Dialogue 06


A Catholic who is a long time prosecutor in the office of the DA in a large Midwestern city wrote the following:


That Mahony is part of the Lavender Mafia has long been known. That he perjured himself in depositions likewise is well known among those who've watched him. His e-mails that were put on the Web a couple years ago were a window into his soul. Likely he is indirectly responsible for more kids being molested than Michael Jackson was directly. Whether he is truly evil only God can judge. It would be ironic if the LA DA who couldn't get OJ or Jackson got Mahony. (Signed)

More and more people are expressing understanding of the fundamental issues underlying and grounding the sexual problems of catholic priests and bishops beyond sexual abuse—lack of understanding of human sexuality.


The larger issue is not mandatory celibacy or abstinence, but a very narrow view of human sexuality itself. Jesus' comments on the matter are rather limited, but Paul, Augustine, Ambrose, et alia certainly expressed, if not hostility, enmity with even "natural" reproduction. Many who occupy the priesthood have similarly attitudes toward sexuality, and some obviously have a pathological sexual compulsion. I suspect that the Church's own teachings on human sexuality are largely to blame for the sexual dysfunction throughout the faithful and clergy. (Signed)

A priest who served faithfully and well for nearly a score of years wrote the following in an autobiographical account of his vocation.


Judged from the perspective of my own personal journey and what I witnessed in the countless priests of my acquaintance, I have come to the conclusion that the root of the problems of institutional Catholicism is its inability to deal honestly with sexuality. Clerics panic at the very idea of revisiting the sexuality of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Perhaps this fear is expressed most clearly in the law of compulsory clerical celibacy. Say what you will about the many good works of countless priests and religious men and women through the centuries, the law of celibacy has also created a number who live a tortured existence with homosexuality, which the church condemns. A very large number of the rest suffer from arrested maturation and an unhealthy obsession with sex. The mystique created around the concept and practice of celibacy is a false one.   (Jim Gerwing)

A lighter tone is accorded some bishops’ human failings by some observers and should be kept in mind along with all their dire, hidden, darker activities, and real scandal. Perspective does keep priorities in balance.


Misbehaving bishops are among the great comic treasures of our time. Who could forget the wonderfully degenerate Bishop Casey of Galway, who had a teenage son with an American divorcee while strenuously urging the Irish hordes to improve their morals? And what about the venerable Bishop Demetri Khoury of Toledo, who got hammered in a casino and groped a passing stranger? Such behavior cannot, of course, be seen to uphold the higher ambitions of the Church, yet, for the slightly less po-faced, it could also remind us that while even the most visible of religious leaders speak like angels, they live like men.  (Andrew O’Hagan)

This is the opinion of a man dedicated to his celibacy and who understands it well. He has practiced it honestly.


My celibacy is coextensive with, embedded in, my Catholic faith, my spirituality, my life in the sacraments, my ongoing communion -- ontological, physical -- with Jesus Christ.  As Bernanos' protagonist concludes in Diary of A Country Priest, celibacy is a way of believing, knowing palpably, God's life within, experiencing how it makes one a kind of hieroglyph of God's love.  It is only within this dynamic that my celibacy makes any sense to me and can be evaluated, articulated, and shared.  I would not be comfortable engaging it with another as a relativistic paradigm.  (David who is a layman)

This following listing is very unusual. It has to do with a highly charged legal battle, and one that is not likely to be easily proved. Its importance rests in the challenge to territory of sexual hypocrisy at the top level of the church governance. There is no question that such behavior has existed for centuries, but whether on not this case will prove out is problematic, but should be given a fair, calm, and objective hearing.


Br. Shane Burke, 57, Superior General of the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, died on Wednesday, December 27, 2007, after a long illness.  When he was Principal of St. Joseph’s High School in Trumbull, CT, in the Diocese of Bridgeport, he and then Bishop Edward Egan commenced a homosexual relationship that lasted for several years.  When Br. Burke attempted to end the relationship, Bishop Egan dismissed the Franciscan Brothers from Bridgeport and St. Joseph’s High School. Fr. Robert Hoatson was contacted by the family of Br. Shane Burke, who disclosed tape recordings of their brother talking about the sexual affair between himself and Cardinal Egan.

 For more information contact: John A. Aretakis, Attorney – (917- 304-4885) This post is listed 12/30/06.

The sexual abuse crisis is neither over or yet well analyzed. Catholic tradition and teaching is not the only male dominated (religious) culture in which homosexual behavior is officially despised and deprecated, morally forbidden and criminalized at the same time that it is practiced on a wide scale even at high levels of authoritarian organization. Nazism and Islamic-Arab culture at first glance may seem remote from Catholic clerical culture. Not so when it comes to sexual practice. (Cf. Klaus Theweleit, Male Fantasies, Vols. 1 & 2, University of Minnesota Press. Minneapolis, 1987 & 1989.) The select SS troops were free to take sexual pleasure with another man without it impinging on their sense of masculinity. That takes a special split from women and identification with authority. There is a common awareness. “About such things as the flight from the feminine, the disdain for the world, the hatred of the body, the ascetic denial of pleasure as primary characteristics of religious dualism and as specifically negative features of the patriarchal mentality…(also this) and power politics among the clergy and hierarchy, all can be seen as versions of this same fascist mentality…”

Jamie Glazov (December 29, 2006) reports on sexual practice among the Taliban. There is a common thread that runs through the celibate culture of the priesthood.


There is a basic and common sense empirical human reality: wherever humans construct and perpetuate an environment in which females and their sexuality are demonized and are pushed into invisibility, homosexual behavior among men and the sexual abuse of young boys by older men always increases. Islamic-Arab culture serves as a perfect example of this paradigm, seeing that gender apartheid, fear of female sexuality and a vicious misogyny are the structures on which the whole society functions... Homosexuality is ‘extremely common’ in many parts of the Arab world. [1] Indeed, even though homosexuality is officially despised in this culture and strictly prohibited and punishable by imprisonment, incarceration and/or death, having sex with boys or effeminate men is actually a social norm. Males serve as available substitutes for unavailable women. The key is this: the male who does the penetrating is not considered to be homosexual or emasculated any more than if he were to have sex with his wife, while the male who is penetrated is emasculated. The boy, however, is not considered to be emasculated since he is not yet considered to be a man. A man who has sex with boys is simply doing what many men (especially unmarried ones) do. And this reality is connected to the fact that, as scholar Bruce Dunne has demonstrated, sex in Islamic-Arab societies is not about mutuality between partners, but about the adult male's achievement of pleasure through violent domination.

For further clarification (Cf. Bruce Dunne, “Power and Sexuality in the Middle East,” Middle East Report, Spring 1998. For a further discussion on the widespread homosexuality among men in Muslim societies in North Africa and South Asia, and how married men having sex with boys and other men is considered a social norm, and not “homosexual,” see Arno Schmitt and Jehoeda Sofer (eds.), Sexuality and Eroticism Among Males in Muslim Societies (New York: Harrington Park Press, 1992).

Posted: 2007-01-15

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