Unfit and In Denial: A Church That Has Lost All Authority

by Kevin McKenna, published on Alternet, 3/3/13

Britain's Cardinal Keith O'Brian

Britain’s Cardinal Keith O’Brian

Of all the theories advanced explaining why the Catholic priesthood attracts so many young gay men, this is the most valid: it is a direct consequence of the church’s official attitude to homosexuality and the way that this has insinuated itself into the fabric of what we might call a traditional Catholic family with its roots in Ireland.

In such an upbringing homosexuality is still treated as the sum of all sins. Catholic families long ago found a way of dealing with abortion, extramarital sex and divorce, the other three horsemen of the Catholic apocalypse, whenever they occurred close to home, but not homosexuality.

The others could all be processed and interpreted as very human failings stemming from the powerful instinct of physical desire and our need for affection and love. The Christian virtues of understanding, compassion and forgiveness are built to outlast initial shock and hurt in these “acceptable” moral failings. Not so homosexuality.

For how many Catholic parents have secretly prayed that their son “does not turn out gay” or obsess about their response if the eldest boy shows no interest in football and insists on taking a shower every day and buying all his own clothes? The church’s pastoral care and guidance for its own gay community is nonexistent. Catholic gays are non-people in my church; they are “los desaparecidos” and one day many of us will be called to account for how we have treated them.

The church has nothing to say to a child reared in these circumstances and who is beginning to encounter issues with his sexual identity. And so, by a perverse irony, the Catholic priesthood becomes a viable option for him. For what better way to submerge your “problem sexuality” than by committing yourself to a life of celibacy and a lifetime of reflection on the burden that God has deemed you must bear for your redemption and his glory?

Continue reading this article.

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2 Responses to “Unfit and In Denial: A Church That Has Lost All Authority”

  1. thebentangle Says:

    The question that everyone is asking about the Catholic Church now is, “Why do so many gay men—as many as 50%, according to former Dominican friar Mark Dowd—end up in the priesthood, where they so often misbehave and disgrace their church? The author of this article, Kevin McKenna, lays out the answer in the clearest form I’ve seen. When (1) your church instills in the faithful an absolute horror of homosexuality; and then (2) it folds in a requirement of celibacy for men who have same-sex attractions; and then (3) it offers males a career path into an institution (the priesthood) that requires celibacy, the outcomes are predictable.

    The irony of it all is that conservative Catholics in the blogosphere are still (still!) insisting on celibacy as the only possible moral path for a homosexual while refusing to even consider allowing priests to marry. 

    “Stupidity is like bumping into a wall all the time. After a while you get tired of it and try to look the situation over and see if there’s a doorway somewhere. I think most people eventually do look for the doorway and stop bumping into the wall.” 
    ― Robert Anton Wilson

  2. Thomas Hostomsky Says:

    Lost all authority I think is still an overstatement. Jung posited that gay men are more spiritually inclined. Most gay priests do not misbehave. Otherwise, I affirm the analysis on what has led to such a dysfunctional disconnect.

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