Thursday, August 16, 2018

A Credible “Proposition”

In October 1984, I was accepted into a program to study for the priesthood by the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh. As a recent college graduate, who hadn’t majored in philosophy, I would be required to complete a year-long program of philosophy, prior to entering the theological seminary. I was 24 years old at the time.

I thought I was to begin in January, but the Diocese wanted me to take the full year in residence with other students (probably simply to keep me on a September-May schedule), which would have begun in September 1985. So, since I had nearly a year to wait (and think), I went back to Memphis to spend yet another year “on the road” with my good friend, Jeff Steinberg.

While I was in Memphis, I became a (loose) part of the Roman Catholic community there. When I was not traveling with Jeff’s ministry, I attended Mass daily at the small local Catholic Church near where I lived. As well, I befriended a priest at one of the larger churches, and in fact, I took a missionary trip (as a “seminarista”) to spend some time with a missionary church in Zacatecas, Mexico.

But at the small local church I attended daily, there was another, older Roman Catholic seminarian (perhaps in his 30’s). in fact, I think he had been ordained a Deacon, and was in preparation for ordination to the Priesthood. I’ll call him “Fr. Bernie”. He had in fact graduated from St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore. I didn’t know it at the time, but St. Mary’s had a reputation, being known as “the Pink Palace”.

In 2002, a genuinely devout Roman Catholic writer, Michael Rose, wrote a work entitled “Goodbye, Good Men”. The book discussed a broad range of “liberal” issues within the network of Roman Catholic seminaries, including a “gay subculture”.

The book was trashed by conservative Roman Catholic writers. But one paragraph rings true to me:

“a large number of students had been convinced by some liberal teacher that sexual promiscuity with the same sex was not a violation of celibacy”(pg. 59)

This is precisely the appeal with which “Fr Bernie” approached me. I was too unsophisticated to know what this was about at the time, but in retrospect, this did seem to me as if he had been trying to proposition me. I tended to avoid him after this.

Interestingly, “Fr Bernie” is still a priest in Memphis. I recently saw videos of several of his recorded Masses on YouTube.


  1. As I recall, Ratzinger briefly suggested that homosexuals should be banned from the priesthood, but that was fiercely opposed by his colleagues, so he backed down. To my knowledge, the hierarchy has no problem with avowedly homosexual candidates for the priesthood so long as they promise to be celibate. So there's a direct pipeline of homosexuals into the priesthood. It isn't covert but official.

    1. I recall that too. I wonder if all of this why Ratzinger resigned.

      Regarding a re-write of the Catechism, it should be noted, too, that in sections 2357, 2358, and 2359, regarding homosexuality, that third paragraph has no corresponding “official document”. It mentions “chastity”, and then it talks about only “gradually and resolutely” approaching “Christian perfection”. Within that “gradual and resolute” time, there are all kinds of opportunities for indiscretion.