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Sex, Lies, and Celibate

St. Augustine's Legacy

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, February 27, 2002.

In the summer of 1970, I think it was, I was in a musical group that played for two weeks at the Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. We opened for Mark Russell, who was the ‘in’ act that year, long before he signed on to bore us with Tom Lehrer simulations on PBS. Russell was very funny and risqué with a drinking crowd, and he had many regulars at the showroom, including senators and famous journalists and the like. Among them were a bunch of priests from Georgetown - Jesuits all, I think - one of whom had a part in The Exorcist later on. The priests were, almost to a man, brilliant, funny as hell, and drinkers of the first rank. They radiated that goodness which is only given to the actually mature and emotionally centered and, well, good. They were also kind and supportive, cheerfully discussed my soon-to-be-wife and singing partner’s relationship with me (a big deal in 1970, we lived together before marriage), cast no aspersions, blessed us, applauded loudly, had a good time and made sure we did. I can safely say that if I have had more enjoyable companions or evenings in my life, I cannot recall them. My wife was charmed, therefore more charming than normal. She was blonde, blue-eyed, and Jewish, although like me an atheist, and she and I and the Catholic priests and, I think, a few young nuns recently granted lay clothing privileges, talked for hours about religion and sex. This was heady stuff, surrounded by Jean Dixon and powerful federal officials. I was drunk early on and recall little, except we solved the world’s problems and it was a good time. They came in several nights, paying the cover on a priest’s salary.

I say almost to a man. There were several among them who inspired revulsion at first sight and clammy handclasp. One in particular. He radiated otherness and evil. Although included in the conversation, the other priests hesitated before they addressed him, as if riffing through possible topics to avoid.

I read that in Boston, the Catholic Church is being made to fess up about housing, protecting and inflicting child molesters, perhaps physical rapists, on an initially naive and pliable public. One priest, now defrocked and in the hands of the secular forces, has admitted to over one hundred incidents through the years of damaging children and scaring them into silence about it. Cardinal Bernard Law was deeply involved in protecting this man and, no doubt, other men. They excuse this by saying that sinners need help and forgiveness, but given the Catholic Church’s stands on the same issues outside the priesthood, this is a lie. The Catholic pardon brigade has set about to put the best possible spin. They say - trying to head off the inevitable questions, answers, and solutions – that these men, mostly good, join the priesthood so that celibacy will cure them.

A break, please. Homosexual pedophiles join the priesthood because of the easy pickings. Celibacy is not a cure of anything, but a celebration of the power of the mind over body. It has long been understood that there is a large and powerful homosexual clique in the priesthood of the Catholic Church. It is understood because men who seek out the exclusive intimate company of other men would have to be, fatuous denials and detailed explanations echoing in their falsehood. In fact, even those religions who allow their spiritual leaders to marry – like, say, the Southern Baptists or Episcopalians – also suffer from an unpleasant number of their own being periodically charged at a frequency rate not below that of South American bus plunges. The Catholics have the added deleterious inspiration of celibacy for their spiritual shepherds, which is derived entirely from the lucubrations of Saul of Tarsus, a Varsity Sweater misogynist and who may be the poster child for this whole problem. Jesus is notably silent on such issues, other than encouraging the notion that children are foremost to him. Would they were to his church, which has protected itself at their expense for, well, centuries.

The FBI apparently discovered in the Second World War that Cardinal Spellman of New York was a voracious homosexual, as was Fitzgerald of Boston, and both may have been blackmailed. The Nazi’s probably blackmailed the Vatican into silence over the Holocaust, which would explain the convoluted and puzzling spins the Vatican has since sent out trying to forgive itself. The sin, except where it involves children and the powerless, is unimportant. The hypocrisy and deceit is overwhelmingly awful. Here in Boulder in recent decades, religious leaders living lifestyles at odds with their professed and richly compensated positions never received the judgments they deserved.

If there is a God and as such hates anything in creation, it must be canting hypocrisy and the violation of children and the helpless by those serving in God’s name.

The Catholic Church priesthood, dying because so few sign up to be celibate - and a significant portion of those who do are clearly not qualified - needs to come clean. Other religions, less bureaucratic, should make it easy for them by doing the same.

After all, based on FBI statistics, would you be better off sending your child to a summer camp run by Southern Baptists or the Catholic Church or one run by, say, some secular Gay and Lesbian Foundation. Which two of the three would you say had the highest number of sexually frustrated and dangerous people on its payroll? Why isn’t anything constructive being done about it? After all, this nation thrives on intoning “It’s all for the children.”

I wish you all could have met those Georgetown Jesuits; I miss them. But then, I miss my wife, as well. Age, I guess.

This is Dark Cloud.