Rash judgment concerning the mannerisms and vocal inflections of other men.
Many years ago, I fired an employee for misconduct. I really liked the guy, but my bosses did not. He was a very good artist/painter and a talented worker. He had a drinking problem and had been through company sponsored - paid for - treatment. Nevertheless he had other issues which made it difficult for him to fit the mold, as it were. I did everything right - verbal warnings, written warnings, finally termination. In the process we talked about his performance and he shared a lot of personal concerns with me. I mistakenly went beyond empathy and attempted to counsel him, believing he just might be in denial about an issue or two. Big mistake, both in judgment and application.
Managers should never, ever attempt to be therapists; however, I suspected the guy had issues concerning sexual orientation and wondered if that was not at the root of his alcoholism and workplace issues. I know - I was young and deluded and didn't understand things myself. Needless to say - what a huge mistake!
The poor guy was totally blown away by my intervention. Though his mannerism and expressions were incredibly effeminate, and his humor was as outrageous as Rip Taylor's, he was as straight as an arrow. I eventually discovered he lived happily with a real-girl girlfriend and they were in love and enjoyed a rich sex life. He was totally insulted by my insinuation. He told me he had to endure such suspicions ever since his youth - he assured me that he was very confident in his masculinity, and despite the knowledge of how his mannerisms were perceived, he explained to me that he was not in need of behavior modification to fit in. Indeed, he threatened to sue me for harrassment, and even slander if I persisted in such talk.
That situation taught me never to assume or accuse people of being this way or that way - unless I know for sure - and even then to leave it alone, especially as it applies to secular employment. Likewise, it is never an employer's job to advise or counsel an employee on personal issues, period. But I digress.
Evidently concerned pewsitters have a few issues with their priests not being masculine enough. I came across a post on WDTPRS asking "Should priests with effeminate manners work to correct them?" A reader posed the following question:
I hope you will not take this the wrong way but given certain sad realities of our time, do you think priests who are unusually effeminate in manner (e.g. speech) should work to minimize this aspect of their personality? Just the other day my wife’s friend told her she’s fairly certain her pastor is homosexual, but I have known of him for a number a years and am certain he is a holy, orthodox, priest. In fact, she also related how he alienated a good number of parishioners when he first came to their typically-liberal parish, which I take as a sign of his faithfulness.Father answered, "Yes."
Is it really our concern?
Once I read on another man's blog, (during the homo-priest scandal deal, fueled in part by the "Good Bye Good Men" scare) that he could tell that his priest was a homosexual - a big flaming fag. Either the blogger had great gaydar or he was making a rash judgement based upon the priest's 'manners and traits of speech.' Pity.
I know so many priests who have so-called effeminate traits it is not funny. But are all of them effeminate? Or are they refined, or perhaps, somewhat decorus? Liturgical, monastic decorum can sometimes appear as effeminate to some people. How does one differentiate? Discounting religious behavior, what if a priest struck a pose like Jack Benny one day when he was perplexed about a question - in front of some burly truckdriver with Jesse Ventura style sensibilities? See the contrast in personalities? I've known very good men with feminine characteristics; slight lisps, hissy esses, all the stereotypical mannerisms. It does not ever mean a man is gay or has homosexual inclination.
I will admit I have known priests who have effeminate characteristics which can be exaggerated when accompanied by humor or frivolity - in other words, they camp. Sometimes they carry on. That's an entirely different matter however, although even then it can be more closely related to habits of levity and loquaciousness. A while back I read a comment somewhere concerning a famous priest who began a religious house and the person inquiring into the life complained of the 'campy' humor and inside jokes between the two priests in the community. One priest was a convert from a protestant group where he had been a gay minister. I suppose in that case, there were perhaps grounds for the man's concern. Perhaps in such a case, that type of behavior can and probably should be modified, or better put, mortified.
However, when a man has been raised with good gender role models, made it through the incumbant peer pressure in school as a youth, and cleared all the hurdles and mastered all of the fine points of training and grooming in seminary, I expect that his demeanor and pattern of speech or vocal inflection as it is today, is pretty much an integral part of his temperament and personality. At the very least, I would compare it to a man who has a Southern accent - some men retain an accent, others don't. Nevertheless, there is no requirement to get rid of the accent - nor is it a necessity. And it shouldn't make a difference for his ministry.
Below are some reminders from the Catechism for myself and my readers to keep in mind when speculating and discussing the personal foibles of others.
2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury.278 He becomes guilty:
- of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;
- of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another's faults and failings to persons who did not know them;279
- of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.
2479 Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one's neighbor. Honor is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect. Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity.