Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Gaying of the Priesthood and Misogyny among the Catholic Hierarchy: A Reader Responds to Eugene Kennedy at NCR

I blogged recently about one of the sotto voce streams of chatter in post-Vatican II American Catholicism, which powerfully affects our analysis of the sexual abuse crisis in the priesthood and of clerical celibacy.  It does so at a subliminal level, because this chatter is never quite made public, put on the table for discussion.

That posting discussed chatter about how the purported gaying of the priesthood has run off the "normal" vocations we'd have if we permitted married clergy.  (I'm in favor of opening the priesthood both to women and to those who are married, by the way, though in my view, there should also be an option for those called to celibacy if the Catholic priesthood is restructured.)

The following analysis from reader discussion of Eugene Kennedy's latest article at National Catholic Reporter offers an interesting twist on that sotto voce analysis about the gaying of the priesthood--admittedly, an extreme and toxic twist, but one that needs to be on the table in our discussions of the abuse crisis and celibacy every bit as much as does the claim that the gaying of the priesthood has run off "normal" (i.e., heterosexual and married) vocations.

Kennedy's article notes that preposterous theology, not a gay priesthood, is responsible for the abuse crisis.  The reader whose response appears below begs to differ.  In his/her view, gay men are "sadistic" and "subhuman," and are responsible for the misogyny of the Catholic church.

Once again: this thesis--gay men as misogynists responsible for the misogyny of the Catholic hierarchy--is definitely "out there," being talked about among many Catholics and the public at large, affecting the discussion of the abuse crisis, though it's never made explicit and put on the table for careful examination in public discussions of these issues.

And it needs to be on the table, if we're going to deal with it effectively.  Here's what a reader calling himself or herself Anonymous says in response to Kennedy's argument that the abuse crisis is not about gay priests:

The problem with homosexual priests is that they invariably bring their sadistic, subhuman misogyny to the job. Most homosexual men secretly despise themselves, their own weakness, frivolity, cowardice and narcissism. So they call these qualities "female" and proclaim that they "adore" female people, like Madonna and Callas. Then, in the course of their ministry, they frequently encounter women who do not correspond to this stereotype, e.g., Sister McBride. So they denigrate, insult and ridicule them, from the ambo, in the parish hall, in their columns in parish bulletins.

That's where we get these innumerable homilies with cutsey little stories in which the bad guy is always an "unfeminine" woman. That's why the missal, the catechism, and virtually all papal letters to anybody focus compulsively on what is happening in female genitals and do their best to deny the existence of female brains. (Cf., JPII's constant assertion that only men have "analytical minds" whereas women have "affective responses.")

The Church needs to get rid of the homosexuals if She wants to keep women. And guess who does more to produce a new generation of Catholics? Homosexuals or women?

It's too bad the author of this piece chose to call himself or herself Anonymous.  As we evaluate its argument, it would help us to know a bit more about the author and her/his agenda, wouldn't it?
Or am I wrong to think that statements like this deserve any attention at all, as we discuss the future of the priesthood and its current problems?  Is this just a statement from the lunatic fringe that shouldn't receive attention?  Or does it capture where many Catholics actually are, vis-a-vis these issues?