The following from Andrew Sullivan's the Daily Dish is very pertinent to the discussion which opened in the comments section after yesterday's post on Hans Kung's article.
Brothers And Sisters
Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Dish, 10/29/09
Chris Dierkes, who has both Catholic and Anglican roots, notes an irony in the Pope's recent actions:
If personal experience and lifelong immersion in a sub-culture is any form of persuasive evidence, I can tell you that conservative Anglo-Catholicism — at the clerical level — is totally dominated by gay men. Mostly repressed. What used to be called when I was in seminary, the pink mafia. And the thing that is the initial trigger for this decision is the upcoming very likely to happen decision to ordain women as bishops in the Church of England (there have already been women priests there for about 15 years or so). Which has a certain irony in this case. If these Anglo-Catholics join the Roman Communion they can join up with very conservative Roman Catholic groups like Regnum Christi and The Legionaries of Christ, also totally dominated by closeted gay fellows. You don’t need to be Sigmund Freud to see the awesome tragic humor in a bunch of non-wife-having grown men wearing pink dresses (and in the Pope’s case super expensive fabulous Prada shoes!!!) telling everybody else they shouldn’t be gay.
We're not supposed to talk about this aspect of the drama in the Vatican. But there is as much an overlap of closeted gay priests and bishops with liturgical and theological orthodoxy as there is of closeted gay politicians finding ways to oppress other gays who are out and open.
Part of this is a function of generations.
If you had based your life - and sacrificed much of your emotional health - on the "intrinsic disorder" theory, you aren't exactly happy to reverse yourself in your old age. It suggests you gave up your life for an intrinsic illogic. Part is also just mysterious. But the fact that gay men have a disproportionate talent for order and theater and detail seems pretty obvious to me. No surprise then that among the best liturgical organizers are gay men - from choirmasters to priests to altar assistants. There is something very gay about a High Mass - it's almost the religious equivalent of a Broadway musical. So Benedict's sisterly outreach to the closet case smells-and-bells brigade among the Anglicans makes total sense. It's partly about keeping all the queens under one roof - and surrounded by incense and lace. (It's a strange kind of out reach for one particular group of gay men--and it's core very misogynist. The level of misogyny amongst this particular group of gay men is still something even Andrew Sullivan won't openly address.)
Weird, I know. But true. And I might as well admit it: I too love the old liturgies and ceremonies and drama of Catholicism. But for me, it's not sublimation but celebration of gay men's contribution to our churches. One day, we'll be able to offer our talents without having to sacrifice our integrity as human beings. One day, when all this fearful nonsense is blown away and the church can return to the Gospels and the sacraments, and gay people can be treated as, you know, the sinners that everyone else is as well.
Richard Sipe has just recently posted an important article on his own website which deals with the issue of closeted gay bishops. Here's a short excerpt which gives the angle of his thinking:
The pattern of sexual activity within the clerical system is woven into a clerical culture that despite verbal protestations and written directives does not really exercise informed discretion in the selection of its candidates; and most importantly the church does not educate its members for celibate living. Bishops and religious superiors are singularly resistant to explicit sexual and celibate training for clerical candidates; they rely on the tutelage of confessors and spiritual directors and the seminary schedule—horarium—to inculcate spirituality and the discipline of celibacy. The system fails in too many instances and those failures expose a flawed system based in part on a defective understanding of human sexuality.
Sex is the central and key problem of the Roman Catholic Church in this 21st Century—for lay and clergy alike. (Actually sex (and gender) is the key problem for all traditionally conservative movements.)
The sexual abuse crisis confronting the Roman Catholic Church is important, but it is merely one aspect of the unaddressed sexual concerns of the Church. It is clear from the response and cover-ups of the hierarchy to the clergy abuse crisis that they cannot deal with the sexual problems in their own ranks. One reason is the fear of exposing their sexual proclivities and practices.
Already in 1986 theologian William Shea listed what he called the tangle of issues that Catholic religious leadership is failing to face. No one has identified the reality of the challenges better or more succinctly: “They are: family life, divorce and remarriage, premarital and extramarital sex, birth control, abortion, homosexuality, masturbation, the role of women in the ministry, their ordination to the priesthood, the celibacy of the clergy, the male monopoly of leadership. Some have suggested that sex is, at bottom, the issue that clogs up our Catholic calendar. Fear of women, and perhaps hatred of them, may well be just what we have to work out of the Catholic system.” (23 years later we still have not begun to come to grips with any of this. We haven't even opened a discussion.)
I contend that the sexual live of priests-especially bishops-are what keep realistic and meaningful discussion of the sexual agenda under wraps. Although the area of clerical sex and celibacy is delicate to approach the subject of homosexuality is super sensitive and taboo.
I have to give the Vatican and our bishops a great deal of credit for keeping this discussion from ever happening by diverting so much attention to abortion and gay marriage. They have done a remarkable job of keeping the spot light focused on the 'sins' of the laity-especially women-instead of the hypocrisy of the clergy. It's been masterful but it's time we changed directions. We are paying too big a price for this insanity.
It doesn't make any sense to laicize and excommunicate Fr. Roy Burgeois because he participated in a woman's ordination while letting criminal pedophiles maintain their status, not just as Catholics still fully in communion, but in the case of our bishops, as priests. I understand the Canonical issues, but this speaks more to the fundamental injustice of Canon Law, than it does to my understanding of it.
We keep priests who impregnate women in the active clergy and on our payrolls if they denounce the women and abandon their child. And this says what about the sanctity of the family relative to the priesthood? Or for that matter, how much bigger statement is there to be made about the real status of women and the importance of children?
We instantly remove from ministry open and honest gays, heterosexual clergy who come clean and do the right thing about their 'illicit' love affairs, but raise self promoting hypocritical frauds to the episcopacy, virtually canonize known seminary abusers, and turn a blind eye to cardinals and bishops who surround themselves with young attractive priests. Why do we tolerate this?
Maybe because one skill Catholics pick up very early is the ability to feign innocence. We value innocence, whether it's real or not, above honesty and transparency. Or maybe it's we willingly substitute ignorance for innocence and willfully refuse to see what's plainly in front of our noses. We are paying, and forcing other Catholics to pay, too high a price to maintain our prized innocence when it comes to the sexuality of our clergy and our clergy are paying an even higher price.
This weird attitude also includes the lay hypocrisy of ignoring so much of the Church's sexual teaching without demanding, really demanding, the right to be taken into account in the promulgation of those teachings. Apparently we accept that the only rights our baptism gave us with regards to the teaching authority of the Church is the right to ignore the teaching authority. Sometimes I can't help but feel the real pastoral spirit which pervades this Church is the spirit of don't ask, don't tell.
Cardinal Rode and Archbishop Burke can engage in their version of a Broadway theatrical and parade around in their cappa magnas to their hearts content, but it isn't innocent and it isn't about exalting the Kingship of Christ. It's about taking, as in desperately hanging onto, the center stage role and the sole spotlight. It's all part of a masterfully executed charade. Catholicism can't afford this charade much longer. Too many people, for too many centuries have been corrupted or harmed by it.
It's time to blow open the doors of the secret clerical closet, not drag more clerical clothes out of it.