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Are gay priests the problem?

Are gay priests the problem?

Yes, when they're part of the church's gay subculture, the 'Lavender Mafia.'

by Michael S. Rose

Dallas News
October 16, 2005

In recent weeks much ink has been spilt over the ramifications of two significant developments in the Roman Catholic Church. Both the announcement of a new wave of seminary evaluations and a forthcoming Vatican document reportedly barring gays from the priesthood have been met with a torrent of criticism, much of it shrill.

Aside from the fact that both items have been grossly overblown, much of the criticism is written in ignorance of facts that would suggest these bold moves in the early days of the Ratzinger papacy might just be the proper formula for initiating a modern day reformation of the Catholic priesthood.

It is not enough to point to the recent John Jay College study that found most of the victims of clergy abuse since 1950 were adolescent boys. Revelations concerning seminary life in recent decades have given sufficient impetus to pursue an extensive evaluation of the institutions that train and educate future priests, especially when it comes to the issue of homosexuality.

Several years ago, Father Donald Cozzens, then rector of a Cleveland seminary, wrote that many seminary faculties included a disproportionate number of homosexuals. In his book, The Changing Face of the Priesthood, he commented that "straight men in a predominantly or significantly gay environment commonly experience self doubt."

In my own study of seminary life over the past three decades, I have found that many heterosexual men give up their seminary studies precisely for this reason, leaving behind a student body gradually swollen with homosexuals. I'm not talking about the presence of a few gay-oriented men who want to live chastely, but rather the institutionalization of a gay subculture that has earned some seminaries nicknames such as the Pink Palace, Notre Flame, and Theological Closet.

One aspect of this gay subculture of both priests and seminarians is that too many men who want to be chaste, whether gay or straight, are propositioned, harassed or even molested - occurrences that are more common than one might think. This doesn't aid the moral and spiritual development of the church's future clergy. Rather, it fosters a pathological pattern of living.

This is not simply about homosexuality or homosexual acts. It's about an agenda and subculture that systematically undermine celibacy, a state to which the Roman Catholic priest is called. This gay subculture is also in direct conflict with the teachings of the church. Those involved are promoting this conflict and escalating the problem.

Recent history has also shown that those seminarians unwilling to embrace the agenda of homosexual liberation in seminary life, especially those who complain about it, have been sent by authorities to psychological counseling, labeled as "homophobes" with "disintegrated personalities."

It is this same protective network that has paved the way for a variety of sex abuse scandals in the church. This network, now commonly called the "Lavender Mafia," includes not only favoritism, but also protection and cover-up. Further, its adherents will brook no dissent, and lash out at anyone who threatens them, especially those seeking to expose the corruption they sustain in order to protect their own. This was perhaps most ingloriously demonstrated by South African Bishop Reginald Cawcutt. On a Web site devoted to gay clergy and seminarians, Bishop Cawcutt expressed the hope that then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger would be poisoned for his role in drafting the forthcoming document barring homosexuals from Catholic seminary life. He and other members of the St. Sebastian's Angels group accused the cardinal of conducting a "witch hunt" against homosexually active priests, actually recommending that the future Pope Benedict be sodomized by some of them.

There is no witch hunt. "Witch hunt" implies a search for something that doesn't actually exist.

The current pope elicits such strong reactions because he has consistently reiterated in clear and direct language the Catholic Church's opposition to the multi-faceted "gay agenda." Homosexual activists, both in and out of the church, are particularly put off by Benedict's characterization of homosexual acts as "intrinsically evil" and homosexual inclinations as "objectively disordered." But their problem is not so much with the pope as it is with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

The Church's Lavender Mafia is ultimately at war with its own religion. Its proponents want to be accommodated, and to be accommodated they want nothing short of a sea change in the Church's teaching on human sexuality, which is based on the natural law - not merely an opinion that fluctuates with the fashion of the times.

The Vatican realizes that an underlying problem facing the church in the United States is tied up with homosexual activism and gay cronyism. The forthcoming seminary evaluations and the new Vatican document barring or limiting homosexuals from the priesthood will not solve all current woes, but both developments ought to be welcome, especially to those who have been clamoring for action from the top.

Michael S. Rose is the author of "Goodbye, Good Men," (Regnery), an exposé of Catholic seminary life in the United States. His latest book is "Benedict XVI: The Man Who Was Ratzinger" (Spence). You may e-mail him at msrose@newoxfordreview.org.


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