A reader writes:
I was a Benedictine monk for 13 years. And now I have been with my partner, now husband, for almost 20. We have been married twice, first in Multnomah County in Oregon in 2004 on March 5th. That was annulled, since the county officials didn’t have the legal authority to allow same-sex unions per the Supreme Court of Oregon. We married again in 2007 on the same day in Massachusetts, the state where we live today. It doesn’t bring us many more rights, since most of them are federal, but it does lend a bit of dignity to our every day lives.
Part of the reason that I left the monastery and my life as a Catholic priest (I was ordained in 1986 and went on to earn a doctorate in Dogmatic Theology with an eye to teaching it at the seminary that my old monastery has) was the blatant hypocrisy rampant in the Church. I remember sitting next to my best friend in the monastery who started laughing one night at dinner. I had to ask him afterwards what was so funny, since we ate in silence while another monk read to us. He said, “I was just counting how many of the other monks are gay and I lost count.”
That is what is so sad about the Church’s refusal to acknowledge us. We are Legion, but not in a satanic way. We are their lifeblood; we are their priests, their brothers. I’d say the majority of the Catholic clergy – at least 20 years ago, before they had to do celibacy trials in the seminary? – are gay. I know of some who were highly placed and had boyfriends. Could they just come out? The world and the Church would be better for it.
I used to think that homosexuality was a relatively minor issue for the church, and that the natural law arguments for allowing an eternal part of God’s creation some dignity and respect, along with all others who for unchosen reasons cannot partake in procreative heterosexual marriage, were strong. I have come to realize that the homosexual issue is at the very heart of the church’s current crisis – and that the cruelty we see is the kind of cruelty inflicted by closeted gay men on those who have sought an honest life. This goes all the way to the very top of the church. Its secrecy and hypocrisy and self-hatred all played a part in the cover-up of mass child-rape for decades.
Pope Benedict XVI himself is a living embodiment of these profound and crippling contradictions. Until they are addressed, until they are fully acknowledged, reform on a whole range of issues will remain extremely hard.
(Photo: A Benedictine monk of the abbey of Tamie steps out the room where the service frocks are stored, on August 12, 2011. The actors of the movie ‘Of gods and men’ (Des hommes et des Dieux) took a retirement before the shooting of the movie in this abbey. By Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images)