Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Vatican shell game.

The Associated Press published an insightful article by Frances D'Emilio on 30 October 2008. The article begins by a citation "Vatican City" and proceeds to discuss new announced screening guidelines for priests. The article states:

"The church said it issued the new guidelines to help church leaders weed out candidates with 'psychopathic disturbances.' The scandals have rocked the church in recent years, triggering lawsuits that have cost hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements.

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests said the Vatican needs to go beyond screening seminarians to end what the group calls the church's 'virtually unchanged culture of secrecy and unchecked power in the hierarchy' that left dangerous priests in parishes.

A 2005 Vatican document said men with 'deep seated' homosexual tendencies shouldn't be ordained, but those with a 'transitory problem' could become priests if they had overcome them for three years.

The new guidelines reflect the earlier teaching, stressing that if a future priest shows 'deep seated homosexual tendencies,' his seminary training 'would have to be interrupted."

The above, are quotes from the more lengthy article. But, what the article reveals is the strategy of the hierarchy, at least those in the Vatican, to play a sort of "shell game" with the pedophilia sex scandal. They begin by announcing new psychological screening guidelines for seminarians. Sounds good, so far. Then they speak about "psychopathic disturbances" OK, most everyone would agree that pedophilia falls in this category, it is listed as a disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association. But then, the guidelines suddenly switch gears and introduce the issue of homosexuality.

Pedophilia is a mental disorder. It has ZERO to do with the gender or the sexual orientation of the pedophile. What it has to do with is that an adult suffers from an impulsive mental disorder in which he/she engages in sexual relationships with minors. There are both male and female pedophiles, there are both heterosexual and homosexual pedophiles. The issue is pedophilia not gender or orientation. So, why mix the two subjects in these new guidelines?

Certainly, the Vatican officials who created these new guidelines are aware of these psychological distinctions. The simple truth is that any organization which works with children will draw its share of pedophiles. Be it a school district, a scouting troop, a youth program, it stands to reason that pedophiles will be drawn to professions and circumstances which grant them exposure to children. The church sex scandal was not about the fact that some pedophiles made it into the ranks of the priesthood and abused children. It was about the fact that bishops who became aware of these pedophiles covered up their crimes and moved them around in an attempt to protect the institution from scandal and lawsuits.

So, now, in a new guideline, that whole subject is again side stepped and homosexuals are being set up as the scapegoat for the institution. It was just those dirty homosexuals if, we got rid of them, there would never have been a problem in the first place. Well, not so if you believe psychologists or the Survivors Network. The truth is that most pedophiles are heterosexual and that most pedophilia is incestuous. The myth that most pedophiles are homosexual is socially comforting because, it gives the illusion that it is "those" people outside of our family who are a danger. When in fact, it is usually a family member who, is probably heterosexual who is the most likely predator. While it is true that in the case of the church sex scandals, most pedophiles were homosexual, the bottom line remains that this is a mental disorder not directly associated with sexual orientation.

A pedophile, is after all, an adult who seeks out and has sexual liaisons with minors. When you look at the educational system used by the church to train priests, a disturbing specter begins to emerge from the mist. Minor seminaries. Young adolescents were enrolled into minor seminaries starting their studies for the priesthood at 13 and 14 years of age. They were inserted into an all male environment, not permitted to date and effectively stunted in their psycho sexual development. They became, though never intended as such, pedophile factories. The irony is, that most of these High School Seminaries had closed by the time that the sex scandal exploded.

Needless to say, this is a huge embarrassment to the hierarchy and also constitutes a question of legal liability. As they state: triggering lawsuits that have cost hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements." So, introducing the question of homosexuality into the guidelines seems very suspect indeed. There is no psychological basis for doing so, and it seems to be but a diversion of responsibility from the hierarchy to a scapegoat minority group.


Anonymous said...

Let me offer a couple of comments. The new Vatican document on the proper use of psychology in seminaries was announced late last month, but was nowhere been published in English, not even on the Vatican's own website, at the time it was made effective. That is truly Orwellian.. What was published is the report of a press conference by the Cardinal in charge of the Congregation for Christian Education. At that press conference, the Cardinal went on a rant about homosexuals in the seminary, and went considerably further in forbidding us from seminaries than the 2005 document (at least in its most benign interpretations).

Gay activism, especially gay activism among the clergy, scares the bejesus out of Rome, and bishops. Rome is in a culture war with homosexuals, and there is no prospect of either victory, or defeat, or a cease fire. We are in for a long and vicious battle.

Fr. Marty Kurylowicz said...

Beautiful job explaining the real culprits in the Vatican’s sexual abuse sandals, which is the “cover up” by the hierarchy!!!

“It was about the fact that bishops [cardinals] who became aware of these pedophiles covered up their crimes and moved them around in an attempt to protect the institution from scandal and lawsuits.”

Truth has a habit of always coming out. Like it was for Galileo, so it took 395 years, but Pope John Paul II had the courage to apologize for the harm that the Vatican had caused Galileo. Pope John Paul II, 1992, proclaimed Galileo was right that it is the earth that revolves around the sun and that the Vatican was wrong that it is not sun that revolves around the earth.

Many of Bush’s cover-ups have come to light, one after the other. The same is happening to the Vatican. The Vatican still hasn’t been able to recover yet from the sexual abuse sandals of children.

No matter how the Vatican tries to scapegoat the gays, people know the truth and can easily see the Vatican’s attempts to cover up their sins. Just look at the outcome of Prop.8, the vote was very close in the end. The Vatican does not have the backing they think that they have.

Only truth, honesty and true love gets the backing from people. Look at Obama, of course he’s not prefect, like us all, but he is even truthful about this and yet the election was a landside.

I wrote an article last, March, about the Vatican and “Group Think” a social psychology concept. And among the many causes of Group Think is the one that identifies “being insinuated from the outside world” meaning getting no information to challenge the Vatican’s thinking and perception of reality. The Vatican is headed for a crash.

Pope John Paul II managed to avoid this pit fall, because he insisted on being challenged, by having theologians and scientists work together on almost every committee, in the Vatican.

Pope John Paul II stressed that there are NO IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES between SCIENCE and RELIGION. “Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes.”

When I came out publically in March 1997, deep down I felt “free, clean, honest, nothing hidden anymore” for the, first time, in my life.

Because I came out not because I wanted to, but because I felt morally obligated to do so, to help stop the harm caused to very young children, who grow up to be gay. I was at peace inside like never before. I felt like “love me or hate me, I am at peace, a peace no one can take away.” So, no matter what the Vatican continues to try to do to me, I am not shaken.

It is, as you said when we die we all have answer for what we have done on this earth. And my conscience is clean. So love me or hate me, I did what I know and believe was right and I am at peace, not the way the world gives peace.

Maybe, I am penniless but I would feel far, far worst if I had remained silent about a crime caused to children, who grow up to be gay that I knew was morally wrong.

May God continue to bless you and protect you, always.

Kay & Sarah said...

Does the Catholic hierarchy believe that the general public believes what they are saying? You are correct. It is a shell game.

Anonymous said...

You know, Father Geoff, I'm glad that you brought this up. If you didn't, I was going to ask you eventually. I saw the article to which you're referring, parts of the AP story were reported in the local paper here - but it came out during the lead-up of the elections, and we all had more immediate priorities.

The tragedy is that countless kids, boys and girls, were abused by men who were in such a position of power and trust. The crime has been (and continues to be) the church's response to shield these men over protecting the kids and it's continued strategy to paint gay clergy as the cause.

The question is, what do we do with this information? You've been a priest for 20+/- years: how do you and your associates live within the belly of the beast that spouts this stuff? How do you balance your vocation and ministry, which I do not for a second doubt, with this hate-mongering that is directed right at you? You might as well have a bull's eye painted on your back when you put on your collar.

Your coming out has been such a blessing to bear witness to - for those of us watching and supporting you, and, I hope, more importantly, for your own well-being. I hope that you're not doubting your actions.

How do the other gay clergy you know within the church react to you? Why aren't they moving forward? Fear can conquer us more than anything else.

We're all on our own paths in this life. Those of us who are gay have to deal with it eventually, face it and come out. I'm the same generation as you, 12 years Catholic school, the whole 9 yards. I didn't come out of the closet to myself and the world until I was well in my 30's. I still deal with coming out daily - those old habits die hard. But I can live with myself and my decisions and know that I did the right thing for me. I sleep better at night knowing that I don't have to work so hard to keep my "secret" - I've got enough other things on my platter to address, that it was such a relief not to have to live that lie.

Anonymous made the comment that we're in for a long and vicious battle - over what? What are the stakes? I learned my moral compass from church scripture and teaching, for which I'm grateful. But I got out when I saw that I wasn't welcomed - how often do we need to hear it?

I can worship God outside of the confines of the hate and nonsense being spouted (Joe Biden going to be denied communion by the bishop of Scranton?) - and rejoice in all the good there is in the world, by doing my little part to make it a better place as I go along.

I for one would appreciate some insight into all of this. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

As a Catholic man with what the Vatican would probably describe as a "deep-seated" whatsit, and as someone who has been considering pursuing a vocation for quite some time, the recent Vatican declarations have caused a great deal of anxiety and heartache for me.

Frankly, I don't know what to do. A part of me says to carry on; another part says, forget about a vocation and move on with your life.

I'd be curious to hear from the gay Catholic clergy here:

Would you counsel someone like me to continue on, ignoring the current nonsensical and unjust policy, or to forget about a vocation altogether?

What would you have done if you began pursuing a vocation after 2005?

KJ said...

Great analysis.

it is difficult for me to believe that 'the hierarchy" would think that it's a good idea to create a circumstance in which those seeking a vocation must decide between following the leading of that call or being authentic and transparent. This is not a recipe for having emotionally healthy priests. Further, those that "mask-wearing" priests would purport to help can spot phoniness a mile off. Silly, silly.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like they're trying to seem like they're doing something when they're in fact doing nothing.

Anonymous said...

I am the "anonymous" of the first post, and a Catholic priest in active ministry. Josephus has asked for a comment from a priest. When I began the process of applying to my religious order in the 1980s, I made sure that the vocation director and all who were in a position to accept or reject my application knew that I am gay. I did this to ensure that I was not joining a community that would pull the rug out from under me at some later point. Unfortunately, my own community has decided quietly to refuse acceptance to gays, although it will accept a man who has had a transitory homosexual experience (or two? or three? or....?) Nearly all the gay members of my community are closeted and silent.

Would I do this again? Would I start over now? Probably not. The 2005 directive banning gay men from seminaries was a bitter pill to swallow - for those who were considering vocations and for those of us who are ordained. Being a priest is like being married to the church. To the ordained, the 2005 decree said, it in effect: "We, the church, "married" you, but would never "marry" you again. What's more, we never should have "married" you. And we won't marry anyone like you and won't agree with anyone else "marrying" anyone like you. But don't worry. We won't divorce you." And certainly, the church is not about to give any priest who is leaving a golden parachute that would restore him to the economic and social position he would be in if he had not become a priest. As a gay priest you would bear all of the burdens, and get kicked in the butt for your efforts.

But I cannot tell you not to try. Know the risks, and the rewards. But pray. Pray always and never lose heart. And then do, not what makes sense, not what you want to do, but do what it is your heart tells you the Lord is calling you to do.

Meet and talk with a priest first hand. And be resolutely honest, because only in being resolutely honest do we honor the God who is Truth.

Anonymous said...


You are correct about the games the Vatican Curia are playing. They need scapegoats. They are like the Wizard of Oz screaming "pay no attention to that man behind the curtain."

They continue to demonize, gays, women and anyone that calls them on ther charade. And it is their own psychological self-hatred that they spew out.

A lay friend of mine in South America was asking me "Why is the Vatican so hung up on Gays? Especially, when you look at how the pope is gowned and bejewelled like, Queen of the Queers." I laughed and said 'me thinks the lady protesteth too much!'

Anonymous said...

Thank you, dear Father Anonymous, for describing your experience and offering your advice. Yes, indeed, I have a lot to pray and think about!