US Catholic Faith in Real Life

The Vatican Game of Thrones? Or Game of Closets?

By Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

A "gay lobby," eh? Pope Francis, perhaps the most off-the-cuff pontiff ever, has outed an alleged "party" in the Curia--or acknowledged anyway the public secret that (1) there are same-sex oriented men in the Curia (clergy and lay); (2) some of them are sexually active; and (3) the perhaps less well-known fact that that kind of information is good for blackmail. Andrew Brown at the UK Guardian, as he often does, thoughtfully engages the hubbub, keeping it well in context.

Unfortunately--and I wish the pope would have chosen his words more carefully in whatever language (he was speaking Spanish)--"gay lobby" suggests the dreaded "homosexual agenda" that many in this country fear lurking at every local school board meeting. Frankly, the problem is not that there is a "gay" lobby in the Vatican; the problem is the lack of honest transparency about it, exacerbated by the fact that church teaching and much pastoral practice makes little room for public acknowledgment of any sexuality other than heterosexual. If the subject wasn't taboo, and the behavior condemned as morally evil in every circumstance, perhaps sexuality wouldn't function (or disfunction) so powerfully in the Curia (or anywhere else in the church).

A friend who is an Episcopal priest told me that she saw a big change in that church after the consecration in 2003 of Gene Robinson as the church's first openly gay bishop. She describes it as a "coming out" moment for the whole church, where a lot of "closeted" behavior got "outed"--the kind the pope is talking about, not just about sexuality, but also about misuse of money, addiction, and all the other troubles that flourish in a culture of secrecy and shame.

In the end, I agree with the pope that the particular "gay lobby" at work in the Vatican has to be dealt with; one way of doing so is a new "gay lobby," in which Catholics of all sexual orientations insist on truthfulness and transparency when it comes to issues of sexuality--including their own--in the church, along with all the other issues that cause such problems when hidden in closets.