Several years ago, an American Archbishop flew me and a handful of prominent gay Christians to his diocese to consult ahead of the World Meeting of Families with Pope Francis. Most of us had done graduate studies in theology or philosophy, and all of us provided perspectives coming out of a “traditional Christian sexual ethic.”
In the previous four posts I discussed the Freudian commitments of the Catholic ministry Courage, how the model of Courage may present opportunities for abuse, and why so many Catholics remain committed to Courage. Given all these problems, what are we do to?
For these last two reasons, the clergy abuse crisis is highly instructive. One should recall that prior to the Boston Globe‘s coverage, the psychologist Richard Sipe was ignored, renounced, and/or vilified by Catholic bishops and other leaders for his claims about the prevalence of abuser-priests.
In the 1990’s Fr. Harvey advised bishops on rehabilitating abuser-priests. He likely transferred his “expertise” in clergy reorientation into his ministry for those with same-sex attraction. However well intentioned he may have been in that former work, he was terribly, terribly wrong.
I had a friend in college who held the view that no one would commit to celibacy unless he or she didn’t like sex. So the friend asserted that people with such a commitment were just people who didn’t like sex.
Certainly John Paul II wrote forcefully against the distortions of Freud’s anthropology. But even so, the pastoral approaches to homosexuality presented by many prominent “orthodox” Catholics were and are distinctly Freudian.
Father Check, former president of Courage International, responded to a question on “celibate gay couples” or “celibate gay friendships”. To summarize his remarks, he voiced concerns over the question of “exclusivity.”
In this respect, Catholic publications, and Catholic “ministries,” can be especially bad. They promote a “type” of Catholic for their purposes, and anyone else just feels kind of out of place.
Some have argued against developing a language at all when it comes to these issues. Father Check’s remarks can be seen as working along this vein, as well as the 2014 essay by Michael Hannon, “Against Heterosexuality.”
“Gay” is a silly term. That narrow category misses the complexity of the human experience. And given the way that language grows and develops over time, I don’t think it will last the century.