Thursday, September 22, 2005

Re the latest on homosexuality in the priesthood....and here's my own theories

In, "K. Aurencz Zethmayr"
aureantyev@y...; wrote:

First of all, just to express my essential lack of surprise--
afterall, as a traditionalist, the new Pope is hardly likely to buck
the kneejerk trend of conflating all pedophilia with adult
homosexuality, or to take every opportunity of "purging" the ranks of
all who might possibly compromise the virtue/image/mission of the
Roman Catholic Church (a bit late for that, overall, but
it a second Counter-Reformation).

Two points, though:

A, all self-respecting sexual deviants reject juvenile predation and
coercion--and likely with very good personal reason--therefore,
anything that is a non-consensual sexual violation by an adult of a
minor is an unjustifiable abuse of trust and authority.

And B, where the hell would the Roman Catholic Church be without
the thousands, millions even of men who found their spiritual and
intellectual vocations there through the ages in the absence of
being able to have a "normal" life, i.e., marriage with the duty of
fecundity and ruling a family? Just read even one Andrew Greeley
novel, for example (I recommend "The Cardinal Sins"), and you realize
that especially in America, the priesthood has long been the only
acceptable way for a good Catholic boy to honourably sublimate and
conceal his homosexual identity--and some repress or exercise their
needs more honourably than others, whatever their basic tendencies.
The many who prefer men and use discretion therewith should not be
tarred for the few who molest boys and teens and further abuse them
with the pressure of a guilt they do not deserve.

In Europe, sexual "deviancy" in general had long been tacitly tolerated under
the aegis of the Vatican, and so long as it was reasonably discreet
and was not molestation--anything forced or abusive that could force
a scandal--it has caused no essential problems save those of
favoritism to one's lovers or preference to the children of one's
mistress--take the Borgias, for example. Concubines both male and
female were tolerated and/or politely ignored, and the main issues of
contention when they did arise were hypocrisy (well, of course,
though the faithful in the lower social classes were hardly in the
know of who was sleeping with whom) and simony--technically the
buying and selling of church appointments, in this case for sexual
favours (either directly or indirectly, as in granting a bishopric to
the son of a mistress).

The particular rise of molestation cases in the U.S. can be
attributed to two main things, besides the technical (and arguably very
politically-based) requirement of celibacy itself -- the longstanding
exclusion of women from the Vatican choirs, an example which in
Europe caused both the flowering of boys' choirs as a tradition and
the musical trend of cultivating castrati for both religious and
operatic music (meaning that young boys and/or the fabulously glam
castrati superstars became prime objects of sensual attraction if
they hadn't been before--there aren't any more castrati divi,
but the all-boys' choir is still a fixture) ....

.... and then the social pressures of transplanting Catholicism via
immigration into the more crowded and suspicious territory of urban
America, which naturally made the gaining of any romantic or sexual
satisfaction a bit harder for everyone. And, seeing as the United
States was by then mainly set in the social pattern of Puritan-borne
Protestantism, the moral and social absolutes were more stringent in
a common-law sense, much less tolerant of difference or
sensual indulgence.

My view is that the social pressures of trying to maintain
Catholicism and its older ethnic traditions (in parish enclaves
within an often disdainful overall WASP milieu) added to internal and
external pressures on all those with any conflict with the
neighborhood parish=close-knit village culture. Both the priesthood
and the veil appealed as always to those not suited to raising a
family, but with far more a component of social coercion because of
the (pervasive) urgency to marry and bring more babies into the
Church. Thus, there was even more tendency for personal sexuality
(even if not practised in itself) to find a haven away from these
demands -- so, for gay men, for lesbians, and also for those who had
more an instinct for power and predation than for any honestly
physical relationship and its responsibilities. I.e., the real
sexual and emotional predators who should ideally not have been around
children or anyone so vulnerable in the first place in any role at
all. Not that they can't make very impressive priests and high-level clerics, though...

Personally, I think it's a sick system overall to demand and enforce
these rules en masse, but a lot healthier to allow private affairs
between consenting adults than to force all urges underground even
further. A lot of people, and family of mine, will hail this as a
purification of the Church -- but it will A, not solve the problem of
sexual abuse of power in itself, and B, lead to a great many
gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and even whole LGBT-supportive parishes
leaving the Roman Catholic Church decisively, unwilling to be blamed
for all the crimes of hypocritically pious individuals. Incidentally
undercutting whatever good Pope John Paul II did with his single
exhortation for love and personal acceptance regardless of sexual
orientation. Not that he didn't consider homosexuality "objectively
disordered" as in the catechism (see second article cited), and not
that this policy wasn't in the works under his reign -- but at least
he tried to be socially-conciliatory on the surface.

On the other hand, though, that may have done more harm than good
over the years in allowing people to feel complacent about their own
faith, rationalizing that it's okay to be gay and still Catholic, or
that the (lately) single most temporally-powerful religious figure on
the planet was a "good man" for his tolerance and bridge-building
even though it was only of a thinly social nature, still condemning
the official sins as he proposed compassion and the non-withdrawal of
parental love to the sinners....a magnanimous gesture, that.

I was surprised, after the death of Pope John Paul II, to see how
many people in the online groups I'm in regarded him as such a
positive social figure. When it comes right down to it, the only
thing that I ever had cause to respect him for was condemning the
U.S.-led invasion of Iraq (though these days a pope's temporal
authority doesn't make or break wars like it used to
when "Christendom" was assumed as Catholicism...) -- point is,
many of these are people with no reason atall to be grateful or
conciliatory towards a religious structure in itself that condemns
many or most of their personal beliefs and practices. A structure
that both would eliminate them from the world if it could and has
tried it with great zeal before
. Why give the persecutors such
credit, and their "infallible" leader, moreover?--isn't that a blow
against your own validity? In my opinion, the very best part of
Roman Catholicism is the Franciscan Order -- closest to nature,
closest to their fellow human beings, closest to the ideal of a faith
lived in action, not just in words and dependence on top-down

Unfortunately, I could very well see them being the next on the
chopping-block, with all their human rights involvement and actual
respect for others....not exactly orthodox, these days.

Inciting Articles:

Vatican to Check U.S. Seminaries on Gay Presence
Published: September 15, 2005

New Vatican Rule Said to Bar Gays as New Priests
Published: September 22, 2005

The majority and theoretical material of this post was first "published" at my news/current events/shape-of-things-to-come group hyperlucidity -- the eternal pathology on 16 September 2005.

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