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October 25, 2002
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Vatican to test if trainee priests are gay. As if the Catholic Church doesn't have bigger concerns. They seem to be trying to throw dirt onto their own graves. Organized religion is SO last millennium. If a gay person really wanted to be a priest, wouldn't it be simple to "pass" a psychological screening? And what self-respecting gay person would want to be a part of something that seeks to exclude him?
posted by archimago (77 comments total)

 
there's a TEST?!?!?
posted by quonsar at 5:57 AM on October 25, 2002


students who display homosexual tendencies

Like wearing long flowing robes, lots of black and singing in upper registers?

Besides, don't they have a piss test for gay now?
posted by mischief at 6:02 AM on October 25, 2002


I can only imagine the ways in which a Catholic priest could test for this sort of thing.
posted by Fabulon7 at 6:07 AM on October 25, 2002


Priests take a vow of celebacy, don't they? As Dennis Miller said, why does it matter who you're not allowed to have sex with?
posted by dansays at 6:13 AM on October 25, 2002


And what self-respecting gay person would want to be a part of something that seeks to exclude him?

This was probably a troll, but I bit and did your searching for you: gay republicans; gay military. I couldn't support pages for gay priests, but I've heard that the accepted number is about 40-50% of seminary students are gay.

It actually makes sense: single-sex environments tend to attract gay people. On the other hand, male dominated environments tend to be more conservative. Hence the built in conflict relative to our current social trends.
posted by alms at 6:19 AM on October 25, 2002


Can a psychological test delve through layer upon layer of repressed feelings and denial that the church created?
posted by machaus at 6:47 AM on October 25, 2002


And what self-respecting gay person would want to be a part of something that seeks to exclude him?

I'd also like to add that it maybe a lack of self respect because of general social feelings towards homosexuality is something that helps lead some gay priests to a level of self-hatred that allows them to do horrible things to others, namely children.
posted by crazy finger at 6:48 AM on October 25, 2002


Soooo, if I remember correctly, Catholic priests (in the main - excepting the 'lucky' souls who transferred with their wives from the Church of England) cannot have sex with anyone [how they monitor masturbation is anyones guess].

Are they testing for heterosexual attraction? 'Cos, lets face it, delete the gays, the bi's and the straights - it doesnt take a genius to see where they'd end up. Oblivion.

IF - and its a big if - they can effectively weed out paedophiles, of any flavour, then that would be A Good Thing. I would have thought the forensic psychologists could help 'em out there. This plan is another demonstration of the ineradicable homophobia of the Church of Rome. I'm better off out.
posted by dash_slot- at 6:51 AM on October 25, 2002


The real problem in the American Catholic Church is actually the reverse, that those who really believe what the Church teaches are the ones weeded out in seminaries here. In fact, there's a book already written about the real problem.

This move by the Vatican is really a sign that the American bishops quiet 'don't ask, don't tell' policy regarding homosexuals has been a disaster for the American church.
posted by declaim at 7:02 AM on October 25, 2002


I suggest that the problem is not homosexuals, it is the recruitment pool in itself. Second- and first-world countries just don't have enough young men motivated to become priests.
What the Vatican should do is to recruit priests from the ghettos of the world. Offer young men not only a personal escape from grinding poverty, but also one for their entire families.
The families would stay behind and get ALL of the paycheck from the priest-trainee, and the young man would go off to a foreign land, where he didn't speak the language, to train in a strict and isolated seminary, totally dependant on his hierarchy for everything.
Once he graduates, he would be on "probation", still in a foreign country and not speaking their language. His job would be ONLY to give the Mass for several years (the only foreign language he would know.) His 'squad leader', a trusted senior priest, would travel around perhaps five parishes, giving confession and other interaction with the parishoners, and maintaining order with his subordinate priests.
At ANY time, if he screws up, they pound into him that he will be dismissed and sent RIGHT BACK HOME to the ghetto, and NO second chances.

With THAT kind of trusted, tried and true motivation, you would get a crop of priests that would be astoundingly well-behaved.
posted by kablam at 7:02 AM on October 25, 2002


What??!?

Kablum, I had high hopes reading your first sentence, but then you lost me.

What will it take for the Church to allow priests to marry if they so choose?

Right there, you open up your "recruitment pool" to a lot of spiritual people who would like to serve the Church but are honest enough to know they are incapable of a lifetime of celibacy.
posted by klarkie at 7:08 AM on October 25, 2002


And what self-respecting gay person would want to be a part of something that seeks to exclude him?

gay republicans;

It actually makes sense: single-sex environments tend to attract gay people.


hehe.


the CC should just allow priests to have sex with other priests. it can't be a sin if your fucking for god.
posted by tolkhan at 7:17 AM on October 25, 2002


Holy gaydar, Batman!
posted by airgirl at 7:18 AM on October 25, 2002


which is worse: my potty mouth or using "your" instead of "you're?"
posted by tolkhan at 7:18 AM on October 25, 2002


Well, this probably won't help that whole priest shortage issue...
posted by Ms.JaneDoe at 7:28 AM on October 25, 2002


"Organized religion is SO last millennium."

Nice open-minded comments like that really make me want to pay attention to your argument, there... and I'm an athiest, close as anyone can reckon.
posted by jammer at 7:34 AM on October 25, 2002


"I've heard that the accepted number is about 40-50% of seminary students are gay."

The 40-50% figure sometimes bantered around, but those kinds of figures are really all over the board, based on what certain authors or priests have felt... obvously, if you are looking for evidence of homosexuality, yo're going to find it.

The largest anonymous study known on this subject was done by the Kansas City Star, who sent a questionaire to 3,000 priests in the U.S.

The results? :
80% said they had a heterosexual orientation;
15% homosexual;
5% bisexual

According to most accepted data, that means that there are about 50% more gays and bisexuals than in the average population. I can also guarantee you that there at least 80% of the people in the study were sexually repressed, too. Frankly, I worry less about the homosexuals.

Really, the gays in the Catholic Church are a red herring. By trying to infer who is and who is not a homosexual, the Church is playing to the ignorance and biases of the public at large.

As I have pointed out in a previous thread, the American Psychological Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Academy of Child Psychiatrists and the Child Welfare League of America all have stated that there is no correlation between homosexuality and sexual abuse. Also, major scientific studies indicate precisely the same thing... that there is no link between homosexuality and sexual abuse.
posted by insomnia_lj at 7:35 AM on October 25, 2002


I think I can safely say the Atheist community does not discriminate against Gay or Lesbians. Since we don't believe in any god, we don't think that anything is wrong with your behavior, it's just normal...for you.
posted by CrazyJub at 7:35 AM on October 25, 2002


.....what I mean is, I like women, someone else may like feet, someone else may like breasts, and some people prefer the same sex, it's all the same to us.
posted by CrazyJub at 7:36 AM on October 25, 2002


This is simply being consistent with what the Catholic Church teaches. It is wrong to be gay (wrong with the full force of a system that claims absolute moral status; the Pope is God's representative on earth) so it must be even more wrong to be a gay priest. It's no different to arguing that convicted felons should not be policemen.
posted by pavlova at 7:38 AM on October 25, 2002


declaim: In fact, there's a book already written about the real problem.

I followed that link; here's what the copy found there suggests the "real problem" is: He uncovers how radical liberalism, like that found on many college campuses, has infiltrated the Catholic Church...

*More goodies like that within.

Now that's rich. I have a hard time seeing how *anyone* could describe the Roman Catholic Church - with the possible exception of whatever remaining Romeroesque "liberation theology" enthusiasts there are in the world - as a force for radical liberalism.

Not with a straight face, anyway.
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:38 AM on October 25, 2002


If the Vatican want to stop priests from buggering young altarboys (and, altargirls, for that matter) then weeding out the homosexuals isn't the way to go. Eliminate the sexual repression and just allow the priests to date and have relationships and (gasp!) marry.
posted by Robot Johnny at 7:42 AM on October 25, 2002


Allowing priests to marry won't stop pedophiles from doing what they like. The pedophiles are the problem, find a test to weed them out.
posted by agregoli at 9:31 AM on October 25, 2002


It's no different to arguing that convicted felons should not be policemen.

this is very interesting, because in a way under hardcore Catholic doctrine we are *all* convicted felons, i.e. original sinners. in this scenario, the priesthood is like the Olympic team: many may dream of joining, but almost all will never be good enough. the Church decides that women are out because they're, i don't know, *tainted* or whatever, back in the Dark Ages, and ditto decides no more married priests in the 13th century because too much church property is being claimed by prists' offspring, both legitimate and illegitimate. so we're left with single men as they pool of potential padres, as the age of compulsory celibacy dawns. gays must now be purged from the ranks (the idea goes) because they're irresistibly drawn to the single-sex universe of the clergy, and yet since they're all sex-crazed or whatever they can't possibly remain celibate, and plus they're demented and unnatural, blah blah blah. it's like one big quilt of lies, sloppily stitched together to cover up centuries of insular greed and power-mongering. like most dictatorships-for-life or cult gurus, the RCC keeps making itself more removed from daily life in an effort to boost its appeal, and it could not be working less.
posted by serafinapekkala at 9:43 AM on October 25, 2002


Homosexuals aren't a problem in the Church: pedophiles are.

Several people here have made the mistake of equating the two. Homosexuality is not about buggering young boys: it is being attracted to men. If one is attracted to young boys, that's a case of pedophilia.

Are there altargirls in the RCC?

Tainted wimmin, Serafina, dates back to Paul's letters. The guy was a miserable misogynist.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:47 AM on October 25, 2002


Personal anecdote: (which I'm wondering if I've told here before, but here goes.) I have very Roman Catholic grandparents. I'm not "out" to them. Last Christmas the inevitable "how's your love life" questions came up and I again dodged them. (Well, not exactly, I told the truth - I'm not seeing anyone right now.) Anyway, frustrated at my apparent lack of interest in marriage, Grandma says (with absolute seriousness) "Well, if you don't want to get married, have you considered the priesthood? It's a noble profession..."

After I recovered from holding in my laughter....I thought about it and realized that given her age and background - "back in the day" I'm sure that if you were a guy like me, that's just what you did - joined the priesthood, so there'd be no more questions about your lack of girlfriends. Hence the plethora of jokes about how the phrase "gay Catholic priests" is redundant.

As others have said, the Church needs to move forwards, not backwards, if it truly hopes to stay alive. (Though frankly I'm ready for it to be gone.) They seem to think gays are joining up to "infiltrate" the church, or because they think "ooh, all men, sounds like a great party!" Wrong. They join because they're trying to hide from the very oppression and shame the church heaps upon them - perhaps also hoping to be "cured" thereby.
posted by dnash at 9:51 AM on October 25, 2002


"Organized religion is SO last millennium. "

Er, actually, no. From the Atlantic article:

"If we look beyond the liberal West, we see that another Christian revolution, quite different from the one being called for in affluent American suburbs and upscale urban parishes, is already in progress. Worldwide, Christianity is actually moving toward supernaturalism and neo-orthodoxy, and in many ways toward the ancient world view expressed in the New Testament: a vision of Jesus as the embodiment of divine power, who overcomes the evil forces that inflict calamity and sickness upon the human race. In the global South (the areas that we often think of primarily as the Third World) huge and growing Christian populations—currently 480 million in Latin America, 360 million in Africa, and 313 million in Asia, compared with 260 million in North America—now make up what the Catholic scholar Walbert Buhlmann has called the Third Church...

"The growth in Africa has been relentless. In 1900 Africa had just 10 million Christians out of a continental population of 107 million—about nine percent. Today the Christian total stands at 360 million out of 784 million, or 46 percent. And that percentage is likely to continue rising, because Christian African countries have some of the world's most dramatic rates of population growth. Meanwhile, the advanced industrial countries are experiencing a dramatic birth dearth. Within the next twenty-five years the population of the world's Christians is expected to grow to 2.6 billion (making Christianity by far the world's largest faith). By 2025, 50 percent of the Christian population will be in Africa and Latin America, and another 17 percent will be in Asia. Those proportions will grow steadily. By about 2050 the United States will still have the largest single contingent of Christians, but all the other leading nations will be Southern: Mexico, Brazil, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, and the Philippines. By then the proportion of non-Latino whites among the world's Christians will have fallen to perhaps one in five.

"The population shift is even more marked in the specifically Catholic world, where Euro-Americans are already in the minority. Africa had about 16 million Catholics in the early 1950s; it has 120 million today, and is expected to have 228 million by 2025. The World Christian Encyclopedia suggests that by 2025 almost three quarters of all Catholics will be found in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The likely map of twenty-first-century Catholicism represents an unmistakable legacy of the Counter-Reformation and its global missionary ventures.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:53 AM on October 25, 2002


fffish:

Are there altargirls in the RCC?

yah. not a low number, at the services i'd been to and seen, but not a majority. there's more now than in the past.
posted by moz at 9:55 AM on October 25, 2002


And what self-respecting gay person would want to be a part of something that seeks to exclude him?

This actually seems like a major change from what I heard about the Church's attitude toward gays, which is homosexual acts are a sin much the same way drunkenness is a sin. That doesn't mean you can't be a Catholic if you're an alcoholic; it merely means you have to stop drinking. Similarly, you can be gay and Catholic as long as you stop having sex. (I'm speculating a bit here, but it's possible that it's not the gay sex itself that's the problem to the Church, it's that gay sex necessarily must occur outside of wedlock.) The theory seems to be that different men are tested in different ways, but God never gives you a problem you can't handle with His help.

Given this attitude, I can imagine gay Catholic men thinking, well, since I have to be celibate anyway, why not become a priest? Which could be one reason you see so many gays in the priesthood. Of course, the fact that there are other gays in the priesthood dealing with the same issue could also be factor, whether you wish for their moral support or intend to falter with them.

It's hard to believe that people would still want to be Catholic after they discover they're gay, but childhood indoctrination runs deep. Still, the religion is somewhat less gay-hostile than the more fundamentalist Protestant religions. Which is why I'm a little surprised to see this.
posted by kindall at 9:55 AM on October 25, 2002


This is simply being consistent with what the Catholic Church teaches. It is wrong to be gay...

This isn't accurate. The Church doesn't teach that it is a sin to be gay; rather, it holds that the sin is the act of homosexual sex. It's the whole "love the sinner, hate the sin" doctrine. Theoretically, a celibate homosexual is not in a state of sin (at least not due to their homosexuality).
posted by mr_roboto at 10:01 AM on October 25, 2002


Maybe all the pedophilic priests have tumors.

"I've heard that the accepted number is about 40-50% of seminary students are gay."

And, judging by the American public's estimate of the gay population, 40% might not be far off.
posted by gramcracker at 10:03 AM on October 25, 2002


Leviticus 18:
1: The LORD said to Moses,
...
18: "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable." [New International Version]

Ambiguous it ain't. While everyone still sees an absolute belief in the morality of this book as not to be at all discouraged, we will always be faced with offensive and dangerous bullshit.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 10:06 AM on October 25, 2002


One American study suggested that up to 60% of priests under the age of 40 are gay, and a Channel Four documentary last year alleged that seminaries across the UK were places of 'high camp activity'.

That made me laugh out loud. Anyone else w/visions of priests in fishnets and stilettos strutting to Right Said Fred?
posted by widdershins at 10:10 AM on October 25, 2002


game, set, and match to klarkie. Allow them to marry.
posted by whatnot at 10:12 AM on October 25, 2002


Ok, would this be a bad time to mention that I have it on pretty good authority that a high number of 20th century Catholic theologians/philosophers were/are gay? Many were bipolars and alcoholics as well. (I want to just leave it at that. I am not trying to troll, just relate something tucked away in the back of my mind.)


"All men are flawed, great men even more so."

To read someone's philosophy is to get deep into their most fundamental beliefs. When you start reading someone who has an obvious and deep love for mankind (no puns, please), who desires justice and God, and has a genuine desire to help those who suffer (*cough* all of us *cough*), the only person who has a problem is the one who rejects that love.

The majority of pedophiles are heterosexual. There is no link between homo/bi-sexuality and pedophilia, get over it.

You either love others and understand suffering or you are part of the problem.
posted by Tystnaden at 10:16 AM on October 25, 2002


Pretty_Generic - you think calling other peoples' beliefs bullshit is going to help your case somehow? Let me guess - you're a tolerant kind of person who doesn't want to impose their own views on others unless, of course, you don't agree with them.

This isn't a bunch of exteme freaks - it's one of the world's major religions. They've got every right to make whatever moral rules they feel appropriate. No-one's forcing you to go to mass...
posted by pavlova at 10:20 AM on October 25, 2002


"people's". I hate that.
posted by pavlova at 10:21 AM on October 25, 2002


"Do you love the father?"

Yes.

"Do you love the holy ghost?"

Yes.

"Do you love hard cocks?"

Yes. Wait... no!
posted by Stan Chin at 10:23 AM on October 25, 2002


dnash: That's a great anecdote and very a propos here; if you did tell it in some earlier comment, it was well worth repeating.

To those who are wondering about why a gay man would "want to be a part of something that seeks to exclude him": They're Catholic. You may think they'd be happier if they'd been born Unitarian or something, but it's too late for that. (Believe it or not, most people don't change religions the way they change hairstyles, they stick with the one they were brought up in, even if it causes serious inconveniences -- otherwise there wouldn't be many Orthodox Jews in goyishe countries, now would there?) As Catholics, they believe salvation comes through the one holy Catholic and apostolic church, and the most holy thing you can be in that framework is a priest. So if they're into holiness, they try like hell (so to speak) to suppress their homosexual inclinations, and if they feel the call to priesthood they go for it. Is that really so hard to understand?

(As a sloppy parallel, why do so many women wind up with men who, though heterosexual, don't like women very much or treat them very well? We don't all maximize our happiness quotient very well.)
posted by languagehat at 10:27 AM on October 25, 2002


Yes. Wait... no!

StanChin, you're killing me! speaking of Love The Sinner Hate The Sin, this reminds me of "Heathers" -- "I love my dead gay son!" "I wonder how he'd feel if his son had a limp wrist with a pulse..." sorry for the comedy hijack...
posted by serafinapekkala at 10:46 AM on October 25, 2002


Of course there is a test.

You show people some gay porn and then monitor their brain to see if their arousal centers are turned on.
posted by delmoi at 10:48 AM on October 25, 2002


The "majority of pedophiles are heterosexual" trope needs to be examined, in general, and as applied in this discussion.

First, men having sex with another male, of any age, is a homosexual act. If they are married, it may mean that they are bisexual, or it may mean that they are closeted, but it sure doesn't mean that they are "heterosexual." The fact that most homosexuals are outraged at the mere thought of abusing children doesn't mean that the men who abuse boy children are not, themselves, gay.

Second, it strains reasonability to suggest that the predominant strain of "priest pedophile" is anything other than a homosexual -- a man with no wife or girlfriend, having a sexual relationship with a teenager -- an (anatomically) adult man. That he abused his power, trust, or authority to do so does not make him not a homosexual, it simply makes him a homosexual who is also morally corrupt. His level of moral corruption is no different from that of a high school teacher who seduces his female students.

Finally, it cannot be ignored that many of the highest profile priest pedophiles had simultaneous or subsequent active adult gay lifestyles, and many more make no bones about the fact that, even if they had a one time indiscretion with a 16-year old, that the condition of their recovery was simply a decision to remain celibate homosexuals.
posted by MattD at 10:50 AM on October 25, 2002


I'd like to see this test. It would totally suck if the test said you were gay, wouldn't it? Imagine trying to talk your way out of it. "But I like sex with women! Really! Listen to me, I have a very masculine voice!"

CrazyJub:

I think I can safely say the Atheist community does not discriminate against Gay or Lesbians. Since we don't believe in any god, we don't think that anything is wrong with your behavior, it's just normal...for you.

Don't know if I agree with this. In the case of gays and/or lesbians (especially lesbians), that is just a choice. I don't deny the existence of "higher" moral principles, though. I'll often use deist-type language because so many people do believe in a god of some kind. Personally, I think male-on-male sex is pretty disgusting, but I also view homosexuals as sort of "comrades in arms" as the fundies are against them for basically the same reasons they are Jews and Atheists.

What disturbs me about "homophobia" or anti-gay behavior is that they throw out a hella wide net. Being smart, creative, Communist, an espresso drinker, someone who listens to girl bands... just about anything that doesn't involve monster trucks can get "Hey, faggot!" yelled at you. I don't want little boys to start wearing dresses or men to start making out in public, but a little acceptance of gays would make life easier for everyone.
posted by son_of_minya at 10:52 AM on October 25, 2002


adamgreenfield, as an insider, i.e., practicing Catholic, I can tell you that many American bishops (and a significant number of priests and nuns in America) are extremely liberal in their views on abortion, homosexuality, contraception, as well as following the liberal party line on the death penalty, environmentalism, women's ordination, etc. The Pope and the Vatican are an embarrassment to them, an albatross around their necks.

The point of the book I referenced earlier is that many American seminaries are actually hostile to candidates that support and believe basic church teachings, weeding out those who might one day end Amchurch's tacit approval of abortion, contraception, homosexuality, etc.

The Church is not as united as you think it is on these things (or, IMO, as united as it should be.)
posted by declaim at 10:57 AM on October 25, 2002


Son_of_minya, I'm curious what you're trying to say here:

Don't know if I agree with this. In the case of gays and/or lesbians (especially lesbians), that is just a choice.

Are you saying that lesbians choose to be gay, but gay men don't? Please clarify.
posted by aclevername at 11:28 AM on October 25, 2002


yes, son_of_minya, because all we need is a little acceptance for our "behavior" and "choice." Why are you equating homosexuality with cross-dressing among children? As Ru Paul said, "We're all born naked, honey. After that, everything is drag."

Someone please explain to me what the big deal is about seeing 2 men holding hands in public? What's the threat?

If you think male-on-male sex is disguting, then stop thinking about it.
posted by archimago at 11:40 AM on October 25, 2002


You show people some gay porn and then monitor their brain to see if their arousal centers are turned on.

uh, does this mean that a man who is aroused by two women in a porn film is gay? i've got news for you, delmoi, *LOTS* of people, G/S/B/L/other, find same sex couplings on-screen (or on the page or the monitor, let alone in real life) arousing, and it doesn't affect their orientation one bit. why does everything have to be so clear-cut? "One twitch of desire and *BOOM* you're out of the Straight Club!" sheeesh.
posted by serafinapekkala at 12:08 PM on October 25, 2002


As aclevername, I'd like some clarification from Son_of_minya as well re the following:

Don't know if I agree with this. In the case of gays and/or lesbians (especially lesbians), that is just a choice.

The way I understand the comment, it's an assertion that homosexuality is a choice, especially for women. While that may be the case on occasion, I doubt that it's the norm.
posted by harja at 12:11 PM on October 25, 2002


Personally, I think male-on-male sex is pretty disgusting, but I also view homosexuals as sort of "comrades in arms"

I'm sure they're thrilled to have your comradeship! Just don't press those arms too close, eh? (Seems to me son_of_minya is a mite confused, but probably also young enough that confusion comes with the territory. Maybe if he hangs around here long enough he'll learn enough about gay people that the disgust fades.)

MattD: I hate to break this to you, but "pedophile" does not mean one who abuses "boy children," it means one who abuses children. "The majority of pedophiles are heterosexual" means that the children they abuse are female. Capeesh?
posted by languagehat at 12:30 PM on October 25, 2002


You've gone and done it now, son_of_minya.

What disturbs me about "homophobia" or anti-gay behavior is that they throw out a hella wide net.... just about anything that doesn't involve monster trucks can get "Hey, faggot!" yelled at you.

That's funny, because what bothers me about homophobia is that it's anti-gay. I sure hope you didn't mean it this way, but your phrasing makes it sound like anti-gay behavior would be okay with you, as long as they only pick on the real homosexuals.

But we digress.
posted by hippugeek at 12:47 PM on October 25, 2002


Organized religion is SO last millennium.

Oh wonderful. The term "organized religion" has evolved into today's politically correct dismissal of spirituality, and everyone's buying into the BS.

Assume for a moment that exactly one religion is correct. Those who follow the religion are rewarded, and all others are punished. It makes sense for the followers to assemble for worship and to pool their resources to spread the message. "Disorganized religion" does not accomplish anything, aside from being unobtrusive.

I'm not Catholic, and I would be the first to agree that the Catholic church has a lot of problems, but I will never bash Catholics for organizing.

To get superficially back on track: What pavlova said (both times).
Stan, you nearly made me choke on my animal crackers.
posted by Galvatron at 12:51 PM on October 25, 2002


I take it no one picked up on the sarcasm of my original post. :o)
posted by archimago at 1:04 PM on October 25, 2002


Don't know if I agree with this. In the case of gays and/or lesbians (especially lesbians), that is just a choice.

Sorry, awkward phrasing. I should have caught that on preview.

What I meant was "morally acceptable choice...not a big deal, just a different lifestyle." In other words, "I don't see anything wrong with somebody being gay, especially if it's a woman." I just don't see the appeal of male-on-male sex. If you want to do it, that's fine, but I find it a little nasty. Not reprehensible, just "icky."

Lesbianism, on the other hand, is a beautiful thing. It's a shame when an attractive woman wants nothing to do with me sexually because she's a lesbian, but I completely understand where she's coming from.

And, no, I'm not saying gay-bashing is okay as long as they only pick on the real homosexuals. Just pointing out that gays aren't the only ones affected by "anti-gay" hooligans. Was just saying that "gay pride" or "gay rights" is not the _only_ reason people should try to stamp out that type of behavior.

I don't want little boys to start wearing dresses or men to make out in public, but... that was just hyperbole. It's common to hear/read about the "gay conspiracy" which aims to sissify American culture. I know there's not a gay conspiracy. It was just meant as a humorous comment. I mean, Fellini Satyricon might be going a little too far in the acceptance of homosexuality, but something like Will and Grace is not such a bad idea. I have not actually seen Will and Grace, but my sister watches it and I hear it's a popular program.

Keep in mind, I was responding to CrazyJub's comment:

I think I can safely say the Atheist community does not discriminate against Gay or Lesbians.
posted by son_of_minya at 1:45 PM on October 25, 2002


MattD -

I don't know where you get your information, but saying that all male child sexual abusers are homosexuals is wrong. They are pedophiles and sexual abusers.

The primary motivation of sexual abusers is having power over someone else... and it is done by people with low self-esteem and with impulse control problems.

A good example of this kind of behavior are our prisons, where sexual abuse occurs primarily based on the strongest prisoners abusing the weakest, where the abusers are primarily heterosexual. Homosexuals aren't the abusers in our prisons, they are a target for abuse.

Also, the argument that "priest pedophiles" are not pedophiles at all because their targets are teenagers ignores the fact that the age range of their victims can vary wildly, and that numerous scientific studies indicate that sexual abuse of any minor is no more common amongst homosexuals than amongst heterosexuals.

"Finally, it cannot be ignored that many of the highest profile priest pedophiles had simultaneous or subsequent active adult gay lifestyles..."

Show me something on this that is even vaguely scientific and doesn't make the kind of "Well, he molested a kid, therefore he's gay..." generalizations you're so fond of and maybe I'll think you didn't watch it on the 700 Club...

Taken from a debate on sexual abuse and pornography:

"A sexually repressed adult and a lonely confused child, who sees that adult as an authority figure, is the explosive combination that leads to sexual abuse. That's why the majority of child sexual abuse occurs within the family, or with a close friend of the family, or a relative. Studies indicate that most individuals who become abusers have, themselves, been abused when they were young, and that they often express strong, rigid religious beliefs."
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:13 PM on October 25, 2002


The majority of pedophiles are heterosexual.

Only if you believe children are a different sex from adults.
posted by kindall at 5:02 PM on October 25, 2002


Pretty_Generic - you think calling other peoples' beliefs bullshit is going to help your case somehow? Let me guess - you're a tolerant kind of person who doesn't want to impose their own views on others unless, of course, you don't agree with them.

This isn't a bunch of exteme freaks - it's one of the world's major religions. They've got every right to make whatever moral rules they feel appropriate. No-one's forcing you to go to mass...


pavlova: I don't know how likely it is you will read this...

Firstly, nobody is talking about imposing, i.e. forcing views on anyone. That's silly.

Secondly, yes, they have every right to make whatever moral rules they feel are appropriate. They have every right to say that gays should be detested and will burn in torment forever. I have every right to call that bullshit.

I cannot stand this taboo-wall that people build around discussing issues in a religious context. If I was to say, "Gays won't burn for eternity", not a lot of people would have a problem with it. If I say, "The biblical statement that gays will burn for eternity is bullshit", A FACTUALLY IDENTICAL STATEMENT, then suddenly you feel the need to remind me that people have the right to their own views and I am wrong for locking them up in Room 101 and beating those views out of them with a wet haddock.

We're talking about rights, are we? I have the right to try and discourage people from placing their hand and swearing truth on a book that says most of the world will suffer perpetual torment. You have the right to go ahead and ignore me.

We're not really talking about rights. Everyone here knows their rights, and no-one's trying to take the rights of others away. What we are talking about, what you are trying to avoid, is what is right, and this particular part of that big book, filled with beautiful morality and the aforementioned dangerous bullshit, is dead wrong.

Oh yeah, and as for the extreme freaks comment: perhaps you could define the number of people an opinion must be instilled in before I'm no longer allowed to disagree with it?

[ ... must ... prevent self ... making Nazi comparison ... ]
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:36 PM on October 25, 2002


Tystnaden: All men are flawed, great men even more so.

So, we're now ranking homosexuality as a "flaw," alongside bipolar disorder and the like? Wow, I'll go tell my queer friends, maybe they can arrange to get their money back...

Personally, I thought we had gotten beyond that.

declaim: many American bishops (and a significant number of priests and nuns in America) are extremely liberal in their views on abortion, homosexuality, contraception, as well as following the liberal party line on the death penalty, environmentalism, women's ordination, etc.

Again, what exactly is this liberal party line I keep hearing so much about?

And if so, I have to ask myself, why contribute the bulk of their efforts during their short time on this planet to an institution they consider (in your words) an embarrassment? There are other outlets for pastoral practice, for the daily re-commitment of the self to service and compassion: Christian ones, non-Christian religious ones...dare I say, purely secular ones?

I don't think I'm out to lunch if I hold that the institution of the Roman Catholic Church is a reactionary force on the planet, with deep doctrinal positions going back to Paul that cause an enormous amount of human suffering, grief, self-destruction and corrosive self-doubt. Even a trivial concept like "custody of the gaze" (let alone the opposition to contraception or abortion) is psychologically malicious and harmful from where I sit.

So, in a sense, you're right. If these bishops, priests and nuns, and other members of orders religious agree with any of what I've said above, they should leave the institution. That's not at all the same thing as saying that they are what is wrong with the institution; they may very well be the best (even the most Christlike) part of it.
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:29 PM on October 25, 2002


Adam, what does 'custody of the gaze' mean?
posted by dash_slot- at 8:07 PM on October 25, 2002


i'm a little late to the party, but my understanding of the whole Gay Issue in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church is that it's more about sex outside of wedlock than the homosexual act itself, meaning that premarital sex is sinful/immoral/whatevah no matter what the sex of the copulators in question may be.

it's very sad to me that, following that logic, it is ok for a man and a woman who are trapped (by The Church, natch) in a loveless marriage to have sex, but heaven forbid (literally, in the eyes of some) that two same-sex people should express their committed love for each other physically.

my other related rant is the fact that the good work of thousands upon thousands of priests is now coming under scrutiny and being completely overshadowed by the heinous and unforgivable acts of a very small but visible minority.

casting the old testament and all of its mixed messages (homosexual sex is bad but incest is ok, etc.) aside for a moment, remember that Jesus really only laid down one law: Be good to each other.

some people (and don't get me started on those who describe themselves as "Christian") would do well to work on removing the plank from their own eye before so readily pointing out the speck in their neighbor's.
posted by brigita at 9:28 PM on October 25, 2002


adam, many faithful Catholics ask the same question: why would a person devote their entire life to a Church that they don't really believe in? In fact, they often believe the contrary and yet remain inside. Why? I can think of several reasons, from fear of leaving to a sadly laughable attempt to change the Church (which can't and isn't changing its moral teachings to suit our current licentious culture).

as for 'custody of the gaze', of course the Church has presented that as a help for everyone (not just priests) to remain chaste - it's just much more important for someone who vows to remain celibate to use such means. Jesus taught it this way:
"But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart...If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna." (Matthew 5:28-29)

If you or I or a priest or nun do not practice custody of the eyes, how could any remain chaste in today's society? TV, billboards, magazines, men's and women's fashions - sex is pretty much everywhere all the time - if you don't turn away, sooner or later, you get pulled in...
posted by declaim at 10:55 PM on October 25, 2002


Well, that's arguable. But even so, if "chastity" is such a struggle, that's a red flag to me that the attempt to uphold it conflicts with the basic spiritual needs of the human being in question.

I don't myself believe in a personal God, but if I did I would surely reply that "male and female He created us" (and "female and female" and "male and male" for that matter) and that our bodies are given to us as a source of joy as well as of pain.

Managing that responsibility is cognate with spiritual adulthood, in my eyes.

It's like this, in a way: I used to party on occasion with a very hard-drinking crew, SF guys and Rangers. I'd have a shot of tequila to their every six, a beer to their every pitcher, and in all honesty I felt a little bit...less. I happened to comment to one of the guys that I wished I could hold my liquor.

He looked sideways at me and said, "What do you think you're doing? You know you've reached your limit, you stop there. Why would anyone ask any different of you?"

I let on that I thought this particular crew placed a high value on staggering consumption. He shook his head and said, no, what he valued was knowing how to maintain control, and choosing when to lose it.

So. There's surely endless amounts of physical sensuality to be experienced in this life. You can choose to experience it in contexts that you find supportive of your other (emotional, spiritual, psychological, economic, physical) needs; you can deny its call and seal it off in a (leaky, painfully overpressured) containment called "custody of the gaze" and pastoral celibacy; you can let it master you utterly; or, if you are part of a very, very small minority, you can disregard it as of little interest to you and unworthy of further investigation.

I surely do not believe celibacy, as appropriate as it may indeed be for some few, will ever be a healthy choice for the great majority of human primates.
posted by adamgreenfield at 11:42 PM on October 25, 2002


oh, and, sorry dash_slot. "Custody of the gaze" is a doctrine of the Church referring to the obligation to maintain control over what you choose to see.

Thus: there's a beautiful human being walking by, in a revealing outfit, leaving a fragrant wake, and you choose not to notice. You maintain custody of your eyes and of what they see.

Cognitively unsupportable, antihuman. Recipe for trouble, in my book.
posted by adamgreenfield at 11:48 PM on October 25, 2002


i don't see how a free human decision to avert one's gaze from a sight (or site) because it may lead me to lustful thoughts is unsupportable or antihuman. If taking in that sight leads me to thoughts contrary to commitments I have made (such as a vow of celibacy, a marriage vow or even a religious commitment to reject sin in general), I would be wise to look away.

This obviously takes self-knowledge, since what may affect you may not even faze me and vice-versa. The only harm you've indicated is a vague quasi-psychological repression, ignoring the fact that many moral choices involve rejecting some physical pleasure or benefit. That's why moral choices and morality in general give so many people fits - it would be so much easier to just go with what feels good rather than what you believe is right.
posted by declaim at 1:40 AM on October 26, 2002


And here I was thinking you meant "custody of the gays"...
posted by languagehat at 6:52 AM on October 26, 2002


The majority of pedophiles are heterosexual.
Only if you believe children are a different sex from adults.


Do you believe children are sexually the same as adults?

Yes, children are sexual beings. Anyone with a three year-old knows what frantic little masturbators they are. It's a sexual thing, surely -- but sexual on a childish level, not an adult one.

Adults that have sex with children aren't having hetero/homosexual sex. They're raping an immature creature that can not make an informed decision regarding their sexual behaviour. The actual physical dangly/internal bits are inconsequential compared to that!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:10 AM on October 26, 2002


And here I was thinking you meant "custody of the gays"...
posted by languagehat at 6:52 AM PST on October 26


Nah.
Gucci got that (",)
posted by dash_slot- at 10:15 AM on October 26, 2002


The actual physical dangly/internal bits are inconsequential compared to that!

But statistically, pedophiles overwhelmingly choose boys. Why is that, if they're only interested in children in general? The obvious answer is, they're not; most have a definite preference for males. This makes them bisexual or gay, by definition.

Clearly pedophilia is so horrific that gays want to distance themselves from it -- "He's not one of us!" This is perfectly understandable, but it's like claiming that Chicago is not north of Los Angeles, but rather east of it. In fact it is both. The two continua are not mutually exclusive. This unfortunate truth is a public relations problem for the vast majority of gays who are not pedophiles, but this doesn't justify sweeping the connection under the rug. Instead, it should be -- must be -- studied to understand why pedophiles overwhelmingly choose boys as their victims. The pursuit of truth cannot be abandoned merely because we might find that truth inconvenient.
posted by kindall at 12:12 PM on October 26, 2002


I don't know if the issue is being gay, Henri Nowen who is considered one of the greatest Catholic spiritual authors and theologians of our time was gay but he upheld his vow of celebecy. There are also Catholic priests who sleep with housewives and other women and that does a tremendous amount of damage too. Isn't the bigger problem with priests who ignore their ordination vows?
posted by Idea Factory at 3:00 PM on October 26, 2002


kindall: can you find a link to support your contention that "statistically, pedophiles overwhelmingly choose boys."

I can't: looking at it from the other end, this 'meta'-study seems to indicate that roughly twice as many girls are reporting abuse which is "substantiated". Now, I'm no statistician, but doesn't that mean paedophiles are twice as likely to prefer girls?
posted by dash_slot- at 6:37 PM on October 26, 2002


But statistically, pedophiles overwhelmingly choose boys.

where are you getting that?
This study goes into some details on a random group of pedophiles and says this regarding the sex of the victim:

Of the 2,050 pedophiles who molested girls, 21 percent reported that they also molested boys. Of the 804 pedophiles who molested boys, more than half (53 percent) reported that they also molested girls.
posted by mdn at 6:46 PM on October 26, 2002


why pedophiles overwhelmingly choose boys as their victims

American Heritage defines "pedophile" as an adult who is sexually attracted to children. Given our culture's fascination-approaching-fixation on the sexuality of very young women, suggesting that pedophillia of the look-but-don't-touch variety is predominantly homosexual is absurd.

Secondly, suggesting that pedophillia as sexual abuse is predominantly homosexual conveniently ignores all the girls who are abused by men, girls who may be abused by women, or boys who may be abused by women (the latter two may be much less common, true, but have happened, and must be included in the catagory of "pedophile). I've never seen any data suggesting men "overwhelmingly" abuse boys more than any other.

You're indulging in circular logic here by defining pedophiles as men who abuse boys, then, suggesting that since these men only abuse boys that there must be some causal relationship between pedophila and homosexuality. While in reality, the issues of power and age cross, as you say, the continua of human sexuality

And on preview: what dash and mdn said, but I'll add my two cents anyway.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:03 PM on October 26, 2002


Indeedy.

What Kindall is saying is akin to stating that the fellow who was caught with a chicken on his dick was having heterosexual sex.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:13 AM on October 27, 2002


looking at it from the other end, this 'meta'-study seems to
indicate that roughly twice as many girls are reporting abuse which is "substantiated". Now, I'm no statistician, but doesn't that mean paedophiles are twice as likely to prefer girls?


First, my apologies for the "overwhelmingly choose boys" line. I was going by what I'd heard, perhaps influenced by recent media reports about the priest scandal, and lazily didn't check it out. Sorry.

To address your conclusion, d_s, you can't go by the number of victims, because that assumes that all pedophiles assault the same number of victims, commit the same number of acts with each, and that boys and girls are equally likely to report the abuse. Too many variables. If we take your figures at face value, we might conclude that pedophiles are at least twice as likely to be homosexual as the general population, which would still show a statistically significant correlation between homosexuality and pedophilia. But as I said, those numbers are not useful for drawing such conclusions.

What you'd need to know are how many pedophiles have a definite preference for one sex (of child). If pedophilia is an orientation of its own, not influenced by the homosexuality/heterosexuality axis, then you would expect most pedophiles to assault children irrespective of their sex, or based on opportunity. If you find that most pedophiles still prefer one sex or the other, that would show that sexual orientation figures into it in some way. The claim that there was no aspect of sexual orientation in pedophilia was what I was attempting to refute. It looks like I overreached trying to make my point, but I think that the original point hasn't yet been demolished.

In fact mdn's data -- Of the 2,050 pedophiles who molested girls, 21 percent reported that they also molested boys. Of the 804 pedophiles who molested boys, more than half (53 percent) reported that they also molested girls -- actually supports the conclusion that most pedophiles do show a preference. If you do the math, you find that 70% of these pedophiles do show an exclusive preference for one sex, and this is before taking into account the proportion of victims of those pedophiles who molested both.

What Kindall is saying is akin to stating that the fellow who was caught with a chicken on his dick was having heterosexual sex.

I suppose one might think that, if one thought children are a different species from humans. I admit that is a tempting conclusion to draw at times, but no.
posted by kindall at 9:24 AM on October 27, 2002


Didn't we just go over all of this the other day?
Summary:

They're gay.
No they're not! They just happen to prefer boys.
You're ignorant.
No, you just refuse to face up to the facts.
Cite some facts!
Blow me.
OK.
blah,blah,this study says,blah,blah,blah.
Well, my guy says,blah,blah,blah
Somehow I don't see a consensus forming on this issue anytime soon. Just a hunch.
posted by MikeMc at 10:07 AM on October 27, 2002


In fact mdn's data ...actually supports the conclusion that most pedophiles do show a preference. If you do the math, you find that 70% of these pedophiles do show an exclusive preference for one sex, and this is before taking into account the proportion of victims of those pedophiles who molested both.

well, you have to admit it's far higher rates of bisexuality than are found in the average population. Of those who molest boys, over half are bisexual regarding gender, so of the total, it's not much over 10% who'd be exclusively homosexual. That's not much more than the general population... Even if it is, I agree that it shouldn't be equated with desire for an adult male (the differentiation between pre and post-pubescent seems important to me, so I'm not talking about desire for a 16 year old). It's also not beyond possibility that some who have no particular preference choose to molest boys because they were once themselves boys (99% were, anyway) and rationalize that they understand 'what boys want'. That article I linked above said the vast majority of pedophiles molested their first victim before hitting puberty.

As for the priests, the one priest I ever actually met was in fact openly gay and did talk about a sort of gay subculture within the church, so there may be something to that. Of course, it probably only exists in pockets (NYC not surprisingly) and almost certainly happened because of the suggestions above, i.e., that in times past gay men would join the priesthood to avoid the question of marriage, and that like their secular counterparts, they spent their lives in the closet, either repressing desires or undergoing tremendous guilt for anonymous encounters. As the culture at large became more accepting of homosexuality, people within the seminary probably began to talk a bit more too, and there was a tipping point at which time it became basically normal within a circle. But it's not because of some "liberal infiltration" - it's simply that it was a fantasy from the start that many heterosexual men would give up sexual and sensual relationships with women for life.
posted by mdn at 10:47 AM on October 27, 2002


well, you have to admit it's far higher rates of bisexuality than are found in the average population.

Yeah, and I do find that fascinating. Is it that more of us would be bisexual if we hadn't been socialized not to be, or is there something biological that normal people have that suppresses bisexuality that the pedophiles lack? Or do they have something biological that encourages bisexuality that we lack? Science is actually getting pretty close to being able to answer questions like that.
posted by kindall at 10:53 AM on October 27, 2002


Yeah, and I do find that fascinating. Is it that more of us would be bisexual if we hadn't been socialized not to be, or is there something biological that normal people have that suppresses bisexuality that the pedophiles lack? Or do they have something biological that encourages bisexuality that we lack?

People in this thread have been suggesting an answer to that question - that it's the child-ness rather than the gender that is of primary appeal to pedophiles. You may prefer blondes over brunettes but if the choice is a blonde man or a brunette woman, there's something more fundamental than hair color that attracts you.

Pre-pubescent boys and girls are not nearly as sexually differentiated as men and women; their bodies are really quite similar, and the power dynamic is likely to be similar, and whatever it is that's turning pedophiles on may be just about equal. It's not that children are a different species (a la the chicken analogy) but that in a sense they could be said to represent an additional sex - they don't have the bodies or hormones of men or women; boys and girls may be more similar in that regard to one another than to their adult counterparts.
posted by mdn at 2:57 PM on October 27, 2002


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