What Did Author Hope to Accomplish With ‘In the Closet of the Vatican’?

Originally published at the National Catholic Register, March 18, 2019

The reception of Frederic Martel’s widely anticipated book In the Closet of the Vatican has been surprising. The tantalizing hints dropped before the “bombshell,” “salacious” book’s release exclaimed, “80% of Vatican priests gay.” After an initial international media flurry, the book has dropped out of sight. Two questions arise in my mind. First, what, if anything, can we infer from this deeply flawed book?  Second, what did Martel believe he was accomplishing?

The author, Frederic Martel, is a self-described “French gay atheist.” His overarching theme is that the Church’s stance on homosexuality is hypocritical and harmful. Many priests are living “double lives,” professing Church teaching by day and seeking homosexual sex by night.

The solution, in Martel’s mind, is to change Church teaching so that these clergy can live openly homosexually active lives. In this, he, no doubt, has many supporters, both inside and outside the Church.

But all sides of the Catholic debate over moral issues have panned Martel’s book. They make essentially the same critique: Martel trades in stereotypes, gossip and innuendo. He is grossly unfair to prelates he (evidently) does not like. Continue reading “What Did Author Hope to Accomplish With ‘In the Closet of the Vatican’?”

Weaponized Self-Pity, Part II: ‘Gay’ Clergy

Originall published at the National Carholic Register, February 27, 2019. 

In a recent column, I introduced the concept of weaponized self-pity. I noted how often I’ve seen divorced parents become defensive when I talk about the impact of divorce on children.

Numerous times, my friend Leila Miller and I have assured people that, yes, of course, spouses have every right to remove themselves from a genuinely abusive environment — although these assurances often go nowhere with some of those divorced parents to whom we speak.

In a similar way, I was about to respond yet again to someone claiming that the “Catholic right” seeks to “purge” all “gay priests” from the priesthood. Then I caught myself doing for priests who identify as “gay” what Leila was doing for divorce: repeating myself.

I am an outspoken proponent of the research that links homosexually inclined clergy and the incidences of clergy sexual abuse. My colleague, Ruth Institute senior research associate Father Paul Sullins, is the author of the important report “Is Clergy Sex Abuse Related to Homosexuality?” showing such a connection. Continue reading “Weaponized Self-Pity, Part II: ‘Gay’ Clergy”