The synchonicity of conversations on the worldwide web never fails to intrigue me — discourse community linking to discourse community when they're to all appearances not connected at all. As Mary Q pointed out in a comment here two days ago, at the same time (roughly) that I was having a conversation with Chris Morley here about the peculiar pathology of the Roman Catholic clerical system, which intermixes hypocrisy (especially about matters sexual involving the clergy) with power and the abuse of power, with the ravening desire of career clerics to be at the top of an ecclesiastical ladder in which being on top means using, hurting, throwing away a lot of folks at the bottom, a reader of Jennifer Haselberger's blog was leaving a comment there very similar to my statements to Chris.
Haselberger, the former Chancellor of Canonical Affairs for the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese who resigned after blowing the whistle about the cover-up of clerical abuse of minors in that archdiocese, had posted about the Greene Espel Report that former archbishop John Nienstedt (he resigned last year) commissioned to investigate his own conduct as a result of complaints from archdiocesan clergy, former priests, and seminarians. As she notes. the findings of the Greene Espel law firm have never been made public, and the archdiocese has hinted that the only purpose to be served by releasing the report would be to "out" the former archbishop and embarrass the archdiocese.
And now there are rumors that Nienstedt will at last move out of the archdiocesan episcopal residence, and will move to a rectory in the archdiocese. That will, as Haselberger notes, very likely place him in close proximity to priests, seminarians, and parish staff, as well as to minors. And so she concludes,
Given the concerns that have been raised about his conduct (including his conduct towards minor males while on World Youth Day trips), disclosures regarding the risks associated with his residency seem to be necessary.
Necessary, but unlikely to occur. Historically, the Archdiocese has fallen short in its disclosures when the consequence could be embarrassment to itself or the priest, and this case is seemingly no different. Then again, perhaps this will provide the perfect test of the extent to which the Archdiocese really intends to comply with its court-ordered efforts to improve its safe environment efforts. We shall see.
And here's what a reader of Haselberger's posting, T Russell, says in response to the posting:
Our former Archbully is not the only shame based closeted homosexual within the priesthood and hierarchy. Most of the relevant psychological thought suggests a likely connection between self loathing shame regarding one's homosexuality and its consequent projection upon the world in attempts to repress and mask one's own self hatred. Of course, with our Archbully we also witnessed a heaping dose of hypocrisy as well.
Can you imagine what it's like for hundreds of our priests in this archdiocese to live hidden, and secret lives, in this blatently homophobic Church? Sexual orientation, by the way, being a reality more and more understood to be God given and innate. How strange their psyches must be as a result...and sometimes dangerous as well.
Danger always exists when people in power live duplicitous lives and deny their true selves to themselves and the world. Hello monks of St. John's University!
M. Scott Peck's well known book "The People of the Lie" is instructive here.
As long as the Catholic Church, and particularly its leaders, continue this ridiculous charade that the priesthood is not substantially comprised of homosexual men it will never again have either the respect or moral authority that many expect of an institutional Church. The whole thing is a dysfunctional lie...and it is very dangerous obviously. Homosexuals have come out in hugely important ways these past decades which has resluted in major societal changes.The psychological health of homosexuals, as well as those who grew up fearing homosexuality, has improved likewise.
We have a few honorable priests that are "out", open, honest and healthy but it should be very obvious that we still suffer a Church that seems to continue to want its priests to remain "closeted" and secret regarding their sexual orientation. That must change or I believe we will continue to witness a declining and even sicker priesthood filled with men that, honestly, many of us see as "strange fellows" with their pseudo personalities. Look at these closeted guys very closely folks.
We live in a far more knowledgeable and understanding culture. It is time for all men who publicly profess catholic "priesthood" to come out of the closet and demand respect and healthy ways of proceeding in life for themselves and all homosexuals. If a man cannot do that for himself then how can he be a true spiritual father to the rest of the Church? All he can do is what we see all around us...men who pose false personality fronts riddled with fear and secrecy.
Until we see this shamed based, and secretive, clerical culture change...well, good luck with authenticity and transparency folks.
How strange their psyches must be as a result...and sometimes dangerous as well. . . . The whole thing is a dysfunctional lie...and it is very dangerous obviously: Mary Q is right. This is precisely the pathology I was seeking to describe in my own comments to Chris about a sitting archbishop I happen to know who rose to power within the Catholic church by tormenting gay seminarians when he was a seminary rector (I know several of those former seminarians personally, too), but who himself had a longstanding relationship with another man even as he was engaging in this ecclesiastical-ladder-climbing persecution of gay folks. Or so I have been told by someone I regard as an impeccable source, who has known this man from the time he was a teen, and who opposed his being made bishop not because he had a longstanding gay relationship, but because of the hypocrisy.
Because of the meanness, the malice in targeting other gay men while living his own secret life . . . . This is, in my view, pathological behavior, and it seems particularly characteristic of Catholic hierarchical figures. It goes beyond mere hypocrisy into what T Russell rightly calls dangerous dysfunction.
Never to be forgotten as we examine the behavior of Archbishop John Nienstedt is that he wrote a letter to the Catholic mother of a gay son in May 2010 telling her that her eternal salvation depended on whether she accepted or rejected her son, using the magisterial condemnation of homosexual behavior as her rule of thumb. The letter also told her that people who reject church teaching must not receive the sacraments.
Also not to be forgotten is that Nienstedt led a crusade several years ago, spending untold amounts of money and mailing a c.d. about this to every Catholic household in the state, to strongarm Catholic voters into approving an amendment to the Minnesota state constition banning same-sex marriage — when the state already had a law to that effect. I also don't forget that Nienstedt gave a rip-roaring address to the right-wing Catholic Napa Institute shindig in 2013, in which he linked same-sex marriage to the devil.
T Russell is absolutely correct: "How strange their psyches must be as a result [of their internalized homophobia] . . . and sometimes dangerous as well."