Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Commentary: McCarrick and Supposed "Gay Clique" in Hierarchy; Homosexuality Not Cause of Catholic Abuse Crisis; When Welcome Doesn't Really Mean Welcome

Things I've read in the last day or so that I'd like to pass along to you — with themes that, in my view, fit together, so that it's helpful to read this commentary side by side:

Some archconservative Catholics in the U.S. are saying that McCarrick was protected by some sort of "gay clique" in the hierarchy. This is utter nonsense. If there is anything that is not talked about honestly by clerics, it is their sex lives. Clerics hide behind the mask of presumed celibacy. I doubt that McCarrick or O'Brien even admitted to themselves that they were gay. 
Both McCarrick and O'Brien hid behind public homophobia. In their public lives, they were vocal opponents of gay rights and gay marriage. McCarrick opposed gay marriage in Maryland and the District of Columbia. He also opposed giving health insurance to gay couples employed by the archdiocese. Like O'Brien, he may have felt that his anti-gay public positions insulated him from rumors about his private life. 
Cardinals are church politicians. Like other politicians, they do favors for people and expect favors in return. McCarrick was a master at this, using his power to reward friends with positions (pastorates, etc.) or titles (monsignor). He also used his position to protect himself and his reputation…. 
The Catholic clerical world is the deepest and darkest closet there is. A culture of clerical secrecy protected McCarrick. He was apparently used to living a double life and thought no one would reveal the truth."

No one would suggest banning heterosexual men from the priesthood if the majority of clergy abuse victims were young girls. That would seem absurd. This is because many see heterosexuality as normal and controllable while believing that homosexuality is abnormal, dysfunctional and a psychiatric illness. As such, it is often falsely believed that men with homosexual orientations cannot be trusted around male children and that their sexual impulse control is poor. But the research data on this topic makes clear that sexual orientation alone is not a risk factor for pedophilia or for committing sexual crimes against children or teens or anyone. Sexual orientation by itself is irrelevant to child sexual abuse behavior or risks. 
So why are so many of the clergy sexual abuse victims male? A study from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2011 informs us that most of the clergy sexual offenders were "situational generalists" or men who simply abused victims to whom they had access and with whom they had the opportunity to develop trust. In the Catholic Church, these individuals tended to be boys. If Father wanted to have private time with an altar boy or perhaps take a boy off on a camping trip or to a baseball game back in the 20th century, no one would have thought much of it. Boys were trusted with priests. But most of the clergy sex offenders during the last half of the 20th century, according to the John Jay Report, viewed themselves as more likely to be heterosexual than as homosexual.

When asked about what "welcome" means, Comensoli answered: 
"We are all sinners. We are all sinners who are called to the cross. When my friends who might be homosexual or lesbian or struggling with their gender, I speak with them with the friendship of Christ as I ought to, and as a friend I say, 'how do we progress together toward the foot of the cross?'"

Have you ever noticed how the language of welcome, when the church uses it to refer to queer people, is always couched as "welcome to sinners" and "welcome to you despite your sins"?

But — and have you noticed this — when that same language of welcome is issued to non-queer people, there's never this talk about how we're all welcome despite our sins, and how all sinners are welcome?

What's that about, I wonder?

What it's about seems obvious to me: a sizable number of Christians today want to reserve their right to tag queer people as sinners in some incomparable way. To reserve their right to use queer people as demonstrations of what sin is all about.

They want to reserve their right to use queer human beings as scapegoats onto whose backs all the sinse of the Christian community can be heaped — so that "normal" Christians won't ever have to deal with their own sins, as they focus obsessively and malignantly on the sins they imagine queer people carry around in their bodies.

Do you ever hear Catholic pastors and Catholic homilies targeting the 90%+ of heterosexually married lay Catholics using contraception — which violates the same ethical norms in magisterial teaching that gay sex does? In other words, do you hear homilies directed to the vast majority of lay Catholics who are, by magisterial definition, "sinners" via their use of contraception?

No, you don't, because those homilies are almost never preached, and the bishops do not ever mount multi-million dollar campaigns to try to prevent contraceptives being sold — as they have repeatedly mounted expensive campaigns to deny same-sex couples the right to marry.

You'll never hear the church anguishing about whether it can welcome all those sinful Catholics using contraception, or whether it needs to make perfectly clear that those Catholics are welcome at Mass only as sinners who should be called in a showy public way to repentance.

What's this disparity about, I wonder? It's obvious, isn't it? All of this puts the lie to the claim of some Catholics that queer people are welcomed with open arms in Catholic communities, and that hostility to queer people on the part of Catholics is not about homophobia but about challenging sinners to repent.

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