Guercino, St. Sebastian Succoured by Two Angels(1617)
Oil on copper.
Bishops, priests and seminarians behaving badly ...
So. Now the 'scandal' of the 'forty gay Italian priests and seminarians' is going mainstream. DailyBeast has the best, albeit irreverent report on the matter, tracing the origins back to the Italian version of Drudge. The curious know the story by now. Unfortunately, the author at DailyBeast titles her tabloid piece, "Confessions of the Vatican's Favorite Male Escort
" - conveniently making this story out to be some sort expose of a clandestine, underground network of homosexual priests - as if it is part of business as usual in the Vatican. Indirectly, it's a story attempting to loosen up Catholic teaching on the non-approval of homosexual acts. It's also a story which feeds the conspiracy theories of anti-Catholic, anti-Francis Catholics.
Not too many years ago during the priest scandals, the boy's club of Sebastian's Angels
made the headlines - a loosely organized group of gay playboy priests. Hence the title of this post. Readers will remember that while the Bishop's scandal unfolded - the biggest, most scandalous story involved the double life of Fr. Maciel
, founder of the Legion of Christ. For years the Maciel's congregation denied the stories and vehemently assailed them as lies by supporters of the Legion and devotees of Maciel. Strikingly, Maciel was a favorite of St. John Paul II. Amazing. Then came Fr. Cutie
- the famous 'Fr. Oprah' priest, as well as the other EWTN priest defectors - not gay, not criminal, not corrupt - just unable to live the celibate life. In the past decade or so, there have been dozens of cases of priests living double lives - priests in important positions as well as ordinary parish priests. Gay
. Of course, there was also Fr. Corapi, whose case demonstrates it is not always just about sex either. Money is a necessary component in corruption.
Avoid greed in all its forms.
Salacious gossip makes great news. Years ago I would come up with anecdotes about gay priests and religious, sometimes agreeing there is a 'network' or 'gay mafia-lobby', other times disputing there is any type of serious organized, monolithic group. Celibate priests often have support groups, even those who are same-sex attracted may have a support group - a support group is not necessarily a network. They have friends, former students, and so on, who know them and whom they trust. Some may be corrupt, most are unlikely to be.
These types of stories are frequently exploited and cause alarm among believers and enemies of the Church. They are an anti-Catholic, anti-papist, anti-clerical dream come true. If the stories are true, then there needs to be a clean-up. It will happen, just as last Sunday's Gospel of the cleansing of the Temple assures us. If and when the pope knows about them, I'm quite certain he is doing something about them. Ordinarily, especially if it doesn't involve criminal activity, these things are handled privately, to avoid greater scandal.
Check and verify sources - even Catholic sites can be used to smear the Church.
Unfortunately, these stories are used to attack the Pope, Catholic teaching, and celibate priesthood. Moreover, these stories create panic over homosexuality in the priesthood, and not a few will believe it is their responsibility to out and expose priests and religious who may experience same sex attraction, yet live faithful, chaste and celibate lives. Others will use the story to lobby for homosexual causes.
These stories do not shock me or disturb me as they once did. Of course I'm always disappointed and dread the idea of a faithless priest and would hope he would leave the priesthood or be laicized, but it doesn't shake my faith. People online and journalists need to be very careful about editorializing stories like these, as well as repeating speculation regarding details not confirmed or rumored to be true. The stories themselves can be nearly as harmful as the acts. Some of us who have lived sinful lives tend to share too much and make rash judgments against others - we need to take our own conversion deeper and avoid judging or condemning others.
"Reflect that many are called and few are chosen and that, if you are not careful, your perdition is more certain than your salvation, especially since the path to eternal life is so narrow." - S. John of the Cross