That title could mislead. Oh well.
If you remember, about a year ago when Archbishop Collins was elevated to the cardinalate I posted something about my year with him as my seminary rector. I was advised that my candor might have been imprudent. Again I say, oh well. The reason I reference it now is that I referred to the problem of homosexuality in the seminary, as I knew it. That was more than fifteen years ago, and it is only know that the whole 'gay lobby' thing is coming out. Anyone could have told you that homosexuality has been a problem with the clergy for the last forty years. I mean, didn't Fr. Greely published stats on it a long time ago?! The liberalism of the post-Vatican II era made this cadre not a small persecuted group, but the reigning party in the clergy - if Canada is anything to judge by, and I hope it is not. Is that coincidence surprising, that is to say, liberalism and homosexuality running together? Well, if you are a moron it is surprising.
Anyway, I am bringing this whole thing up because I just read a very interesting article by Sandro Magister on the recent embarrassment of the Holy Father, concerning Monsignor Battista Ricca. Read it here.
A few people have asked me about my take on the 'gay lobby' thing so here it is. It's just what I said: homosexuality is rife in the clergy in Canada - or at least in every diocese in Canada I have ever been involved with, so are you asking me if I am surprised that it has bubbled all the way up to the top in the Curia? Certainly I am not surprised. I am so un-surprised that I didn't expect that the 'revelation' was even an issue. But issues are only issues because the media says they are, like the Trayvon Martin thing. So when a friend of mine sent me a link to an article on this gay lobby thing I was like "So why did you send this to me?" Okay, I made my point about my nonchalance. Now I'll move on.
As I think I've said before, you send a bunch of young men to Rome without any girls, put dresses on them, surround them with dazzling vestments and spectacular traditions both ecclesial and secular, show them endless vistas of power and promotion, and you expect what to occur, precisely? The Rome of young, smart, promising clerics is not a healthy environment. In fact, it is a soup perfect for corruption. The reason why you can have seminaries in Canada full of homosexuals, who are none-too-good at concealing their proclivities, is that they are protected by a very powerful lobby both in Canada and in Rome. Let me put it this way, I arrived at St. Peter's as young and naive as any man who ever passed through its doors and I saw the writing on the wall within a year. I saw homosexuality was present within a few months. It took me a full year to realize how ubiquitous, widespread, rampant, and predominant it was, though. So do you actually think that any seminary rector or bishop in this country is unaware of what your's truly discovered with no special access pass and absolutely no worldly experience so quickly? And, one step further, do you actually think that any Roman prelate is unaware? The question is, which of these prelates sees this as a problem and which ones do not? Pope Francis sees it as a problem. The difficulty for him, though, is trying to figure out who he can trust to help him undermine this lobby that is so ensconced. Yes, a pope has the power to order whatever he wants, but that is a moot point if no one desires to carry out his orders.
One of my friends calls this lobby in Canada the "lavender mafia." It is a more poetic phrase than "gay lobby." This friend is in the know. I don't dare name this person. Further, if you think things are going to change in Canada anytime soon, the fact that I won't here name the chief of the mafia in Canada is because I'd like to leave open the possibility of working for the Church in Canada some day in some capacity. Talk to me when I strike it rich or when this person dies. Until then, good luck reforming things in Canada, my friends. If Pope Francis is having this much trouble with it, don't even talk to me about the hope we have with "our new orthodox bishops" in Canada, or "our man" Cardinal Ouellet in Rome.
Conservatives in Canada used to tell each other, "If only Rome knew what was happening here." Rome does know. Rome don't care. Well, part of Rome cares, but they are vastly out-classed by the seasoned courtiers who have been doing this for a long, long time.
How has this mafia been able to flourish when church law is clearly against homosexuality, and self-righteous heresy-hunters proliferous? There are a number of factors at work here, and I don't presume to be able to account for all of them, nor make sense of how these factors cohere.
Part of it is that some of those who know about homosexuality being practiced in the priesthood are not in principle opposed to it. Some are in principle indifferent to it or are somewhat opposed to it, but think that it would be inconvenient to do anything about it: i.e., it would hurt their careers. Obviously, in this case I mostly mean lay church employees, but not only: clergy too have a system of preferment which is important to them. And, of course, many church employees are themselves in irregular circumstances - divorced/remarried - and so their actions would be hypocritical and thus unthinkable. And, of course, one might suspect a priest has homosexual leanings, but that is a far cry from proof that one is a practicing homosexual and/or one who uses a network to promote heterodoxy and heteropraxy. It is this thin line of benefit of doubt that is perhaps the greatest single factor behind their success. (Christianity disservices the endeavors of Christians.) Of course, everyone is owed the justice of benefit of doubt, but not when it strains credulity. Priests owe the faithful freedom from scandal and suspicion of scandal.
The more you get to know it, you realize that clerical culture is unique. I am ironically understating the matter. The greatest saints still somehow - utterly inexplicably - arise within an environment that is hardwired to produce duplicity, pettiness, careerism, and irresponsibility. A case in point is Archbishop Prendergast. I know him better than most, and even in light of my generalized very dim, judgmental outlook, I am utterly convinced of his holiness and thorough integrity. It is not a certainty, then, that this clerical culture corrupts. Some, even some who sit at the very height of it in Canada, have used it in precisely the manner in which it was intended, and, thus, their glory will be that much the greater in heaven.
Celibacy and 'poverty' were meant to free up men for the preaching of the Gospel. I know that's what Pope Francis thinks too. I just pray that he can actually do something to promote this.
I could say more about clerical culture's uniqueness, it's an interesting thing in and of itself, but I have said enough for now. I don't want to muddy the waters. Here's the take-away: homosexuality is rife in clergy in Canada and Rome. Will not be undermined easily, if at all - certainly not in my lifetime.
I haven't made a consistent distinction between mere homosexuals and active homosexuals in describing the lavender mafia. That was on purpose. One of the reasons why Pope Benedict XVI also wanted to keep celibate homosexuals from ordination is that they are, frankly, too soft on, that is to say, too tolerant of, the practicing homosexuals. If you were a member of the Roman congregation in charge of Seminaries, and you yourself suffered from an inclination toward homosexuality, and a note ended up on your desk complaining about homosexuality in a seminary in Country X, would you be more or less inclined to act upon that complaint than someone who did not suffer from same-sex attraction? I think we all know the answer to that, and I think we all know now why things are the way they are in Rome and Canada.