I have to say that I’m really enjoying Andrew Sullivan’s weekly columns in New York Magazine. This new one has three absorbing bits, all of which are worth reading. (I’ll post about all of them if I have time today.)
The first is about the homosexuality that’s rife in the Vatican. Not that there’s anything wrong with being gay, but the Vatican’s homosexuality is hypocritical in view of the Church’s stand on homosexuality, and it’s not only bred corruption, but also clearly promoted the pedophilia of many priests and led to the coverups at higher levels.
Read and weep.
Martel, the author of the book that Sullivan discusses below, is gay, and not only do the Catholics in the Vatican readily tell him about the sexual morass there, but hit on Martel himself. It’s astonishing how open they are.
Here’s an excerpt of the Vatican stuff, but read all of Sullivan’s column:
I spent much of this week reading and trying to absorb the new and devastating book by one Frédéric Martel on the gayness of the hierarchy at the top of the Catholic Church, In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy. It’s a bewildering and vast piece of reporting — Martel interviewed no fewer than “41 cardinals, 52 bishops and monsignori, 45 apostolic nuncios, secretaries of nunciatures or foreign ambassadors, 11 Swiss Guards and over 200 Catholic priests and seminarians.” He conducted more than 1,500 interviews over four years, is quite clear about his sources, and helps the reader weigh their credibility. He keeps the identity of many of the most egregiously hypocritical cardinals confidential, but is unsparing about the dead.
The picture Martel draws is jaw-dropping. Many of the Vatican gays — especially the most homophobic — treat their vows of celibacy with an insouciant contempt. Martel argues that many of these cardinals and officials have lively sex lives, operate within a “don’t ask, don’t tell” culture, constantly hit on young men, hire prostitutes, throw chem-sex parties, and even pay for sex with church money. How do we know this? Because, astonishingly, they tell us.
. . . Yes, there are times when Martel overdoes it a bit. But it’s completely understandable. As a secular gay journalist, not hostile to the church, he walked into the Vatican and was simply staggered by its obvious gayness. No gay neighborhood has existed like this in the West since the 1980s.
. . . The revelations keep coming, page after page. For example: Martel explains how two of John Paul II’s favorite cardinals — whose nicknames within the Vatican are Platinette (after a drag queen) and La Mongolfiera — set up an elaborate and elite prostitution service that continued through the papacy of Benedict XVI, and was financed from the Vatican coffers. We know this through police records from the eventual criminal proceedings, where the actual ringleaders remained anonymous and without charges, because of the Vatican’s diplomatic immunity.
Sullivan goes on to recount some of the incidents described in Martel’s book, and it’s pretty horrifying—even worse and more hypocritical than I ever suspected. And yet Sullivan is still a Catholic! Go figure. He agonizes, yet he still goes to Mass and prays. Why? What kind of God would allow this kind of behavior to take place in his very own church: the true religion, or so Sullivan thinks and professes?
As for me, someone who has wrestled with the question of homosexuality and Catholicism for much of my adult life, this book has, to be honest, been gutting. All the painful, wounding Vatican documents on my “objective disorder” that I have tried to parse and sincerely engage … I find out they were written, in part, by tormented gay men, partly to deflect from their own nature. Everything I was taught growing up — to respect the priests and hierarchs, to trust them, to accept their moral authority — is in tatters. To realize that the gay closet played a part in enabling the terrible, unimaginable abuse of the most vulnerable is a twist my psyche is having a hard time absorbing. Reading this long book, I found myself falling asleep not because it was boring. Au contraire. In some way, my psyche just couldn’t take any more. My mind and body kept shutting down.
I went to Mass last Sunday to pray about this. . .
Mass? Prayer? I can understand Sullivan meditating and thinking about this, but why does he have to do it in a Catholic church? And, unless I miss my guess, in Mass you have to do more than just sit there and pray; you have to do genuflections and professions and sometimes nom a wafer.
I really cannot fathom why Sullivan not only remains a Catholic, but why he still believes in God. It no longer surprises me when a smart and thoughtful person believes in religious hooey, but to believe in religious hooey that makes a mockery of one’s own sexuality and of the Church itself, and leads to the sexual abuse of children? It makes no sense. It’s almost like a Jew remaining a member of the Nazi party after he discovers what it’s about. You may think that’s exaggerated, but Sullivan’s own Church has damned him to the Eternal Crematorium for practicing homosexual acts.
Perhaps Sullivan has explained his continuing Catholicism elsewhere, but I haven’t seen it. In truth, my emotions about this are not only uncomprehension, but deep pity. The man has wrestled with this issue for so long, and yet his god has not answered.
Andrew, if you’re reading this, please explain. You seem rational and I have a lot of respect for your intelligence, your critical analysis, and your writing. Yet you continue to adhere to a superstition that’s not only unevidenced, but positively malign. The god you believe in has allowed your church to behave this way, to demonize gays, and to molest children. Surely you don’t think that all this perfidy will be made right in heaven, do you? Isn’t it easier to give up belief in this malignant Catholic god and just embrace humanism? We will welcome you, and we’re not a den of pederasts—nor do we condemn homosexuality or consider gay sex a grave sin that will damn you forever. There will be nothing more for you to agonize about if you just let go of the Church.