McGreevey’s Confession

Posted by Censor Librorum on Sep 22, 2006 | Categories: Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way

The next book I plan to read is Jim McGreevey’s autobiography, “The Confession.” What an appropriate title for a coming out story of a fellow Irish-Catholic New Jerseyan! He comes clean on sins, lies, and an assortment of sordid misdoings, including truck stop sex, and screwing around when his wife was recovering from giving birth to their daughter.

Rather than go quietly along with an ex-lover’s request for hush money, Governor McGreevey came out on August 12, 2004 with his “I am a gay American” speech. He outed the ex-lover at the same time, which I thought was savage justice. The ex-lover skipped town ahead of the press, and headed back to Israel, where he denied all, and said McGreevey sexually harassed him.

Standing with McGreevey while he gave his famous speech were his wife–who I thought was a class act–and his parents, neither of whom looked proud or happy, particularly his father. But, to give them the credit and praise they deserve, they stood by their son at the moment of his greatest shame and disaster. That was the most moving tribute of parental love and loyalty; and, in my mind, showed the best the Irish can be. When the chips are down, count on us to stand with you.

I remember watching his father, as McGreevey pasted on his politician’s smile and got through his speech. It brought to mind my own father, another old tough Marine, who was devastated when I gave him the news I was gay. My father told me he cried twice in his life: when his mother died, and when I came out. And, like McGreevey’s father, my dad told me I was both brave and foolhardy to be a lesbian activist. “The kid is doing what he feels is right,” said Jack McGreevey about the book, “It’s a courageous act on his part. Perhaps a little foolish, but still…”

When I heard the title of McGreevey’s book, “The Confession,” it took me back to my own times in the confessional. Kneeling in the quiet dark, waiting for the screen to open, I would take stock of my weekly tally of sins. I confessed all–not because I believed in my heart they were sins, but because I was told they were. I was sorry, not because I thought most of them were so bad, but because I was taught and believed that the worst thing that can happen is to be away from God. Sins separated us from God, and the way we could make the path to God clear, and ourselves whole, was through confession. There is no feeling like that of a 10 or 11 year old after receiving communion; feeling clean and pure with the wonder of the knowledge that God is with her,in her heart.

Perhaps it is a little like that for Governor McGreevey–separated from God, separated from himself, he finally made a confession to come clean. Once done, and penance served, forgiveness received, he can walk through the doors and start over.
The Catholic Church, if nothing else, is a believer in fresh starts.

As part of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I hope Jim McGreevey found it in his heart to forgive those on the other side of the screen–the institutional Church–its teachers, leaders and clergy, for the lies he was encouraged to live; the moral compromises he was pressured to make; the pain he suffered, and, by extension, the hurts he caused others, for the sake of maintaining a position on homosexuality that is based on nothing in the Gospels or Christ’s message. McGreevey found his way home, I believe, when the moral vacuum of his life left him with nothing, and he rediscovered what a 10 year old knows: life without God is no life at all, and that you cannot lie and have God live in your heart.

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2 Responses to “McGreevey’s Confession”

  1. Jordan Says:

    We had a group of people over after Rosh Hashonah services on Saturday. The discussion turned to McGreevey, and to a man-and there were about half men there and one Irish Catholic man-they all were critical and felt that he should have stayed and fought and instead took the cowards way out.
    I was interested because I saw him on Oprah and didn’t know what to make of him, but didn’t like all the god talk and what was that 12 step talk referring to. He seemed kind of mealy mouthed and unpleasent.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Jordan, I don’t know what to tell you. The few people I discussed McGreevey with all felt he was a corrupt politician and an opportunist in re: to the gay thing; the book and publicity was less of a mission than a way to be a celebrity and stay in the limelight. You all may be right and I’m wrong (not new!), but I believe he is sincere in most of what he’s saying. I’m not sure why I took the tack with him that I did–it just came out that way. Karen

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