Moving in a milieu that considered homosexuality to be intrinsically bad, and reading theology books that defined it as a sin, for a long time I experienced it as guilt. The path that I chose to leave that guilt was to deny that sexual attraction by transferring it to religious attraction: I made the choice of chastity and the seminary. For me, becoming a priest was a kind of solution to expiate an error that I had not committed.
In the Closet of the Vatican
This quote is from a just-published work of journalism taking-up the gay culture in the Vatican.
I imagine most people have forgotten about it by now, but a bit more than a decade ago there was a Colorado pastor named Ted Haggard whose career spectacularly incinerated when a male prostitute stepped forward to say that he and his buddy Ted regularly did drugs together, and … business. The self-immolation followed the usual course: stout-hearted denials, then acknowledgement that there might have been some kind of misunderstanding, and then Haggard was caught in his driveway by a camera crew and looked straight into the camera and said (I approximate, it’s been a long time), “I’ve struggled against this all my life.”
I was watching and said aloud, “So why did you become a preacher?”
It was, literally, one of those smack-your-forehead moments for me. I knew the answer immediately: Because he had struggled against it all his life.
For almost 2-millennia, for an extraordinary number of men, a career in the clergy has been a form of self-therapy: the unauthorized desire might be made to go away or, if not, he would at least be surrounded by good people and unable to indulge his wickedness. Whew! Hell avoided!
Vocations are down because the public acceptance of homosexuality is steadily trending up. What a grand irony it is that the church’s condemnation of being gay was its best recruitment tool.