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Those soutanes

posted by awelborn

From Damian Thompson at the UK Spectator. The reader who passed it on remarked: typically glib and gossipy piece from Damien Thompson in the spectator. contains enough sweeping generalisations to carpet vatican city.

For the time being, therefore, you can believe what you want to believe. Left-leaning media outlets such as the New York Times and the BBC, which have so far been starved of evidence that Pope Benedict is a wicked reactionary, are quite certain — one might almost say optimistic — that a total ban is in the works. For them, the story presents a stark contrast between the tolerance of ordinary Western Catholics and the anti-gay bigotry of the Vatican. To which one can only reply that their Rome correspondents must have been wandering around with their eyes closed, shutting out the sight of ‘conservative’ curial officials sashaying through Bernini’s colonnades in Gammarelli’s latest figure-hugging soutane.

In addition to being Europe’s smallest state, the Vatican also boasts the highest proportion of homosexuals per square foot. To be sure, they are overwhelmingly chaste, but that is precisely the point. A blanket ban on homosexuals would mean that the Church would be saying to some of its most senior and obedient prelates: if you were to present yourself for ordination today, you would be told to go away and become a social worker or something. To put it another way, if the ban were retroactive, many of those Catholics who have been agitating for it would have to sit back and watch their favourite traditionalist cardinals resign their orders. So this is not a simple issue of Left versus Right. There are plenty of homophobes among the older generation of ‘progressives’: only the other day I heard a leader of the quasi-Marxist pressure group Pax Christi compare homosexuality to bestiality. And there are ritualist Catholic churches all over the Western world whose priests are mostly celibate homosexuals (though they have not necessarily been so in the past). Again, unless you are exceptionally naive, you would have to close your eyes — and block your ears — not to realise this.

[snip]

Second, the epicentre of clerical abuse is in Africa, not Europe or America, and it involves young women. If the Church wants to root out misbehaviour, it might start with the East African teachers’ training college where dirt-poor girl students routinely sell their bodies to (by local standards) well-off seminarians. But it won’t, because Third World vocations are regarded as a gift of the Almighty, and many African priests are allowed to do pretty much what they like, including entering into polygamous ‘tribal marriages’.

It goes without saying that any formal exclusion of celibate gay seminarians will shock liberal public opinion; but, for once, the shock will be justified. An automatic ban of this sort is built on the assumption that bishops and seminary rectors lack the God-given power of discernment, and that gay seminarians and priests will be unable to observe their vows of celibacy; in other words, it is predicated on a pretty comprehensive failure of the power of the Holy Spirit. If enforced, it will deprive a struggling Church of the ministry of future priests, bishops, cardinals, popes and saints, while leaving untouched the predatory womanisers of the developing world. Genuine paedophiles, meanwhile, will regard it as just another obstacle to be tiptoed round on their way to little Johnny’s bedroom.



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David Kubiak

posted September 29, 2005 at 11:30 pm


How, pray tell, does one declare as a fact that all these Roman prelates are gay if one admits that they are “overwhelmingly chaste”?
The author has the mind of a sniggering adolescent, and a prose-style to match.



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T. Chan

posted September 29, 2005 at 11:33 pm


“But it won’t, because Third World vocations are regarded as a gift of the Almighty, and many African priests are allowed to do pretty much what they like, including entering into polygamous ‘tribal marriages’.”
Has not the pope already commented on the situation in Africa?



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Whitcomb

posted September 29, 2005 at 11:43 pm


There will always be an England.
And thank goodness for that because, gossipy or not, I find myself agreeing with most of this article.
Ah, the news of the day.
On another site, Michael Sean Winters argues against the expulsion of gay priests or seminarians. Among his anecdotes:
“….When I was in the seminary in the mid-1980s, a local bishop came to visit. The bishop dressed for mass in the rectory next door. We seminarians were a bit late in arriving and were met by the bishop’s secretary who said, ‘Come on boys, get into your dresses. Grandma is coming.’ Grandma was the bishop. The secretary had a feminine nickname, which, I am told, his intimates still use. To complete the screenplay quality of the experience, one of the priests who was in attendance that day left the priesthood shortly thereafter to become a flight steward or, as he called it, ‘a waitress in the sky.’ This kind of campiness was common both in the seminary and in my experiences with those already ordained. As for the secretary, he is now a bishop much in favor with conservatives.”



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Victor Morton

posted September 30, 2005 at 12:39 am


With this post … 4 down, 332 to go.



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Joe

posted September 30, 2005 at 6:27 am


“it is predicated on a pretty comprehensive failure of the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Laugh Out Loud…



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thomas tucker

posted September 30, 2005 at 8:04 am


The anecdote related by whitcomb is amazing if true. Do people like that believe in what they are doing when they function as priests and bishops, or is it all a big farce to them?



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Richard

posted September 30, 2005 at 8:11 am


“…only the other day I heard a leader of the quasi-Marxist pressure group Pax Christi compare homosexuality to bestiality.”
Holy Smokes.
Not the Pax Christi I know.
The rest is typical Anglican High Church condescension toward all things papist. I love the [i]Spectator[/i] generally, but I also know that some things never change.



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Amy

posted September 30, 2005 at 8:12 am

thomas tucker

posted September 30, 2005 at 8:29 am


Having read the article now, let me clarify- I can certainly understand men with same-sex attraction functioning as priests. What I can’t understand is men doing this while acting in that campy way illustrated in the anecdote. That’s what makes me wonder if those who act in that way see it as just farce and performance. That kind of campiness suggests to me a cavalier unseriousness about the whole Church enterprise. Is it actully possible to act that way and yet wholeheartedly embrace Church teaching and doctrine?



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Colleen

posted September 30, 2005 at 8:42 am


TT: what you said. Besides being ‘campy’ and ‘a farce’, they also seem cynical – ‘Come on boys, get into your dresses. Grandma is coming.’
I know I am a naive Catholic but I cannot imagine this cynicism coming from someone whose head, heart and soul have been converted to Jesus?



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Patrick Rothwell

posted September 30, 2005 at 8:44 am


A little bit of campiness is ok, but I can’t imagine why a bishop’s secretary would call one’s bishop “grandma” in front of a bunch of seminarians. There’s no justification for that whatsoever.
And, Damien Thompson is not a High Church Anglican, but a Roman Catholic. And, he is the editor of an interesting book called “Loose Canon” about a gay C of E priest turned Catholic journalist named Brian Brindley who famously died at his own 70th Birthday seven course-meal dinner party. I’ve recommended it here before and it is a great character sketch worth reading if you can get it on Amazon.



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James Kabala

posted September 30, 2005 at 9:06 am


You give the “waitress in the sky” credit for one thing – at least he ended his sham and left the priesthood, which is more than can be said for Grandma and his secretary.



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James Kabala

posted September 30, 2005 at 9:07 am


You have to give the “waitress in the sky” credit for one thing – at least he ended his sham and left the priesthood, which is more than can be said for Grandma and his secretary.



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James Kabala

posted September 30, 2005 at 9:07 am


FYI: My first post contained a confusing typo that the second one fixed.



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John P Sheridan

posted September 30, 2005 at 9:21 am


I am with you Colleen–the cynicism shows a lack of faith.
And Michael Sean Winters seems to that these types of priests are GOOD priests. I won’t be too upset if men like that are prevented from entering the priesthood in the future.



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John P Sheridan

posted September 30, 2005 at 9:22 am


By the way–what is “ritualist” Catholic church?



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Patrick Rothwell

posted September 30, 2005 at 9:29 am


“which is more than can be said for Grandma and his secretary.”
You cannot blame “grandma” for the nickname he was given, and that is especially true if it is who I suspect it might be.



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Paul

posted September 30, 2005 at 9:32 am


Thomson is (or was until recently)editor of “The Catholic Herald” which is, in my opinion, the only Catholic national newspaper in Britain worth reading.



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Patrick Rothwell

posted September 30, 2005 at 9:41 am


“By the way–what is “ritualist” Catholic church?”
It’s a mixed metaphor. “Ritualist” usually refers to those 19th century Anglican churches that used show-stopping liturgy to emphasize the idea that the C of E was essentially a Catholic body and not a Protestant one. The most famous one is probably All Saints, Margaret Street, London. In the United States, that would include ECUSA parishes like Ascension & St. Agnes, DC, Church of the Advent, Boston, etc. In the context of this article, he is referring to Catholic churches in England or elsewhere that have incredibly elaborate liturgy, Novus Ordo or Tridentine. Think of the Brompton and Birmingham Oratories in England. Or, virtually anything that the Shrine of the Holy Whapping youngsters would like.



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Zhou De-Ming

posted September 30, 2005 at 10:09 am


I like the article. Spot on. Just what I keep saying.
I’ve mentioned that I’m reading the General Audience materials that make up the “Theology of the Body.” This morning, reading the General Audience of January 14, 1981, I enjoyed this passage:

In the passages of Galatians, which we have already submitted to detailed analysis, the Apostle lists fornication, impurity and licentiousness in the first place among the works of the flesh. Subsequently, however, when he contrasts these works with the fruit of the Spirit, he does not speak directly of purity, but names only self-control, enkrateia. This control can be recognized as a virtue which concerns continence in the area of all the desires of the senses, especially in the sexual sphere. It is in opposition to fornication, impurity and licentiousness, and also to drunkenness and carousing.”

I think Pope John Paul II understood the problem of sin and lust in the human heart. It is not a matter of the modern psychological notion of “sexual orientation.” Human beings are sexual beings, and original sin, the lust in the human heart, accepts no limitations willingly. We are all called to self-control, to purity of heart, to holiness.
I also enjoyed the conclusion of the General Audience of February 4, 1981:

However, in the same description, Paul also indicates the way which (precisely on the basis of the sense of shame) leads to the transformation of this state to the point of gradual victory over that discord in the body. This victory can and must take place in man’s heart. This is the way to purity, that is, “to control one’s own body in holiness and honor.” Paul connects First Corinthians 12:18-25 with the honor which First Thessalonians 4:3-5 deals with. He uses some equivalent expressions when he speaks of honor, that is, esteem for the less honorable, weaker parts of the body, and when he recommends greater modesty with regard to what is considered unpresentable in man. These expressions more precisely characterize that honor, especially in the sphere of human relations and behavior with regard to the body. This is important both as regards one’s own body, and of course also in mutual relations (especially between man and woman, although not limited to them).

From the Spanish translation of the General Audience of Pope John Paul II, February 4, 1981, at the Vatican website:

Sin embargo, en la misma “descripción” Pablo indica también el camino que (precisamente basándose en el sentido de vergüenza) lleva a la transformación de este estado hasta la victoria gradual sobre esa “de desunión en el cuerpo”, victoria que puede y debe realizarse en el corazón del hombre. Este es precisamente el camino de la pureza, o sea, “mantener el propio cuerpo en santidad y respeto”. Al “respeto” del que trata en la primera Carta a los Tesalonicenses (4, 35), Pablo se remite de nuevo en la primera Carta a los Corintios (12, 18-25), al usar algunas locuciones equivalentes, cuando habla del “respeto”, o sea, de la estima hacia los miembros “más viles”, “más débiles” del cuerpo, y cuando recomienda mayor “decencia” con relación a lo que en el hombre es considerado “menos decente”. Estas locuciones caracterizan más de cerca ese “respeto”, sobre todo, en el ámbito de las relaciones y comportamientos humanos en lo que se refiere al cuerpo; lo cual es importante tanto respecto al “propio” cuerpo, como evidentemente también en las relaciones recíprocas (especialmente entre el hombre y la mujer, aunque no se limitan a ellas).

Notice that parenthesis: “especialmente entre el hombre y la mujer, aunque no se limitan a ellas,” or, in English, “especially between man and woman, although not limited to them.”
What else? Solitude? The single state? Parents and children? Single sex communities? Why is this here?
Is it possilbe that the Holy Father was calling everyone, those single and celibate, those married, and even those in same-sex relationships, to holiness and purity of heart, to self-control?



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Courage Man

posted September 30, 2005 at 11:00 am


thomas wrote:
I can certainly understand men with same-sex attraction functioning as priests. What I can’t understand is men doing this while acting in that campy way illustrated in the anecdote. That’s what makes me wonder if those who act in that way see it as just farce and performance.
Took the words right out of my mouth. I can be as campy, bitchy and irreverent as the next homo. But there’s a time for seriousness and reverence too, dammit. No queening it up in Church, in the presence of God and the Blessed Sacrament. I can’t even *fathom* how someone presumably thinking God has chosen him in this unique way for which he is patently unworthy could be acting this way. And in front of seminarians he should be helping to form, no less.



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Zhou De-Ming

posted September 30, 2005 at 11:06 am


Hey, campy is as campy does.
Not just the gays.
My least favorite local parish, run by a bunch of nice married ladies with grown children, puts on an awe-inspiring dramatized version of the Passion at EVERY SUNDAY LITURGY on Passion Sunday (no escape).
Pilate is played by a nice woman in her late 50’s who swishes around her feather boa–all this in the sanctuary, mind you. And Jesus is always played by a teenager, of whichever gender is availabe in a given year.
And what about “Late Night Catechism”?



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Sandra Miesel

posted September 30, 2005 at 11:23 am


Ah, but encratites were heretics, back in Patristic times. They made a spectacle of their self-control by living with virgins or even romping among naked women.
Obviously this isn’t what the pope had in mind but encratism has the above connotations for me.



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al

posted September 30, 2005 at 11:29 am

tt

posted September 30, 2005 at 11:37 am


“So long as they’re chaste,” we say, and yet…Do we really want perfectly chaste clerics who exhibit outrageously “femme” characteristics, or engage in camp behavior in the sacristy (“backstage”?!). No. Besides trivializing the sacred, this will inevitably contribute to an environment in which sin is winked at and blackmailable skeletons-in-the-closet are acquired–and in which pederasty can flourish.
But I fear that no document banning gays can stop this kind of thing. I would prefer that sems with SSA be able to discreetly acknowledge their attraction with their confessors and those charged with their formation, in an environment where there is zero confusion about the Church’s teaching on this matter. Such an arrangement would be far less likely, I think, to lead to seminarians nicknaming each other Gladys and Diane.



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Francesca

posted September 30, 2005 at 12:35 pm


Damien Thompson is the editor of the Catholic Herald, which is said to be owned by a pink
millionaire. It was just about readable when
William Oddie was the editor (at least, I used
to read it occasionally queing for confession). It does not have a single journalist who could make a living on a national newspaper in this country.
Francesca



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Kurt

posted September 30, 2005 at 12:52 pm


“So long as they’re chaste,” we say, and yet…
Thank you, TT. This is precisely what bothers me about this discussion: the air of unreality. It is kind of like walking down the street at night and seeing a man of, let us say, ethnic group X beating up an old woman. Instead of trying to stop him or call the police one says, “I hope people don’t think that all men of ethnic group X beat up old ladies. What can we do to insure that such men aren’t discriminated against?”
The fact is that there are gay clicks in the clergy (seminaries, religous orders, institutions). Of course this isn’t the only problem, there are dissenters who are heterosexual and asexual (seemingly), but I have had this confirmed by too many priests and seminarians over the past 15 years. These are not men who have their SSA under control–or have any interest in doing such a thing. And they have a lock tight grip on certain parts of the Church.
They have abused young men, fornicated with those their age, and demoralized many other good priests. (I just had dinner with an older priest this week who told me about the serious depression he and others have to deal with because of things like this.)
I also recently talked to a young woman who quit work at a large catholic institution–not known as liberal–where she said it became obvious that several of the priests were gay. Not that there was sexual activity she knew of, but through the mannerisms and “swishy” behavior. She quit because she said it was unhealthy to her faith: you either become angry, or depressed, or develop a detached cynicism about it.
Job #1 is cleaning out these “snipers nests”-busting up the clicks. It will be a dirty, taxing, and thankless job–and I have my doubts that the current crop of bishops has the interest. Job #2 is insuring that these snipers nests aren’t re-occupied. This is why I tend to favor a blanket ban on men with SSA for the time being.
At any rate, the problem at present is not that a few men with mild SSA known only to their spiritual directors will be booted from the seminary, the problem is that there are quite obvious–if not always militant–homosexuals in key places in the Church. This is demoralizing to good priests, when it is not costly. As my older priest friend ( a real man’s man, ordained 50 years ago) said, “No, it didn’t used to be like this. Every once and a while there would be the odd Father X whom you would wonder about, but no this situation is new.”



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reluctant penitent

posted September 30, 2005 at 12:54 pm


‘Come on boys, get into your dresses. Grandma is coming.’
Just one more reason to support a robust ban.
Predictions:
(1) Zhou will continue telling us that as long as there are heterosexual Catholics sinners we should not ban homosexuals from the priesthood.
(2) There will be at least one more prediction about the number of posts that this thread will elicit.



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Zhou De-Ming

posted September 30, 2005 at 1:09 pm


Just two examples:

With all due respect, Pope Benedict XVI’s possible decision to ban homosexuals from the priesthood would take the Catholic Church in a misguided direction.
Rather, the Vatican most certainly should make an effort to ban sexual predators and child molesters, homosexual or heterosexual, from the priesthood.
There is no need to ban all gay men from the priesthood anymore than there is a need to ban all heterosexual men from the priesthood.

(HeraldTribune.com)
and,

FORDHAM – The recent sex scandals involving priests and young children, which have plagued the Catholic Church this year, have left the Vatican under pressure to establish procedures to prevent such things from reccurring in the future. One of the most predominant findings concerning the sex scandals was that the majority of the priests involved were homosexuals.
On Nov. 5, the Vatican declared its decision to address the issue of imposing a possible ban on homosexuals from entering the priesthood. This statement has resulted in much criticism from several homosexual Catholic advocates, but has also gained support from prominent figures in Rome.
Banning homosexuals from becoming ordained priests would also result in the banning of gay men from acceptance into seminaries. However, rejecting homosexual seminary candidates is not something new. According to a Nov. 5 article by Tom Musbach from the Gay.com/PlanetOut.com Network, this has been a policy enforced and implemented in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for the past 13 years.
In a survey published by the Catholic University of America, it was revealed that 41 percent of U.S. Catholic priests felt homosexuality was clearly or probably present in the seminaries at which they studied. This same survey also found that 51 percent of surveyed priests said they felt the same about their own parishes or religious institutions.
Although the Vatican’s draft of guidelines on how to deal with gay candidates for priesthood is in its early stages and still incomplete, news sources say the final document will suggest that all homosexuals should be banned from seminaries.
In the Oct. 10 edition of the Washington Post, it was reported that Vatican authorities confirmed that no official action to ban homosexuals from seminaries was likely to occur anytime in the near future, yet the possibility did exist. “It is being studied. We are far from formulating a policy,” said the official.
While many church officials support the Vatican’s thoughts on this issue, several prominent Catholics are in opposition of the ban. In a recent editorial, the Rev. Thomas Reese, the editor-in-chief of America, wrote that, “Preventing the ordination of gay men would deprive the church of many productive, hard-working and dedicated ministers and would, moreover, ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit, who has called these men to holy orders.” He also added that “scapegoating healthy and celibate gay priests” was an inappropriate response to the sex abuse crisis.
Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, a Washington, D.C.-based group that serves gay and lesbian Catholics, stated in a public e-mail message to the Gay.com/PlanetOut.com Network that banning gay men from entering seminaries and being ordained would result in “major theological and pastoral problems [and] they run the risk of greatly dividing the Church.”
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington has said that the most important characteristic in a candidate for priesthood is not their sexual orientation, but their willingness and ability to live in “perpetual celibacy.”
According to an article from the Gay.com/PlanetOut.com Network, Monsignor Andrew R. Baker, a priest in Allentown, Pennsylvania and a staff members of the Congregation for Bishops in Rome, presented the argument that gay men in a seminary would struggle so much with celibacy in an all-male atmosphere that they might not be “healed” from their “disorder” of homosexuality.
The question of whether or not homosexuals should be ordained has existed for quite some time but has not been prioritized by the church until now. Such an issue is controversial and can produce grave consequences as to how the Catholic Church is perceived by the public. Some critics simply deem the ban as a way of diverting the attention from the the recent sex scandals.
Among the Fordham student body, there were mixed feelings about homosexuality in the Church.
“I believe that homosexuals should not be allowed to become priests,” said Johnny Rivera, FCLC‘05. “I have been taught that sexuality is an attribute that priests do not have. They enter into a marriage with God and renounce their ability to engage in relations with the opposite sex. If a person seeking to become a priest has identified himself as being homosexual then the very recognition of this shows their sexuality. This recognition would in my belief interfere with their ability to be one with God.”
Scott Johnson, FCLC‘06, explained, “The sexual orientation of candidates for the priesthood should not be a deciding factor as to who should be allowed to become a priest.”
One student, Iris Otano, FCLC’04, said she felt homosexuals should have the same rights as heterosexuals.
“I feel that being gay should not be an obstacle when it comes to worshiping God,” she said. “I put myself in that position. If I was a gay male who wanted to devote my life to love God and spread this feeling with other people, I would not want my sexual orientation to be an obstacle. I don’t feel that it is okay to blame the recent things on gay priests.”
Otano added that sexual orientation, whether gay or straight, was unimportant, as individual involved in either lifestyle were equally as capable of committing sex crimes.
“The Catholic Church is having problems within itself and it is definitely not because of gay priests,” she said. “Priests should have wives, that way it will prevent them from committing [sex] crimes.”

(Fordham Observer, December 2002
Glad to be of service!



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Joseph D'Hippolito

posted September 30, 2005 at 1:28 pm


Mandatory celibacy is the herd of elephants in this Catholic living room. I would love to know how many “swishy” homosexuals there are in the Jewish rabbinate, whose members are encouraged to get married.
If celibacy is a gift, then how can a gift be mandated?
This business of the priest being alter Christus has got to stop. It puts priests on an unrealistic pedestal (nobody can redeem humanity the way Christ did). We are slowly crucifying our own priesthood because of our esoteric attitudes.
Some traditions indeed make void the word of God….



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reluctant penitent

posted September 30, 2005 at 1:30 pm


For all those who, like Zhou, oppose the policy even before it has been elaborated repeat after me: ‘Grandma is coming!’ Again, with flair and camp!



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reluctant penitent

posted September 30, 2005 at 1:38 pm


This one is for Joe:
‘Rabbi Steve Greenberg, the first openly gay Orthodox rabbi, spoke about the power of discourse to alleviate difference and achieve understanding to a crowded room at Hillel Monday night. He began his lecture by relaying the struggles he must confront in uniting conflicting Orthodox Jewish and gay identities.’
(http://badgerherald.com/news/2005/04/05/gay_rabbi_reevaluate.php)
Then there’s this one:
‘Conservative Rabbis Rebuke But Don’t Expel Rabbi of Gay Shul’
(http://www.glbtjews.org/article.php3?id_article=133)
Maybe gay rabbis are just not ‘swishy’.



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al

posted September 30, 2005 at 1:39 pm


“This business of the priest being alter Christus has got to stop”
–Martin Luther, c. 1517



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Zhou De-Ming

posted September 30, 2005 at 1:45 pm


Hey, RP, when I saw Joe’s posting, all I could say was “Oy Vey!”
Yes, there are gay rabbis.
And women rabbis, too.

When seminaries began to ordain women rabbis, they also began to ordain lesbian rabbis. Some of these rabbis had not acknowledged even to themselves that they were lesbian. Others had always known, but made their way through rabbinical school carefully closeted. The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and Hebrew Union College have admitted openly lesbian and gay rabbis since 1984 for RRC and 1989 for HUC. The Conservative Jewish Theological Seminary does not admit or ordain students it knows to be lesbian or gay. The other Conservative seminary, the Los Angeles-based University of Judaism, has a “don’t ask, don’t tell policy ” and makes valiant attempts at obliviousness.

(Excerpt
Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies 23.3 (2005) 209-212.)
Probably the “Jewish Rabbinate” is not a great place to look for ban-the-homosexuals support.



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reluctant penitent

posted September 30, 2005 at 1:46 pm


al,
But there are no gay Lutheran pastors,
Well ok maybe a few: http://www.llgm.org/



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James Kabala

posted September 30, 2005 at 1:54 pm


I will fullfill rp’s prediction by saying that this thread actually doesn’t seem very popular, and will actually have a final total of fewer than one hundred posts.



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WRY

posted September 30, 2005 at 2:08 pm


But has anybody on this thread been kicked off Mark’s blog?



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john c

posted September 30, 2005 at 4:57 pm


I was once, but just for the day.



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Julia

posted September 30, 2005 at 6:02 pm


#1 I have a friend who told me that while in seminary in Belgium he read another student’s academic paper that was all about the nicknames of Popes and others in the upper hierarchy in Rome. All were women’s names.
#2 If you have been following the fall-out after JPII’s death, there has been frequent discussion in articles and books about how prelates with lots of power take care of the priests left behind when they get promoted upwards. When they die, often others will take care of the priests left behind. Guess what these priests are called? “Widows”. I’ve seen that description in a number of reliable places.



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Zhou De-Ming

posted September 30, 2005 at 6:05 pm


Too good to pass up! From yesterdays Jewish Times:

Gay Yeshiva Hits The Road
Steven I. Weiss
Special to the Jewish Times
SEPTEMBER 29, 2005
New York
The average yeshiva student doesn’t ask questions of a rebbe wearing wings and holding a wand, but the self-proclaimed “fairies” at SVARA aren’t meant to be your average rebbes, and the students are there specifically because they don’t think they fit in at other yeshivas.
SVARA — a yeshiva for gays and lesbians currently on a cross-country road trip for the month of Elul — is led by Rabbi Benay Lappe. She is a 1997 graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary, where, she said, “I had to be in the closet because then as now JTS did not accept openly queer people.” The wings and wand are worn during workshop sessions as an expression of gay and lesbian identity.
Lappe founded the yeshiva in Chicago two years ago with Ellie Knepler, a rabbinical student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia.
Until that point, Lappe said, Jewish learning programs could be divided into two categories: yeshivas that offered in-depth learning but in which gay and lesbian students “weren’t welcomed,” and those where gays “were tolerated or welcomed, but where the learning wasn’t serious.”
While gay Jewish groups have proliferated in recent years, SVARA is believed to be the only one promoting Jewish learning.
SVARA has expanded beyond Chicago to include joint programming with the Center for Jewish Studies at the Graduate Theological Union at the University of California at Berkeley. Its latest innovation is a sort of road show that’s taking it to New York City, Chicago and San Francisco for programs that last several days at a time.
“SVARA Elul,” the first in this series, focuses on issues of teshuvah, or repentance. The first session was held Sept. 18-20 in New York City, where approximately 25 students worked through core texts in preparation for the High Holidays.
A subsequent session was held Sept. 25-27 in San Francisco, and another is scheduled Oct. 2 in Chicago. Several other road shows are planned for the coming year.
Attendees possess a broad range of experience, religious philosophy and gay and lesbian identity. Unlike Lappe, who remained in the closet during her yeshiva studies, many of the students are at least somewhat “out” — though a fair number remain protective of their identity.
Cara Herbitter, a Manhattan native who attended the Orthodox Ramaz school and came out as a lesbian as an undergraduate at Wesleyan University, was attending her second set of SVARA classes at the New York session.
Svara is “the first organization that brings together a lot of those parts of my identity,” she said.
“Coming to SVARA has helped me figure out what’s been missing since I left yeshiva,” she said, “because I realized that Jewish learning is a really integral part of my spiritual practice that I haven’t been engaging.”
Herbitter, who remains observant, said that “going back to the modern Orthodox community and being a part of it doesn’t really feel like an option.”
Her distance from that community has “to do with the fact that my standards for community have changed,” she said. “I’m not interested in worshipping in a synagogue” where traditional gender roles are strictly enforced, she explained.
Reuben Zellman came to SVARA from the other end of the denominational spectrum, as a Reform Jew studying to be a rabbi at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York.
Zellman became involved with SVARA when Lappe was a scholar-in-residence one weekend at Zellman’s synagogue in San Francisco, Congregation Shaar Zahav.
A third-year student, Zellman said the general Jewish community has “a long distance to go” in welcoming gays and lesbians, “but I have a lot of respect for the efforts the Reform movement has made.”
“It’s obviously way ahead of some other movements, and it really is a pretty friendly environment,” he said.
To illustrate the unique learning offered at SVARA, Zellman cited his study of Maimonides’ laws of repentance.
“I’ve certainly looked at that before, but not in a context that is specifically encouraging me to consider how it applies to queer life,” he said.
“I think that we’re in a time when we really need to reconsider what we consider an ‘aveirah,’ ” or sin, he said, “and there are many perspectives from which we need to do that. The queer perspective is only one of them.”
Lappe tries to incorporate that perspective into SVARA’s learning by relying on a philosophy that is the institution’s namesake.
Svara is a rabbinic term that she defined as “an internal ethical impulse informed by Jewish learning.”
Lappe contrasted SVARA’s methodology with more empirical notions of morality, saying that “it’s not just what my gut tells me, it has to be informed by a deep understanding of Judaism and its values and principles.”
That sense of Judaism helps to provide an open environment for gay and lesbian participants, Lappe said.
In general in Jewish institutions, “in those places that queer Jews are most welcome, they are merely welcome — they are not recognized as essential in providing insights into life experiences that are crucial to our understanding of the Jewish tradition,” she said.
SVARA’s learning doesn’t differ from many more mainstream outlets in the methods used to read Jewish texts, but in the understandings students bring to the texts.
“The presentation of the text is really no different — what’s different is what happens in shiur, when the students begin to integrate the text themselves,” Lappe said. “SVARA recognizes queer Jews as absolutely essential.”

Love the “wings and wand.”
Why don’t is there no “sexual misconduct” crisis among Jews? Maybe because it is not the gays, but the hierarchy, that is the problem.



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Colleen

posted September 30, 2005 at 6:36 pm


I’ll say it one more time… there is a celibate (I’d wager money on that) homosexual young priest who is the chaplain at my daughter’s HS. The girls (at least the ones who pay any attention to religion) love him, and the boys (one and all) make fun of him although some do it feeling guilty.
My Catholic HS had a ‘swishy’ priest for a chaplain back in the 70s. Nice guy but he just chased the boys away from considering a vocation to the priesthood. They had him lecture in the auditorium on ‘vocation day’ each year. You should have heard the sotto voce comments from the audience. Funny at the time, but I now know how tragic that was.
With a heavy heart and even sadness, I think it is time to take a ‘time out’ and be very selective in the vocations process. Going to Mass or living the Catholic faith in a public way is today perceived all to often as a ‘woman’ thing. Evidence is in the pews and even in the day to day, week to week running of so many parishes – many, many females, not too many men.
I’ll even add in how I know a couple of wonderful men who attended seminary in Boston back in the late 70s – both left and both cited the overwhelming ‘gay bar’ atmosphere they just couldn’t deal with anymore (one lasted two, the other three years). Now, I think that has changed somewhat, but nevertheless, an atmosphere like that certainly changed the priestly landscape over the past few decades.



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kathleen reilly

posted September 30, 2005 at 9:33 pm


Make no mistake: priests who feel free to act like flaming queens behind closed doors articulate a pronounced hostility for those who support them spiritually, financially and professionally — namely faithful lay catholics. Therefore they are by definition lousy shepherds to the flock and should be canned. Their sexual activity, or lack thereof, is immaterial.



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HA

posted September 30, 2005 at 9:38 pm


Rabbi Steven Greenburg, the first Orthodox Jewish rabbi whom Zhou mentioned, is featured in a film about Orthodox Jewish gays and lesbians, Trembling Before G_d:

“We meet, among others, David, a gay Orthodox Jewish doctor who spent years undergoing therapies designed to “cure” him of homosexual desires; “Devorah,” a married frum lesbian who still finds strength in the Torah, though she can no longer endure the touch of her husband; and Mark, a gay Hasidic yeshiva student with AIDS, who manages to joyfully embrace these contradictions.”

In fairness to Joesph, I would say the lesbian probably isn’t “swishy” either, but that’s just a guess. I’m also guessing he wouldn’t be happy if she became a rabbi either.



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Victor Morton

posted October 1, 2005 at 1:20 am


I’d actually recommend the film HA mentioned, TREMBLING BEFORE G-D — it made my Top 10 for 2001 at the time, it’s now on video and frequently plays on the Sundance Channel for those with cable. It’s the only recent film to my knowledge about homosexuality and religion that isn’t wholly or almost-wholly pro-gay propaganda. Perhaps it took the constraints of avoiding anti-Semitism to get the traditional religious teaching presented in a halfway-serious and halfway-loving manner. I certainly don’t expect any movie for the foreseeable future to take the Catholic teaching as such on any terms other than repressed-tight-asses caricature.
There’s a couple of scenes in TREMBLING where everything isn’t overdetermined. The rabbis are portrayed as serious and concerned for their gay parishioners (though the families usually aren’t). There’s no Michael Moore caricature of the rabbis (except in one very early shot of a public demonstrator, who just IS making an ass of himself). But the rabbis explain the Jewish teaching on homosexuality and how a homosexual person must respond if it won’t go away. There’s a kinda funny scene involving an Orthodox woman who fringe-lurks at the Israeli gay pride parade, but is prompted into booing the secular speakers mocking Orthodoxy. In addition, there’s one American man who came across as a self-absorbed pill no matter how mean his daddy was to him (though I freely admit, that reaction may just be my especial distaste for the sort of personality he has).
I don’t want to raise expectations too high on TREMBLING — the filmmaker’s sympathies while not film-defining, ARE clear. But to quote something Christianity Today’s critics wrote about Mike Leigh and VERA DRAKE: “The remarkable result is that, while the film clearly reflects its director’s political perspective, it allows plenty of room for those who disagree with the director to engage the characters on their own turf.”



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George C.

posted October 1, 2005 at 10:30 pm


So the problem is not really rampant same-sex-orientation, but swishiness and campy behavior? And that is turning off your typical American boy from the priesthood?
I don’t think so. I don’t think so. In North America and Europe, the skill set for Christian clergy is mainly comprised of verbal talents. Preaching, teaching, leading, praying, singing, all these things and many more make a good minister and priest. Truth to say that only a small number of males are good at this stuff.
It’s a tough job that required an intense commitment, plus no wife or kids. I can’t imagine that the perceived effeminacy of a few men factors into this at all. It is just a difficult life choice, made tougher by the mandatory celibacy. Good pay, though, at least in the long run.



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Xanax without a prescription.

posted February 22, 2007 at 6:16 am


Xanax.

Xanax valium. Xanax no prescription. Xanax for sale. Xanax.



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