In a recent column in the New York Times, Maureen Dowd, citing Michael Ross, claims that the reforms of Vatican II made the Church of Rome ripe for take over by homosexuals. By maintain the chastity as a condition of priesthood, Dowd writes, “ended up shrinking the priest pool and producing the wrong kind of candidates — drawing men confused about their sexuality who put our children in harm’s way.” Usually I agree with Mo Do, but this she got wrong.
There have always been gay priests – in the Church of Rome, in the Church of England, in the Church of Jesus of the Latter Day Saints. Homosexual men and women are everywhere. Really – they are. And not just now, in our post-Stonewall, post- AIDS, post-Ellen era. Gay people have been around forever. The ongoing crisis hasn’t been caused by allowing gay men, or men who are confused about their sexuality into the priesthood. The cause lies deep within the institution, where some who have taken vows of poverty, chastity and obedience have been corrupted by power, sex and money. Sexually abusing children isn’t about sex – it’s about power.
The plot of the best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code revolves around the premise that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were husband and wife. The idea of Jesus as a sexual being doesn’t radically alter our understanding of his message of a loving God. Even if we tweek the story and have Jesus and Peter or Paul as lovers, the essential truth of his mission remains intact.
But how would we read the Beatitudes if Jesus discovered that James had raped a child and did nothing about it for fear of compromising the mission? Would we still have faith in that mission? Is preserving institutional power and the illusion of infallibility more important than protecting the most vulnerable? The Jesus that I follow stands with the children each and every time.