But You Gotta’ Have Faith

…or not.

Always one to make new friends, last night I met somebody I’d been chatting with for quite a while. He and I had a lot in common regarding (dysfunctional) previous relationships (his 15 years, mine 10 years), both being homebodies, both enjoying travel, etc…so It seemed a good time to finally put a face to the text (since we’d been chatting on-line). We decided to get together for gelato after I found out that my sister-in-law was finally assigned a hospital room and my brother would be staying with her for the night.

We ended up chatting for nearly two hours…and what an interesting conversation it turned out to be! Apparently, he’s been a Catholic priest for the past 20+ years. He still is, actually. As you can expect, he’s incredibly frustrated with recent events within the church (and not too fond of the new pope nor Cardinal O’Malley, either).

He’s openly gay…and went against the church when they were coordinating their signature drive to ban gay marriage by refusing to allow the petition in his church. In fact, in his own way, he’s doing exactly what he set out to do after graduating divinity school: make a difference in the world. And he’s creatively doing it from within the exact church that is trying to deprive him of the equality he seeks and deserves.

Fascinating.

And it seems to be working. His own congregation was set to be closed by O’Malley (understandably, since this priest is gay) – but he managed to fight the system and keep it open. And when he vocally refused to allow the anti-gay marrieage petition in his church, only one of the parishoners complained (he told her to seriously consider what that petition means and, if she still felt like signing it, she should go to another church to sign it).

Of course, most of you know that I’m not exactly the most religious person on earth (okay – I’m not religious at all), so I was asking him loads of questions about Catholicism and homosexuality. The most interesting answer I got was when I asked how many of his fellow priests were gay. Instead of giving me a percentage or a number, he answered (and I’m paraphrasing):

“Actually, let me put it this way. In all of my years in the priesthood, there has only been one priest I’ve known who has said he is straight. All of my friends who are priests are gay….and le tme just say I have lots of friends.”

He then went on to say how conflicted all of these guys are and said that if the Vatican aggressively managed to remove all gay priests, there would only be a handful of priests left.

HMMM – that seems like a good solution to me!

JUST KIDDING. But seriously – he was such an interesting guy I think we’re going to try and meet up for lunch someday this week or next. I’ve got so many questions!

13 Comments

  1. Comment by chrispy on July 26, 2006 11:08 am

    ask these for me will you please: “how do you work for an organization that does not want you to work for them, or sees you as a detriment to the branding of the organization?”, “why be a gay priest and spread the word of a god that believes your being is inherently wrong?”, “have you seen that porn film that uses *REAL* priests and altar boys as their star perfomers?” — i wont be making too many friends with these questions eh?

  2. Comment by snarl on July 26, 2006 11:12 am

    Wait, Chris. You’re admittedly Catholic yourself! you could ask yourself those questions by just replacing a few words:

    How do you participate in (or at the least, consider yourself a part of) an organization that does not want you as part of them, or sees you as a detriment to the branding of the organiation?

    Why be a Catholic and spread the word of a god that believes your being is inherently wrong?

    Have YOU seen that porn film that uses real priests and altar boys as their start performers?

  3. Comment by Lise on July 26, 2006 11:18 am

    Here’s my question but Karl should be asking it: Do you adhere to the vow of celibacy?

  4. Comment by snarl on July 26, 2006 11:20 am

    I asked that. He is not celibate…and never has been. Nor, apparently, have any of the other priests (though, not necessarily with each other).

  5. Comment by chrispy on July 26, 2006 11:29 am

    dude, im a “recovering” catholic.

  6. Comment by chrispy on July 26, 2006 11:33 am

    being catholic is like being from new jersey : you know its wrong on so many levels, but theres an ironic component to being proud of it, like a badge of honor that says “ive survived it”, but its not like id go back to either of those things.

  7. Comment by Mike on July 26, 2006 11:48 am

    hmm…then being Episcopal is like being from Massachusetts. Pleasantly boring, beautiful, quietly progressive, lots of money. (That’s the church, not me.)
    This guy sounds great…is he a Jesuit?

  8. Comment by Lise on July 26, 2006 12:24 pm

    Funny Mike! So what is being a Unitarian like? So Karl, is this a potential crush/relationship/FB???? 😉

  9. Comment by snarl on July 26, 2006 2:34 pm

    no crush, no FB, no relationship (other than friendship).

    Sheesh!

  10. Comment by Lise on July 26, 2006 3:39 pm

    Sorry Karl & Mike! I wuz just kidding. But it did sound like you were very stimulated by the conversation. INTELLECTUALLY!!!

  11. Comment by Fred on July 26, 2006 4:59 pm

    I’ll reiterate Mike’s question – Jesuit? They’re among the organizations, the Paulists being another, who hold out some eventual hope for the Roman church. It’s a bit like steering a tanker, but put into a glacial rather than maritime time-reference-frame. It only took them about 500 years to apologize for what they did to Galileo, etc…. Like any immense, rich, old powerful human organization, the levels of corruption and doublethink are staggering (think of Harvard…at an only slightly smaller and poorer scale…), these are the people who, essentially, INVENTED the term “Byzantine,” but there are also pockets of grace, eh what? Andrew Sullivan is quite good on the topic of “why stay in?” – as are a number of Paulist Center types I know. A good deal of it comes down to “if we all left when the going got rough/things went against us, who would ever be there to hold out hope of something better in the future/keep faith alive?!” It would be as if all of the members of the French Resistance said “Nah, fuckit – I’ll move somewhere neutral and sit it out!” I’m very proud of my fellow American Episcopalians and Canadian Anglicans these days – hardly boring or quiet being all pro-gay and in turmoil over it! As to being Unitarian, the theology is very appealing (“One God, at the most!” I’ve heard it paraphrased in jest…), but it’s terribly hard to get very excited over except in a political context…but, then, I’m an agnostic aesthete – they don’t really make a church for us, though we camp out in various high-church Episcopal belfries…

  12. Comment by karyn on July 27, 2006 8:59 am

    But did you send him the link to your blog about How I (Karl) Hate Catholicism?

  13. Comment by Erica on August 1, 2006 3:48 pm

    I’d be really interested in getting this guy in touch with a young friend of mine. When I met him he was in the closet and as an undergrad planning on becoming a priest. While he’s now out and has a bf and in grad school not directly headed for priesthood, I imagine he’d be interested to chat with this friend of yours, and possibly find some mentoring, etc.

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a comment