By Louie Verrecchio
(Catholic News Agency) As debate surrounding the recently published John Jay Report (Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010) continues, more and more Catholics are coming to the unavoidable conclusion (contrary to “official findings”) that the overwhelming majority of abuse cases were directly related to homosexuality.
One may further deduce that the historical spike in such incidents also likely coincided with an increase in the relative number of homosexual men in the priesthood - a proposition too unsavory (not to mention too politically incorrect) for many to acknowledge.
Those who are willing to look at the situation with eyes opened wide are left to ponder, not just the aforementioned abuse crisis, but also the broader implications of homosexuality in the priesthood.
I would submit that the impact of homosexual priests has perhaps been brought to bear in a particularly profound way in the liturgical life of the Church, and I would ask the reader to keep in mind as we proceed the warning issued by St. Paul, “Know you not that a little leaven corrupteth the whole lump?” (1 Cor. 5:6)
Let’s begin by considering that the priest who celebrates Holy Mass does so in persona Christi – in the person of Christ – such that he “does nothing of his own power” when he carries out his liturgical duties; rather, it is the Lord Himself who is present and active in offering the Holy Sacrifice (cf St. John Chrysostom – Homily on the Holy Pentecost).
Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest, is uniquely present and made visible to the faithful in the person of the ordained minister at Holy Mass (cf Sacrosanctum Concilium - 7) – a reality that compels the celebrating priest to personally surrender to Christ after the example of St. John the Baptist who said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
The cleric who suffers with homosexuality, however, will necessarily find this liturgical submission-of-self a most challenging proposition...
Prior to Vatican II, Holy Mass was commonly celebrated in Latin in the ad oreintem posture in which both priest and people faced east, even if only a “liturgical east.” As such, the personality (and underlying emotional health) of the priest was of little consequence in the celebration, and so “losing himself” in order to make room for Christ in the liturgy was far more easily accomplished by the priest than it is today.
In the Novus Ordo, however, the priest most commonly offers Holy Mass in the vernacular versus populum (facing the people) wherein his personality (and at times his emotional health) is unavoidably on display. Aware of the impact that his liturgical persona can have on the experience of the assembled faithful, the priest often feels tremendous pressure to draw upon his personal resources to “perform” his duties in a compelling way. Even in the best of circumstances, it is quite natural for the priest to feel moved to so meet the expectant eyes and ears of the faithful such as they are ever cast upon him in the newly configured rite.
For the priest who also struggles with an underlying inclination toward narcissism, the temptation to use the liturgy as a venue for seeking attention and personal gratification can be all but overwhelming...