I have seen surprisingly little homophobia in the McCarrick scandals, but then again I’m selective in my reading. Rod Dreher’s piece on the response of the bishops, “Among the Apostolic Bureaucrats“, gives a hint of it in one of the preserved comboxes he shares. I’d like to take a moment to talk about sane Catholic thinking where same-sex attraction and clergy corruption intersect.
Begin by reading Humanae Vitae, which turns 50 today. Happy birthday to a short and user-friendly encyclical. If you can read here, you are smart enough for HV.
Now here’s the thing about contraception, pulled from my post, “Pro-Life, Married, and Contracepting: Is There a Problem?”
Whereas NFP always reminds you that abstinence is a part of life we must make peace with, contraception says no, don’t make that peace. Very quickly we become persuaded we must have this thing that we want, because it is a necessity.
Thus the spiritual fruit of marriage extends outward to the wider society: If married people have to indulge-or-bust, then surely the same applies to engaged couples? To people dating seriously? To those who are just lonely and want some affection? To those who have no prospect of marriage, but have a sexual drive all the same?
After all, there is nothing different, biologically or psychologically, between a married person and everyone else. If a married person is going to combust for lack of intercourse, it follows that others might too. If a married person is incapable of maintaining healthy, balanced, rewarding relationships unless the sex drive is perpetually sated, it follows that others have the same need for satiation.
And if the married person, who has the advantage of a dear friend on hand for companionship and assistance and warmth and kindness, is unable to experience depth and emotional intimacy and chaste physical touch unless sex be a part of that relationship, it follows that others desiring close human connections have no hope — unless they, too, get the sexual gratification that is apparently necessary if there is to be any happiness.
Contraception is the justification for homosexual activity.
Now understand that McCarrick’s predatory and promiscuous behavior is in no way a homosexual mirror of marriage. When we eliminate the life-giving aspect of sex, we get a spectrum of behaviors, from least to most reprehensible:
- People who continue to observe the notion that sex is reserved for a lifelong, mutually exclusive, faithful and loving union.
- People who practice consensual serial monagamy, with relatively long-lived and fairly carefully chosen relationships, in which is sex is delayed until the couple knows each other well.
- People who practice consensual serial monagamy via short-lived relationships in which sex often begins early in the relationship.
- People who engage in consensual sexual activity with no regard for monogamy.
- People who coerce their prey into sexual activity.
- People who violently sexually assault their prey.
Now homosexual activity is always intrinsically disordered. It is not what sex is for. Note likewise that moral thinking isn’t a giant game of Would You Rather?, and also that same-sex unions pose other more serious moral problems than the sex question.
But McCarrick’s behavior is not notably problematic because it involved same-sex relationships. It is a problem for more serious reasons:
- The relationships were coercive, promiscuous, and abusive.
- There was an on-going pattern of corrupting previously chaste young men.
- Many clerics at all levels knew about the behavior and tolerated it or even rewarded it.
- Whistle-blowers were persecuted.
- It was blatant and on-going violation of clerical celibacy.
- It was an act of absolute hypocrisy for someone charged with teaching the Catholic faith.
Once you’ve racked up all that, the “gay” part becomes almost incidental in comparison.
Update: H/T to Janet Smith for sharing this analysis from 1988: Looking the Other Way: Homosexual Seminarians Need Pastoral Care, Not Benign Neglect
Perhaps now would be a good time for Catholics to ditch the pearl-clutching and get local chapters of Courage up and running. It’s not like same-sex attraction was invented last week.
Artwork: Rogier van der Weyden (1399/1400–1464) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons