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Feiler Faster

Ben Smith points to an article about sex and the Catholic Church by Charles O’Byrne, adviser to what the tabs in NYC are calling the “Stud Gov,” David Patterson. O’Byrne is a former litigator and a Jesuit priest who married John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy and who led their memorial service.

Once in the seminary, I quickly learned some harsh truths. Many of my classmates in the New York archdiocesan system were exceptionally narrow­-minded, and some were out-and-out bigots who made offensive remarks about Jews and Hispanics, among others, all the while offering pious phrases about Jesus. I protested, but nothing happened. I protested some more, and then told a friend what was going on. My friend wrote to John Cardinal O’Connor and urged him to investigate what sounded like officially approved hate crimes. With reason to fear a me­dia scandal, the archdiocese pretend­ed to discipline the seminary superior who had coddled the bigots, but in reality it merely shuffled him off to a cushy job. I was expelled from the seminary.
Several months later, I joined the Je­suits and my education continued. One of my first surprises was that many of my classmates—college graduates and former professionals — had little or no sexual experience. We all were con­scious of how important its absence could be. We watched our peers find partners, marry and raise families. Be­cause we didn’t wear clerical clothes, we were sometimes seen being avail­able and were propositioned.
As time went on, however, I became aware that there was sex all around me—including relationships between Jesuits. One of my best friends, a virgin at 30, was surprised when his superior encouraged him to respond to the sex­ual overtures of an older Jesuit. When another friend fell in love with a woman, the seminary superiors supported his relationship. In theology classes, certain priest-professors even shared information about their sex lives,
For a while, I was angry. After all, I had enjoyed sex before I entered the religious life and had determined to re­nounce it. Now people who had never had a sexual experience were having them—with the equivalent of churchly blessings.

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