The dynamic in which closeted gay men actively persecute openly gay men as a way of credentializing their own alleged heterosexuality is not exactly news. Some of the most virulent hunters of homosexuals – from J. Edgar Hoover to Roy Cohn – were closeted homosexuals themselves. But when it comes to the disproportionately gay Catholic priesthood, it has, especially under Benedict XVI, intensified to new heights of hypocrisy. The Church in 1975 issued a rather inclusive, if still prohibitionist, view of homosexuality. Almost as soon as he got control of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Ratzinger ratcheted up the anti-gay rhetoric. He called gay people “objectively disordered”, human beings who were somehow born naturally inclined toward an “intrinsic evil.”
So it is no big surprise to find that the Scottish Cardinal O’Brien has been credibly accused of the sexual harassment of other men and barred from the Conclave that will select the new Pope. After all, this is what he wrote a year ago on the subject of gay marriage in the context of the British debate:
Will both teacher[s] and pupils simply become the next victims of the tyranny of tolerance, heretics, whose dissent from state-imposed orthodoxy must be crushed at all costs? In Article 16 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, marriage is defined as a relationship between men and women. But when our politicians suggest jettisoning the established understanding of marriage and subverting its meaning they aren’t derided. Instead, their attempt to redefine reality is given a polite hearing, their madness is indulged. Their proposal represents a grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right.
Gay marriage is madness. It’s a violation of human rights. It’s tyranny. It’s … wait for it:
No Government has the moral authority to dismantle the universally understood meaning of marriage. Imagine for a moment that the Government had decided to legalise slavery but assured us that “no one will be forced to keep a slave”.
Earlier this month, one former and three priests reported O’Brien’s attempts to have “inappropriate contact” with them, going back three decades. One was so traumatized he left the priesthood:
The first allegation against the cardinal dates back to 1980. The complainant, who is now married, was then a 20-year-old seminarian at St Andrew’s College, Drygrange, where O’Brien was his “spiritual director”. The Observer understands that the statement claims O’Brien made an inappropriate approach after night prayers.
The seminarian says he was too frightened to report the incident, but says his personality changed afterwards, and his teachers regularly noted that he seemed depressed. He was ordained, but he told the nuncio in his statement that he resigned when O’Brien was promoted to bishop. “I knew then he would always have power over me. It was assumed I left the priesthood to get married. I did not. I left to preserve my integrity.”
Britain will have no representative at the Conclave because the Cardinals are either too old or too sexually compromised. But Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles, found unequivocally guilty of hiding and enabling the rape of children, will show up in his red robes. Why exactly is he allowed to go while O’Brien has resigned? Will he grab a sherry with Cardinal Law, another enabler of child-rape actually rewarded by the Vatican with a sinecure in Rome?
And here’s a question: if every Cardinal who had a cover-up of child-rape and abuse under his authority or had had sex with another man were barred from the Conclave, how many would be left?
(Photo: Cardinal Roger Mahony former archbishop of Los Angeles (C) attends the consistory held by Pope Benedict XV at the Saint Peter’s Basilica on February 18, 2012 in Vatican City, Vatican. By Franco Origlia/Getty Images)