For a conservative Catholic who meticulously adheres and assents to every word of the Church’s teaching, these are difficult days, filled to the brim with cognitive dissonance. It’s hard to accept the Pope as Jesus Christ’s chosen representative on Earth while groups of abuse victims call on him to stand trial for crimes against humanity.
And as if that’s not enough, the Vatileaks documents revealed (among other things) a gay “faction” within Vatican power circles, allegedly subject to blackmail because of their forbidden sexual orientation or involvement in forbidden relationships. Now, in the face of Benedict’s sudden resignation, people are wondering if the gay scandal has played a role in the pontiff’s decision or his loss of credibility.
The Catholic Church is on the defensive… except for one priest.
Father Dariusz Oko, a Polish priest who studies “homoideology and homopropaganda” from a critical perspective (really!) has tied together these two scandalous moments in recent Catholic history by way of his recently-translated 2012 article, “Standing with the Pope against homoheresy.” In it, he defends Pope Benedict’s record on childhood sexual abuse by priests, arguing that, in fact, it’s not the Pope thwarting Catholic families whose children get abused.
It’s the gay faction.
The way Oko tells it, young gay men raised as Catholics get drawn into the priesthood because it’s a good way to hide their orientation. In seminary they encounter other secretly gay men and form a social network. Not all of these priests will become molesters… but, Oko argues, they will close ranks to protect one of their fellows from any accusations. And because of their spiritual corruption — because being gay makes you “immune to that which is higher” — these people become more interested in base, corrupt things like money, power, career, and luxury, so they are drawn to positions of power within their diocese.
The assumptions underpinning these wild accusations are closely linked to the ones underpinning conservative objections to homosexuals in the military or gay Boy Scout leaders. The Church, like so many other homophobic institutions and individuals, sees gay love as inherently selfish and sexually uncontrollable, as well as deeply and inescapably linked to sexual desire for adolescent bodies.
While the Church is always game to stigmatize any example of non-procreative sexuality, it sees gay relationships as — in Oko’s words — “particularly deplorable.” Once you accept the stigmatizing claims Oko and others of his ilk make about gay people, it’s hard to avoid concluding that the “homomafia” would protect molesters. (In fact, I kept waiting for him to point out a gay proclivity for eating babies.)
Father Oko had nary a word of criticism for Benedict’s handling of the situation, though he conspicuously avoided mention of Joseph Ratzinger’s pre-papacy decision-making. Instead, he focused on a few rule changes Benedict made around seminary admission. After all, if child molesters are getting off scot-free because of the evil gay cabal, you have to stop providing new priests to the gay cabal! So Benedict barred anyone with the slightest inkling of same-sex desire from the priesthood and decreed that currently-serving gay priests needed two things — purity and therapy — to become functional priests and human beings.
I couldn’t make this stuff up. If I did, no one would believe me.
Oko’s writings on “the formation mechanism of homo-community” describe homosexuals in general, and priests in particular, as impaired, wounded, dishonest, hypocritical, greedy, shallow, spiritually dead, morally atrophied, incapable of relationship, and incapable of decency. It’s possible for a gay person to live decently, Oko admits, but “it’s much, much harder, and so they fail much more often.”
If this is what “loving the sinner” looks like, I’ll pass.