This past weekend, Roman Catholic bishops gathered at the Vatican to kick off a second installment of their synod on so-called family issues. During the lead up to the synod, two gay Catholic priests have been fired from their positions because of their relationships. Further underscoring the Church's animus towards gays, Pope Francis opened the synod by basically repeating his view that God entrusted the earth to the alliance between man and woman: Its failure deprives the earth of warmth and darkens the sky of hope.” Meanwhile, a former Vatican insider has stated in an interview with German magazine Stern that he believes 50% of priests, including those at the Vatican, are gay. Gay Star News looks at these statements:
David Berger, an openly gay academic who formerly worked for the Vatican, said the number of gay men working in the Catholic Church was well above average – even more so in the papal state.
‘In the Vatican, I experienced the number of gay men to be even higher,’ he said in an interview with German magazine Stern. ‘I guess around half [of the men working there].’
‘On one hand it’s down to homosexuality being demonized in the Church. It’s a very severe sin,’ he said.
On the other hand, the image of a celibate priest, who is never questioned about not having a wife, was very attractive for gay men, Berger continued, as they wouldn’t have to explain themselves and wouldn’t be bothered into marriage.
‘So you have the advantage of having many gay men with a guilty conscience.
Berger also said the biggest rule in the Vatican was while people could have gay sex, in public they should always remain true to the Church’s principles and not talk about it.
‘I think that may be down to being gay being an important apparatus of power,’ Berger told the Stern.
‘After a coming out, those in power don’t have anything left with which to hold you down. That’s a disaster beyond all expectations.’
David Berger worked as an academic at the Pontifical Academy of St Thomas Aquinas in Vatican City; when he came out as gay, he was forced to leave.
It goes without saying that the hypocrisy of these bitter old men is off the proverbial chart. But there is much more involved in the misogyny of the Church and it centers on psychologically damaged, self-loathing closeted men. Michael Bayly, a gay rights activist Catholic and blogger friend, lays out the true level of hypocrisy and dysfunction that is the Catholic Church hierarchy and much of the priesthood. Here are excerpts:
The Roman Catholic priesthood has long been a haven for a certain type of gay man – one who, for whatever reason, does not experience, or care to seek to experience in the wider world, validation for who they are sexually.These men want to dictate morality to others and love to condemn other gays, yet they are totally screwed up emotionally and psychologically themselves. Worse yet, they are for the most part totally clueless on matters of family life and intimate relationships, but want to define how others should live.
Before the rise in the West of the gay liberation movement of the late 60s-early 70s, the priesthood was one of a very few environments where homosexual men could gather and live together without arousing undue suspicion. More importantly, it was perhaps the only environment where they could gain power and experience respect and deference.
Consequently, I think it's fair to say that the priesthood has historically attracted a disproportionate number of homosexual men. For many of these men, the price paid for a life of power and prestige involves the maintaining of a secretive sexual life. . . . . Another price that we know has been paid by many men – both gay and straight – is that of a stunted psycho-sexual development. One sad consequence of this can be seen in the clergy sex abuse scandal. I would argue that it's a minority of abuse cases that involve actual pedophiles, i.e., adults sexually attracted to prepubescent children. Instead, many, if not most of the caes, involve grown men attempting to act-out or come to terms with their sexuality with non-consenting teenagers and/or young adults with whom they share a similar level of psycho-sexual development.
Just as with heterosexuals, the vast majority of homosexuals can and do choose to live lives marked by ongoing psycho-sexual growth, loving relationships, and sexual integrity and health. We see the benefits of this choice all around us in the lives and relationships of the gay individuals, couples, and families we know and love.
Where we're not seeing it is in the Roman Catholic priesthood.
This is because the clerical culture of the church, unlike wider society, continues to denigrate and malign homosexuality and its expression. And yet we know that this same culture is heavily populated by homosexual men – not the type "on the outside" that accept and celebrate the gift of their sexuality, but rather the type that is self-loathing, secretive, and often psycho-sexually stunted.
A celibate life can be fostered and maintained, but only if sexuality – in all its beauty and complexity – is acknowledged and respected, something that's not happening in the priesthood. Gay men in the priesthood are forced to live secret, isolated, and often sexually furtive lives.
No good can come from such a state of affairs, as we're painfully witnessing almost on a daily basis.
What's stopping the many gay priests and bishops from stepping out of their closets of secrecy? Is it the lure of the rich trappings of power and prestige also housed in these closets? Is it fear of losing this power and prestige? Is it more practical – the fear of simply losing their position and thus their source of income? Do some really believe what the clerical leadership teaches about homosexuality?
One thing I do know for sure is that our gay brothers within the feudal world of the Vatican are giving gay men everywhere a bad name. I must admit that as a gay Catholic man I resent this. So many of us have made the difficult journey to a place of self-realization and integration, and discerned that it's the truly enlightened and authentically spiritual path to tread. And yet our so-called spiritual leaders refuse to recognize it, let alone embark on the journey themselves. I don't want our church to be led by such hypocrites and cowards.
[T]he whole leadership system must be reformed. We can no longer depend upon a "good" pope, i.e., one who thinks like us, to come in and make everything better. A benevolent autocrat is still an autocrat. It's time we acknowledged that the church took a terribly wrong turn when, around 1600 years ago, it assumed the trappings of empire during the time of Constantine. No more overlords, autocrats, emperor-like popes.