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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post

Brought to you by Christopher Rake


Monday, June 17, 2002
10:32 PM

As the Washington Post and other outlets continue to avoid the homosexual content of the Catholic Church's sex scandal, I should point out the American bishops are doing the same thing. The bishops meeting in Dallas last weekend agreed upon a one-strike-and-you're-pretty-much-out policy that may not be upheld by the Vatican. Despite brave words by conference president Bishop Wilton D. Gregory that "we are the ones" who allowed abusive priests to remain in ministry, failed to report crimes, and worried too much about scandal and defense strategies rather than the victims of abuse, little has changed. No bishops resigned. No bishops nailed a thesis on the inside of the door demanding some of their brothers resign. There is little reason to expect the laity will be permitted to participate more, and even less to expect any focus on the fact that dangerous defects in parts of the gay subculture have caused the current disaster. The main problem is a rejection by many gay priests of traditional Catholic teaching, including a rejection of celibacy, and the creation of a culture that blurs what should be a bright red line against using boys.

As I've said, I don't doubt for a moment that if the main event were priests abusing women, we'd be drowning in the 10th part of a Pulitzer-juried series on How Men Abuse Women. Tomorrow: Who Speaks Up For the Girls? New Therapies Unlock Victims' Pain... And that would be true regardless of whether the bishops owned up to it--in fact silence on that account would be cited as evidence of more guilt, not less.

Instead, we are dancing very carefully. The Post has scarcely mentioned it. This June 14 story by Hanna Rosin is practically an ad for the priesthood, featuring the Rev. Jerome Spexarth, a priest in Arlington who recruits for vocations. But one passage stands out:

His efforts [to handle the scandal] did not go well. "I'm not gay, you know, I'm normal, just in case you were wondering," he blurted out one day, surprising himself and the class. Later he realized that must have been subconscious frustration talking: flashbacks to issues he thought he had already worked out: his first weeks of seminary, when he was taken aback to find a clique of very effeminate candidates and worried he might be mistaken for them. And maybe a tinge of anger that if he were mistakenly thought of as gay, his parishioners might overlook the greatest sacrifice he made to serve them, namely forgoing a wife and children.

I think that reference to finding a "clique of very effeminate candidates" may be the first time the Post has referred to arguments from the right that a "lavender mafia" of non-celibate gay priests has damaged Catholic culture. (And though it reflects Spexarth's experience, it's kind of a silly reference considering that the personal style of gays runs the gamut, from girlish to masculine).

Then this June 16 story by Alan Cooperman says:

In Dallas, the bishops also deflected the agendas of what are often called the liberal and conservative wings of the church. The liberals want a far greater role for the laity in general, and women in particular, in church affairs. The conservatives want efforts to break up what they see as a "homosexual subculture" in the clergy. Neither will be content until their issues are addressed. The bishops did pledge to cooperate with a high-level review, known as an Apostolic Visitation, of seminaries across the country. But they made no attempt to settle a simmering debate within the church over whether a person who is gay by orientation, but celibate in practice, is suitable for ordination. On that question hinges the critical matter of seminary admissions policy.

That's it, ho-hum.

But really, it's bigger than that.

Mary Eberstadt, in the Weekly Standard, from her extraordinary piece The Elephant in the Sacristy:

It is incoherent to excoriate the Church for its child molesters, as all leading gay newspapers have done, and simultaneously to print an interview with a gay man saying (to take an example from the Blade) that "he doesn't think the older men who had sex with him [when he was a child] were ephebophiles or predators. . . . 'I personally hold them completely blameless.'" It is incoherent to denounce offending priests, as just about every gay-activist and activist-friendly source has done--and meanwhile run soft-core personal stories by gay men thanking the priests who allegedly molested them as teenagers....

She then cites support for assasinated Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn, and his sympathies for pederasty.

To observe all this is not, of course, to accuse Fortuyn's admirers of sympathizing with pedophilia. But it is to emphasize that for reasons we may never fully understand, on the subject of sex with minors, the dissonance issuing from the gay community is simply deafening. What most other people call "sexual abuse," some significant part of the gay counterculture knows as "initiation." What the criminal law calls a "perpetrator," the gay counterculture calls a "troll." And what parents and the rest of the world know as a human child is dubbed in that other world with the unspeakably inhuman designation, "chicken." That dissonance, which will continue in North America even if the Catholic church is razed to the ground tomorrow, is something the bishops should not hesitate to point to as they try to prevent anything like today's crisis from happening again.

The sad thing is that the Andrew Sullivans of the world could make this a George Orwell moment, declaring war on the sexual abuse of boys. Instead, we get this from Sullivan, on the bishops:

They did not scape-goat gays; they did not say that this scandal has anything to do with homosexuality per se; they did not rise to the bait of the Catholic far right.


What the heck, here's my earlier Eberstadt post to tie this together.

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