In the 1980s, I contacted the local seminary to recruit some CCD and Confirmation-prep teachers for my parish. (CCD is Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, a program of afterschool Catholic education for kids.) Who better to interact with a bunch of inner-city youths none of whom had any desire to be in church on a weeknight than a fresh-faced, optimistic, energetic and inspirational fellow just a few years their senior who himself, a model of faith, would share with them the grace of God and the love of Jesus (while I stayed in the rectory next door and drank Dewars)?
I had the seminarians in for a late dinner each week after they had taught their classes. I liked getting them loosened up with a little wine so that I could get the inside gay view of the next generation of clergy. Did I mention they were all gay?
Unlike my generation, they actually had admitted to each other that they were gay. In my day, the understanding was tacit. We put on lots of shows, but we never ever showed our real selves even to each other. They had fascinating stories full of frustration about faculty "witch hunts" against the more "out" of their number. They were to a man bitterly disenchanted about the Catholic Church.
Within a year, they had all left the seminary and had begun their new gay lives having surgically removed themselves from their priestly vocations to church service.
That is why, when I read earlier today in The Pink News this headline, Melbourne "testing" to weed out gay priesthood candidates, I had to laugh.
It seems that in Australia, the seminary faculty will step up its efforts to keep gay men from the priesthood.
If ever there was a needless initiative, this is it. It would be like me declaring that I'm going to step up my efforts to stop NBA basketball players from dragging me into their post-game shower room orgies.
Almost no one joins the priesthood anymore. And, certainly no self-respecting gay man would do it. The profession is no longer the only option for talented altruistic spiritual gay men who feel called to community leadership and do not want to explain their lack of wife.
I think a final weeding of all gays out of the priesthood will be a good thing. It will bankrupt the profession and leave Catholics in the pews longing for the good old days when a handsome young man who could carry a tune and knew how to walk in silk brocade gave them erotic fantasies for an hour on Sunday morning. Bleaching all the gay out of the Catholic Church will help bring it to the point of extinction, and then, we will return to it, in just the same way that it's always the gay men who are the first to identify and gentrify a seedy and failing neighborhood.
Let the gayless disintegration of Roman Catholicism continue. We'll know when it's at rock bottom, and we'll come back to save it. On our terms. (Sorry Jesus. Things are going to get worse for you before they get better. Hang in there. This may take a while.)