A website has been established called Church Outing. Their intention, along with their rationale for acquiring compromising information on Catholic priests is stated very clearly on the site’s web page, as follows:
“This site was created to provide you with the opportunity to save LGBT youth from the hypocrisy of priests in the Archdiocese of Washington who are socially, romantically or sexually active gay men, yet stand silent while Archbishop Wuerl and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops increase their dogmatic war against gay families. If you have information that a priest in the Archdiocese is gay (or having a heterosexual affair) please share your story.”
I believe that there are issues which need to be carefully considered regarding this particular strategy. Church Outing states its goal as the following:
“We encourage every Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Washington DC, gay and straight, to stand up for what is right and to give your support for marriage equality in the District. We ask you to stand with many other local leaders of faith who have already done so through the Clergy United for Marriage Equality pledge.
Read the Declaration
Sign the Declaration”
What would happen to any Catholic priest who signed a public declaration which is directly opposed to the teachings of the hierarchy of the Church? Once it came to the attention of his (Arch) bishop, the priest would be required to publicly retract his statement and publicly apologize for having made such a statement. If he failed to do so, he would be suspended as a priest and stripped of salary, heath care, housing, etc. In effect, he would be left destitute.
On the other hand if the priest complies with the demands of his (Arch) bishop, he then runs the risk of being publicly exposed. What this would mean in practical terms is that the priest would be removed from active ministry. He would most probably be sent to Saint Luke’s, an in-house psychological facility run by the Catholic Church for priests. There he would be treated for his “sexual addiction” and after a course of “treatment” be returned to active ministry as an assistant, under the watchful supervision of a superior. In effect, his career would be destroyed; however, he would still have a salary, housing, a car, health care, and retirement benefits.
When I made my public statement in opposition to Prop 8, I had many priests E-mail me and express both thanks and support. One of them said “I’d love to say what you said publicly, but I have a heart condition. If I made such a statement, I’d be on the street with no way to pay for my prescriptions or my doctors; I’d be dead in a year. Priests receive a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and a four year Post Graduate degree in theology. Put that on a resume and apply for a job, especially in this economy.
Priest’s salaries and incomes are very carefully manipulated by the hierarchy to keep them in a state of indentured servitude. Retirement for priests is 75 years of age in my diocese. Priests are kept in a state of economic servitude by their bishops. You can begin to see why extremely few priests will make public statements of support for marriage equality. Gay priests fear that if they speak, they will find themselves abandoned by many of the people they serve and in some cases by their families.
The gay priests I have known, like many gay men, have only come to begin to accept their sexuality much later in life than their straight counterparts. In my experience most gay priests have been sensitive and supportive of their LGBT parishioners. Targeting priests who are struggling with their own sexuality will simply not work as a strategy. It will drive out of the active ministry many priests who are quietly working on behalf of LGBT people. It will drive many gay priests more deeply into the closet. It will drive some gay priests into greater self-loathing. It will strengthen the power of the hierarchy by providing them with “thought/conduct police” which will further intimidate priests. Finally, this strategy runs a serious risk of casting the LGBT movement as resorting to extortion. While it is understandable, that a society which grew up with Watergate may have grown cynical, we need to remember that the end does not justify the means. The means which we employ define who we become.
Deception, lies, promotion of myths, and encouragement of bigotry are all hallmarks of the California Yes on Prop 8 and Maine Yes on Question 1 campaigns. National Public Radio reports the FBI announced that hate crimes against LGBT people has increased by 10% in 2009 from 2008. I cannot sufficiently express my horror and revulsion that the hierarchy of the Catholic Church is an accomplice to these despicable acts.
I fully empathize with the frustration and just anger of the people at Church Outing. However, if we permit ourselves to be seduced into following the morally corrupting and corrosive example of the Catholic hierarchy, to win at any cost, we may find that we become like them. Such a victory would be very hollow indeed.
- 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