Archive for the ‘Gay Priest’ Category
Vatican’s anti-gay witch-hunt continues
The Pope’s plan for psychological tests to purge gay men from the priesthood is a new low.
By Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner
The Vatican has announced the “psychological screening” of all new applicants for the priesthood, in a bid to weed out men who are deemed to be psychologically flawed. It has taken this initiative following the widespread sexual abuse of children by its clerics.
In a diversionary tactic to deflect attention from the child sex abuse scandal, one of the main aims of these psychological tests is to weed out gay men, not paedophiles.
The Vatican identifies homosexuality as a deep-seated personality disorder and psychological flaw; condemning same-sex acts as “grave sins,” “objectively disordered”, “intrinsically immoral” and “contrary to natural law.” Even men who have a gay orientation but abstain totally from sex are condemned by the Pope as possessing a “tendency towards an intrinsic moral evil.”
Accordingly, the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education has issued a new document, Guidelines for the Use of Psychology in the Admission and Formation of Candidates for the Priesthood.
It proposes psychological tests to root out men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” from seminaries.
Estimates of the number of gay men in Catholic seminaries and the priesthood typically range from 25 percent to 50 percent, according to a review of research in the US by the Rev. Donald Cozzens, author of The Changing Face of the Priesthood. A similar proportion of priests is thought to be gay in the UK and Europe, including a number of bishops and cardinals.
The new Vatican document states that seminary candidates should undergo psychological evaluations whenever there is a suspicion of personality disturbances or doubts about their ability to live a celibate life, such as any manifestation of masculine weakness or a homosexual orientation.
When assessing a candidate’s ability to be celibate, the Vatican document insists that “it is not enough to be sure that he is capable of abstaining from genital activity” but that it is also necessary “to evaluate his sexual orientation”.
It advises that would-be priests must have “a positive and stable sense of their own masculine identity.”
Surely all this makes Pope Benedict himself a prime candidate for psychological testing and exclusion? After all, he wears a dress, loads of jewellery, Prada shoes and has a penchant for high church, high camp ritual and theatrics. While I don’t want to indulge in stereotypes, Benedict is not exactly macho. In fact, he’s quite effeminate. He is also surrounded exclusively by men, has an unusually young and handsome male private secretary and has no known close friendships with women.
He would not be the first gay Pope. There have been several others, most scandalously
Pope Julius III (1487 to 1555), who was more a pederast than a homosexual. He took a 13 year old boy as his
lover and made him a cardinal at the age of 17, showering him with such wealth that he became one of the richest men in Europe.
Anyway, I digress.
Commenting on the new Vatican document, Cardinal Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, advises:
“The candidate does not necessarily have to practice homosexuality. He can even be without sin. But if he has this deeply seated tendency, he cannot be admitted to priestly ministry precisely because of the nature of the priesthood, in which a spiritual paternity is carried out. Here we are not talking about whether he commits sins, but whether this deeply rooted tendency remains…It’s not simply a question of observing celibacy as such. In this case, it would be (required for him to have) a heterosexual tendency, a normal tendency.”
This indicates a serious hardening of Vatican homophobia. It reverses the previous Catholic stance that only same sex acts are wrong, not the homosexual condition itself.
Cardinal Grocholewski elaborated:
“In a certain sense, when we ask why Christ reserved the priesthood to men, we speak of this spiritual paternity, and maintain that homosexuality is a type of deviation, a type of irregularity, as explained in two documents of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith….Therefore it (same-sex love) is a type of wound in the exercise of the priesthood, in forming relations with others. And precisely for this reason we say that something isn’t right in the psyche of such a man. We don’t simply talk about the ability to abstain from these kinds of relations.”
The Vatican is recommending that the people who do the testing should have “solid human and spiritual maturity”, and a “Christian concept of the human person, sexuality, the priestly vocation and celibacy”. In other words, conformity to homophobic Catholic doctrine takes precedence over professional qualifications.
It is now revealed that the Catholic Church in England and Wales has jumped the gun. They have already introduced psychological tests for candidate priests.
Who conducts these tests? What are their qualifications? Have the tests been vetted and approved by a professional psychological authority? What is their scientific validity and reliability? Do they operate within a professional code of conduct? Is there sufficient protection for vulnerable applicants exposed to these procedures? Even if candidates consent to being tested, is that sufficient? These are questions the Catholic Church has not answered.
The Vatican’s new policy aimed at excluding gay men from the priesthood is bigoted and hypocritical. It will encourage dishonesty, fuel homophobia and lead to Vatican sex spies snooping on trainee priests.
If these rules had existed in the past, many existing archbishops and cardinals would have never been allowed to enter the priesthood. Given the high proportion of gay clergy in senior positions in the Vatican, this new policy is rank hypocrisy.
Instead of paving the way for witch-hunts and purges of gay seminarians, the Pope should concentrate on rooting out child sex abusers. Sadly, the fundamentalists in the Vatican have often chosen to protect paedophile priests, while hounding gay clergy.
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London – 8 September 2008
“The Vatican is panicked that allegations about Cardinal Newman’s sexual orientation may derail its plans to make him a saint”, said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of the London-based gay rights group OutRage!
“The Pope’s spin doctors have gone into over-drive to denounce claims that Newman was gay and to justify his exhumation and reburial. This reburial is contrary to Newman’s instructions to his executors. He wanted to be buried with the man he loved and with whom he lived for much of his life, Father Ambrose St John.
“Following news stories suggesting that Cardinal Newman might have been gay, the Pope ordered Archbishop Angelo Amato, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Sainthood, to go on the offensive and issue a stern rebuttal.
“Archbishop Amato asked Father Ian Ker, an Oxford theologian and Newman biographer, to assert the Cardinal’s heterosexuality, which he did in an article published on 2 September in the Vatican daily newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.
“Although he denounced suggestions that Newman could have been gay as “quite horrendous” and “absolute rubbish”, Ker offered no evidence of the Cardinal’s heterosexuality, only speculation and conjecture.
“Why are Ker and the Vatican being so defensive? After all, in a major theological document authored two decades ago by Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict), The Vatican conceded that having a gay orientation is not a sin. Why, then, does the Catholic Church apparently have such a big problem admitting that Newman might have been gay by orientation?
“Ker claims that the Newman-St John relationship was typical of the “loving friendship” between two heterosexual men that often occurred in the nineteenth century.
“But many of these platonic relationships were, in fact, expressions of latent homosexuality which never found physical expression because the men concerned lived in a homophobic culture where they either had no conception of the possibility of same-sex love or, for religious reasons, dared not express this love sexually.
“Ker’s article is full of bald assertions that Newman was heterosexual, but it offers no proof or evidence. It dismisses the possibility that the Cardinal could have had a relationship with St John and even condemns the plausible suggestion that he might have been gay and celibate.
“How can the Vatican be so sure? Were its spies in Newman’s bedroom every night of his life?
“The history of the Catholic Church is littered with popes, cardinals, bishops and priests who were secretly gay.
“Down the ages, lots of clergy have had gay relationships. Indeed, about one-quarter of the current Catholic priesthood is estimated to be gay. Why should anyone be surprised by the suggestion that Cardinal Newman might have had a same-sex relationship? It would not be extraordinary. It is fairly normal in the priesthood.
“It is impossible to know whether the relationship between Newman and St John involved sexual relations. Equally, it is impossible to know that it did not. That is why the Vatican’s and Father Ker’s denials lack credibility. They claim to know something that is unknowable.
“Why should we believe The Vatican? It has a sad history of dishonesty and suppressing the truth. It lied, for example, in its anti-safe sex propaganda which claimed that condoms have tiny holes through which the HIV virus can pass. The church’s lies, promoted by the president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, were exposed in a BBC Panorama programme, Sex and the Holy City, broadcast in 2003.
The denials about Newman’s sexuality should be treated with the same contempt. Even if the Vatican knew he was gay, it would never admit it. The Pope would deny the truth to suit the Vatican’s homophobic agenda.
“Although we cannot know for certain, it is not unreasonable to believe that Cardinal Newman could have had a loving, long-term same-sex relationship with the man whose grave he shares. The passion of his letters and writings about Father Ambrose suggest this possibility.
“There is little doubt that Newman and St John were mentally and spiritually in love; sharing a deep bond and intense relationship. They were inseparable; living together for over 30 years, like a married husband and wife.
“The Christian historian Alan Bray has done major research on the relationship between Newman and St John, sifting through the Cardinal’s diary, letters and notes. His findings are published in his book, The Friend (2003): http://tinyurl.com/6qq5nb
“They include the following admission that Newman wrote in his diary about Ambrose’s love for him: “From the first he loved me with an intensity of love, which was unaccountable.” He later added: “As far as this world was concerned, I was his first and last…he was my earthly light.'”
“Newman stated that St John was “fair and Saxon-looking, my Angel Guardian,” who, he said, had come to him as Ruth came to Naomi and as the angel Raphael came to Tobias.
“Reflecting on St John’s death in 1875, Newman compared their love to that of a married couple: “I have always thought no bereavement was equal to that of a husband’s or a wife’s, but I feel it difficult to believe that anyone’s sorrow can be greater than mine…This is the greatest affliction I have had in my life.”
“While we need to be careful about making stereotyped assumptions, it is true to say that the Cardinal was not exactly macho. In his portraits, he looks quite camp. His soft, gentle, effeminate demeanour is typical of what we often associate with some gay men (and, to a lesser extent, some straight men too). There were allegations during his lifetime about his circle of young homosexual friends. Close relations with women did not feature at all in his life.
“To be fair and to err on the side of caution, given both men’s rather orthodox religious beliefs, they probably did not have a sexual relationship. It is likely that they had a gay orientation but chose to abstain from sex. Sexual abstinence does not, however, alter a person’s orientation. A person can be gay and sublimate their gayness into spiritual and artistic pursuits, and into strong, intense platonic same-sex relationships, which is probably what Newman and St John did,” said Mr Tatchell.
For further information, see my 4 September Guardian website article:
Violating Cardinal Newman’s wishes:
Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell has accused the Vatican of “shameful, dishonourable betrayal” after it decided to move the body of Britain’s most famous Catholic convert.
Cardinal Newman, who died in 1890, was buried alongside his close friend Ambrose St John.
There has been much speculation about the nature of the relationship between the two priests.
The Catholic Church claims the move is in preparation for Newman’s beatification, the third stage of recognition of sainthood.
His remains will be moved to a sarcophagus in Birmingham Oratory.
Peter Tatchell told The Independent:
“The Vatican’s decision to move Cardinal Newman’s body from its resting place is an act of grave robbery and religious desecration.
“It violates Newman’s repeated wish to be buried for eternity with his life-long partner Ambrose St John.
“They have been together for more than 100 years and the Vatican wants to disturb that peace to cover up the fact that Cardinal Newman loved a man.
“It’s shameful, dishonourable betrayal of Newman by the gay-hating Catholic Church.”
Writing at the time of St John’s death in 1875, Newman said:
“I have ever thought no bereavement was equal to that of a husband’s or a wife’s, but I feel it difficult to believe that any can be greater, or any one’s sorrow greater, than mine.”
Though Cardinal Newman was a lifelong celibate, and many scholars argue that his love for his fellow priest was merely Platonic, this move by the Catholic Church has fuelled speculation that they are embarrassed by the close nature of the friendship between the two men.
Cardinal Newman has to have one more miracle performed in his name before he can become a saint.
He was a pillar of the Oxford Movement, which tried to bring the Anglican church back to its Roman Catholic roots. After this failed he converted to Roman Catholicism.
Pope Benedict XVI was presented with pictures of Cardinal Newman during a private meeting with the Blair family in 2007.
Cherie Blair is reported to have said: “I believe you are very familiar with him and he is on the journey to sainthood.”
The Pontiff responded, “Yes, yes, although it is taking some time – miracles are hard to come by in Britain.”
Tony Blair converted to Catholicism in December last year, after he left office as Prime Minister.