Tag Archives: In the Closet of the Vatican

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture
securing a fathers foundations

Securing a Father’s Foundations

In prayer with our Lenten group, I saw a flag pole waving an image of the Lamb of God; at a closer glance I could see its base had decomposed to the point that the pole began to waver then slammed to the ground, hurting many and scattering others. Last week, I revisited this vision of a predatory priest at a parish funeral of a middle-aged man, abused as a teen by a priest, who drank himself to death; his wife and kids are fighting hard not to abandon the Church altogether.

A priest’s faulty foundation damages everyone. How much of a fault-line is same-sex attraction among the celibate priesthood? How does such attraction relate to clerical abuse? How can we best help priests with this foundational problem?

We can say that Catholic clerical abuse is unique in its contrast to other institutions as it is primarily a male problem. The Boston ‘Spotlight’ scandal and the aforementioned John Jay Report involved 78-85% male teens; a most recent study of clerical abuse came out last fall and includes both the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report from 2018 and the LA Times Survey of Homosexuality among Priests (‘Is Clergy Sexual Abuse Relate to Homosexual Priests?’ D. Paul Sullins: sullins@cua.edu, The Catholic University of America; published by The Ruth Institute, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, president.) The study found that ‘the abuse of boys is very strongly related to the share of homosexual men in the priesthood…easier access to males among older victims was an enabling factor.’

Now a disclaimer: I distinguish persons (including priests) with same-sex attraction from men preying upon children. Most same-sex attracted men have no sexual history with minors.

However, the adult male sexuality of teens combined with their youthful vulnerability can be tempting to some men, especially in a culture of secrecy over one’s attractions and a nearly male-only community of formation. Further, more than a few Catholic priests were abused as teens, a combustion of shame and lust that stalled development and can tempt one to furtive replays. F. Martel writes ‘In the Closet of the Vatican’ that ‘the culture of secrecy needed to maintain the high prevalence of homosexuality in the Church has allowed abuse to be hidden and for predator’s to act’ (p. 93).

Faulty foundations. Add to this how the celibate requirement of the priesthood provides one with a seeming ‘pass’ from reckoning squarely with conflictual desires. No woman needed; no need to work out who one is in relation to her. I have witnessed many persons with same-sex attraction who assume a celibate ‘call’ rather than a mandate to look deeper at the meaning of their desires—an invitation to a fuller repentance unto spiritual maturity and sexual integration.

My friend Jim—a 6-year candidate for the priesthood–never thought he could be more than an abstaining, same-sex attracted celibate. He then considered: ‘how can I authentically lay down natural fathering if I’ve never longed for a wife and family?’ Through a healing community, he is discovering who he is in relation to woman so he can decide with a whole-enough heart if God is calling him to natural or spiritual fatherhood.

The point should be clear: any priest seeking a secure foundation on which to spiritually father both men and women needs to work out his life as a sexual man in the light of Jesus and His healing community. That means knowing himself, growing in security and purity as a man through connectedness with other men, and learning the good rhythm of his need for the woman’s gift. Clear and consistent growth in integration has never been more essential for the priesthood and for the integrity of Jesus’ Church and His children.

Amid it all, I have high hopes for men with same-sex attraction who love Jesus and who committed to integration along with others who are equally committed to mastering their traditional idolatries (usually porn addiction). I highly recommend Drs. Kleponis and Fitzgibbons’ ‘The Distinction between Deep-Seated Homosexual Tendencies and Transitory Same-Sex Attractions in Candidates for Seminary and Religious Life.’ Download this most important document, for it highlights what I have discovered after 40 years of pastoral ministry in this area: that the person, not the depth of his moral problem, determines his destiny.

Men who live in the light of truth—that God neither created them ‘gay’ nor saddled them with desires that cannot be mastered with incisive care and community—can ‘transition’ into the fathers of God’s design. On the other hand, Catholic priests who insist that they are ‘gay’, that there is nothing to heal, and who seek to reinforce their queer natures with likeminded others are the ‘deep-seated’ ones–toxic influences who obscure the highway to holiness and make a crooked path for generations-to-come.

So we pray:
1. For an end to a culture of secrecy in all priestly and religious formation, for truthful and merciful onramps on which candidates can work out disordered desires, gender identity formation, childhood trauma, and sexual addiction.
2. For conscientious commitment to helping seminarians ensure that they are becoming mature expressions of their sexual gift and not fleeing sexual conflicts.
3. Hope for priests to overcome homosexuality through persistent repentance unto Jesus’ expert care and community; admonition and discipline to fathers who advocate for LGBT ‘selves’ and invoke the authority of the Church to do so.

May we not protect the foundation of any priest built on sand. Yet we prayerfully honor and ask protection upon those fathers who in weakness have surrendered to the Rock. Long may their flags wave, upright and true!

Please take time to watch our new video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

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liberating chastity

Liberating Chastity

Chastity has taken a lot of hits lately. Many would deem this ‘successful integration of sexuality within the person’ (#2337) a failure, the prospects dim for unifying one’s best spiritual aspirations with bodily desires. As Church sexual abuse scandals drone on like a dirge, we are stumbled in our stewardship of ‘these powers of life and love.’ If our fathers who claim to represent Jesus have faltered to the point of wrecking children’s lives, and their fathers (bishops) cover for them in order to defend ‘holy’ banks and appearances, what hope for us?

Hypocrisy fires our anger, which readily goes south to ignite dark longings for justifying our own lusts—you screw up ‘holy’ man, I’ll screw up worse!

Eloquent fools rush in. I just read with sobriety and incredulity LGBT activist Frederic Martel’s ‘outing’ of the last four popes and their Roman administrations: ‘In the Closet of the Vatican.’ Pretty intense stuff; more later. What alerted me to Martel’s interpretive key was this one line skewering Pope Emeritus Benedict, whose commitment to sexual orthodoxy is consistent and much hated: ‘He was haunted by the fact that someone else might be having pleasure…’

Huh. That’s Benedict’s legacy, his own chaste life (and there’s no evidence to the contrary) so curdled by conflictual desires that he spends his life spoiling others’ ‘gay’ revelry? That’s Martel’s cause and cure: ‘out’ these collared hypocrites and party on! Unwittingly, Martel ‘outs’ himself and shows he knows nothing about genuine chastity. Only in discovering more about this misunderstood virtue can we rescue it from such a caricature.

Chastity is about uniting the good of our bodily desires for pleasure and creativity with a desire to dignify other lives. This is not a virtue of children but of adults who must lay aside childish things in order to own good and lusty longing for human connection then decide, with ongoing training, to assert the upper hand on what drives them; desires channeled to achieve life, not destroy fun.

No stranger to lust-propulsion, I through Jesus’ mercy discovered a longing greater than sexy idols—that is, a peaceful composure that invited me to explore a range of relationships fully-clothed in which I learned to open my mouth and heart, not my pants. It was fun–pleasurable, if not sensational. I grew up without sensual limits so biblical boundaries saved me. A clear unbiased reading of Scripture led me to conclude that ‘Jesus committed to only one model of sexual union, opposite-gender monogamy…He regarded all sexual activity outside of marriage to one person of the opposite gender as capable of jeopardizing one’s entrance into the Kingdom.’ (‘The Bible and Homosexual Practice’, Dr. Robert Gagnon). To follow Him meant to commit to the same. Scary stuff.

Yet I needed the fear of God in regards to what I did with my body, precisely because of its impact on others. Masturbation hid me from others, porn demonized my vision of God’s children, and immoral acts violated the trust of holy friendships.

Two keys from the work of St. John Paul ll helped transform fear into expectancy. The first is his philosophical ‘personalism’ which invites all persons into an interior journey toward actualizing the truth in their lives, one that requires self-awareness and commitment to a process of development. Chastity, endowed by this ‘personalism’, is ‘how the subjective desires of the heart come into harmony with the objective norm’ (Christopher West).

That norm involved acting upon the second key. I learned through Theology of the Body that I was a ‘gift’ to others and that my design, however damaged by homosexual lust, was still inclined toward the other gift: woman. Then I discovered a pretty good relationship with a real one; I marveled at the difference between lust-propulsion and the emerging chastity in me that could open to Annette’s gender gift and grow to appreciate its exquisite rhythms. As I did, sexual ardor increased in a way that I can only describe as integrated. St. John Paul ll’s insists that chastity applies as readily to marrieds as to singles. We do not marry in order to avoid or channel lust; Jesus calls us in the spirit of St. Paul to love her like Jesus loves His Church. That requires nothing less than integration—the gift of slow-growing chastity.

Hypocrites and rumors of hypocrites aside, I can take responsibility for my own happiness. That requires loving free from the fetters of childish desires. Chastity liberates that happiness. Long may she live and grow in us.

Please take time to watch our new video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

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in the closet of the vatican

Good Natured

‘Just as there is a momentum to evil, so is there a momentum to repentance.’

Sour moods tempt me easily these days. As bishops from around the globe gather in Rome to bind up an abused Church (Responsibility, Accountability, Transparency–RAT—unfortunate acronym), ‘In the Closet of the Vatican’, a lurid expose debuts and incites the ‘rat’ by sensationalizing what the author describes as an essentially ‘gay’ administration surrounding the pope—a point made more respectfully by Archbishop Vigano when he wrote of a Roman ‘clergy rife with homosexuality’: ‘It is an enormous hypocrisy to condemn sexual abuse, to weep for its victims, and yet to refuse to denounce the root of so much abuse—homosexual predators.’

Blinded by its rainbow lens, the New York Times stumbled badly at nationalizing the ‘gay’ priest thing with a front page article featuring a gaggle of them entitled (don’t laugh) ‘It’s not a Closet, it’s a Cage’! What follows wouldn’t make the National Enquirer’s cut; the author knows little to nothing about what she writes except the now dreary ‘ain’t it an outrage when every immoral identification isn’t given equal time on every imaginable front, including the Church?’ The piece is full of zingers from collared whiners who lament: ‘It was never my shame; it was the church’s shame’! ‘The vast majority of gay priests are not safe’! ‘This is not a me issue. This is a human rights issue’! ‘Listen to how the Church traumatized me for being gay’! I look forward to the telenovela.

On the home front, cultural warriors who live to kill the prospect of life beyond sexual narcissism accuse me of being ‘a self-loathing homosexual…who needs to be straight and to portray himself as SUPERIOR to others.’ Relentless is the drone of activists who apparently base their LGBT+ liberties on everyone doing just as they do. Could make you blue.

Not a chance. I reread one of my favorite books: J. Budzisweski’s ‘What We Can’t Not Know’ about the moral law written on our hearts (Romans 2:15). In spite of ‘the evasions and subterfuge of men’, I can know the truth of God’s evident design for my masculine sexuality. My calm in the storm is clarity of conscience, the fact that I live in alignment with who I am as a man made for woman—to dignify and secure her in love and to have the strength to care for my kids and grandkids well.

The ‘gay’ self? Just a figment of one’s impoverished imagination. There is no such thing as an ‘LGBT+’ person, just pilgrims who have yet to discover the truth of who they actually are.

A smarter man said it best (my paraphrase): ‘We have a nature we must respect, that we cannot manipulate at will. We cannot create our own freedom, because we don’t create ourselves. We possess intellect and will but also nature, and we are ordered to the degree that we respect this nature, listen to it, and accept ourselves as persons who did not create themselves. In this way, and in no other way, is true human freedom fulfilled.’ Pope Emeritus Benedict

My nature is good, outlook sweet, because I line up with the One who made me. Deep calls to deep and composes my soul. Free to think and to feel and to act in accord with the truth, I recall homosexuality as a distant imposter. Lurid media-handling of the Church? I’ll wait for the telenovela.

Please take time to watch our new video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

Download PDF
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