Monday, September 26, 2005

Six of One + Dissemination

The Catholic Church’s latest witch hunt (or if you prefer, inquisition (or perhaps crusade)) against homosexuals in the seminaries has got me thinking about when I lived in Poland and Ukraine all those years ago.

I remember how strange I thought it was when Morgan told me about a fling he had with a seminarian: he met some guy out at a bar in Krakow and went home with him only to wake up the next day in a seminary where all the fellow priests-in-training where fully aware of what was going on. Morgan, an atheistic Swede who never shied away from sex, finally called off the affair after only a couple of days because he felt so dirty among these “men of God” who apparently had no problem with one of their own picking up + shacking up with other men under their noses.

Here is but one sad excerpt from my journal regarding similar things:

June 10, 2000

We arrived in L. late in the evening a few days ago and proceeded to walk in pitch-blackness to the cathedral, where we would be staying for the next few nights. The bishop offered his clammy, swollen hand to me when introduced. Fat from the table of God, this man lived (and behaved) like a god among his people. Nuns--celibate and scrawny women who devoted themselves not only to serving God but also to serving the bishop--were preparing for tomorrow’s meal: tables and tables of sandwiches and salads filled the huge dining hall. A place was made for my companions and me to eat some supper. Of course, being a vegetarian was a complication, as I did not want to only eat eggs and I do not eat fish.... It was good to see exactly how the bishop could maintain his figure even while observing official Catholic fasts. Some joke was made about me being so fat for a vegetarian.


We have been staying at the ‘parsonage’ in L. with the bishop. When W. first invited me, I ... was willing to indulge the fact that we would be attending the ceremony at which his friends would be ordained as priests. Even after the close to seven-hour bus ride from Lublin on a bus that had seen its heyday no later than 1953, I was able to discern more to the story upon our arrival. The bishop was sending out very clear signals that he felt somehow threatened by me. It was not until after several minutes of behind-the-door negotiations that W. was even allowed to share ... a room not under the bishop’s direct supervision with “that American man.” I did not even try to understand this intrigue at the time, but the next day W. gave me some background: Several years ago this bishop drunkenly attempted to have carnal knowledge of the young and beautiful W. After fifteen minutes of battling for his honor--for why indeed would sexy and young W. have sex with a 90-kilogram bishop?--W. won out and for all practical purposes has been on the bishop’s special payroll since.

“And that man there has a wife and two kids, and he still likes young boys. And that priest there tried to pick me up on Plac Litewski in Lublin a year ago but since has conveniently forgotten.” My head is reeling from these scandals.

By his own admission, W. is a cynic when it comes to religion. How could one not be a cynic when it comes down to these truths? When there is no one questioning the systems of power? In a country of such hardship, why is the bishop the fattest man at the table and the one who has the relatively new and expensive exercise bike collecting dust in his solarium? And with these celibate women running around serving these fat old queer priests, I am able to feel a little bit closer to normal and less tainted.

We caught a ride from L. to about halfway to L’viv with someone who owed a favor to the bishop. W., with a fistful of Deutsche marks—his “pay” from the Catholic Church for not confessing the sins of these queer, old priests, takes care of all the arrangements, even paying the bus fare the remainder of the trip to the city.
In conclusion, a Catholic Church without homosexuals would be like a Catholic Church without Catholics. Why don’t they stop trying to tear themselves apart--even Jesus warned against a house divided against itself!--and instead focus on a real problem: pedophiles.

1 comment:

  1. There's a very well written op-ed in The New York Times this morning. Interesting to see the different perspectives on law according to culture & religion: John L. Allen, Jr.'s "At the Vatican, Exceptions Make the Rule"