Well, how do you express your sexuality?
ME: I don't. Or try not to.
HIM: How can you do nothing?
ME: Well, I have a problem with wanking, as my confessor will tell you if he could.
HIM: You're a Catholic?
ME: Yes. Most people's idea of a traditional one.
HIM: I've never met anybody like you. You're gay and Catholic? How do you reconcile the two?
ME: [Words to the effect of "I try, not always successfully, offer up my sufferings, principally loneliness, depression and moral scrupulosity." I no doubt didn't say the really right thing because I was starting to get weirded out.]
HIM: Don't you have any sexual outlets?
ME: God has called me to celibacy. I'm like a priest in that respect.

And the instant I mentioned the priesthood to him, a light went on in his eyes, as if to say "now, I get it." Not that he necessarily *got* the virtue of chaste celibacy in the fullest sense. But rather that his mind now had something it could latch onto. He wasn't intellectually at sea. I had given him an image that he could associate with. That's what being an icon *IS* -- an image of something else, something earthly pointing to something divine.

HIM: Are you gonna be a priest?
ME: No, I'm just making the analogy that a priest's celibacy is something for me to follow. And it's not compatible with my having sex with men.
HIM: You sure about that? You leaving?

This was moment that made me doubt his motives. He never made a move on me or did anything that I consider an explicit sexual gesture. But the whole time, as he obviously had been expecting me, he was wearing only socks and cargo shorts. And I was struggling.

Yeah. I'm sorry I did this to you. I think what you're doing is wrong, but it takes two to tango.
HIM: When I called you (about 10 minutes before the meeting time, to confirm the appointment), did you know you were going to do this.
ME: Yeah. I didn't know exactly what I'd say. But God wasn't gonna let me go through with it. Or let me off the hook moneywise.
HIM: Well, good luck. I've never met anyone like you. And thanks for being upfront in dealing with me.
ME: God bless.
We shake hands. I leave. And start to cry, when I'm finally in my car alone.

I'm not gonna overstate matters. I would probably have had the same pangs if there were a married priesthood. And I have no way of knowing whether the man just laughed himself silly once I was out of the room, and went on to his next client without a second thought. (I would have to bet he at least went through with his existing clients for that trip.) What I know for certain is that this very attractive and not-stupid man** sold his body for money, degrading himself and taking all manner of risks and dangers. But even this man still knew of the practice of celibacy from the Catholic priesthood. And thus celibacy "fit" into a prostitute's world, in whatever place he may have assigned it, because the Catholic Church insists on this "sign of contradiction" from its priests. A sign never more needed than now in this degraded era, where chastity and celibacy have virtually no other cultural cachet. For the Church to now end mandatory celibacy, even though it'd obviously be in-principle legitimate, could only be taken one way in the current environment. As tapping-out to the Sexual Revolution. As raising the white flag to those who say "living without sex is impossible or stupid." And as undercutting those of us who have borne this cross, however imperfectly, for decades.
* I'm told that Father Benedict Groeschel will impose penances of twice or three times the fee for the sin of prostitution. So I got off easy in that regard. But partly in order that I might gain nothing financially from my pang of conscience, I gave the other half of the fee voluntarily to my confessor and told him to put it in the parish's poor box or petty cash fund or wherever it might do some good.
** Knowing nothing else about him but his physical attributes, he could make a decent [in both senses] living as a legitimate model, as a workout/gym instructor or owner, or (maybe) coaching some sport.