How the critique of Catholicism changes and yet remains the same.
The rhetoric of anti-Catholicism, whether its sources are Protestant or secular, has always insisted that the church of Rome is the enemy of what you might call healthy sexuality. This rhetorical trope has persisted despite radical redefinitions of what healthy sexuality means; one sexual culture overthrows another, but Catholicism remains eternally condemned.
Thus in a 19th-century context, where healthy sexuality meant a large patriarchal family with the wife as the angel in the home, anti-Catholic polemicists were obsessed with Catholicism’s nuns — these women who mysteriously refused husbands and childbearing, and who were therefore presumed to be prisoners in gothic convents, victims of predatory priests.
Then a little later, when the apostles of sexual health were Victorian “muscular Christians” worried about moral deviance, the problem with Catholicism was that it was too hospitable to homosexuality — too effete, too decadent, too Oscar Wildean even before Wilde’s deathbed conversion.
Then later still, when sexual health meant the white-American, two-kid nuclear family, the problem with Catholicism was that it was too obsessed with heterosexual procreation, too inclined to overpopulate the world with kids.
And now, in our own age of sexual individualism, Catholicism is mostly just accused of a repressive cruelty, of denying people — and especially its celibacy-burdened priests — the sexual fulfillment that every human being needs.
The mix of change and consistency in anti-Catholic arguments came to mind while I was reading “In the Closet of the Vatican,” a purported exposé of homosexuality among high churchmen released to coincide with the church’s summit on clergy sexual abuse. The book, written by a gay, nonbelieving French journalist, Frédéric Martel, makes a simple argument in a florid, repetitious style: The prevalence of gay liaisons in the Vatican means that clerical celibacy is a failure and a fraud, as unnatural and damaging as an earlier moral consensus believed homosexuality to be.
The style of Martel’s account is fascinating because it so resembles the old Protestant critique of Catholic decadence. Instead of a tough-guy Calvinist proclaiming that Catholicism’s gilt and incense makes men gay, it’s a gay atheist claiming that the gays use Catholicism’s gilt and incense to decorate the world’s most lavish closet. Instead of celibacy making men deviant, celibacy is the deviance, and open homosexuality the cure. Celibacy used to offend family-values conservatism; now it offends equally against the opposite spirit.
The book is quite bad; too many of its attempted outings rely on the supposed infallibility of Martel’s gaydar. And yet anyone who knows anything about the Vatican knows that some of the book’s gossip is simply true — just as the other critiques of Catholicism have some correspondence to reality.
This passionate talk from Dr. James O’Keefe MD gives us a deeply personal and fascinating insight into why homosexuality is indeed a necessary and extraordinarily useful cog in nature’s wheel of perfection. James H O’Keefe MD, is a Board Certified Cardiologist and Director of both the Charles & Barbara Duboc Cardio Health & Wellness Center and the Preventive Cardiology service at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute. He is also Professor of Medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. His postgraduate training included a cardiology fellowship at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Dr O’Keefe is board-certified in Cardiology, Internal Medicine, Nuclear Cardiology, and Cardiac CT Imaging. He is consistently ranked among the ‘Top Doctor’ lists regionally and nationally as one of America’s Top Rated Physicians in Cardiology. He has been named as one of USA Today’s Most Influential Doctors. Dr O’Keefe has contributed more than 300 articles to the medical literature and has authored best-selling cardiovascular books for health professionals including: The Complete Guide to ECGs (which is used for Cardiology Board Certification), Dyslipidemia Essentials, and Diabetes Essential.
When Zeigler was asked by The Washington Examiner about an allegation that the Senate candidate Roy Moore initiated sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32, Zeigler cited the biblical couple to say, essentially: No biggie! This is as old as Christianity.
“Take Joseph and Mary,” he explained. “Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus. There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual.” He made it sound as if Moore were some religiously inclined analogue to those military-history enthusiasts who dress in the uniforms of yesteryear to travel back to the Revolutionary War. Moore was merely re-enacting the New Testament in the name of lust.
It’s worth pointing out that there is something illegal here: A 14-year-old girl is below the age of consent in Alabama, and that was true as well four decades ago, when the incident is alleged to have occurred. It’s also worth pointing out that Jesus supposedly arrived via virgin birth, so Joseph’s interactions with Mary up until that point may have been considerably more G-rated and gallant than in Zeigler’s version.
It’s further worth pointing out that millenniums ago, girls were treated as chattel and sold off as child brides, a practice that no one in his or her right mind would regard as inspirational and cite as an exonerating precedent.
.. If I sound bitter, I am, because they have long been among the principal purveyors of hatred for gay people like me. They’re a big reason that so many of us grew up terrified that we’d be ostracized, wondering if there was something twisted in us and confronted with laws that treated us as second-class citizens. We were supposedly in moral error, and thus deserved a lesser lot.
.. In 2002 he called sexual relations between people of the same gender “an act so heinous that it defies one’s ability to describe it.”
.. Although Christianity as I understand it doesn’t smile on the florid lying, womanizing, hypersexual vocabulary and assorted cruelties that have been prominent threads in Donald Trump’s life, Moore and many other evangelical Christians spared Trump their censure. I understand their motivation to vote for him: abortion. But that didn’t compel them to remain so mum about his misdeeds or summon the adoration that some of them did. (I’m looking at you, Jerry Falwell Jr.)
One morning, Oliver Sipple went out for a walk. A couple hours later, to his own surprise, he saved the life of the President of the United States. But in the days that followed, Sipple’s split-second act of heroism turned into a rationale for making his personal life into political opportunity. What happens next makes us wonder what a moment, or a movement, or a whole society can demand of one person. And how much is too much?
Through newly unearthed archival tape, we hear Sipple himself grapple with some of the most vexing topics of his day and ours – privacy, identity, the freedom of the press – not to mention the bonds of family and friendship.