FROM THE PRESIDENT'S KITCHEN TABLE
No matter where you are on the support scale for Fr. James Haley - from 1. Who the heck is Fr. Haley? (a priest suspended by Bishop Paul Loverde after blowing the whistle on three priests for sexual immorality) to 10. I want to send him a big donation! - you must admit his case is definitely one for The Twilight Zone. Well, maybe a Kafka novel. There’s something just plain unjust about churchmen who represent a Church that defends absolute truth holding a canonical trial and leaving the defendant in permanent limbo with no decision. Strip him of his faculties or reinstate him. Making him the invisible man is wrong and uncharitable. Frankly, it reminds me of the High Priest saying: “It’s better for one man to die for the people.” Father may not be physically dead, but suffers a kind of living death as a non-person. There’s nothing Christian about that!
I recently had a lengthy conversation with Fr. Haley whom I consider a personal friend. (I don’t cast off friends like old clothes when they’re out of fashion.) Father asks some legitimate questions that ought to be answered. Namely, why is there a double standard for heterosexual priests vs. homosexual priests? If it is imprudent, scandalous, and an occasion of sin for a heterosexual man attracted to women to live in close proximity with them (sharing living arrangements, eating meals together, having daily close contact, etc.) why doesn’t that same logic apply to the homosexual man attracted to men? Why is it not imprudent, scandalous, and an occasion of sin for him to live in close proximity with men to whom he is attracted? Good question. If Fr. Haley can’t live in a cell at the Poor Clare Monastery because the women may be a source of temptation, why can Fr. Randy share a monastery or rectory with those who may be a source of temptation? Let’s see….mmm…he can’t. Let me say it again. He can’t! That’s why the many statements coming from bishops (mostly dissenting bishops) that a celibate gay man can be a holy priest are ridiculous. Holy people don’t put themselves in a continuous, unrelenting occasion of sin. Don’t misunderstand. Can a man who experiences same-sex attraction be holy? Of course, like every other Christian struggling against temptation, even disordered temptation. Can he be a priest? NO! The priest is persona Christi. Was Jesus disordered in his sexual outlook? Did he invite twelve men to be apostles because he liked the company of men in an erotic way? No! A homosexual man cannot portray the fullness of the nature of Jesus Christ. He relates to the world more like a woman than a man. (Often like a teenage girl fussing over his looks and flirting with the guys.) How can he be the husband of the bride? He can’t.
But what if he already is? We all know there are homosexuals in the priesthood – and let’s face it – many aren’t trying to live holy lives. They have their hands in the cookie jar and other parts of their anatomy…well, modesty prevents me from completing the thought. What can we do about it?
Father Haley believes homosexuals should not be in positions of power in the Church. I agree. But they already are and there doesn’t seem to be any serious effort underway to remove them. Just look at the history of Roman Catholic Faithful (RCF) trying to get rid of homosexual predator Bishop Daniel Ryan. Instead of removing him, the hierarchy offered RCF a place at the table in exchange for their silence. Thank God Steve Brady couldn’t be bought! It still took YEARS to remove Ryan and only happened due to public scandal.
But the wall of silence remains. Few clerics will address the issue so the laity must. Randy Engel’s new book, The Rite of Sodomy, exposes pederasty’s long history in the American Church. She explains the links between the sexual immorality of clerics and their enabling of abortion, contraception, classroom sex ed, and other evils. Engel’s book points up even more the importance of banning homosexuals from the seminary and removing those already ordained from positions of power where they can continue to harm the Church. How many homosexual pastors destroy the vocations of good priests? I know of several.
Throughout history God often permits evil to get men’s attention. In the Old Testament the pagan Babylonians and Assyrians were used punish the Israelites. Today the new Babylonians at the Boston Globe and the New York Times expose evils in the Church. They don’t do it out of love obviously, but all the same they serve a purpose.
So what do we do now? Wait for the next scandal on the front page? No! We need a cleansing of the temple and the laity must continue to demand it. The persecution of good priests must end. Bishops must discipline dissent and heresy. We need holy shepherds who will act, not just talk! So keep the pressure on the bishops. And it sure wouldn’t hurt to write to Our Holy Father and Bishop Thomas Doran who headed Fr. Haley’s canonical trial and ask when there will be a decision in his case. [See Action Box.] And please continue to pray and sacrifice for Fr. Haley, Fr. Altier, and all persecuted priests.