Friday, March 26, 2010

Responding to Andrew Sullivan

(Update: Andrew Sullivan has published this on his blog.)


Dear Andrew Sullivan,

While I wholeheartedly agree with your conclusion that B16 should retire and that the charade of priestly celibacy ought also to be retired, I was startled by some twists in your route to those good ends. 

You say that some men entered the priesthood to find a cure for their gay sexuality. I suspect that somewhere there may be such a priest, but overwhelmingly, we who were ordained gay were actually not in search of a cure. We had a rather high estimation of ourselves as sexual creatures. We were joining a fraternity of accomplished and respected gay men. Gay sex was certainly not off limits to us as long as we bought the duplicity and the premise that we did it secretly. As gay culture became acceptable, the need for this fraternity withered and the priesthood stopped attracting good gay candidates. 

Also, I tried hard to understand and to feel your assertion that pedophile priests see their victims as less than human. I don't think I agree with that. I think that in most cases, pedophile priests saw their victims as convenient humans. These men were largely not part of the fraternity of gay priests whose meetings would happen at gay rectories, resorts, bars and baths. As the accusations came to light, many of us who are or were gay priests were totally surprised by the names of the accused. I think that many of them felt trapped by celibacy whereas those of us who simply shrugged it off from the time of our ordinations and led active sex lives and formed healthy relationships with adults were not their associates. They conducted their pedophile sex in secret. I think the media mistakenly paint the image of a priesthood in which all priests were aware of what was happening. I, hardly a blushing flower, was among those shocked at the extent of the situation.

The fledgling group called "Catholics for Equality" hopes to derail an unfair connection between pedophilia and gay clergy. I hope their efforts are successful, but I will say that my experience of the hierarchy makes me firmly believe that a gay bishop or cardinal - especially one who has had his career boosted by not having the kind of sex he might personally desire - might be inclined to go easy on a pedophile priest because he feels guilty about his own desires, mistakenly grouping together all forbidden fruit. 

I think what many Catholics don't know is that priests are simply not well trained for celibacy. Even the ones who are not sexually active have substituted the non-celibate preoccupations of gluttony and entertainment and porn and whiskey to take the place of sex. It's a sad way of life all around. 

I think B16 will retire "for health reasons" but I am afraid that we do not at this moment have a cardinal ready for election who will abolish the charade of priestly celibacy. Five years from now, there may be one courageous (or practical?) enough to do it, and he may be an American.

4 comments:

Birdie said...

This is an important perspective that people need to read. The truth must be heard. I will be checking Sullivan's site to see if he posts it. Please cross-post on Bilerico.

ewe said...

All well and good but let's face it. Am i wrong to think that men who become ordained as priests take a vow to the god they believe in to remain celibate? And if so FT all the gobbledygook in the world cannot substitute one fact if a priest has sex... They live a lie to themselves and others. And i am not sorry at all to say that i do not accept any of it. There is no rationalization for dishonesty. We would say that for most other aspects of human existence and the same rings true for sex. You all started out the very first day you were ordained on a fucking lie. The parishioners are supposed to respect any priest whether he has sex with minors or consenting adults? I don't think so. How can you possibly see the sanctity of anything that starts in disguise and deceit?

David said...

Oooooh, smell you!

:-)

Father Tony said...

Dear ewe,
Um, yes, I think you are finally getting the point. I used the word duplicity. At the age of 13 I was taught the duplicity of priestly sex. There is a big difference between telling something clearly and endorsing it. I told you how it is. I didn't say it was good. Quite the opposite. And you seem to forget that I rather walked out of it because it was such a dishonest life. Surely you can understand that we all grow up at different speeds. Some of us wake up at 20, others at 30 or 40 or whenever. The guys who remained inside the duplicity, especially the ones who passed the basket for the hateful second collection in Maine are the worst. They don't deserve to be called gay.