Last week I received this email:
Hi John–I check in on your blog daily, but this is my first foray into any sort of contribution. I wonder if you might consider giving some attention to the Catholic agenda with regard to gay marriage, particularly since the Catholic Church is expending more money and energy in opposing gay marriage than any other organization. I am employed by the Catholic Church in a ministerial role, and I hear the “princes of the Church” preaching discrimination against gay people on a regular basis, often with an apocalyptic theme such as “We will fight this to the death, even if it means that our members desert us and our Church buildings crumble around us.” If you haven’t read it, the Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination (published several years back by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) is especially pertinent, because it really gives the framework for the trajectory the Catholic Church is currently taking. Thanks for reading this. Please don’t use my name or position (I know it’s easy to find me online) if you decide to pursue this topic, because I would lose my position post haste, and I have a family to support! Best wishes to you as you push the Church toward actual Christ-likeness.
In the course of our ensuing chat I asked the man if he might be willing to himself pen something on this matter, since his view from the inside would surely carry more weight than anything I might say. He responded with the below, which I present to you in its entirety:
It is gradually becoming clear to me that the hierarchy of the Catholic Church is so deathly afraid of “the gays” that it will do whatever it takes to keep them from being fully engaged in the life of the Church. Here are some of the stock tactics employed by the Church toward that end:
- Start by having a tradition which calls homosexual behavior “A sin so grievous that it cries out to Heaven for vengeance.” In this way, the masses will place the homosexual outside the boundaries of what is admissible in their society. (The phrase in quotes can be found in the Examination of Conscience, a missalette in the pews of one of our local Catholic parishes.
- Appeal to Scripture as narrowly as possible, even though it is perfectly obvious that Scripture is not treated the same way for other moral questions. It doesn’t matter that the Scripture passages which possibly pertain to gays are sparse and obscure, or that they stand in lists of outdated customs (no shellfish, no mixing linen and cotton …), nor that they refer to prostitution, the worship of idols, or the abuse and enslavement of boys.
- Ignore problematic Bible passages such as the homoerotic elements in the story of David and Jonathan in the Old Testament. ["I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women." David, at 2 Samuel 1:26]
- Appeal above all to the authority of the Church’s Tradition, and as much as possible downplay appeals to reason and experience.
- Pretend that the Church cannot change its teaching about homosexuality because it has the fullness of all truth, and thus has never changed any of its teachings. When people point out the Copernican revolution, the Vatican’s change in position on usury, slavery, and/or the rights of women, etc., etc., simply come up with convoluted technicalities which ostensibly prove the Church’s points in such a way as to be unanswerable without degrees in canon law and Catholic moral theology. If someone is astute enough to get past these obstacles, declare that person unworthy to speak in matters of faith or doctrine. Censure and silence them if necessary.
- Define acceptable sex and marriage in such a way as to cause even most heterosexual people in your parishes to be unable to live according to the Church’s prescriptions (no masturbation, no oral sex, no contraception, etc., etc.). Then pretend to be shocked that marriage today is in such bad repair.
- Claim that marriage hasn’t changed in its essential nature from the beginning of time, ignoring the polygamy of the biblical patriarchs, the prostitutes in Jesus’ own lineage, the centuries of arranged marriages in Christian culture, the late entrance of the Church into any sort of involvement in the marriage rite, etc. When confronted with these facts, simply provide a rationalization which appeals to Tradition and the teaching authority of the Church, while yet again downplaying the role of reason and experience.
- Appeal to the Natural Law—after all, only heterosexuals can biologically provide offspring together—in defense of the Church’s exclusive stance on heterosexual marriage. Ignore inconvenient “natural law tangents” such as homosexual behavior in primates, etc.
- Pretend that human sexuality is something that can be turned on or off like a spigot, and insist that gays must keep their “spigots” in the off position. After all, priests are celibate, and therefore keep their sexuality in the off position … don’t they?
- For as long as possible, portray gays as people who are morally and spiritually bankrupt. When it becomes clear that gays are not necessarily any more spiritually bankrupt than heterosexuals, simply state that though gays may be wonderful people, no sexual complementarity or true love is possible between two men or two women, and that therefore homosexual behavior is intrinsically disordered.
- When medicine, psychology, and the other sciences find data which empirically challenge the above position on homosexuality (i.e., that homosexuals are “intrinsically disordered”), use parallel Catholic organizations such as the Catholic Medical Association to present the Church’s viewpoint as a counterweight to such scientific information.
- Treat being gay as an addiction, similar in nature to an addiction to alcohol or drugs. Create 12-step programs such as Courage to help gay people re-channel their homosexual feelings into other endeavors. Within those programs insist that gays not be open about their sexuality (to avoid scandal), stay away from children, and refrain from intimate friendships with others like themselves. In this way they can be kept from both falling off the sexual-abstinence wagon and polluting others. Never mind that the ensuing loneliness they face will almost certainly result in addiction, depression, rejection of the Faith and its demands, or some combination thereof.
- Purposely confuse pedophilia with being gay, and create false “slippery slope” arguments which contend that if the Church accepts homosexual behavior it will one day be forced to also accept pedophilia, incest, and bestiality.
- Attempt to eliminate gay priests by refusing to ordain them (if their orientation becomes known during their formation) and by engaging in tactics such as putting up signs like the one in the Pontifical North American College in Rome: “Overt homosexual behavior will not be tolerated in this Seminary.” (Emphasis added—and I’m not sure the sign is still in place, because it gained some notoriety a couple of years ago.)
- Maintain an attitude of shock and disbelief when confronted with the hurt that gays feel at the hands of the Church. Respond with your own “righteous anger” at gay people daring to be angry with a Church that is innocently offering them nothing but the love of God.
- If some gay people won’t remain quiet about their sexuality, deny them Communion, refuse to allow them an active role in the life of the parish, and as a last resort excommunicate them from the Church. Or don’t even bother with any of that: simply treat them in such a condescending fashion that they reject the Faith altogether. Then they can fit neatly into the parable where the seed is sown in rocky soil, but withers away in the sun. Rigorously ignore all evidence that the Church itself is that rocky soil.
It would actually be a relief to me if this was an overinflated tirade on my part. The fact is that the Church is unable to: A) come up with a way to incorporate as full partners into the fabric of the Church openly gay people, or B) come up with some emotionally satisfactory, long-term solution for homosexual persons who might wish to avoid being gay.
This is a terrible position to be in for an institution that claims to possess “the fullness of all truth.” The Church no longer has the means with which to physically bully people into submission, and at the same lacks the necessary moral power of persuasion, because on this issue it is so clearly in the wrong.