Archive for the ‘Celibacy’ Category

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

March 11, 2013

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.

You’re a Gonner, Man!

February 7, 2013
Joshua Gonnerman

Joshua Gonnerman

Pursuant to an earlier conversation about my article on Joshua Gonnerman’s celibacy, Dean Hansen writes:

The reason I was scouting YouTube for the movie “Boys in the Band” was to isolate a quote which I was reminded of while reading about Joshua Gonnerman’s effort at disposing of himself through enforced celibacy in order to reconcile himself to the demands of Catholic belief.  Near the film’s end, there is a confrontational scene between Harold (the Jewish homosexual whose birthday is being celebrated) and Michael, the host for the party who has gathered Harold’s friends together at his apartment).  The dialogue is as follows:

Harold: “Now it’s my turn.  And ready or not Michael, here goes. You’re a sad and pathetic man. You’re a homosexual and you don’t want to be. But there’s nothing you can do to change it. Not all your prayers to your God, not all the analysis you can buy in all the years you’ve got left to live.  You may very well one day be able to know a heterosexual life, if you want it desperately enough. If you pursue it with the fervor with which you annihilate. But you’ll always be homosexual as well. Always, Michael.  Always. Until the day you die.”

This in turn reminded me of something never discussed in these petty little Catholic online squabbles. Something Jesus actually said:

Harold and Michael from "The Boys in the Band"

Harold and Michael from “The Boys in the Band”

Jesus said, “I come that you may have life, and that more abundantly.”  I wonder how many people try to wrestle those words into an eternal context that robs them of any immediate meaning. If what he said is true, then the search for that abundance must begin here and now, and nowhere else. And it must begin with complete honesty. Where else could it begin? If you believe that your life truly begins when you die, beyond the senses that you associate with life, then what is the purpose of a life lived in exclusion of the principle promised in such a hopeful sounding declaration of Jesus? How can you “get” life if you don’t already have it? What’s the purpose of being born at all, if our life is a mere substitute for something we cannot partake of unless it’s beyond the grave? How can we have “abundance” if we must deny everything we are as a means of getting everything we hope to be? Why long for a harvest if there’s no seed corn? “…I come that you might have life later…some other time and some other place, that doesn’t involve you having a human personality, human needs, or human desires?”  Or,  “…I come that you might deny who you are perpetually, so that you not be disappointed to discover what you never were?”

Homosexuals who deny who and what they are for the sake of fitting in to a religiously intolerant world view that condemns their presence, are being compelled against their will to deny the abundance that was promised for them in this world by a savior whom they often learn to despise because of the actions of those who claim to know him best.  An abundance framed in love, commitment, loyalty, sharing and genuine fulfillment in the arms of true love. If we don’t model that love here, with those we’ve seen and adored, how can it be bestowed on us as a reward by someone we have not seen? And how can we adore him if he denies us what we need for a sane and fruitful life?  If that abundance doesn’t start here and now, then no future in which it’s promised can be anything but a lie.