They Cannot Even Speak Our Name, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Mar 15 2012 @ 5:45pm

A reader adds to the popular thread:

A little anecdote: I work at a Catholic high school.  One of our guidance counselors, a nun, stopped by my house after school last week.  She brought a couple of sandwiches and we had a long, raucous conversation.  I love her.  She embraces the truth, never runs from it.  At one point, we were talking about the prospect of married priests.  She drew a long breath and said, "I could count on one hand the number of priests I know who aren't either gay or carrying on a relationship with a woman partner."  That was surprising to me, only because she doesn't speak in hyperbolic terms.  My response, a little incredulous, was, "So the Church is in denial about itself."  Her sage rejoinder:  "Ya think?"

Another writes:

In response to a previous reader comment on gay church musicians, I'd like to point out that many of these musicians are not necessarily members of the congregation or even Catholics at all, but rather professional musicians who depend on church employment for their income. I personally know an organist who was fired from a church position for being gay, and a change in the directorship of his current church will always put him in danger of termination on these grounds. It is grossly unfair to subject a skilled professional to the constant threat of being fired on doctrinal grounds, especially if they are not themselves Catholic, but this is what exempting religious organisations from anti-discrimination laws will get you.


I don't want to blame the victim here, but as long as we remain silent and not state clearly and openly who we are, why should the Catholic hierarchy speak our name? We don't. Harvey Milk asked us, "If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door." As long as Catholics, active in the church and in church positions, stay in the closet, the church will never recognize us. Come out, come out, wherever you are.

Amen. Since gay priests are celibate and being gay is not a sin, why wouldn't openly gay priests be the most powerful advocates for the Vatican's position? But this immediately reveals why this isn't the case. Many gay and straight priests are not celibate, and a public declaration of homosexual orientation might open their lives up to greater scrutiny from their bosses. But also, the Vatican has made it clear it does not want gay priests being open about their orientation – because, despite their official language, they really do want to keep homosexuality stigmatized and invisible, because their doctrines are even less persuasive when talented able gay men represent the church itself. Also: if a gay priest came out in the pulpit, he would almost certainly be fired, as in the military.

But one can dream, no? What if every gay priest in the country came out on the same Sunday? What if the Pope finally came out? The truth is: the Catholic church has locked itself into a celibate all-male priesthood and Humanae Vitae and all the distracting, corrupting hypocrisy both have led to in the modern world. The current Pontiff is an almost perfect representative of these conflicts – and he has built his entire identity on layer after layer of denial. He can't change now; and he has ensured that the leadership of the church which he has effectively staffed now for almost thirty years is as screwed up on these relatively trivial issues as he is.

I have no optimism that this cruelty, hypocrisy and double standards will end any time soon. But I do have hope. Because in the end, I share John Paul II's belief:

"Be not afraid!" … Of what should we not be afraid? We should not fear the truth about ourselves.