Sunday, 4 October 2015

Poor, deluded man

My comments on the interview with Monsignor Charamsa published in Corriere della Serra, and translated by Simon Tanner ( )

“I want the Church and my community to know who I am: a gay priest who is happy, and proud of his identity. I’m prepared to pay the consequences, but it’s time the Church opened its eyes, and realised that offering gay believers total abstinence from a life of love is inhuman”. 

Straight away, one can see the false philosophy to which this poor man has fallen prey: that his identity is centred on his romantic and erotic emotions and desires.  Note in particular the use of the word 'love' when what he means is 'romantic and erotic love.' To equate a life of celibacy with a 'total abstinence from a life of love' is to say that Our Lord, our Lady, and many of our greatest and dearest saints, great beacons of love thoughout the ages, live a life without love. How could a Catholic priest get so lost? Well, there are clues later in the interview. 

Why did you decide to come out?

“There comes a day when something inside you snaps, and you can’t go on. If I had been alone I would have lived the nightmare of a denied homosexuality, but God never leaves us alone. And I think He has helped me take this important existential step. It’s important because of its consequences, but it’s also the premise for living honestly, which should be natural for every homosexual. The Church is already behind in tackling the issue, and we can't wait another 50 years, which is why I've decided to tell the Church who I am. I'm doing it for myself, for my community, and for the Church. It is also my duty towards the community of sexual minorities”. 

Here again, the confused philosophy is evident. Once you have decided that your identity is centred on a perceived sexual identity (ie romantic and erotic emotions and desires) then celibacy becomes a denial of that identity. Yet many celibates have a different philosophy, and find in their celibacy a truer expression both of their identity and of their desire to love.

He uses both the words 'natural' and 'homosexual' in ways that beg many questions. Natural can mean in accordance with our nature as created by God, which God saw was good, and calls us to supernaturalise; or it can mean in accordance with our fallen nature, damaged by original sin, which corrupts our wills and our intellects. Once one accepts this fallen nature as a good, one can indeed convince oneself that God is calling one to act accordingly: man's capacity for self-deception in pursuit of his desires is almost limitless.

'Homosexual' again can mean many things: it can mean someone subject to homosexual temptations (romantic and/or erotic); or it can mean someone who believes that such desires are foundational to his identity, that a 'homosexual' is some separate category of man, and that the natural (qv) expression of these desires is the only way to be honest...

This poor man has fallen for these secular assumptions, and seems to think that in declaring these banal and flawed ideas he has something to teach the Church.

What do you think you will achieve?
“It seems to me that in the Church we are ignorant about homosexuality because we don't really know any homosexuals. We have them all around us, of course, but we never look them in the eye, because they seldom say who they are. I hope that my personal experience will help stir the Church’s consciousness in some way. I will personally reveal my identity to the Holy Father in a letter. And I will tell the universities in Rome where I teach who I am; to my great sorrow I will probably no longer be allowed to work in Catholic education”. 

This is an extraordinary set of ideas. I am sure that many of my readers, like me, will have friends who identify as homosexuals; many of us will have debated with them, argued with them, got drunk with them, gone to concerts, cinemas and parties with them; they are friends like other friends. Many of us, too, will have other friends who are subject to homosexual desires but do not accept the homosexual identity. Many of us will have friends who are or were confused about their romantic and erotic emotions and desires at various stages of their life.  Many priests, of course, will have confessed and counselled people in all these states. 

As for 'no longer be(ing) allowed to work in Catholic education,' I should think not. He has clearly lost a Catholic understanding of reality (of which more below).

You are making this announcement on the eve of the Synod on the Family, which begins tomorrow at the Vatican. 
“Yes, I would like to tell the Synod that homosexual love is a kind of family love, a love that needs the family. Everyone – gays, lesbians and transsexuals included – foster in their hearts a desire for love and family. Everyone has the right to love, and that love must be protected by society and law. But above all it must be nourished by the Church. Christianity is the religion of love, and love is central to the figure of Jesus we bring to the world. A lesbian or gay couple should be able to openly say to their Church: ‘we love each other according to our nature, and offer this gift of our love to others, because it is a public matter, not just a private one; we are not merely engaged in some extreme pursuit of pleasure’”. 

Here again, we see the confusion in his mind about the concepts of 'love' and 'nature' and the reification of notions such as 'gays, lesbians and transsexuals', to which I referred previously.

But this is not how the Church sees things.
“No, this is not the position of current Church doctrine, but similar views have been aired in theological scholarship. Above all in Protestant scholarship, but we also have excellent Catholic theologians who have given important contributions in the field”.

Here, I think, we start to see how the poor man's intellectual confusion has arisen. He has been reading heretical theologians... Note in particular 'current Church doctrine' as though doctrine is some changing human idea, not the teaching of God-made-man, Christ.

Catholic Catechism based on the Bible defines homosexuality as an “intrinsically disordered” tendency... 
“The Bible says nothing on the subject of homosexuality. It instead speaks of acts that I would call “homogenital”. Even heterosexual people may perform such acts, as happens in many prisons, but in that case they are acting against their nature and therefore committing a sin. When a gay person engages in those same acts, they are instead expressing their nature. The biblical sodomite has nothing to do with two gays that love each other in modern-day Italy and want to marry. I am unable to find a single passage, even in St Paul, that may be seen as referring to homosexual persons asking to be respected as such, since at the time the concept was unknown”. 

Here he displays the influence of Protestant theology. No Catholic priest should start an argument against Church doctrine from an implicit Sola Scriptura premise. (In fact, No Catholic priest should start an argument against Church doctrine at all, of course...)

Again, we have the secular idea of 'a gay person' as some kind of separate category of being, reified - treated as though it were a reality.  And again, an appeal to 'nature' with no attempt to discern between 'nature as created' and 'fallen nature.' 

Catholic doctrine excludes gays from the priesthood: how did you manage to become a priest?
“The rule was introduced in 2005 when I was already a priest, and only applies to new ordinations. For me it was a shock. It didn't use to be like this, and I think this is a mistake that needs to be corrected”. Have you always known you are gay? “Yes, but at first I didn't accept the fact; I submitted zealously to the teaching of the Church and to the life it forced upon me, according to the principle that ‘homosexuality does not exist (and if it does, it needs to be destroyed)’”. 

Again, his muddled thinking is clear: and reveals itself as very prejudicial. His statement of Catholic 'principle' as being ‘homosexuality does not exist (and if it does, it needs to be destroyed)’ does not in any way describe Catholic teaching. 

How did you go from denial to being happy about being gay? 
“Through study, prayer and reflection. A dialogue with God and the study of theology, philosophy and science were crucial. Moreover, I now have a partner who has helped me transform my fears into the power of love”. 

And there we have it...

A partner? Is that not even more irreconcilable with being a Catholic priest?
“I know that the Church will see me as someone who has failed to keep a promise, who has lost his way, and what’s worse, not with a woman, but a man! I also know that I will have to give up the ministry, even though it is my whole life. But I'm not doing this so that I can live with my partner. The reasons are much wider-ranging and based on a reflection on Church doctrine”.

'It is my whole life' - but if it is, where does that leave his 'partner'? He is self-deluding.

Could you explain?
“If I failed to be open, if I didn't accept myself, I couldn't be a good priest in any case, because I couldn't act as an intermediary for the joy of God. Humanity has made great progress in its understanding of these issues, but the Church is lagging behind. This is not the first time, of course, but when you are slow to understand astronomy the consequences are not as serious as when the delay regards people's most intimate being. The Church needs to realise that it is failing to rise to the challenge of our times”. 

He is completely self-deluding. 

Please pray for this poor lost man.

1 comment:

Ben Trovato said...

A priest friend writes:

What is truly appalling is that had he not decided to “come out” he would still be a member of the CDF, professor at the Gregorian University, a member of the International Theological Commission– and helping to draw up the summary of the Synod’s deliberations.

It does make me wonder how someone with such poor powers of reasoning and judgement should end up in such important positions.

How did he get to this situation? Perhaps dabbling in illegal drugs …..or just desperately lonely (and ending up going to the wrong sort of bar after supper)

I have stayed at the “Casa del Clero” (in Via della Scrofa – where Pope Francis stayed before the Conclave) once or twice and found it a dreadfully soulless place. I know of other priests who have found the same.

It would be much better for the sanity of diocesan priests working in the Vatican or teaching in the Pontifical Universities if they lived either in a National Casa del Clero or in a Presbytery attached to a parish in Rome.