Friday, January 13, 2012

Walk like a man.

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.

Another story.

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.



  1. Especially in light of this point, the one just below about "blondes" struck me as off the mark.

  2. Very well said, Terry. Thank you.

  3. Good post, Terry.

    I've known of a number of Indian priests - "East Indian" - solid, orthodox-teaching Indian priests, who had inflections and mannerisms that could be construed in those ways, but that's just simply the way they talked and acted. So we get them to start talking like big burly men and that's supposed to make us feel more comfortable?

  4. Sorry: "supposed to make us feel more comfortable because we think then that we're avoiding the likelihood of scandal?"

  5. Sorry: "get them to start talking er...differently than the way they presently talk..."

  6. Fr Z said;
    "But, yes. I think a priest who comes to realize that people may be thinking he is homosexual because of his manners and traits of speech should undertake the arduous work to correct them."

    I am obviously from another planet because I would say, what the hell are parishoners doing, thinking such thoughts regarding their priest anyway? What if you don't like your priest's hairstyle, or dress sense/code? Or maybe his hands are offensive, the fingers too short for holding the host in a reverent manner (reverent according to each individual parishoner's idea of reverent).

    My response would be "You have the problem, not your priest, so you own it and you deal with it"

    The Catholic blogging community is becoming ruddy ludicrous in some of it's discussions regarding the goody two shoe types sensitivities at Mass. Do they ever just shut their eyes and focus on God? Or has evey Mass attendance become a scout around to find topics to email Fr Z and other critics with tales of wrong doings (albeit imagined possibly)?

    St Paul advises in his letter to the Phillipians Ch4 V8

    8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

    What the heck do non-christians imagine the 'Good News' actually is?
    What are we proclaiming to the world with such thoughts? Any homosexual person trying to find their place in the Church must feel so ostracized and treated as if any sign that a fellow Catholic may be homosexual must be stamped out but we love you and are sensitive and compassionate towards you, but more sensitive to our own likes and preferences. You want in, it's conditional, you have to work at walking and talking how we tell you(once we've checked with Fr Z).

    This is terrible, to me. Truly sinful as well.

    Fake it to make it eh? I say 'fek it' (Irish swearing) to that!

  7. Beautifully expressed, shadowl. And absolutely right.

  8. I agree Shadowlands.

  9. Terry Nelson said: "It is no one's business if a man or woman is straight or gay."

    No, no, no Terry, there is no "straight" or "gay" remember? We're all just children of God! No labels. Bad.

    Ace ;-)

  10. Ace - you are absolutely right! Thanks. Good call.

  11. First year in the seminary we had a couple of formation sessions on effeminate behaviour. I thought it was spot on. It was a little pointed, as a few in the place were starting to piss some of the boys off by, as you say Terry, "camping it up". This is the issue Fr Z addressed it seems, yet by the end of your post you had narrowed it down to one's accent, which Fr Z's reader cited as only ONE EXAMPLE of more general behaviour.

  12. I agree - I know people who have mannerisms like that, and it usually means nothing. I hate it when people assume things like that.

    What is the vice of levity or loquaciousness? Does it mean that silly humor and joking around and being talkative are sins? Certainly lots of saints thought laugher and joking were evil. Should I not kid and joke around with friends and family (and obviously I'm not talking about immodest or impure jokes, or gossipy behavior - of course that is wrong)?

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  14. Excellent post, Terry. But what of those who do want to correct certain effeminate mannerisms, do you think it's really possible and should one such a person really peruse it?

    I think St. Thomas Aquinas said that part of the virtue of modesty is to conform one's outwards appearance and actions to right reason and proper decorum. In the Summa he quotes St. Amrobose approvingly: "The sound of the voice and the gesture of the body are distasteful to me, whether they be unduly soft and nerveless, or coarse and boorish. Let nature be our model; her reflection is gracefulness of conduct and beauty of honesty." -- if one is effeminate to the point of it being distracting and off putting to others, I don't think there's anything really wrong in pursing some effort in correct it. *shrug*

  15. Certain Catholics seem to be imagining themselves witnesses for the celestial prosecution, collecting evidence for other people's Judgment Days. The bad news is, it's their own behaviour and attitudes at Mass that they will be called to give an account of, not other people's. But the cruel critiquers mission, at Mass is not the worship of God, it is the worship of rituals performed, perfectly.

    If any deviation is spotted, notes are taken. Then the evidence is collected, collated and sent to the celebrity online judge, for his decision. It's completely farcical. Fr Z is hardly 'so macho' to me, that he can tell other men how to 'act' (if you're old and infirm, as well as gay, please die soooon)but maybe as he says, it's hard to see how we come across to others. I gotta go post a song by Sinnita...........I know why people dislike Catholics now. I didn't when I first joined blogger, I thought they were just predjudiced, they're not. It's our problem, how we come across is how we actually are. I would run a mile if I thought Catholic blogger as a whole represented Catholicism today. Thank God, it doesn't.

  16. The Tridentine Mass seems to not have the sissy problem.

    Search youtube for Tridentine Masses, and you find no limp wrists.

    The Tridentine Mass not only forms Catholics, it forms men.


  17. Excellent post Terry.
    Having read read some terrible examples of self-righteous, narrow minded bigotry-totally lacking in anything that remotely resembles charity or compassion- on some blogs during the last few weeks. I imagine that any Gay person even contemplating religion would run in the other direction.

    Some so called 'traditional blogers' who not only think they speak for God, but they are God, should be ashamed of what they write. Bigotry breeds hatred and is no great advert for the Catholic Church.

    We are all aware of the teaching of the church, we also know that only God can judges us. As for Fr. Z, well, unless someone died and made him Secretary to the CDF, why should we hang on his every word.
    Catholic blogers have a responsibility, priestly blogers more so. Spread the good news by all means, bring souls to The Lord absolutely, but Calumny, gossip, the destruction of reputations and the spreading of malicious hatred towards our hierachy, fellow Catholics, and anyone who does not generally agree with us well, that is the Devil's work!

  18. As we all know certain "effeminate" traits do not mean that a man is a homosexual. Some homosexuals hardly have these things. There is one priest in particular who appears on EWTN who is - sorry - hilarious because of these things, always brushing down his habit and turning his head in a certain manner. However, he is a holy man. Maybe he needs to tone it down a bit.
    I have known another priest who was VERY given to this kind of thing. I do not believe he is gay either.
    St. Ambrose did not like "mincing" clergy, and it seems fairly important to me that the masculinity of the priest should be reasonably evident, but I wonder if, these days, we are not overreacting. There is more to say-of course-but in a way, the less said the better.

  19. Thanks for your good advice Fr. Aberton - it is much needed. God bless you.

  20. I was a bit zealous in cleaning up this morning and so if you are missing a comment or two, that is why. God bless you!

  21. Sorry Terry, but when I read the heading for this post, "Walk like a man..." that old '80s song, "Walk Like an Egyptian" started going through my head.
    That said, I agree with Shadowlands and the others, we need to take care of our own behavior, and not worry about how others come across.

  22. Melody - I used the title with Frankie Vali and the Four Seasons in mind. I like Walk Like an Egyptian though - now I'm visualizing Steve Martin...

  23. My comment seems to have gotten swept out with the trash, so I'll repost if that's ok Terry...

    Looks can be deceiving and work the other way too. I knew a couple of uber-masculine, butch type priests, both of who I subsequently found out were gay (separately, not together!), and no one would ever have guessed.

    I like Shadowlands advice the best. If you don't like how your priest looks, acts, sounds, walks, etc., close your eyes, put your head down and pray--that's why you're there anyway. It works, I've done it plenty of times.

    And tattling to Fr. Zhe over coffee isn't helpful either. The man's got enough to worry about trying to keep the birds fed and the electronics in working order. ;-) Ace

  24. Pablo, are you serious?

    Homosexuality (and alcoholism and obsessive masturbation, porn addiction, wife beating, etc.) are not rite specific. GEEZ!

    As it is, I think ALOT of TRAD men I've met are extremely effeminate, and thus, their attraction to high speech, lacey cassocks, chant, and bells/whistles.

    I've see Pablo's comments like this before. At times I wonder if it's all a joke, but since I have no evidence to the contrary, I take it serious.

    As concerns tattling to Father Z, I would guess that 50% of all his email consists of "tattling" (i.e. bitching about novus ordo-y type stuff.) The questions people write in with sometimes - I'm just reading them, thinking, "Get a life! Worried about if the fish you are was fried in beef oil? Wow! Meanwhile, there's a guy down the street who's homeless."

  25. I actually agree to a certain extent with Pablo's comment.

    Some TM priests (like other priests) are what one might call "superficially delicate". It's a being available to a wide range of people, sort of a resemblance to the way Christ comes to us under the utterly meek species of bread. But you push against them in the least and will find a solid rock.

    St. Paul was the scarily powerful writer of letters, and when he came among one of the group of people to whom he had been writing (I forget, the Thesoloneans?) their suspicions were aroused against him because of his extremely meek bearing amongst them.

    The TM is generally speaking more conducive to producing solid men in a way that goes beyond mannerisms.

  26. But I don't absolutely believe that. LOL.

  27. Mr. Stillwell,

    Yes, in that vernacular is the way I intended it.

    The Tridentine Mass makes Catholics.

    Point blank.

    Here is a video from Saint Canticus Church in Chicago:

    Look at the men and women in the pews; God bless them.

    And may God bless everyone that they may obtain Heaven through Christ our Lord.

    God bless you, Mr. Stillwell.


  28. "...Certain Catholics seem to be imagining themselves witnesses for the celestial prosecution, collecting evidence for other people's Judgment Days...."

    Collecting evidence is Satan's job, and he is good at it.

    We all must act as if today were our Judgment Day; if we do not encourage souls to repentance, we will not be saved.

    Judas Iscariot used to look upon everything Christ did and whine and complain about it...

    What did Christ do?

    He gave Judas every opportunity to repent, before and after his treachery.

    Much as we would like to condemn every good thing, Virtue is upon those who see through the eyes of Christ, and take the rough, narrow path; Charity, without which we cannot enter Heaven.


  29. Thanks for the video Pablo. God bless you and yours.

  30. Ha! I knew Mercury would be thinking the same thing I was: What is the vice of levity or loquaciousness? I don't suffer from scruples, but I find that rooting out the more subtle vices can really effect your life in a good way. I have a lot of sisters and we are notoriously silly and giggly, and I have always suspected this isn't always a good thing. I mean, people are almost universally annoyed by people who talk or giggle too much, so there must be something inherently "unjust" about it. I request a post on this.

  31. I used the term vice as regards levity and loquaciousness in so far as I understood it related to the vice of effeminacy - perhaps I'm mistaken to connect the two, or to say these traits are actual vices - though I've always thought of them thus - especially since the Rule of St. Benedict references them quoting the Scripture, "The fool lifts up his head in laughter" and so on. Therefore as far as religious decorum goes, I think these tendencies would be considered at the very least, imperfections.

    I wonder if they may also be vices opposed to temperance? I can't recall.

    Frequently - effeminate persons - which term I use not to spot homosexuals, but rather to denote an inclination to delicacy and timidity - exhibit tendenicies to levity, talkativesness, along with vanity and other characteristics.

    That said, I believe the effeminate person is not necessarily homosexual - since women too can possess effiminate traits. Anyway - that is why I am opposed to such rash judgment as regards a priest, that is, assuming he is homosexual simply based upon ones observation of what may simply be a personlity and or character defect of little or no consequence.

    Alas - as you see, I'm no expert and my post was simply a reaction, nothing more than a comment on Z's post, which was not open to comments even if I were able to comment there. I disagreed with his post... and I think I lost. LOL!

    I'm doing a new post today to demonstrate.

  32. Yes, buy tge Rule of St Benedict condemns laughter and telling jokes. I know these things have a time and place, but tge Fathers seem to indicate that laughter an joking around are always sinful, or at least imperfections. How can this be, when so much of friendship, so much of living life is just laughing together, telling old stories, etc? Does God really hate such things?

    I mean, I think of how we in my family remember those who died with funny stories and laughter. Is this evil? Is it evil to kid around with ones friends and family?

    So humorlessness and utter seriousness are virtues?

  33. Sorry Merc, didn't mean to get you going - I know where you're coming from.

    I think Terry is right about it being more about temperance. We would feel a natural repulsion watching someone shove a dozen Twinkies in their mouth, or getting falling down drunk, even though eating and drinking are good, normal, and necessary. Likewise there is something undignified about an adult acting like a buffoon or rudely talking someone's ear off, even though laughing and talking are good, normal, and necessary.

  34. I think undue levity (cackling like a jackass, and at your own jokes no less) is probably what the Rule of St. Benedict means (at least I hope it does). Terry, I really like your post and agree with your take on this issue. I do think, however, that if a person who is decorous/gentrified/somewhat lispy (and either OSA or SSA) is a candidate for religious life, it would behoove him to widen his experience and openness to more 'traditionally manly' pursuits for the sake of being all things to all people. A candidate for the religious life who can't talk sports w/the guys in our culture may not necessarily find himself drawing men to God.

  35. Merc - I think every thing has its proper place and time - so when father's on the altar being dramatic and acting like Rip Taylor, he maybe should tone it down. Likewise when he's at a parish function and acts like he's in a gay bar, he should tone it down then too.

    I worked in a religious goods store and know what I'm talking about as regards the flamboyant ones - lol! Not that I think they are gay or anything. I also know some quiet manly types who have it all under control - who are.

    But I'm doing a post now and I guess St. Thomas felt it is important the way a priest comports himself and therefore pretty much cancels out my point.

  36. DoughBoy - How 'bout those Packers, huh?

  37. "spit / grab" damn straight! lol

  38. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

  39. "...“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust..."

    Do we see a man on fire and not rush to his aid?

    Likewise we should come even more quickly to the aid of poor sinners; the fires of Hell do not need any more souls than they already have.

    You judge the sin, not the sinner, and you try your best with God's grace and prayers and penance on behalf of the sinner.

    What you quote is a tool the Devil uses to stop lazy Catholics from helping the poor sinners.

    In our time more than ever before, the chief strength of the wicked lies in the cowardice and weakness of good men... All the strength of Satan’s reign is due to the easy-going weakness of Catholics. Oh! If I might ask the Divine Redeemer, as the prophet Zachary did in spirit:

    What are those wounds in the midst of Thy hands?

    The answer would not be doubtful:

    With these was I wounded in the house of them that loved Me. I was wounded by My friends, who did nothing to defend Me, and who, on every occasion, made themselves the accomplices of My adversaries.

    And this reproach can be leveled at the weak and timid Catholics of all countries.

    Pope St. Pius X, Discourse he pronounced on December 13, 1908 at the Beatification of Joan of Arc.


  40. You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

  41. The Scribes and Pharisees never for an instant considered themselves Hypocrites, only all others.

    They refuse to see, even when Christ called them blind;

    For your edification.



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