Let me say this, I am a mom of a multitude of kids and have spent their lives trying to ensure their safety and well-being. I have THE biggest stake with what’s been going on in the Church for decades. Fr. James Martin totally and utterly ignores my kids as well as yours in his quest to legitimize his pet proclivities. It’s sickening and he needs to stop. I hope the mothers of the world will let him have it!
The witch hunt for gay priests
James Martin, S.J.
August 30, 2018
I object to the title in so many ways. First of all, I don’t want to hear about “gay priests.” I don’t want to hear about “straight priests.” I don’t want to hear about any priests who spend time focusing on their “sexual identity.” I want priests who focus on serving God and who focus on leading his people to Heaven. Anyone doing less than that shouldn’t be a priest. So, if your focus is on you and your sexual inclinations, please leave.
I’ve probably told this story before, but under our old regime with one of Cardinal Mahony’s buddies, we once had a priest luncheon in our diocese to “support gay priests.” A few faithful priests, befuddled, went just to see what it was all about. One of them courageously stood up and asked, “Why in the world would you want to be known as a ‘gay priest?’ I just want to be known as a Catholic priest.” Amen, Father! Amen! I have no idea if this priest would be attracted to men or attracted to women, because his focus was on God as it should be.
This is the biggest problem with any priest who wants to be considered a “gay priest.” The focus is on them. The focus is on normalizing “gay.” The focus is on undermining Church teaching to normalize “gay.” This is why they are so hostile to the catechism’s use of “disordered.” Rather than helping people to deal with this particular disorder like they would any other – drug use, alcoholism, etc. – they want to simply call it something else.
I was just talking to a priest friend the other day about this. I’m quite sure there are some priests, who if they sat around and focused on it, could conclude they were same-sex attracted. But they don’t. They focus on Our Lord, Our Lady, and the Holy Eucharist. That’s their whole-hearted attraction. They’re focus is quite vertical. I have ZERO problem with them, because their world is about getting to Heaven and about getting others to Heaven. They are in love and attracted to God. Who could have a problem with that? These priests are usually infectious and help us overcome all of our disordered tendencies no matter what they are: SSA, infidelity, drug/alcohol use, etc., etc., etc. They’re not same-sex attracted because their attraction is, again, completely vertical. This is what I want in a priest.
So, any priest who has slapped one of the “identity” titles on themselves has already failed their ordained mission.
The next thing I’d like to point out is purely practical. We don’t house our priests with our sisters. My gosh. For this same reason, people who identify as same-sex attracted should not be in the priesthood for their own good as well as ours. Talk about putting yourself in a near occasion of sin! The sin with that lies not in acting on the attraction but in putting yourself in an occasion to act on it. Again, why would I want a priest who is willing to put his hand on the hot stove??? Duh. If they are doing it, how can they possibly tell their flock not to? Do they tell the alcoholic to go hang out in a bar? Do they tell the guy prone to watching porn to go play pool in a strip club? I’m sure some these days too because they’re hardly ones to talk! How is it that Fr. Martin is going to keep promoting the idea that this should be done??? It’s got to be one of the most uncharitable things I’ve seen.
It is not surprising that Catholics are furious about the latest sex abuse crisis, which began, most recently, with accusations of abuse and harassment against the former cardinal-archbishop of Washington, D.C., Theodore McCarrick; deepened with the Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing 70 years of abuse in the Commonwealth; and intensified with the former Vatican nuncio to the United States Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s 11-page “testimony” accusing many high-ranking clerics, including Pope Francis, with covering up the crimes.
Catholics have a right to be angry at abusive clergy, at bishops who covered up their crimes and at the sclerotic clerical system that allowed the crimes and cover-ups to go unpunished for decades.
Oh, gag, Father Martin. Thank you SO MUCH for giving us your permission to be angry at abusive clergymen. It also seems like you realized the “shoot the messenger” tactic was a bust. How about you now give us permission to be angry at the circumstances that got them there?
But the intensity of hate and level of anger directed at gay priests are unprecedented in my memory.
What I mean by “gay priests” is ordained priests with a homosexual orientation who are living their promises of celibacy (and in religious orders, their vows of chastity). That it is necessary even to define the term “gay priest” points out the widespread misinformation about what has become perhaps the most incendiary topic in the current discussion. A few commentators have even declared that the term “gay” implies that a priest must be sexually active. As I use the term, a “gay priest” simply means an ordained priest who has a homosexual orientation.
This is about occasions of sin, Father. I’m sure you’re aware that there are proximate and remote occasions of sin, even though, as you like to put it, you are not a theologian. This is Catholic 101.
Theologians distinguish between the proximate and the remote occasion. They are not altogether at one as to the precise value to be attributed to the terms. De Lugo defines proximate occasion (De poenit. disp. 14, n. 149) as one in which men of like calibre for the most part fall into mortal sin, or one in which experience points to the same result from the special weakness of a particular person. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11196a.htm
Certainly a same-sex attracted man willfully putting himself in a living situation with other men is a proximate occasion of sin. And, in many of our seminaries today, they’re also very willfully putting themselves in living situations with other people with same-sex attractions. Sounds like a grand plan for a chaste life! I’d think you’d be appalled at male and female religious being housed together. Why are you so obstinate that anyone who has an attraction to men shouldn’t be housed with them? Can you say double-standard? This is one big duh! Do you use any form of the Act of Contrition, Father? Geez.
The long-simmering rage against gay priests and the supposed “homosexual subculture” or “Lavender Mafia” has been fanned into a fire that threatens to engulf not only faithful gay priests but also, more broadly, L.G.B.T. people.
OK, let’s talk about a homosexual subculture. Does McCarrick ring a bell?!?! You want to call it clericalism and some want to call it a homosexual problem. I think I have the balanced name for it. This shall henceforth be known as “Clericalism of priests trying to normalize the same-sex attraction.” These guys cannot admit their sacred cow is not so sacred and so they try to keep it under wraps. They’re willing to protect their agendas more than the victims. As you admit later with the “hundreds of gay priests you know” comment, that subculture is there. I know priests who have been run out of their seminaries because they weren’t willing to condone the sexual depravity going on around them. I mean, before it was reformed recently, everyone knew that you couldn’t go to our local seminary if you were a faithful Catholic. You’d never make through without being thrown or driven out. Almost all those who bought into all the teachings of the Church, especially in the area of homosexuality, had to attend seminary out-of-state. Thankfully our seminary has been fast-tracked for rehabilitation.
While the contempt directed at gay clergy is coming from just a handful of cardinals, bishops and priests, as well as a subset of Catholic commentators, it is as intense as it is dangerous. “It is time to admit that there is a homosexual subculture within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church that is wreaking great devastation in the vineyard of the Lord,” wrote Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wis. A Swiss bishop, Marian Eleganti, declared that the “networks” of gay priests in the church must be investigated before the “great purification” can begin. A bishop in Kazakhstan, Athanasius Schneider, listing remedies for clergy abuse, began with this: “cleanse uncompromisingly the Roman Curia and the episcopate from homosexual cliques and networks.” Cardinal Raymond Burke, the influential former archbishop of St. Louis, said, “There is a homosexual culture, not only among the clergy but even within the hierarchy, which needs to be purified at the root.”
This isn’t contempt. It’s a reality. It’s compassionate to the priests who consider themselves”gay” as well as to those who might be victims from abusing priests and many of those are people who simply couldn’t handle the proximate occasion of sin! Homosexual abusers are 80% of the problem. Stop burying your head in the sand.
Michael Hichborn, president of the Lepanto Institute, takes this to its inevitable conclusion, telling the Associated Press that what is needed is “a complete and thoroughgoing removal of all homosexual clergymen in the church.”
I dare anyone to read the first 300-pages of the Pennsylvania grand jury report and tell me that it’s the best start we could make, but surely more needs to be done, because there are some heterosexual abusers, too. That said, this first step would eliminate 80% of the problem as quickly as possible.
In the last few days I have seen more homophobic comments on my social media accounts than ever before. The rise in vitriol is not surprising, especially after such comments from church leaders and Catholic commentators or after headlines like these: “Pope Blames Sex Abuse on Clericalism, Leaves Out Homosexuality”; “Sex Abuse Crisis in Church is about Homosexuality Not Pedophilia”; “Homosexual Predators, not Pedophile Priests, Are Church’s Deadly Cancer.
What’s vitriolic about any of these? Pedophilia is an outlier in the grand scheme of numbers. Homosexuality isn’t. I’m wondering if you would say that a someone suffering from pedophilia should be allowed to continue on or enter into the priesthood as long as they remain celibate? After all, a pedophile is one who’s attracted to children (pre-pubescent). It doesn’t necessarily mean acting on it. I dare you to say that’s just peachy. If you can’t, then you are a hypocrite. Either way, you lose.
Archbishop Viganò’s “testimony” was also rife with this same kind of language: “These homosexual networks, which are now widespread in many dioceses, seminaries, religious orders, etc., act under the concealment of secrecy and lies with the power of octopus tentacles, and strangle innocent victims and priestly vocations, and are strangling the entire Church.” (Full disclosure: both Archbishop Viganò in his “testimony” and Cardinal Burke in a recent interview have mentioned me by name.)
And there it is. It’s all about you. They mentioned you by name because, well, you are kind of a jerk. You put aside all reality for your pet proclivities. You lead souls astray and you encourage people to “be themselves” (i.e., to act on their proclivities). You try to normalize the disordered. Etc., etc., etc. You’re nothing new. You are just another in a long list (and the most notable today) and look where it’s gotten us?
It is important to say that the majority (but not all) of the clerical abuse crimes were cases of priests preying on male adolescents and boys. Also, the majority (but not all) of the sexual harassment cases were men harassing other men or young men. Prescinding from the complex psychological questions of how much a person’s sexuality has to do with abuse, how much differentials in power do and how much proximity does, we should state clearly: Many priests abusers had a homosexual orientation. That is undeniable.
Funny you should mention proximity. Sorry, Father, but putting oneself in a proximate occasion of sin goes against everything the Church teaches. You remember Christ’s words in Matthew 18:8?
And if thy hand, or thy foot scandalize thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee to go into life maimed or lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into everlasting fire. 9And if thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee having one eye to enter into life, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
Strange. I don’t remember Christ saying “But if you’re homosexual, you get a pass on this. Go right ahead and move in with that near occasion of sin!”
But the next step is where the conversation can take a dangerous turn. That many abusers were gay priests does not mean that all or even most gay priests are abusers. It is a dangerous and unjust stereotype. Simply because a certain percentage of a group acts in a certain way does not mean the entire group or even most of the group acts in the same way.
Really? You’re going to go with “The other guy did it too!” Doesn’t fly with my kids and it doesn’t fly with you. TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT! If you were a victim of a homosexual predator, would you take comfort in knowing that some abusers weren’t homosexual??? You are completely deaf, Father Martin. Yeah, let’s ignore 80% of the victims because 20% were victimized by a mix of heterosexual predators and pedophiles?
Then why does it seem like so many gay priests are abusive?
Uh, because they’ve repeatedly put themselves in a proximate occasion of sin, perhaps?!
One reason is that there are no public examples of the healthy, celibate gay priests to counteract these stereotypes. Why not? Because gay priests are not willing to be as public about their identity as straight priests are. For example, in a community suffering from a spate of L.G.B.T. violence, there can be no references in a Sunday homily to knowing what it is like to be bullied for being gay. The presider cannot say, “As a boy, I was bullied, too, for being gay.”
As I’ve said before, Fr. Martin, you first. After that – no, no, no, and no!
My friends suffering from same-sex attraction and striving to live celibate lifestyles all say about the same thing. They say their relationships with strong, heterosexual, chaste, God-oriented men are what help them to live a chaste lifestyle.
“Why do gay priests feel that they cannot be public? For several reasons. First, the fear of coming out in this increasingly poisonous environment. (Ask yourself if you would come out when even bishops are calling for a “cleansing” of men like you.) Second, bishops and religious order superiors fear that their men (again, celibate and chaste priests) could be targeted by the media or homophobic websites. Third, an underlying shame about their sexuality. Fourth, an innate desire for privacy about a personal aspect of one’s life. Fifth, the fear that in the absence of other “out” priests one might become the “poster boy” for the group.”
Or, here’s another few reasons. They have a conscience that won’t let them do it. Or, maybe, just maybe, some of them are not obsessed with defining their sexuality and only want to be known as Catholic priests? I mean, this is ridiculous. Nobody is complaining about the priests with vertical thinking here. They are complaining about priests who obsess about their sexual identity. The good ones sit around thinking about God and his Church, and that’s how they live every day. They care about being fathers to all of us, homosexual or heterosexual (and anything else you want to throw in there). They believe in living a life of self-mastery in their devotion to God, not out of some martyrdom complex. They admit they have struggles in life but they don’t have to wear their sins like a badge and they simply invite people to struggle along with them.
Such reasons mean that the example of the many hardworking, healthy and celibate gay priests (and chaste members of religious orders) is almost entirely absent from both the church’s consciousness and the public eye. There are exceptions, like the Rev. Gregory Greiten of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and the Rev. Fred Daley of the Diocese of Syracuse, priests who have come out publicly as gay. But Fathers Greiten and Daley are two of only a handful of clergy like this. And until bishops and religious superiors support gay priests in their desires to be more public about who they are, and gay priests are willing to pay the price of honesty, the situation is unlikely to change.
You have failed to you why “I’m out and proud” is necessary to accomplish this. Shouldn’t they simply be known as hardworking and healthy priests? Or, how about devout priests instead of agenda driven? Why is it that any priest who keeps his vows and helps everyone toward Heaven isn’t good enough for you, Father Martin?
Consequently, the stereotype of the “gay priest abuser” now predominates. To use another example, imagine if the only stories aired about members of an ethnic, social or religious group were of those who had committed crimes. Further, imagine that no positive stories about their law-abiding members were made public. Eventually, the negative stereotype would dominate: “All members of this group are criminals.” (Sadly, this is not a hard scenario to imagine: Many ethnic groups face the same kinds of stereotypes.)
Because, Father Martin, “priestly abusers who are ‘gay’” cause over 80% of the problem!!! You’re repeatedly asking us to close our eyes to this fact. I’m sorry it happened to anyone at all, but unlike you, I’m not gleeful to hear that abusers are one class or another. I mean, I’m sure you breathe a sigh of relief every time a heterosexual deviant is found. Me on the other hand? I’m just disgusted all the way around. Why? Because I have children who are around many in the priesthood all of the time. Yes, I think it totally right to first remove the group that’s in a proximate occasion of sin and then try to figure out who the other 20% are. I’m reasonably sure that many of the 80% of victims wished the Church had followed her rule, too. How could they not?
This fear leads to a cycle of secrecy: Fewer celibate gay priests in the public eye means more stereotyping. More stereotyping leads to more fear. More fear leads to more secrecy.
I fail to understand why a priest following and embracing the teachings of the Church fosters secrecy. It would seem to foster authentic Catholicism. I’m a married female and the celibate priest is always going to be an example to me. In your line of thinking, though, if I’m attracted to men and they’re attracted to men, they’re somehow a better example of how to follow the Church teaching for me? Please. I don’t need to know the sexual attraction of a priest for them to be an example to me. In fact, there’s nobody in the priesthood like me and I’m all the better for it. Who really is the one stereotyping here?
Other malign stereotypes are also being peddled, for example, the idea that homosexuality inevitably leads to abuse. This is contradicted by almost every study, including the John Jay Report, an exhaustive study of sex abuse in the Catholic Church between 1950 and 2010. Most abuse happens in families. And no one, as far as I know, suggests that heterosexuality promotes abuse.
Red-herring. We’re not talking about the rest of the world. We’re talking about our priesthood. That said, not following the teachings and disciplines of the Church is where the entire world gets into trouble. That should start with the priesthood. If we don’t expect it in our priesthood, not really sure how we’d expect more from society.
Beyond these reasons is a perhaps more important explanation: the intense homophobia that still exists in some quarters of the church. And this must be named for what it is: hate. A few days ago, a gay priest texted me this astute observation: “We are so used to gay people being mistreated in the church that we can internalize the homophobic bigotry that we are now seeing, and that Viganò expressed in his testimony, and fail to call it out. It’s deeply hateful. And if he were making similar attacks against another ethnic or religious group, there would be a far different reaction—probably even from within the church. But because gay priests have been so conditioned to play the scapegoat we are too ashamed to speak out.
Or maybe it’s totally hateful of you to put your pet proclivities ahead of the mountain of victims and future victims!!! And, by the way, I totally and utterly resent you telling me I hate anyone. Just like you, I have many friends, relatives, and countrymen who suffer from same-sex attraction. No, it’s not just your little circle of friends. You’re insinuating that if we speak the truth about the abuse scandal, about active homosexual lifestyles, etc., that we are somehow hateful. You can call me hateful all you like, but I even love you. Don’t agree with you, like you, or respect you, get angry with you, but I love you. Your constant insinuation that we have to agree with every action or thought or to accept either from a person to love them is totally and utterly ridiculous. There are alcoholics, cohabiters, active homosexuals, etc., etc., etc., in my little world of family and friends, just like almost everyone else, and to say that I hate any of them is you playing politics. Stop.
Is there a “gay subculture” in the church? I have never worked in the Vatican, so I cannot comment on that workplace. But in my 30 years as a Jesuit, I have seen that gay priests in U.S. dioceses, as well as in religious orders, work well with their straight counterparts—as well as with straight lay people: pastoral associates, parish council members, parishioners, as well as principals, administrators and teachers. In religious life, they live peaceably with their straight brothers.
Goodie for you. Yeah, you’re apparently the only person on the planet who can do that, because you are the only one who truly loves their fellow-man. (Insert super sarcastic roley eyes here.) Pompous much? I think you’ve been in the ivory tower a little too long. I guarantee my world is far more real than yours.
More to the point, I know hundreds of gay priests, and I can say with honesty that all of them strive to keep their promises of celibacy and vows of chastity, none of them conspire with other gay priests, and yet many of them are demoralized by this increasingly hate-fueled witch hunt.
Do they conspire to thwart any of the teachings and disciplines of the Church? Hmmmmmm? Gotcha there. I’m sure that many enter not thinking about whether they are gay or straight, but did any of them enter knowing the Church’s rule on homosexuality and the priesthood and knowing their inclination??? What you’re saying is they didn’t like the rule but they did it anyway? That alone is a poor example. It’s definitely “the Church needs to get with my proclivities” instead of the other way around. Like it or not, that has been the rule and you are openly defying it.
“Where does this extreme hatred of gay priests come from? It comes from fear. Fear of the “other.” Fear of the person who is different. Sometimes fear of one’s own complicated sexuality. In frightening times, it can also feel empowering to blame and scapegoat the “other.” As the philosopher René Girard consistently points out, scapegoating unites us around a common enemy and encourages us to believe, falsely, that we have solved the problem.”
“Oh, the humanity!!!” Seriously, dude. Stop the rhetoric. I don’t fear homosexuals. I fear sin. I fear putting oneself repeatedly in a close proximity to temptation. I fear satan winning souls. I don’t fear you. I don’t fear my homosexual friends, priests, and neighbors. I fear FOR them in the same way I fear for anyone who puts their inclinations and attractions ahead of the Church.
This hatred currently being whipped up by a few influential church leaders and commentators will, if unchecked, lead us to a place of great darkness, characterized by an increased hatred for innocent individuals, the condemnation of an entire group of people and a distraction from the real issues underlying this crisis of sexual abuse.
The only person whipping up hatred is you. The rest of us are whipping up the truth about the situation because we don’t fear the truth. It’s only a problem for you.
There are many things that need to be addressed when it comes to clergy sex abuse: the improper screening of candidates; the prevalence of clerical culture that privileges the word of priests over lay people (and parents); the poor seminary and religious formation, especially in areas of sexuality; the need for regulations that punish bishops who have covered up abuse and many other factors.
What is not needed is the demonization of gay priests. What is not needed is more hate.
There’s more of your usual “bridge building.” What we need is a little more of the faithful being obedient and a little less of you trying to undermine the teachings and disciplines of the Church at most turns.