The Church's Gay Scapegoating
By Andrew Sullivan
Daily Dish on andrewsullivan.com
March 6, 2002
Another statement from a bravely anonymous priest to the Boston Herald.
There’s no pedophile problem. There’s a gay problem. ``My
personal feeling is, I don't care,” this conservative priest asserts.
“We should stand up and be counted, reaffirming the authentic faith.
If this element [the gay clergy] isn't rooted out, we're going to see
reoccurrences. Vocations will come back; God will take care of that.''
These stories are not accidental. They’re deliberate. The church
hierarchy have now found a way out of their dilemma. Bruised by revelations
that they have sheltered, supported and ignored child molestation, they
now want to purge not the clerics who hid the abusers – but gay
priests who have done nothing wrong. This campaign suggests to me a civil
war could soon break out in the American priesthood. It's going to get
brutal, as gay Catholics are targeted for smears, accusations and exposure.
The Vatican's Rot
I bumped into another gay Catholic tonight – Notre Dame graduate,
weekly church-goer, concerned and dedicated layman. He told me he couldn’t
go to church any more. The way in which the Vatican’s chief spokesman,
Joaquin Navarro-Valls, tried to pin the Church’s pedophile corruption
on good gay priests last Sunday was just too much for him. “They’ve
declared war on us. All of us,” he said to me. “If we stay,
we simply condone the bigotry and ingratitude. I don’t know where
to go, but I cannot stay any more.” I’m beginning to believe
he’s right – this is a watershed moment. For a quarter of
a century, gay Catholics and gay priests have clung to the reed of the
1976 doctrine that homosexuality as a condition is not sinful, and that
homosexuals are persons with dignity who belong in the Church. Now Navarro-Valls,
a member of the Opus Dei sect that now dominates the Church hierarchy
while the pope declines into aged irrelevance, has abandoned that doctrine.
Gays cannot be ordained, he says. Worse, their ordinations are invalid.
He’s almost daring gay priests to quit. You know how many American
priests would be left? Perhaps half of the current number. And a hierarchy
that subjected children in its care to serial molestation now tries to
change the subject by impugning its own innocent gay priests. This gambit
by the hierarchy shows the “objective disorder” at the heart
of their ideology. As Margery Eagan puts it in Tuesday’s Boston
While church leadership dumped from Boston parishes Catholic gays who
refused to renounce their ``sin,'' as we all know now it has not even
acknowledged what scholars and parishioners - and their children - have
noticed for years: that scores of Catholic priests - many of its very,
very finest priests, in fact - are gay. But the big gay elephant sits
there in the middle of the rectory table. We pretend we don't see it.
The culture of silence prevails.
Eagen is no anti-Catholic liberal and neither is her paper. And nor am
I. She just sees corruption and bigotry when it stares her in the face.
She also shows how the Vatican’s stupendous hypocrisy over its own
gay priests is connected with the pedophile corruption. Good gay priests
may have been afraid to name pedophiles for fear they would be smeared
as well. It turns out their fears were justified. It seems to me that
after the Vatican’s declaration of war on its gay clergy last weekend
that gay priests have a simple duty. They need to come out in large numbers
to their parishioners and to the press. They need to dare the Vatican
to fire them. They need to stop the defensiveness of the past, stand up
for their moral integrity, and expose the rot at the heart of the Church.
And lay Catholics need to support them against the hierarchy every inch
of the way. How dare the Church impugn innocents while it shelters the
guilty? And how can decent American Catholics not rise up against the
hierarchy for it?
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