The Catholic Church is in damage control. Pope Benedict XVI won’t resign and he can’t be defrocked. And Catholics worldwide are enraged. The Church now needs a quick out, an easy solution and a fall guy to tamp down our rage and to explain away its decades-long pedophilic problem.
And just recently the Vatican’s second-highest authority, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, belted out the solution. It’s us gays! Of course, linking homosexuality to pedophilia.
And why else would the Catholic Church be in the state that it is in?
But the highest-profile pedophiles cases in Bertone’s church in Chile involves priests having underage and nonconsensual sex with young girls, including a teenager who became pregnant.
The teenager told the Chilean newspaper La Nacion: “I thought it wasn’t that bad to have sex with him because when I told priests about it at confession they just told me to pray and that was it. They knew, and some of them guessed that it was Father Tato. But everyone looked the other way. No one corrected or helped me.”
But when the Catholic Church looks for scapegoats they must be found. And the quick and easy answer coming from the Vatican will be to simply not ordain gay priests.
Such an order, of course, makes the assumption that all gay priests are pedophiles or, if not active pedophiles, are predisposed to it.
However, in the face of overwhelming evidence by behavioral scientists to refute such a harmful and homophobic claim, the Catholic Church, nonetheless, believes that a homosocial and celibate atmosphere of gay men produces a preponderance of pedophilic priests.
But studies have proved over and over again that the overwhelming majority of pedophiles are heterosexuals. And most of these pedophiles are not only married heterosexual men, but are married heterosexual men with children.
The Catholic Church, however, will think it can solve its problem of both pedophilia and homosexuality if it rids itself of gay priests. With the Catholic Church rid of both social cancers, the spiritual and religious life of its hallowed sanctuaries can now go on with life as normal.
However, if the Catholic Church is to go on with life as normal, it couldn’t possibly ban gay priests. It needs its gay priests.
The Rev. Donald B. Cozens, author of The Changing Face of the Priesthood, wrote that with more than half the priests and seminarians being gay, the priesthood is becoming a gay profession. Many who know the interior of the Catholic Church would argue that the priesthood has for centuries been a gay profession, and not to ordain gay priests or to defrock them would drastically alter the spiritual life and daily livelihood of the church.
“If they were to eliminate all those who were homosexually oriented, the number would be so staggering that it would be like an atomic bomb; it would do damage to the church’s operation,” says A.W. Richard Sipe, a former priest and psychotherapist who has been studying the sexuality of priests for decades. Sipe also points out that to do away with gay priests “would mean the resignation of at least a third of the bishops of the world. And it’s very much against the tradition of the church; many saints have gay orientation and many popes had gay orientations.”
The reality here is that as quietly as the Church has tried to keep it, the Catholic Church is a gay institution. And that is not a bad thing!
The problem in the Catholic Church is not its gay priests, and its solution to the problem is not the removal of them. The problem in the Catholic Church is its transgressions against gay priests. And I ask: Who will remove the church from itself?
Years of homophobia and years of church laws to maintain the homophobia have made the church unsafe for us all, young and old, straight and gay, adult and child.
Eugene Kennedy, a specialist on sexuality and the priesthood and a former priest, wrote in his book, The Unhealed Wound: The Church and Human Sexuality, that the Catholic Church “ . . .had always had gay priest, and they have often been models of what priests should be. To say that these men should be kept from the priesthood is in itself a challenge to the grace of God and an insult to them and the people they serve.”
The Church’s edicts against LGBTQ people is a farce in light of its reality and of the gifts gay priests have given and continue to give to the Catholic Church. If the Catholic Church wants to solve its problem of pedophilia, it should not look at a priest’s sexual orientation but instead at his overall personality development.
Right now, the Catholic Church stands in the need of prayer.
Scapegoating all gay priests as pedophiles is a cheap and easy solution. It gives the Catholic Church an easy escape hatch that allows the Church to not own up to the reality that the reason the Catholic Church exists and will continue to exist in perpetuity is because of the gifts, and dedicated service of its gay priests.