Thursday afternoon Irish journalists interviewed me. I have to say, I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the Irish, and I guess it is because Irish Dominican sisters educated me. The Irish have a wonderful dry wit and a humor, which is down to earth and can cut to the bone. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the journalist and the camera crew.
During the interview, the journalist asked me about my salary. He assumed that the Church was still paying me a salary, or at least a small stipend. When I informed him that both my salary and health insurance were suspended within less than thirty days of my having made a public statement against Prop 8 the journalist was visibly shocked. The journalist said, you would have been better off financially, if you had committed pedophilia. Yes, a priest accused of pedophilia would be placed on paid suspension. After twenty-three years of service, I was pushed out the door with no help whatsoever.
Still, I am glad of it, I added. If Bishop Steinbock had complied with Canon [Church] law and offered me financial support and health insurance, I would have felt beholden to him and would not have felt that I could speak as freely as I have. The journalist nodded his head in agreement. The bishop’s comment that “we will provide only that which civil law requires” is actually a very elegant argument for full marriage equality under civil law. All we have is civil law; the hierarchy does whatever it wishes as has been painfully illustrated in the pedophilia scandals.
Recently, the Pope apologized to victims of pedophile priests. That was all well, good and necessary; however, the Pope failed to address the role of bishops and religious superiors who knowingly transferred pedophiles from assignment to assignment. There will always be pedophiles in all professions, especially those that have access to children. In the case of the Church, that bishops seemed more concerned with “avoiding public scandal” and with preserving material assets, than with protecting the children in their care is the real scandal.
The interview then turned to Dr. Nicolosi a local Catholic psychologist. The journalist asked me if I knew him. I was surprised since, Dr. Nicolosi worked with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and Saint John’s Seminary when I was an undergraduate in 1978. Yes, I answered, I believe that he advocates “Reparative Therapy.” Reparative Therapy is an attempt to change homosexuals into heterosexuals. The American Psychological Association has stated in a resolution that homosexuality is not a mental disorder. It seems that Dr. Nicolosi has a quarrel with the APA and his colleagues.
As far as faith is concerned, the Church stated in 1975 that for some people homosexuality is innate. This means God made some people to be homosexual. The bishops do not like to talk about that statement. They try to sweep it under the carpet, because it has a series of logical consequences that are at odds with current theologies and practices promoted by the current 82 year old Pope.
The interview ended cordially, but to my surprise, it had triggered something in me that I did not fully grasp until the next morning. As I was going through my morning routine, I reflected upon the journalist’s incredulity at the bishop’s failure to provide financial support, even if only for a transitional period. Then it hit me. I recalled a passage from a book I have been reading “In Mao’s Shadow” a commentary on Communist China and its Cultural Revolution.
Relatives of dissidents received an abrupt knock on the door along with a curt demand from a state official to pay for the cost of the bullets used in their loved one’s execution. This is how people were “notified” of the death of a loved one during the Cultural Revolution. The official would repeatedly voice the demand for payment. It was an insignificant amount of money, a few pennies actually, but the roughness of the treatment of someone who had suffered such a loss was inhumane.
Frankly, I could care less about the loss of the paltry “salary” which I was paid as a priest. What is truly offensive were the decades of mental manipulation I bore in my naiveté that began from childhood. This goes back to my time in grammar school when the Church told me that somehow I was disordered. A Jesuit who is a Latinist later explained to me that in the original document (which is written in Latin and then translated to the various languages) “disordered” means, “not ordered to reproduction.” Like elderly heterosexuals who are permitted to marry, homosexual marriages do not generate new physical life. I grew up falsely led to believe that I could never fall in love, have a home, and share a life with someone whom I loved.
It was a criminal and gross injustice to do this to me, especially when I was a child. This same injustice continues to be visited upon another generation of innocent young people. All of this done in the name of the God who the Church proclaims made me this way. This is nothing less than blasphemous. As in sexual abuse, the latent effects of emotional and psychological abuse can last a lifetime. Telling children that they are disordered, that they must live their lives as solitary beings, that they should not speak of this to others (except to therapists like Dr. Nicolosi who hold the Church’s position) is an evil that needs to stop. It needs to stop now and I hope that my efforts in plainly speaking the truth will spare someone else from suffering this abuse.
Before going to bed tonight, I read this headline. It made me smile. Progress is happening. I'd like to share it with you and hope that it encourages you to continue to work for change.
Mainline Christian Denomination Opens Doors to Gay and Lesbian Ministers in Committed Relationships
August 21, 2009 4:54PM
In a historic decision, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s (ELCA) 4.7 million member denomination has lifted its ban on noncelibate gay and lesbian pastors and has thus opened the door for lesbian and gay pastors who are in committed same-sex relationships to serve as ministers. Passing 559-541 at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis, Minn., this vote followed on the heels of a 2/3 majority vote on Wednesday August 19, to approve a social statement on human sexuality to acknowledge without judgment the wide variety of views within the ELCA regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender inclusion. This document, which was 8 years in the making, recognizes and supports congregations which conduct blessings of same-sex relationships and same-sex marriages where such marriages are legal.
- Boycott the Knights of Columbus
- A wedding sermon.
- An open letter to my parish community.
- Why was a college student in the car of drunken Archbishop-elect Cordileone at 12:26 AM, when Cordileone was arrested for a DUI?
- When the Church married Same-Sex couples.
- How It All began
- The Supreme Court’s Decisions and the New Mason-Dixon Line
- What the Vatican & American bishops DO NOT want you (and Politicians) to know.
- The Morality of Sex, gay & straight.
- San Francisco in archbishop Cordileone’s sight