Posted in category "Faith"

J.F. Powers Priest Stories

Posted by Censor Librorum on Dec 26, 2013 | Categories: Accountability, Arts & Letters, Faith, Humor

powers

A found these gems in a review by Joseph Epstein of Suitable Accommodations: An Autobiographical Story of Family Life: The Letters of J. F. Powers, 1942-1963.  The book was edited by his eldest daughter, Katherine Powers.  His droll humor is a dead-ringer for my father’s:  “Let me be a lesson to you,” Powell admonished author Robert Lowell, from his house full of children, “stay single.”

“Powers tells a straight story, usually in an enclosed space. In some cases his priests never leave the parish, or even the rectory. They do their jobs, dealing as best they can with bishops, curates, housekeepers, pets and parishioners. They are fond of food and sometimes too fond of drink or perhaps both. Crises of conscience occasionally arise, but it is the quotidian detail, the daily rhythm of priestly life, the absorbs and fascinates in Power’s fiction. As Father Joe Hackett tells his young curate: This (the Catholic Church) is a big old ship, Bill. She creaks, she rocks, she rolls, and at times she makes you want to throw up. But she always gets where she’s going. Always has, always will, until the end of time.’

Power’s fiction met with criticism from Catholics who preferred their priests more saintly. But his priests are utterly believable with their flaws and down-to-earth observations. Here is Father Hackett’s summation on priesthood:  “It was still a job–a marrying, burying, sacrificing job, plus whatever good could be done on the side. It was not a crusade. Turn it into one, as some guys were trying to do, and you asked too much of it, of yourself, and of ordinary people, invited nervous breakdowns all around.”

 

 

 

 

 

The Pope on Gays: “Who am I to judge?”

Posted by Censor Librorum on Jul 31, 2013 | Categories: Faith, Lesbians & Gays, Popes

This has been a stunner of a week.  I’m still reeling.

It started with the closing of World Youth Day 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, where  Pope Francis’ closing Mass on Copacabana beach drew an estimated three million participants.  Many of them were enthusiastic young people.  He encouraged them to go home and shake things up, “make a mess.”

He set the first example.

On a plane back to Rome from his triumphant trip to Rio, Pope Francis chatted with journalists for over an hour.  There were no handlers or intermediaries, just plain-spoken remarks.  ap_pope_francis_ll_130729_16x9_992

He was asked about gay priests and gay Catholics.

Gay people should be integrated into society instead of ostracized, Pope Francis told journalists. Answering a question about reports of homosexuals in the clergy, the pope answered, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

One question centered on recent reports in Italian media that accused the Vatican Bank’s Monsignor Battista Ricca of having an affair with a Swiss Army captain. In response, Francis said he looked into the reports but found nothing to support the allegations.

The pope also used the occasion to expand on his June remarks about a “gay lobby” in the Vatican, clarifying that “he was against all lobbies, not just gay ones,” the Italian news agency reports.

“Being gay is a tendency. The problem is the lobby,” ANSA quotes the pontiff saying. “The lobby is unacceptable, the gay one, the political one, the Masonic one.”

The pope’s view of gays is being seen as diverging from his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. Benedict signed a document in 2005 that said men with deep-rooted homosexual tendencies should not be priests. Francis was much more conciliatory, saying gay clergymen should be “forgiven and their sins forgotten.”

“The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well,” Francis said, according to . “It says they should not be marginalized because of this but that they must be integrated into society.”

During the news conference on the 12-hour flight home, the pope was also asked about women’s role in Catholicism.

Pope Francis reiterated that the Church will not ordain female priests, saying that the stance was “definitive.” But he also said that the question of how to reflect the importance of women had not yet been answered fully.

“It is not enough to have altar girls, women readers or women as the president of Caritas,” he said. “Women in the church are more important than bishops and priests,” he said, in the same way that “Mary is more important than the apostles.”

Conservative and ultra orthodox Catholics, once they regained consciousness, attempted to spin the Pope’s words by asserting what he actually meant was in defense of Catholic teaching on homosexuality and chastity.

Too late.

 

 

 

 

 

A Prayer for Catholic Enlightenment by Cardinal Newman

Posted by Censor Librorum on Mar 30, 2012 | Categories: Arts & Letters, Faith, Humor

I found this prayer and commentary on the blog “Enlightended Catholicism.” I have a copy of it pinned near by my desk. Whenever my soul needs a lift I read it and smile.

Prayer For Catholic Enlightenment by Cardinal Newman

Prayer for the Light of Truth

O my God, I confess that You can enlighten my darkness. I confess that You alone can. I wish my darkness to be enlightened.

I do not know whether You will: but that You can and that I wish, are sufficient reasons for me to ask, what You at least have not forbidden my asking.

I hereby promise that by Your grace which I am asking, I will embrace whatever at length feel certain is the truth, if ever I come to be certain.

And by Your grace I will guard against all self-deceit which may lead me to take what nature would have, rather than what reason approves.

Addition by blog author:  Dear God, please help me understand the above prayer. I know you can, if you so will it and haven’t forbidden it. I sort of think so anyway. Seriously.


 

 

Father Dollar Bill

Posted by Censor Librorum on Dec 8, 2011 | Categories: Celebrities, Faith, Saints

Fr. Maurice Chase died on November 20, 2011 at his Los Angeles home of cancer.   He was 92.   Fr. Chase started his life as a “society priest” and ended it on Skid Row.   “I love it,” he said. “God has given me the happiest part of my life at the end.”

Nearly every Sunday morning, Thanksgiving and Christmas for almost three decades, the man they called Father Dollar Bill, Father Dollar or just D.B. for Dollar Bill showed up on a Skid Row sidewalk. Clad in a Notre Dame hat and a red sweater over his clerical collar, Father Dollar Bill would hand out crisp, new one dollar bills along with a handshake and a  blessing. Father Dollar Bill was a hugely popular figure on Skid Row.   Hundreds would gather each week to await his arrival, in a line that sometimes stretched for blocks. “He was just a glorious man,” said Beverly Taylor, who lived on Skid Row for decades. “He was just always there.”

Father Maurice Chase didn’t mind what name the destitute, penniless, homeless  and addicts called him.   He didn’t care how they spent the money. Nor was he bothered by criticism by other Skid Row service providers–that he was a self-promoting publicity hound whose cash assistance had little impact on the people who gathered to receive his dollar, handshake, blessing or hug.

Beginning in the 1980s, Father Chase gave out untold numbers of bills, about $3,000 each week. Almost all of them were ones, although to some he would offer larger notes, especially on holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas. On holidays the total he handed out could rise to $15,000.

Some social service workers critcized Fr. Chase’s brand of charity, saying it had little impact. “I think his desire to bring people love was true, and can certainly be modeled by the rest of us,” said the Rev. Andy Bales, chief executive of the Union Rescue Mission. “But the last thing people on the street need is cash. A lot of people took the money and spent it in unhealthy ways.” People who waited in line for a donation often told Fr. Chase how they planned to spend the money.   Many bought hamburgers, ice cream and other treats they couldn’t get at the shelters.

Fr. Chase acknowledge that in a neighborhood where drug abuse and untreated mental illness were common, a single dollar could not get someone off the street. But the money, he said, was not the point. He said what mattered was letting people know they weren’t invisible and that they were loved by God. “I’m out here to tell people  I love them and God loves them,”  he said. While he wasn’t afraid of potential trouble,  a L.A. police officer quietly stood by in case of any problems.

“Maury Chase planted his feet right on the sidewalk, the last place on earth where  the poorest of the poor live,” said Alice Callaghan, founder of the Skid Row advocacy center Las Famillas del Pueblo. “He didn’t attempt to single out the undeserving poor from the deserving poor. I’m sure he handed out money to thieves. But it wasn’t the dollar that mattered. It was the gift of human love.”

Fr. Chase began every trip to Skid Row with a prayer about serving the poor: “When you have done it to the least of men, you have done it to me.” Then he prepared the stacks of new dollar bills he had withdrawn from the bank earlier. “Everything is so dirty on Skid Row. I want to give them something new and fresh.” Fr. Chase said he always made sure to look each person in the eye. “By my looking into their eyes, I’m saying you have dignity, you’re a human being, you are made in the image and likeness of God.”

Fr. Maury Chase began his street ministry when he was a fund raising assistant to the president of Loyola Marymount   University.   His job was to persuade potential donors to write checks to the university. Through his friendship with actress Irene Dunne, he   hit the Los Angeles party circuit and became known as “the society priest.” He was frequently mentioned in social columns. He provided photos and information to the editors at the Los Angeles Times to help the paper prepare its society columns.

He came up with his Skid Row charity after contemplating the instructions of Loyola Marymount’s president, Father Donald P. Merrifield, who hired him in 1985. Fr. Merrifield told him, “I’m sending you out among the rich and famous.   You better have a balance in your life.”

So, after every society event, Fr. Chase would send letters to potential donors he’d meet, telling them how wonderful the party was. Then he pointed out that many people were less fortunate and needed their help.   He often received letters back that included a check for the priest’s Skid Row ministry. After awhile, he began soliciting donations from wealthy benefactors including Bob & Dolores  Hope, Frank  Sinatra, Merv Griffin, Vin Scully, Bob Newhart, Jackie Autry, Rick Caruso  and many others.

At a Thanksgiving dinner on Skid Row put on by the Los Angeles Mission word spread  that Father Dollar Bill had died. “Dollar Man is dead,” called out Wendell Harrison, 54, to the other diners.

James Rory, 60, told a reporter his interactions with Fr. Chase had helped him to  try to get off the street. “He’s definitely going to be missed,” Mr. Rory added. “Not because of the dollar. Because of what he offered me spiritually.”

 

God Made

Posted by Censor Librorum on Feb 12, 2011 | Categories: Faith, Lesbians & Gays, Saints

I read in my local diocesan paper that the Rev. John F. Harvey, the founder of Courage, died on December 27, 2010.   He was 92.   An Oblate of St. Francis de Sales for 73 years, Father Harvey started Courage, a spiritual support group for homosexual men and women, in 1980 at the request of Cardinal Terence Cooke of New York and served as its national director until his death.

I did not have any contact with Courage myself, so I can’t comment on them from a point of experience.   I did meet one or two ex-Courage members at Dignity/New York meetings in the early 1980s.   Like Dignity, Courage was 98% men. From talking to them briefly it seemed they tried to abstain from gay sex, but the continual messages they received that homosexuals are immoral and sick drove them away.

The Archdiocese of New York, under Terence Cardinal Cooke, issued “The Rights of Homosexuals vs. Parental Rights” on January 11, 1978. The gist of this document is…”Catholics maintain unequivocally that homosexual activity is immoral and patterns of life that encourage homosexuality are gravely wrong. Without encouraging unkindness towards homosexuals, the Catholic moral position strongly reinforces parents’ and their surrogates’ determination to keep all children in their formative years   free of any persons or influences that could draw them into homosexual practice.”

The sentiments behind that statement are the reason Courage has failed to attract most homosexual Catholics:   be ashamed of who you are. Your longing and desire is dirty, immoral, disgusting.   Hide it, or risk being expelled from the community. Stay in the closet.

Dignity in comparison was like a rush of fresh air:   God made you who you are, and loves you as you are. Little wonder gay and lesbian Catholics flocked to Dignity instead.

About two years ago, I received an email from a woman member of the Courage group meeting at St. John the Baptist Church on West 31st Street in New York.   She encouraged me to give up my lifestyle and come to the group’s meetings.   I can’t recall if I replied or not, but after another note or two she gave up trying to recruit me.

The experience recalled an admonishment my mother gave to me as a little girl:   “People who feel bad about something they’ve done want other people to do the same thing so they don’t feel alone and feel better about it.”   Although that bit of wisdom was intended to deter me from mischief, it came to mind reading the insistent note from the lady Courage member.

Timothy Kincaid of the gay blog Box Turtle Bulletin posited that Fr. Harvey may have contributed to the Catholic Church’s inching towards tolerance of lesbians and gays by making the distinction between “inclination” and “behavior.” However, he focused his life’s work on counseling homosexuals to make tremendous personal sacrifices in order to maintain the church’s unmoving rejection of homosexuality. Questioning the church’s stance never came into play.

On a page dedicated to remembrances of Fr. Harvey, men and women who claim to “suffer” from same-sex attraction post their thanks.   Here’s one woman’s plea:   “I love you and miss you so much though I never met you. You are one of my heroes.   Please intercede for all of those struggling with same sex attraction especially: J, J, T, L, S, H, S, S, E and M. Please intercede also for our country and all the countries of the world that they will see institutionalizing this behavior   through the acceptance of same-sex marriages hurts the individuals involved, children, the family, the society, nations and the world.   Help us understand and live and love chastity and purity.”

Timothy Kincaid said – “I have a certain amount of sympathy for those individuals who decide   that their religious convictions preclude them from engaging in any form of sexuality that is not within the confines of heterosexual marriage.   Each of us must be allowed the space to determine for ourselves what gives us meaning and happiness, and some may choose to prioritize their spirituality over their sexuality…So I am not opposed to ex-gay individuals or groups per se, provided they do not insist that others live according to their values, advocate for discrimination, or propagate lies.”

I agree with Mr. Kincaid. Well said.

I have personal respect for Catholic lesbians and gays who have made the decision to live chastely, but at the same time are out to themselves and others as a gay person.

One such person is Eve Tushnet; fervently Catholic, proudly gay and happily celibate.   She does not see herself as disordered; she does not struggle to be straight, but she insists that her religion forbids her a sex life. “The sacrifices you want to make aren’t always the only sacrifices God wants,” Ms. Tushnet wrote in a 2007 essay for Commonweal. While gay sex should not be criminalized, she said, gay men and lesbians should abstain. They might instead have passionate friendships, or sublimate their urges into other pursuits. “It turns out I happen to be very good at sublimating,” she says, while acknowledging that it is a lot to ask from others.

Similar to Eve Tushnet, I am fervently Catholic, proudly gay and happily married..to a wonderful woman.   I stopped struggling to be straight many years ago when I came out.   And I believe, with my whole heart, God made me who I am. I was not created to suffer through involuntary chastity.   Nor was I made to label and think of myself as “disordered.”

I take inspiration from Acts, Chapter 10, where Peter had a vision of the animals being lowered from the sky:

“The next day, while they were on their way and nearing the city, Peter went up to the roof terrace to pray at about noontime. He was hungry and wished to eat, and while they were making preparations he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something resembling a large sheet coming down, lowered to the ground by its four corners. In it were all the earth’s four-legged animals and reptiles and the birds of the sky. A voice said to him, “Get up, Peter. Slaughter and eat.” But Peter said, “Certainly not, sir. For never have I eaten anything profane and unclean.   The voice spoke to him again, a second time, “What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.”

Peter’s vision is the pivotal moment in the Acts of the Apostles: he is to be prepared to admit Gentiles, who were considered unclean like the animals of his vision, into the Christian community. Just as the Jewish Christians received the gift of the Spirit, so too do the Gentiles. “You know that it is unlawful for a Jewish man to associate with, or visit, a Gentile, but God has shown me that I should not call any person profane or unclean.”

If  Peter could change, why not the Pope?  

 

Creation Museum

Posted by Censor Librorum on Jan 23, 2011 | Categories: Faith, History, Humor

I love dinosaurs.   I love the Bible.   Now, I can have them together at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky.   Their   motto is: “Prepare to Believe.”

The museum was developed by the Christian evangelical group, Answers in Genesis Ministry. The organization was founded by the Australian-born Reverend Ken Ham.   He arrived in the U.S. in 1987.

The state-of-the-art 70,000 square foot museum brings the pages of the Bible to life.   Adam and Eve live in the Garden of Eden. Children play and dinosaurs roam near Eden’s rivers.

The scenes remind me a lot of “The Flintstones,” a cartoon series I used to love to watch when I was growing up.   Fred and Wilma Flintstone had a pet dinosaur named “Dino,” who barks and generally acts like a dog. A running gag involves Dino knocking down Fred out of excitement and licking him repeatedly.

If you were a kid during the 1960s and 70s, then you probably not only know the melody to the Flintstones song, but all the words as well.

Flintstones… Meet the Flintstones,
They’re a modern stoneage family.

From the town of Bedrock,
They’re a page right out of history.

Let’s ride with the family down the street.
Thru the courtesy of Fred’s two feet.

When you’re with the Flintstones,
have a yabba dabba doo time,

a dabba doo time,

we’ll have a gay old time.”

The museum, which is said to have cost $27 million, is privately funded through donations. The one-millionth visitor was announced on April 26, 2010, just over a month away from the museum’s three-year anniversary.

At Creation Museum, Earth and the universe are just over 6,000 years old, created in six days by God. The museum preaches “Same facts, different conclusions” and is unequivocal in viewing paleontological and geological data in light of a literal reading of the Bible.

In the creationist interpretation, the layers were laid down in one event — the worldwide flood when God wiped the land clean except for the creatures on Noah’s ark — and these dinosaurs died in 2348 B.C., the year of the flood.

“I like the fact the dinosaurs were in the ark,” Ham said.   About 50 kinds of dinosaurs were aboard Noah’s ark, the museum explains, but later went extinct for unknown reasons.

According to Ham, almost every ill of modern society can be traced to the widespread acceptance of evolution.   In response, he started his Answers in Genesis (AIG) Ministry in 1994.   Soon after coming to Kentucky, he was promoting his plans to build a “creation museum” with numerous dinosaur models. Reverend Ham rechristened dinosaurs as “Missionary Lizards” and claimed to have recruited them to fight the demons of evolution and historical geology.

“For a person to make the claim that humans and dinosaurs did not coexist, they would have to be able to see all history at exactly the same time, which would make that person omniscient and omnipresent, qualities of God. So, when someone says emphatically that humans and dinosaurs did not exist together in the past, that person is claiming to be a god, while calling God Himself a liar, or, at best, deceptive.”

Many of the displays were designed by Patrick Marsh, who had formerly worked for Universal Studios designing attractions such as Jaws and King Kong before becoming a born-again Christian and young Earth creationist.

Among its exhibits, the museum features life-size dinosaur models, over 80 of them animatronic (animated and motion-sensitive). Model dinosaurs are depicted in the Garden of Eden, many of them side-by-side with human figures. In one exhibit, a Triceratops and a Stegosaurus are shown aboard a scale model of Noah’s ark.

Some of the exhibits show modern times and espouse the view that families and society are hurt by a world view which is not Biblically based.   In one video, a male teenager is shown sitting at a computer looking at internet pornography and a female teenager speaks with Planned Parenthood about having an abortion.

John Haught, a research professor at Georgetown University who is an expert on science and religion, said it’s “not terribly surprising” that a museum would be created to support creationists’ arguments about the origins of life.

“It’s important for them to deny evolution because…if evolution happened, then there was no original perfection,” said Haught, a Roman Catholic who believes in evolution.   “It’s absolutely essential for them that there be some fall. Otherwise the whole significance of Christianity gets lost.”

For his part, Haught doesn’t see much merit in the museum and expects it will cause an “impoverishment” of both theology and religion. “It’s hard for me to come up with a single reason why we should be doing this,” said Haught. “It’s theologically problematic for me, as well as scientifically problematic.”

Next up for Answers in Genesis – “Ark Encounters,” a $150 million Noah’s ark theme park.   Among other attractions the park will feature a 500-foot wooden ark complete with live animals.   The developers are Christian conservatives who want state government to help subsidize the ark park with as much as $37.5 million in tourism development incentives.

So far, Ark Encounters has the blessing of Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, who said he was elected to help create jobs, not debate religious beliefs. Some other residents, who don’t subscribe to the bumper sticker theology of “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” disagree, so the minute the tax subsidies are requested the court battle is expected to begin.

See Creation Museum here.

See Ark Encounter here. I hope no one looking for Ark Encounter accidentally types Ark Encounters.

 

The Reemergence of the Devil

Posted by Censor Librorum on Oct 31, 2010 | Categories: Faith, History, Humor, Lesbians & Gays, Popes, Scandals

For many Catholics, the Devil and hell have faded from sight. The only time we ever hear of Satan is when he is referred to during baptismal vows, Gospel readings of his encounters with Jesus, or during old reruns of The Exorcist or The Omen on TV.

So U.S. Catholic commentators and ordinary folk were surprised a few months ago when Pope Benedict referred to the Devil as instigating the media exposure of priestly sexual abuse.

He said the “new radiance of the priesthood,” which he saw emerging from the Year for Priests, would not be pleasing to the “enemy” who “would have preferred to see it disappear, so that God would ultimately be driven out of the world. And so it happened that, in this very year of joy for the priesthood, the sins of priests came to light–particularly the abuse of the little ones…”

“All evil is due to the intervention of the Devil, including pedophilia,” confirmed Fr. Gabriele Amorth, 85, an exorcist in the Diocese of Rome. Fr. Amorth is the author of An Exorcist Tells His Story and An Exorcist: More Stories. A third book, Memorie Di Un Esorcista was published this year. Don-Gabriele-Amorth

The sex abuse crisis engulfing Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican, he said, was the work of Satan who had even “infiltrated the Vatican corridors.” Fr. Amorth emphatically stated: “Legions of demons have lodged there.” “The majority of those in the Vatican do good work, but Pope Paul VI talked about the ‘smoke of Satan’ infiltrating the Vatican as long ago as 1972.”

He claimed another example of satanic behavior was the Vatican “cover-up” over the deaths in 1998 of Alois Estermann, the commander of the Swiss Guard, his wife and Corporal Cedric Tornay, a Swiss Guard, who were all found shot dead. “They covered up everything immediately,” he said. “Here one sees the rot.” (Read my post on the murders here.)

Fr. Amorth asserted that “Lust, success and power are the three great passions on which the Devil insists.”

The exorcist has claimed in his books and interviews that Vatican clergy are involved in Satanic sects. “There are priests, monsignors and also cardinals!” The exorcist claims he got his information from “those who have been able to relate it to me because they had a way of knowing directly. And it’s something ‘confessed’ most times by the very demon under obedience during the exorcisms.”

Father Jose Antonio Fortea Cucurull, another well-known demonologist and exorcist, said that Fr. Armoth had “gone beyond the evidence” in claiming that Satan had infiltrated the Vatican corridors. “Cardinals might be better or worse, but all have upright intentions and seek the glory of God,” he said.   Some Vatican officials were more pious than others, “but from there to affirm that some cardinals are members of Satanic sects is an unacceptable distance.”

Sex, power, politics and the Devil have been around the Catholic Church for centuries.   Two examples that quickly come to mind are the case of Cardinal Richelieu and Fr. Urbain Grandier as described in The Devils of Loudun; and the burning of (Saint) Joan of Arc with the   connivance of Bishop Pierre Cauchon.

More recently, the Devil at work in the Church was raised by a pope.   In his homily given on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29, 1972, Pope Paul VI made a famous remark that “from some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the house of God.” pope-paul-vi-2

The full text of the homily was not reproduced in the Vatican collection of Paul VI’s teachings (Insegnamenti di Paulo VI Vol. X, 1972). Instead, what’s included is a narrative summary of the homily, with occasional direct quotations attributed to him.

Since we don’t have the pope’s words in context, but someone’s retelling of them, it makes it unclear exactly what the pope meant, adding a layer of ambiguity and mystery. But what was Pope Paul VI intending to warn us about when he said “the smoke of Satan has entered the house of God”?

There are a lot of theories.

-A number of ultra traditionalists believed the Second Vatican Council and liturgical reforms that followed it were the work of the Devil.

– The blogger, Jimmy Atkin, in a very interesting and well written post, posits that Pope Paul VI was responding to the cultural crisis of the 1960s and 70s and its impact on the Church. Read it here.

– Virgilio Cardinal Noe, 86, Master of Liturgical Ceremonies during the Pontificates of Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II, disclosed in an interview with Petrus, his inside information on the comment.   noe95aq1

“You from Petrus, have gotten a real scoop here, because I am in a position to reveal, for the first time, what Paul VI desired to denounce with that statement. Here it is: Papa Montini, for Satan, meant to include all those priests or bishops and cardinals who didn’t render worship to the Lord by celebrating badly (mal celebrando) Holy Mass because of an errant interpretation of the implementation of the Second Vatican Council. He spoke of the smoke of Satan because he maintained that those priests who turned Holy Mass into dry straw in the name of creativity, in reality were possessed of the vainglory and the pride of the Evil One. So, the smoke of Satan was nothing other than the mentality which wanted to distort the traditional and liturgical canons of the Eucharistic ceremony.”

Now we know the Pope hated guitar Masses, too…

Cardinal Noe had the reputation for being a big fussy and exacting stickler for ceremony. This may have influenced how he interpreted a private or public comment from Paul VI combined with his own distaste for modern Masses.

-The most delicious theory is that there are actual Satanists in the Vatican! In his novel, The Windswept House – A Vatican Novel  (1996), author Fr. Malachi Martin vividly described a ceremony   called “The Enthronement of the Fallen Angel Lucifer” supposedly held in St. Paul’s Chapel in the Vatican, but linked to concurrent satanic rites here in the U.S. on June 29, 1963, barely a week after the election of Paul VI. In the novel, before he dies, a pope leaves a secret account of the situation on his desk for the next occupant of the throne of Peter, a thinly-disguised John Paul II.

On pages 492-93 of “The Windswept House” Fr. Martin went another step to link gay and lesbian religious to Satanists during the reign of Paul VI. windsweptHouse

“Suddenly it became unarguable that now during this papacy, the Roman Catholic organization carried a permanent presence of clerics who worshipped Satan and liked it; of bishops and priests who sodomized boys and each other; of nuns who performed the “Black Rites” of Wicca and lived in lesbian relationships…every day, including Sundays and Holy Days, acts of heresy and blasphemy and outrage and indifference were committed and permitted at holy Altars by men who had been called to be priests. Sacrilegious actions and rites were not only performed at Christ’s Altars, but had the connivance or at least the tacit permission of certain Cardinals, archbishops…”

In a June 9, 1997 article in The John Birch Society publication, New American, Martin confirmed that the ceremony did indeed occur as he had described it in the book. “Oh yes, it is true; very much so,” the magazine reported he said. “But the only way I could put that down into print is in novelistic form.”

Well, how could Fr. Malachi Martin be so sure it had occurred unless he had been there himself?

Through all these tendrils of smoke I see ugly lines of slander and innuendo developing: it is the devil who is responsible for dissent, discord and abuse.   Secular culture, gay priests and  women religious are its willing servants. They and the cardinals and bishops who support them are suspect of being Satanists or in league with them.

In 1995 Princeton University professor and noted theologian, Dr. Elaine Pagels,   wrote “The Origin of Satan.” This book argues that the figure of Satan became a way for orthodox Christians to demonize their religious opponents, namely, other Christian sects and Jews. She traces the development of Satan in the Jewish community from a sort of roving agent acting on God’s behalf–always obstructing but not always evil–to an increasingly evil force identified more and more with intimate enemies, members of one’s own community with whom one is in conflict.

The reemergence of the Devil is timely for a certain segment of Catholics: clerics who want to absolve themselves for the root causes of the sex abuse crisis and their cover-up; people who never agreed with the changes initiated by Vatican II; the fractionalizing of Catholics over issues of sexuality, the nature of sin, clerical authority, roles of the laity, worship, and the increasing visibility of gay people and their families in society and the church. Surely Satan is behind all that?

In the novel, “The Name of the Rose”, Brother William of Baskerville, a former inquisitor, tries to explain to the abbot why there is a need in his monastic community for a supernatural explanation for a murder and undercurrent of fear: “Who am I to express judgements on the plots of the Evil One, especially,” he added, and seemed to want to insist   on this reason, “in cases where those who had initiated the inquisition, the bishop, the city magistrates, and the whole populace, perhaps the accused themselves, truly wanted to feel the presence of the Devil? There, perhaps was the only real proof of the presence of the Devil was the intensity with which everyone at that moment desired to know he was at work…”

“Are you telling me, then,” the abbot said in a worried tone, “that in many trials the Devil does not act only within the guilty one but perhaps and above all in the judges?” NameOTRose

After multiple killings, several attempts to murder Brother William, and a slew of witchcraft and heresy accusations, the monastery is destroyed by fire.   In an attempt to trap William and his novice, Adso of Melk, Venerable Jorge de Burgos knocked over a candle to put the room in darkness.   Instead, the candle ignited a blaze which consumed the entire library and many of the monks.

William had discovered Jorge, the ancient librarian, had poisoned the pages of a book by Aristotle he deemed too dangerous to read. This poison killed any monk turning its pages. William deduces that the library is kept hidden because such advanced knowledge, coming from pagan philosophers, is difficult to reconcile with Christianity. venerableJorge

As they watched the library tower burn (and Venerable Jorge along with it) Brother William explained to his novice that unlike church teaching, the Devil is not merely a tempter of forbidden sensuality and knowledge: “They lied to you. The Devil is not the Prince of Matter; the Devil is the arrogance of the spirit; faith without smile, truth that is never seized by doubt.”

Can’t you see few people–right now–that fit that description?…The Glenn Becks of the world, Pastor John Hagee,  ex-Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton,  Fr. C. John  McCloskey of Opus Dei..We see their images in print, on blogs, on TV and sometimes–in the mirror.

There are defenses against Satan and his works. The usual  antidote to pride is its opposite–humility–but one that springs from a willingness and effort to accommodate different kinds of people  and stay together in bonds of prayer and friendship.

Adso observed: “We are fragile creatures, I said to myself; even among these learned and devout monks the Evil One spreads petty envies, forments subtle hostilities, but all these are as smoke then dispersed by the strong wind of faith, the moment all gather in the name of the Father, and Christ descends into their midst.”

 

A Week of Disorientation

Posted by Censor Librorum on Jul 16, 2010 | Categories: Accountability, Faith, Lesbians & Gays, Scandals

This week, moderate and liberal Catholics are putting their heads in their hands wondering why we continue.

The Vatican made an announcement that priests who sexually abuse minors, view child pornography, or sexually abuse mentally disabled adults, along with those who ordain women or women who attempt to be ordained, will now be included among the list of “delicta gravioria,” or the most serious crimes against church law.

The ordination of women is now classified as a “crime against the sacraments,” which includes any action that defiles or desecrates the Eucharist. men

At a Vatican briefing this week, Monsignor Charles Scicluna, an official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, denied that the Vatican equates women’s ordination with the sexual abuse of children. An illicit ordination, Scicluna clarified, is a “”sacramental” crime, while abuse is a “moral” crime.

Women’s Ordination Conference Executive Director Erin Saiz Hanna commented: “The Vatican’s decision (to) list women’s ordination in the same category as pedophiles and rapists is appalling, offensive, and a wake-up call for Catholics around the world. The new canonical declaration which names women’s ordination as a serious crime against the Roman Catholic Church is medieval at best. The idea that a woman seeking to spread the message of God somehow “defiles” the Eucharist reveals an antiquated, backwards Church that still views women as “unclean” and unholy.”

This same week, Zenit, the Vatican news agency, announced Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, 74, president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, has been asked by the Pope to govern the congregation in his name “during the time necessary to complete the path of renewal.” VelasioDePaolis

With a strong background in law and finance, Archbishop De Paolis essentially serves as chief auditor for the Vatican.   The Legion’s estimated assets are valued at $33 billion.

The news agency noted that Archbishop De Paolis visited the Legion’s headquarters in Rome on Saturday, presenting its superiors with the papal letter naming him delegate, and handing them a personal letter in which he expressed his own thoughts and recommendations for the Legionaries.

Zenti went on to add: “The Legion of Christ is being guided by the Church in a renewal, following the discovery that its founder, Father Marcial Maciel, fathered children and was guilty of other crimes.”

That has to place first as the wryest, drollest, understatement of the year.

Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado raped and sexually abused underage seminarians and priests; kept mistresses on two continents; fathered at least three children; raped his sons; lied, cheated and stole his order’s money to support an illicit lifestyle.   He was aided and abetted by senior members of the Legion.   The organization was maintained by secrecy and deceit.

Maciel’s key supporters in the Vatican, who provided him with a protective shield, included Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state from 1991 to 2006; Cardinal Eduardo Martinez, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life; and Cardinal Stanislaw Dzwisz, the Polish secretary of late Pope John Paul II.

Fr. Maciel’s biggest enabler was Pope John Paul II himself.   Maciel brought in money and men to the priesthood; and that balanced the account as far as the pope was concerned.

Ponder this for a minute…..senior members of the Vatican hierarchy protected a serial molester and rapist, a priest that had several children with two different women—because this man had created an organizational structure that attracted seminarians and espoused traditional values and practices.

At the same time, they have set into place the most savage penalties for bishops and women who want to become priests, and refuse to consider the issue of priestly celibacy.

In the Zenit article Archbishop De Paolis said it is understandable that some Legionaries are “going through difficult moments, that some have already thought of a different path.” He cautioned that the “vocation is something too serious to be able to make a decision about it in a moment of disorientation.”

“Let’s be patient,” he said.

“Your vocation, like your congregation, is in your hands, is entrusted to your responsibility,” the prelate stated. “The Church accompanies you; the Lord is merciful and generous: He gives his Spirit without measure. His grace goes before you, it accompanies you, and it brings you to the goal.”

And so begins the fumigation of the Legionnaires of Christ. Fumigate2

“Disorientation” is a good word to describe the actions of the Vatican and the state of my mind.

The faith received a good smack this week.

 

Cardinal Newman: The Questions Continue

Posted by Censor Librorum on Jun 20, 2010 | Categories: Faith, History, Humor, Lesbians & Gays, Saints, Scandals

On March 16, 2010 the Holy See announced that Pope Benedict XVI will preside over the beatification of the Venerable John Henry Newman on September 19, 2010. The location for the Mass  hasn’t been decided yet, but  the site of the former MG Rover factory is now the “preferred venue” for Benedict XVI’s beatification of Cardinal Newman.   It is easier for security, and is closer to the place where Cardinal Newman will be venerated: Birmingham Oratory. One of the concelebrants of the Mass is sure to be the Most Rev. Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminister and head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales.

In preparation for his beatification,  in October 2008 authorities opened  Cardinal Newman’s grave  to exhume and rebury  his  body.   Gay rights activists protested the separation of Newman from his longtime companion with whom he shared his burial place.   The idea of Catholic pilgrims going to the gravesite of two men to venerate one of them as a “Blessed” was too  uncomfortable  for church authorities to tolerate.

In a queer coincidence on the eve of Newman’s beatification, Birmingham Oratory experienced an upheaval over  a relationship between the provost of the Oratory and a young man.   Their relationship appeared to echo  Cardinal Newman’s  relationship with a priest, Fr. Ambrose St John a century before.

At the heart of the conflict are the allegations surrounding a close but chaste friendship between the former  Provost of Birmingham Oratory, Fr. Paul Chavasse, and a young man.   Fr. Chavasse had  also served as Actor for the Cause of Newman’s canonization. He has been replaced in both positions by the Very Rev. Richard Duffield. paul chavasse

“Around 2 1/2 years ago, in the autumn of 2007, Fr. Chavasse began to form an intense but physically chaste friendship with a young man, then aged 20, which the Fathers of Birmingham Oratory regarded as imprudent,” an Oratory spokesman said.   The young man had been rejected as a candidate for the priesthood, and Fr. Chavasse had complained on his behalf. Fr. Chavasse assured skeptical members of the community that he was not sexually involved with anyone, but these men continued to confront Fr. Chavasse and informed Rome of their concerns and suspicions.

Fr. Felix Seldon was appointed to conduct an “apostolic visitation” of the Birmingham Oratory.   Here is the upshot:

– Fr. Paul Chavasse “willingly” resigned as Provost of the Oratory and also as Actor for the Cause of Newman’s canonization in December 2010 – less than a year before Newman’s beatification.  He was directed to leave for a long retreat, or a fund raising trip to America–depending on which news story you read. Anyway, he’s vanished.

– The three members of the Birmingham Oratory that complained the loudest about Fr. Chavasse–Fr. Philip Cleevely, Fr. Dermont Fenlon and Br. Lewis Berry have been ordered “to spend time in prayer for an indefinite period” in religious houses hundreds of miles apart. No date was given for their return to the Birmingham Oratory.

An Oratory spokesman downplayed the homosexual allegations of the conflict. He explained there had been disagreements in the community how best to approach the beautification of their founder, Cardinal Newman. Fr. Fenlon, Fr. Cleevely and Br. Lewis were described on one blog as “known upholders of tradition and conservative Catholic values.” They have publicly opposed an interpretation of Cardinal Newman as a patron of conscientious dissent. As a theologian, Cardinal Newman played an important role in developing the modern formulation of the primacy of conscience, which is of fundamental importantance to gay and lesbian Catholics who reject in good conscience the standard teaching on sexuality.

The three men have also publicly protested the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales lack of vigorous opposition to sex education and relationships policy in schools put in place  by the British government. Archbishop Vincent Nichols is president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference. He previously served as Archbishop of Birmingham from 2000 to 2009.

Bishops of any stripe don’t appreciate publicity-seeking troublemakers.   With the halogen glare that will accompany the pope’s visit in September, I’m not surprised all four men were sent packing to distant monasteries.

Questions about Cardinal Newman’s sexuality revived when he was exhumed in 2008.

Newman, a  founder and member of the Birmingham Oratory, was buried in the small cemetery at Rednal near the Oratory County house. At his request, he was buried with Fr. Ambrose St John.

At the request of the Vatican, the British government gave permission for the cardinal’s remains to be transferred from Rednal into a sarcophagus that will stand between the marble columns opposite the Holy Souls’ Altar in Birmingham Oratory Church.   The Vatican is understood to have made the request so that Roman Catholic pilgrims could come and pray at Newman’s tomb. It is not traditional for veneration to occur at shared tombs.

Responding to recent insinuations in the British press that Cardinal John Henry Newman was gay and was an intellectual forefather of today’s dissenters from Catholic teaching, Fr. Ian Ker, the author of the “definitive” biography of Newman, called the claims that the cardinal was gay are “absolute rubbish.” He says there is “irrefutable evidence of Newman’s heterosexuality.”

This evidence rests in the “sacrifice” to a life of celibacy to which Newman felt he had been called at age 15. “A modern reader should not need to be reminded that in 19th century England homosexuality was illegal and generally considered to be immoral,” wrote Fr. Ker.   “The only ‘sacrifice’ that Newman could possibly  been referring to was that of marriage,” he said.

In a article entitled “John Henry Newman and the sacrifice of celibacy,” published in L’Osservatore Romano on September 3, 2009, Fr. Ker comments that “the decision to exhume the body of Venerable John Henry Newman has provoked reactions, in particular on the part of the homosexual lobby.” According to Ker, this “protest” carries the idea that “Newman wanted to be buried with his friend because he had some kind of bond with him or something more than just a simple friendship.”

When Fr. Ambrose St John, who was 14 years his junior, died in 1875, Newman compared his own grief to that of a husband’s for a wife. “I have ever thought no bereavement was equal to that of a husband’s or wife’s, but I feel it is difficult to believe that any can be greater, or anyone’s sorrow greater, than mine.”

Newman wrote in his diary about Fr. St John’s love for him: “From the first he loved me with an intensity of love, which was unaccountable.” He later added: “As far as this world was concerned, I was his first and last…he was my earthly light.”

The cardinal repeated on three occasions his desire to be buried with his friend, including shortly before his death in 1890. “I wish, with all my heart, to be buried in Fr Ambrose St John’s grave – and I give this as my last, my imperative will,” he wrote, later adding: “This I confirm and insist on.”

The two men had a joint memorial stone that is inscribed with the words he had chosen: Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem (Out of shadows and phantasms into the truth.”)

British gay rights activist Mr. Peter Tatchell observed: “It is impossible to know whether or not the relationship between Newman and St John involved sexual relations. Equally, it is impossible to know that it did not.”

“To be fair and to err on the side of caution, given both men’s rather orthodox religious beliefs,they probably did not have a sexual relationship. It is likely that they had a gay orientation but chose to abstain from sex. Sexual abstinence does not, however, alter a person’s orientation. A person can be gay and sublimate hteir gayness into spiritual and artistic pursuits, and into strong, intense platonic same-sex relationships, which is probably what Newman and St John did.”

“But many of these platonic relationships were, in fact, expressions of latent homosexuality which never fund physical expression because the men concerned lived in a homophobic culture where they either had no conception of the possiblity of same-sex love or, for religious reasons, dared ot express this love sexually.” newman 1

“Ker’s article is full of bald assertions that Newman was heterosexual, but it offers no proof or evidence. It dismisses the possibility that the Cardinal could have had a relationship with St John and even condemns the plausible suggestion that he might have been gay and celibate.”

The history of the Catholic Church is littered with popes, cardinals, bishops and priests who were secretly gay.   Down the ages, lots of clergy have had gay relationships. Indeed, about one-quarter of the current Catholic priesthood is estimated to be gay. Why should anyone be surprised by the suggestion Cardinal Newman might have had a same-sex relationship?”

The sexuality of Newman has long been a subject for conjucture. Charles Kingsley’s famous attack on Newman for his dishonesty, insincerity and sexual ambiguity. Kingsley compared Rome’s Catholic descendants as treacherous and effeminate and the pagan Germanic people or their English Protestant descendants as honest, trustworthy, and physically strong defenders of truth. When in 1864 Kingsley asserted that “truth, for its own sake had never been a virtue with the Roman clergy . . . [and] Father Newman informs us that it need not, and on the whole ought not to be; that cunning is the weapon which Heaven has given to the saints wherewith to withstand the brute male force of the wicked world which marries and is given in marriage,” Newman roared back with his seminal work Apologia Pro Vita Sua.

John Henry Newman’s first steps toward Roman Catholicism came from his participation, study and writings as part of the Oxford Movement. This  religious movement began 1833 by Anglican clergymen at Oxford University to renew the Church of England by reviving certain Roman Catholic doctrines and rituals. This attempt to stir the Established Church into new life arose among a group of spiritual leaders in Oriel College, Oxford. Prominent among them were John Henry Newman  Richard Hurrell Froude. Froude died in 1836 at the age of 33.   Newman, 35 years old at the time, was  profoundly moved by his death. hurrell

The idea that the Oxford Movement contained a significant stream of homoeroticism was popularized by Sir Geoffrey Faber in the book Oxford Apostles – A Character Study of the Oxford Movement, published in 1933. One commentator declared, “Of the mutually feminine attachment which bound Newman and Froude together, there is no need to say more.”

In his journal of the late 1820s Froude records his struggle against “vile affections” and, referring to an unnamed undergraduate private pupil, cautions himself “above all (to) watch and pray against being led out of the way by the fascination of his society.”

Newman’s poems of the 1830s echo similar themes (“A Blight”), but also use well-known Biblical male pairs to make suggestive homosexual statements (“David and Jonathan” and especially “James and John,” with its reference to a state where “man may one with man remain.”

To his elegiac poem,  “Separation of Friends,” Newman added these final lines after the death of Froude in February 1836:

“Ah! dearest, with a word he could dispel
All questioning, and raise
Our hearts to rapture, whispering all was well,
And turning prayer to praise.
And other secrets too he could declare,
By patterns all divine,
His earthly creed retouching here and there,
And deepening every line.
Dearest! he longs to speak as I to know,
And yet we both refrain:
It were not good; a little doubt below,
And all will soon be plain.”

“But isn’t it about time,” said one commenter on a British news site, “that the Church stopped all this hypocritical nonsense and admit that the man they are about to beatify was gay, and that he was in loved with Fr Ambrose St John to the extent where they even wanted to get buried together. They may well have lived chaste lives and suppressed their sexuality successfully, but you cannot get around the content of the letters passing between the two of them.”

“And instead of branding Newman as ‘intrinsically disordered’, and effectively saying that he should never have been a priest, let alone a Cardinal, as the current regime would have to say, they should celebrate the life of a wonderful thinker, a truly gifted writer, and a man who was not ashamed to express his love for another man while at the same time observing a celibate life.”

“I can’t believe the irrational and inhuman knots this hierarchy ties itself up in.”

These two books provide interesting reading on Cardinal Newman’s sexuality and careful expression:  in The Friend (2003) the late  historian  Alan Bray presented  major research on the relationship between Newman and St John, sifting thorugh the Cardinal’s diary, letters and notes.    Secret Selves: Confession and Same-Sex Desire in Victorian Autobiography (2009) by Oliver Buckton  argues that literary “secrecy”–the very act of holding back information in a novel or memoir–was a primary and provocative indicator of Victorian homosexuality. One of the works he examines in his book is Cardinal Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua.

A great deal more can be said  by  quite consciously saying much less.

My first  Nihil Obstat post about Cardinal  Newman  – “Keep it Secret” –  can be found here.

 

Bob Carter of Dignity

Posted by Censor Librorum on Mar 21, 2010 | Categories: Dissent, Faith, History, Lesbians & Gays

Jesuit priest Bob Carter’s   obituary appeared in the New York Times on March 15, 2010. He was 82 when he died.   I hadn’t heard about him in years, even through grapevine gossip from old Dignity friends.

Probably the last time I saw him was in the early ’90s at a Dignity event.   I was part of a panel for Dignity New York’s 20th or 25th anniversary.   They invited all the “outlaws” and other colorful characters   from the past to bring their remembrances. Andy Humm was there and a member of the panel with me. I remember I sat next to John McNeill. I dressed up.   It was probably the first and only time I was in a skirt at Dignity.

Bob Carter must have been on the panel, too.   He was very much in the same mold as McNeill.   He was a strong voice for gays in the Church, but “gay” meant “gay men.”   McNeill didn’t have much use for women, and neither did Bob Carter.

McNeill had, as I recall, had one tiny section dedicated to the issues facing lesbians in the Catholic church in his famous and seminal book, The Church and the Homosexual. McNeill said, “I don’t know very much about lesbians, so I can’t write about them.” Unfortunately, he didn’t try to learn either.   Mainly, I think, because women weren’t part of his life and he wasn’t particularly interested in them or struggles relevant to them, namely inclusive language and priesthood.

A lot had changed since those heady and turbulent days of the ’80s.   Many Dignity members from that time had died from AIDS. Dignity had changed a lot of its language and attitudes to be more inclusive and welcoming of lesbian Catholics.   Being thrown out of St. Francis Xavier Church had an impact.   Not being able to congregate in a Catholic church with other priests, ex-seminarians and gay Catholic men helped to torpedo the homophile aspect of Dignity and bring them out into the wider world of outsiders. Once that happened it became a friendlier place to women, although it’s still mostly men.   However, that’s not Dignity’s fault.   By the late ’80s and 1990s most Catholic lesbians had given up on organized religion as too sexist and homophobic.

The Times obituary was a very good article on Carter and there is little I can add to it.   You can read it here.

A picture of him marching in a gay pride day parade in full Roman collar with three other priests was used in the obituary. I would guess that photo was taken in 1981 or 1982.   I remember it well — I was marching with them as part of Dignity New York.   Besides Bob Carter and Fr. McNeill, Fr. Bernie Lynch marched in his collar, and another priest from Dignity who I recognize, but can’t member his name.   I recall that he was a nice guy. bob carter

I can’t emphasize enough how incredibly brave it was for those four men to march at the head of the Dignity chapter in full Roman collars.   It was a deliberate statement: we are Catholic priests.   We are ministering to and members of an organization dedicated to full inclusion of gays in the Church.   That active clergy expressed solidarity with gay and lesbian Catholics (just as Sr. Jeannine Gramick and Fr. Bob Nugent did with New Ways Ministry), gave heart to a generation of gay Catholic activists, their families and friends, and lent a certain credibility and sanction to efforts to change the church.

I will always remember that march, and the applause and roars of approval as the Dignity banner was proudly carried down Fifth Avenue to the Village.   The four priests and Dignity group were applauded the entire line of the march. We applauded back at demonstrations of support.

Bob, (it was never Father Bob) saw no contradiction in being Christian and homosexual:   “Since Jesus had table fellowship with social outcasts and sinners, those rejected by the religious establishment of his time, I consider myself to have been most fully a Jesuit, a ‘companion of Jesus,’ when I came out publicly as a gay man, one of the social rejects of my time. It was only by our coming out that society’s negative stereotypes would be overcome and we would gain social acceptance.”

That statement was vintage Bob Carter: the bravery and the homophile self-centeredness.   That is what the men Bob Carter ministered to in the ’70s and ’80 wanted more than anything–a church that would accept them totally for who they were.   For the most part, they were faithful, devout, traditionalist Catholics in every way – except for the fact that they were gay.

So I applaud Bob Carter for the work he did.   I just wish he would have taken his gay activism up a notch to address the injustices lesbian Catholics had to face – the lack of access to power, and the lack of visibility in liturgical language.

As a Dignity New York board member, Bob Carter approved women speaking from the pulpit, so long as their sermons were called “non-homilies.”   The homily was only reserved for priests. Gay or not.