Monday, March 30, 2015

The Pink Mafia

I will be quoting from Alberto Cutié's exposé: Dilemma (Celebra 2011). "Padre Cutié" was a celebrity priest who left the Roman church to marry a woman:


The rigorous academic discipline wasn't the only new thing for me. This was also the very first time I ever had to share a room with other men. I grew up with two sisters, but since I was the only boy at home, I'd never had to share a room. My first roommate at the seminary was a man twice my age. He had lived with a girlfriend for yeas before having a conversion experience at a spiritual retreat, which caused him to decide the priesthood was his calling. He often spoke to me like a father giving advice to his inexperienced son, and I learned to appreciate his authentic concern for me.

One morning, my roommate saw me shaving at the sink we shared in our common room. I was wearing my boxers and considered it natural to shave dressed that way.  He said, "What are you doing?"

I was startled by the alarm in his voice. "Why, what's the matter?"

"In this room, you can dress like that with no problem, but don't get used to it," my roommate warned. You have to take care of yourself with the environment around here."

I had no idea what he meant. It was only later in the year that I realized my roommate was referring to the presence of a number of promiscuous gay men in the seminary.

The first time I ever heard any of these young gay seminarians use slang words and expressions of a homosexual nature, I had to ask around to find out what they meant. I really had no clue! I soon discovered that they had nicknames for everything and everyone, including a bishop who was sexually involved with some of his seminarians. Years later, that bishop would be removed and sent to live quietly in a monastery after Church officials couldn't hide his behavior any more. That was all very awkward for me. 

It isn't difficult for homosexual men in seminaries and religious houses to act out sexually. For one thing, it's easy to hide your relationship in these all-male environments; for another, they have role models in priests who have been getting away with it for a long time, when the institution at all levels turns a blind eye to it. 

I used to hear stories about priests and seminarians and their sexual conduct, both homosexual and heterosexual, but I never really believed them–or maybe I just did not want to believe it was possible. It probably would have been too painful for me, an idealistic eighteen-year-old convinced that the institution was all about God, to admit that the Church could ever engage in or protect such dishonesty. At that stage of my life, I had a very romantic concept of the institutional Church. 

Yet, as time went on, I began to realize that a lot of what I did not believe was possible was actually true. A number of people I had come to know and trust were actually very involved in that inappropriate stuff. 

Among all of the outrageous things I heard in my seminary days, I will never forget the day that our rector looked up from a newspaper article and said to a group of us nearby, "I wonder what cardinal this guy f-ed to get there."

We were standing in front of the community board right in the main hallway of our seminary building…One of the recent postings stood out like a sore thumb. It announced the new position of a former seminarian who had been thrown out a couple of years earlier for sexual misconduct. He had found a way of being accepted to another seminary, in another country, and was now ordained. That young man had become a priest–and a prominent one.

How did this happen? I wondered. Information about seminarians usually follows them from place to place, and the reasons for dismissal from a seminary are usually part of a required report, in case you apply to a new diocese or seminary. In this case, not only did the candidate get ordained, but he was actually tapped for an important job at the highest levels of the Vatican. 

There is, of course, no way of knowing exactly how many gay priests are working worldwide or how many of them actually observe celibacy. In his book The Changing Face of the Priesthood, Father Donald Cozzens suggests that at least 60 percent of all American priests are gay. Whatever the exact numbers, a significant number of active homosexual priests continue to be ordained, but they are forced to be cautious, repressed and mostly closeted homosexuals–unless, of course, those priests are in Rome. One recent article in the Italian weekly magazine Panorama points out that the sight of courting priests is hardly an anomaly; for that particular investigative piece, a reporter posed as the boyfriend of a man running in gay clerical circles, and caught the sexual escapades of priests on tape. He also discovered that male escorts and transsexual prostitutes in Rome regularly rely on priests as regular customers.

Those Roman Catholics who do not want to accept homosexuals among their clergy are way too late. There are so many homosexuals, both active and celibate, at all levels of the clergy and Church hierarchy that the Church would never be able to function if they were really to exclude all of them from ministry. As one of the most prominent pastors in a parish near where I grew up used to say in jest, "If they get rid of us queens, they won't have too many people left to do the work!"

The oldest seminary in the country, St. Mary's in Baltimore, was at one time called "the Pink Palace" by a number of priests, seminarians, and laypeople associated with it. In the 1980s, promiscuous homosexual activity was actually very commonplace in seminaries…

At my own seminary, at least one of the rectors and a number of priests on staff had been involved with seminarians in totally inappropriate relationships, but many of those men went on to big, wealthy parishes, positions in the Curia, or professorships. They all continued in ministry with few repercussions for their well-known promiscuous behavior. A group of laypeople once wrote a novel to try to expose their pastor and others in the hierarchy, but he was well protected by the powers that be.

The question remains: How can the Church condemn homosexuality so forcefully in public, yet continue to cover it up in a number of its own leaders? 

A young Franciscan friar I once worked with…used to tell me, "I live with a bunch of gay guys who don't really understand me."

I'm just pointing out that the Church speaks out of both sides of its mouth. The institution that calls homosexual activity intrinsically disordered…is the same one that ordains, promotes, and places closeted homosexuals in positions of power. That's no secret to those of us who have dealt with the institution at every level, from the local parishes to the Vatican. 

I knew one young seminarian in Latin America who was called into the cardinal's office because he was "spending too much time" talking to a young novice (a religious sister in training)…When the young man explained that he and the young sister were just friends, the cardinal said, "If you were to have that type of relationship with a man, it would be easier to hide and we could avoid criticism, but we cannot protect you if you are involved with a girl." 

The John Jay Study report, as well as my own anecdotal evidence, leads me to believe that many of the priests accused of being child abusers are in fact closeted gay men. A great majority of their "abuses" were homosexually oriented, with boys in their late teens.

Priests will tell you that there is a sort of Pink Mafia in the Roman Catholic Church; this is the term describing the significant number of closeted homosexuals who live within the Church and occupy the hierarchy at every level of this institution. Those in the Pink Mafia actively promote their own, regardless of ability or credentials, though many prove to be very resourceful and know how to work the system.

I was aware of a great number of gay priests and bishops who appeared to be pretty open about it–and had partners–some even living promiscuous lives. 

In response to the Church's sex abuse crisis, the Vatican put out an official "instruction," basically stating that homosexuals would not be allowed in seminaries…What makes this rule even more impossibly hypocritical is that the very office in Rome that issued that document is staffed by some of the most flamboyantly homosexual clergy. One day, while filming a documentary on the Vatican, I visited several offices in the Curia in Rome. I'll never forget how I was taken off guard when some of the members of the crew asked me, "Father, who are these guys?" referring to the number of visibly effeminate men in Roman collars and long cassocks walking around. 

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