Thursday, March 11, 2021

The Conversion of Milo Yiannopoulos

Who is he?

I don't know him.  I've heard of him, but I don't now a lot about him.  Never read his books, never heard his voice, I don't know him.

I know he grew up gay, had sex at an early age - otherwise molested, I guess.  At one time he defended man boy love, suggesting it was helpful to young lads.  Then he was denounced, fired from Brietbart, yet still maintained a following.  I called him a provocateur, others a fabulist, he's a writer, journalist, political celebrity, etc..  His celebrity is the result of sensationalist editorial-opinion, with a bit of white supremacist propaganda; politically he was the gay-Trump supporter, a Bannon cohort and so on.  Nothing about him I'd be interested in.  Not long ago he gave an interview to Michael Voris, who is credited with inviting Milo back to the sacraments and a chaste life, while Milo, invoking St. Augustine, said he wanted to - but not yet.

It appears the time has come.  (And Voris will get a crown.) In a sense Milo has always been a faithful Catholic, since he believes and accepts Catholic teaching on marriage and sexuality - and never expected the Church to change Her teachings just to make him feel comfortable and accepted. That's a faithful Catholic who lived in sin. Numerous gay/SSA men and women felt exactly the same way, and eventually returned to the sacraments.  Thus, instead of a conversion in the classic sense, it is more accurate at this point to say Yiannopoulos has returned to the sacraments.  The conversion thing is something time will reveal.  Saying, "I'm ex-gay, or quitting the life(style) doesn't necessarily mean 'conversion'.  Of course, in the monastic sense, there is the conversion of manners - therefore, this is a beginning.  In the gay sense that means to stop acting out, quitting the behavior and so on.  

Many are actively splitting hairs on what that means, but as the Church teaches, "Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection." - CCC Therefore, this latest development in Milo's life can be understood as a 'conversion' - but apparently, he has a long way to go.

John the Baptist pointed out a method of discernment for the penitent, "Give evidence you mean to repent."  Yiannopoulos still appears to hold some crazy ideas which link him to a very alt-right mindset. After all, he wrote "Diabolical: How Pope Francis Has Betrayed Clerical Abuse Victims Like Me—and Why He Has To Go" and along with Bannon, not only disagrees with the Franciscan Magisterium, but opposes it.

Currently, Milo's supporters have rallied to defend him against the 'leftists' and LGBTQ, who oppose the language of ex-gay and conversion therapy, a campaign Yiannopoulos seems to be promoting with his new image.  The more cynical simply see his conversion as a way to re-invent himself - which I would say could be part of a counter-Great Reset by ultra-right conservatives to grow their base.  I'm skeptical.  

Truth be told, I'm also hopeful, for Milo's sake.  Entrusting himself to St. Joseph is a good way to go.  I did that.  I begged St. Joseph to arrange things, which he did.  So, his dedication to St. Joseph is a good sign, although I still recommend caution.  Attacking liberals and Francis-Catholics is not a sign of peace, especially for a penitent.  Trials are sure to come, but they need to be be received with humility as purgative and reparative. Just today I read that Fr. Calloway's book on Consecration to St. Joseph, promoted by Milo, is apparently receiving negative reviews on Amazon as homophobic, due to Milo's assertion that he is now ex-gay because of it - and Calloway is concerned that his book may be banned.  I checked Amazon and saw no such thing - therefore even that story may be fake - to do damage to Calloway, or Yiannopoulos?

Yesterday I cautioned people supporting Milo, or better yet - those Catholic militants who wait for any and every opportunity to enter into battle with 'leftist-LGBTQ-Catholics' who question the conversion story, not to rush to canonize Yiannopoulos so fast.  On the other hand, there are those who really do question the announcement, the 'coming out' as ex-gay, because he still lives with his partner.  That's not at all unusual in conversion stories - but it creates a problem when people make the arrangement public.  The busybodies claim 'scandal' and don't know what they are talking about, even though they cite age old moral theology and spiritual direction manuals.  Some of the very best 'disinterested friendships' result from a partnership that was once intimate.  Conversion is about repentance and a reformation of one's life - a break with sin and sinful relations.  But I digress.  Unfortunately, Milo has literally thrown his pearls before swine, so he better be prepared for trials from both sides of the choir.

I hope for his sake - that is, the sanctification of his soul and eternal salvation - that he doesn't sensationalize his conversion, doesn't take it on the road, as it were, nor use it to gain a platform promoting his brand.  There is great gain in religion, provided one is content with a sufficiency - not star status.

Don't forget, Milo earns his living as a provocateur-sensationalist.  As I said on FB yesterday:

Just be careful - this is exactly the kind of story that could end up being one big hoax - to embarrass the Church, discredit proponents of Catholic teaching on sexuality, as well as the variety of pastoral ministry to LGBTQ-SSA persons - approved or unapproved by conservative Catholics. Late 19th Century France witnessed a scandal which rocked the Church and society. 

It's the story of Leo Taxil and Diana Vaughn.

Many had been deceived by the conversion story of Diana Vaughan, an impostor whose true persona was the anti-Catholic con-artist Leo Taxil.
Leo Taxil of course was a contemporary of St. Therese of Lisieux, who for a time had been taken in by his scam. Taxil had stunned European society with his conversion from Free-Masonry to Catholicism, and subsequent pamphlets detailing the evil Satanic sect within Masonry. (Read more.) Later he invented a persona named Dianah Vaughan, whom he claimed also converted, with startling details of the diabolic cult. Taxil, an anti-clerical free-thinker from the start, delighted in deceiving and mocking the Catholic Church; the Lisieux Carmel and as I mentioned, St. Therese just happened to be amongst those duped.
"This alleged conversion of Mr. Léo Taxil’s, which justly touched the Catholic world and the Free Thinking world, was but the prologue of a comedy, of an enormous farce in many acts, conceived and constructed by a hoaxer more inventive than concerned about his own dignity. This was the first step in that scenario:

"Act One: Simulations of repentance and of penitence, pious practices proper to edifying the clergy and to capture it’s full confidence. Diffusion of small books directed against FreeMasonry."

FreeMasonry was the boogie man then and still is - along with the homosexualist-panic.  I've often thought these scares could well be generated by enemies of the Church - within and without, and not always the most obvious suspects.  For instance, who is behind the Qanon conspiracy theories?  The far-right Trump movement?  The anti-Francis movement?  How about all those locutions and prophecies about diabolic delusion, huh?  Even the elect can be led astray.  Have we learned nothing from the Maciel case?  The Jean Vanier case?  The wonderful conversion and priesthood of Fr. Corapi?

As for Milo, as I said elsewhere, I hope he perseveres. The desire to be chaste may start out weak - or even just a prayer we hardly understand - but our desire grows as we pray. So I hope he understands the necessity of prayer to sustain him. Prayer is what conforms us to Christ and he is the one who restores and repairs our fallen nature. That's why I'm encouraged he consecrated himself to St. Joseph. Hopefully, like St. Joseph, he can avoid sensationalizing his conversion, and refrain from drawing attention to himself on account of it.  As if he's now all cleaned up and respectable and deserving of honor and praise.

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Persecuted priests.

St. Jerome had a reputation: "In Rome, Jerome never really got on with other clergy. He was somewhat irascible, dipping his pen rather more often into vinegar than honey. Jerome loved nothing so much as a good squabble, and argued bitterly and at great length with his critics and adversaries." - Don Marco.

On the other hand.

It isn't my fight, but for years I've followed Fr. Z with some interest, finding his apostolate rather mysterious - especially now since he is even more a free agent without an assignment.  Monks like that are considered gyrovagues and were not held in great esteem by stable monastics.  Fr. Pavone is apparently in the same situation.  Fr. Z seems to feel he was targeted and is a bit 'persecuted' - did he say persecuted?  Not sure, but it is my impression, esp. since he lost his position in the Madison diocese.

Recently Where Peter Is did a post pretty much in response to a challenge Fr. Z threw out, to come up with some sort of compendium in defense of Benedict's assertion there is only one pope, along with "a defense of all that Francis is, has said, and has done."  The WPI post: Fr. Z, Challenge Accepted.  Fr. Z thought the author was 'nasty'.  I didn't.

This after devoting his time online urging readers to go to Canon212 to participate in a poll regarding the question of 'one pope and who it is'.  An unscientific poll on a site at enmity with Pope Francis and mockingly critical of the Pope Emeritus.  Fr. Z apparently follows, endorses sites like that - as well as mad/rad-trad,  Ann Barnhardt.  He claims others call his attention to sites like these, and or articles which mention his blog, otherwise he wouldn't know about their existence.  Knowing how hands on he is with his online connections, or network, he knows who links to him and/or writes about him.  In his response to the Mike Lewis piece, he claims he never heard of him - yet he mentions him by name in a post dated 14 August 2020.  Just saying.

Anyway.  I'm not sure priests like this are persecuted per say, except to say they can be wounded in the culture wars, which they so vigorously engage in, and in some cases, profit from. (Polling and fund drives seem to be quite profitable for them.)  Fr. Z and others like him, go after priests and women religious they don't like or whom they deem liberal-progressive-heterodox-heretics, with a vengeance.  When the winds of criticism blows their way, they claim persecution and suffering verging on 'white martyrdom'.  It seems a bit disingenuous.

That said, Fr. Z more or less responded to the Mike Lewis post(s) on Where Peter Is, who took up Fr. Z's challenge for supporters of what Benedict said, as well as the fact that Francis is Pope, to "put together their own compendium as a defense of all that Francis is, has said, and has done."  Fr. Z didn't accept Lewis' response, because it wasn't a compendium - in book form.  Writing:

"Lewis: “Fr. Zuhlsdorf, we [sic] respond to your challenge with the work of this website.” “…with the work of this website”. Okay. But that isn’t a response to the challenge I issued." - Fr. Z Of gauntlets, spaghetti wall art, and St. Robert Bellarmine

We shall see what WPI's response is, but Lewis is correct, his entire website is dedicated to the support of the papacy of Pope Francis and the legitimacy of the retirement of Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI.  An endeavor conducted by faithful Catholic laymen in a time when some clerics have more or less rejected the legitimate authority of the Pope and Vatican II.