Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Hypocritical Homosexuality of the Catholic Church: A Defense of Frederic Martel's Book

Almost a thousand years ago--in 1049--Saint Peter Damian published his book The Book of Gomorrah, condemning the practice of "sodomy" (sodomia)--a word that he invented--by the priests, monks, and bishops of the Catholic Church.  Pope Leo IX endorsed the book and proposed to purge the Church of this "crime against nature."  But if the Pope tried to do this, he failed.

Now, with the simultaneous publication in eight languages of Frederic Martel's In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy, we have a new book arguing that the majority of the Church's prelates are secretly homosexual, and that this explains the Church's rigid teaching about sexual morality, its condemnation of homosexuality, and its coverups of priestly sexual abuse.  Martel concludes: "Those who preach abstinence before marriage, refuse divorce, denounce homosexuality, and make believers feel guilty for their behavior ae in fact the biggest hypocrites of them all.  They practice in secret what they denounce in public."

The sexual abuse scandals have created a crisis for the Church, but now this book creates an even deeper crisis--comparable to the Protestant Reformation--that could explode the institutional structure of the largest Christian organization in the world.

The Catholic criticism of Martel's book has come from both sides in the current split between the two living popes--the progressive left on the side of Pope Francis and the traditionalist right on the side of Pope Benedict XVI.  The Catholic left says that Martel's book provides a weapon for the Catholic right in arguing that the Vatican has been corrupted by a homosexual lobby that supports Francis's pro-gay agenda.  The Catholic right says that Martel's book is a defamatory attack on those priests and prelates who oppose the homosexual lobby because he falsely charges them with being practicing homosexuals themselves and thus hypocritical.

A good internet symposium on Martel's book includes Martel's response to his critics.  It also includes a good example of the Catholic left-wing critique from Father James Martin, SJ, the editor-at-large of the Jesuit magazine America.  An example of the Catholic right-wing critique has been written by Father Paul Mankowski, SJ, at First Things.

Since I find Martel's book largely persuasive, I will defend it against five kinds of criticisms.  I will also suggest that the book points to the need for a revised Thomistic natural law of sexuality that conforms to the truth about evolved sexual desires of human nature.

Before doing that, I will start by summarizing Martel's conclusions as conveyed in what he identifies as the 14 Rules of The Closet.


1.  For a long time, the priesthood was the ideal escape-route for young homosexuals.  Homosexuality is one of the keys to their vocation (8).

2.  Homosexuality spreads the closer one gets to the holy of holies; there are more and more homosexuals as one rises through the Catholic hierarchy.  In the College of Cardinals and at the Vatican, the preferential selection process is said to be perfected; homosexuality becomes the rule, heterosexuality the exception (10).

3.  The more vehemently opposed a cleric is to gays, the stronger his homophobic obsession, the more likely it is that he is insincere, and that his vehemence conceals something (34).

4.  The more pro-gay a cleric is, the less likely he is to be gay; the more homophobic a cleric is, the more likely he is to be homosexual (41).

5.  Rumors, gossip, settling of scores, revenge and sexual harassment are rife in the holy see.  The gay question is one of the mainsprings of these plots (60).

6.  Behind the majority of cases of sexual abuse there are priests and bishops who have protected the aggressors because of their own homosexuality and out of fear that it might be revealed in the event of a scandal.  The culture of secrecy that was needed to maintain silence about the high prevalence of homosexuality in the Church has allowed sexual abuse to be hidden and predators to act (92).

7.  The most gay-friendly cardinals, bishops, and priests, the ones who talk little about the homosexual question, are generally heterosexual (123).

8.  In prostitution in Rome between priests and Arab escorts, two sexual poverties come together: the profound sexual frustration of Catholic priests is echoed in the constraints of Islam, which make heterosexual acts outside of marriage difficult for a young Muslim (129).

9.  The homophiles of the Vatican generally move from chastity towards homosexuality; homosexuals never go into reverse gear and become homophilic (169).

10.  Homosexual priests and theologians are much more inclined to impose priestly celibacy than their heterosexual co-religionists.  They are very concerned to have this vow of chastity respected, even though it is intrinsically  against nature\ (176-77).

11.  Most nuncios are homosexual, but their diplomacy is essentially homophobic.  They are denouncing what they are themselves.  As for cardinals, bishops, and priests, the more they travel, the more suspect they are (311).

12.  Rumors peddled about the homosexuality of a cardinal or a prelate are often leaked by homosexuals, themselves closeted, attacking their liberal opponents.  They are essential weapons used in the Vatican against gays by gays (388).

13.  Do not ask who the companions of cardinals and bishops are; ask their secretaries, their assistants or their proteges, and you will be able to tell the truth by their reaction (537).

14.  We are often mistaken about the loves of priests, and about the number of people with whom they have liaisons: when we wrongly interpret friendships as liaisons, which is an error by addition; but also when we fail to imagine friendships as liaisons, which is another kind of error, this time by subtraction (538).

Of these rules, the most important one for the argument of this book is #4--the more homophobic a cardinal or a priest is in public, the more likely he is homosexual in private, the worst form of hypocrisy.

The next most important rule is #6--the culture of secrecy necessary to maintain silence about homosexuality in the Church explains why priests and bishops have hidden priestly sexual abuse of boys and seminarians, for fear that any public exposure of this would reveal the prevalence of homosexuality.

One should note that in his investigation of homosexuality in the Catholic Church, Martel did not attempt to study lesbianism, because he believes one would probably have to be a woman to carry out that investigation, although he does speculate "that female religious life in the closet is as dominated by the prism of lesbianism as the life of the male clergy is by the gay question" (535).

To be continued . . .

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