END OF GAY MASSES . . . . Meanwhile, there will be no more explicitly gay- and lesbian-friendly masses in Oak Park, we learn from the bishop in charge of such matters, Jerome E. Listecki, as reported not in our parish bulletin but in the newsletter of The Catholic Citizens of Illinois, of which Sun-Times columnist Thomas F. Roeser is chairman of the board. Catholic (and Oak Park) citizen Joseph Wemhoff was so informed by said bishop, the newsletter tells us.
This should surprise no one, in view of the sex-abuse business and accompanying public comments by the top elected U.S. bishop (headed for cardinalatial red or the rest of his life in Belleville, where he now reigns happily, depending on how he's viewed by the Vatican) and other bishops about facing up to the challenge of a homosexual-dominated priesthood. It's no time to talk about being gay-friendly, and won't be until the smoke has cleared. More likely (and not very likely, at that) will there be a spate of novenas praying for an end to man-boy love within the clerical set.
It's the sin that cries to heaven for vengeance, Rev. Chester A. Myers, OP, told us Fenwick sophomores in September, 1946, standing on the Scoville Avenue sidewalk after school. One of us had called another, not present, a fruit. Don't call him that, Fr. Myers said quietly, even genially, and explained that it meant sex between men, "the sin that cries," etc., which I had not so much as imagined to that point. Once there were priests who stood on street corners and talked like that to 15-year-old Catholic boys. We can hardly imagine it today.
OCCASION OF SIN . . . . Homosexuals can be chaste, Bishop Thomas G. Doran of Rockford, told an Eternal Word Television Network interviewer, as reported in Jesuit-run America. But allowing them into the priesthood is putting them in "constant proximation of the occasion of grave sin," because priests often work so closely with children and young men.
They should not be exposed to the "constant temptation" offered by intimacy with boys and young men, no more than "drug addicts should be pharmacists," alcoholics bartenders, or kleptomaniacs bank tellers, he said, using colorful language indeed.
In other words, it's asking too much of the homosexual to take boys on camping trips or campus visits. It's unfair to the boys too, of course. But Doran cites the pastoral aspects as regards priests themselves, citing as context "toleration of same-sex attractions in seminaries" which he said has led to a "general laxity" in the course of which church leaders "wink at abuses."
One might add that the aura of respectability that has attached to priests makes them too sure of themselves and boys and young men too trusting. Or did until recently.
JESUITS IN TROUBLE . . . I'm trying to inure myself to this priest and seminarian homosexual sex business, reading the sensational if not sensationalized Goodbye Good Men (Regnery) till it hurts. Bad enough that the seminary from which come the priests who lead my Catholic parish is doubly, triply, quadruply nailed for harboring and fostering active, even flamboyant homosexual acting up and out. Now I read the Jesuits have this problem too.
One Fr. Thomas Gleeson SJ was defended in U.S. court on charges of sexual harrassment of a fellow Jesuit, a teaching scholastic, in California by a law firm that also represented the Jesuits' Maryland Province. And a Fr. Thomas Gleeson SJ worked at Loyola Retreat House in Faulkner, MD, a year later, according to the retreat house's web site. Same guy, apparently.
Gleeson, listed as of the Maryland Province in the Official Catholic Directory, was one of three Jesuits sued in the California case, in 1999. (It's not uncommon these days for Jesuits of one province to work in another.) The one suing had taught at St. Ignatius High School, San Francisco -- they left their Sacred Heart in San Francisco? -- where others, fellow teachers, allegedly hit on him. The un-spiritual exercises of one of them was to send him a photo of a man with member erect which he signed, "Love, T.," this same-sex Lothario's first name beginning with T.
The complainer, John Bollard, was solicited, he said in his suit, by Gleeson, who with his lawyers apparently decided on discretion and settled.
In my 18 years a Jesuit, 1950 to annus terribilis 1968, I was never solicited, I am happy to report. Only once, in retrospect, a friend, neither Illinoisan nor American, made a strange request which I easily ignored and avoided thinking on. And a younger Jesuit, not yet ordained, told me he had been solicited. We were both out on our own in a few more months.
Otherwise, apart from the jock and non-jock distinction, classical music-lovers and non-c.m.-l. and the like, probative of nothing in any case, we hung pretty much together. Once a retreat master read a note he had received asking for advice on the matter, from a same-sex-attracted theology student, throwing an entire chapel-full into what seemed to be a stunned silence. The retreat master, a New Yorker, counselled pursuit of artistic interests, as I recall.
I once confided to a superior, the provincial, I believe, that I found myself ogling women from my dormitory window on Sheridan Road, near Loyola University, where we attended summer classes. "They look pretty good, don't they?" he said, and it was the best laugh I had that day. It went with the territory, he was telling me, as if I didn't know. As a presumably chaste celibate (not just unmarried but also acting that way), I would be dealing with that particular problem until, as a wag put it, six hours after I was buried.
If I had told him I found myself ogling men and boys from my dormitory window, he wouldn't have responded that way, presumably because he and I wouldn't have had that in common. But he might have prescribed a regimen, hey, maybe artistic pursuits, for me that would have taken my unfortunate proclivities into account: unfortunate in part because men and boys would normally assume that I did not covet them. In them I could have shown keen interest, and it would have been called virtue, or being apostolic, as we used to say.
Of my fellow Jesuits who stayed stateside, never going off to India or Nepal to be missionaries, maybe one out of five remained Jesuits within five years of ordination. Of those who went off to India or Nepal, five of five. Going whole hog feeds the original impetus, holding back doesn't.
Besides, the U.S. social climate became far less supportive of priestly and official-religious endeavor than Far Eastern. In the U.S. one often if not usually became reconciled to so much that militated against religion, the mocking or at best condescending tone of public discourse. (I saw later how newspaper editors routinely classified religion as sentimental panoply or fire-breathing social action. One or the other.
Meanwhile, 55% of U.S. priests say there's a gay subculture in their diocese or religious order or congregation, a dynamic survey duo from Catholic U. has found. Old survey hand Dean Hoge and grad student Jacqueline Wenger did it, as reported by Chi Trib 8/17. They make the elected head U.S. bishop, Chicagoan Wilton Gregory, now of Belleville, Illinois, look good. In the heat of the scandal breaking, he said there's an "ongoing struggle to make sure that the Catholic priesthood is not dominated by homosexual men."
The subculture in this case is a group with "preferential friendships, social gatherings and vocabulary." They hang together and have their own language. One 37-year-old diocesan priest called the subculture "a corrosive element to the nth degree" that "ran the seminary practically," which situation was "thoroughly tolerated by the faculty, in fact in some instances supported by it and promoted."
As for acting out one's proclivities, one priest said some heteros do it too, and in either case the problem is what's tolerated. Too much tolerance, he was saying, is a bad thing.