I will be the first to admit that in retrospect I spent 37 years of my life trying to live my life within a fabricated mental construct that would allow me to convince myself that I wasn't really gay. This self-manufactured mental/spiritual world in many ways made no objective sense - especially in hindsight - but it allowed for a religiously inspired system where if I didn't do this or didn't think that, then somehow I could magically tell myself that I wasn't something that my religious indoctrination growing up taught me to believe was too horrible to even imagine.
As Mediate reports and as he himself discusses, Andrew Sullivan makes a strong case that Pope Benedict XVI (pictured with his inseparable personal secretary, Georg Ganswein, who is 30 years his junior) is gay. A flaming gay even. Andrew makes these statements during a discussion of Colm Toibin's essay in the London Review of Books on the Catholic church and the homosexuality question.
Yes, Benedict XVI is likely gay - although that's not to say Benedict has ever violated his mental construct that allows him to continue to pretend to himself and the world that he's not a gay. Meanwhile, in truth, he's a gay man hiding behind the smoke screen of celibacy and religious brainwashing so that he never has to confront the real truth.
Do I feel sorry for him if this theory is correct? Not in the least. Just like I and countless others have come to terms with who we are, so could Benedict.
But to do so he'd lose his power, luxurious residences, authority and the vapid ass-kissing that goes with his title of Supreme Pontiff. Perhaps worse yet, he'd have to admit that things he has done to maintain his mental construct and avoid facing the truth about himself has harmed others. Mediate makes this statement that may sum up how Benedict rationalizes away his own gayness:
Ratzinger himself wrote in 1992, "An individual's sexual orientation is generally not known to others unless he publicly identifies himself as having this orientation or unless some overt behaviour manifests it. As a rule, the majority of homosexually oriented persons who seek to lead chaste lives do not publicise their sexual orientation. Hence the problem of discrimination in terms of employment, housing etc, does not usually arise." So the Pope may be gay, but he has not engaged in gay behavior. He has not sinned, according to his own belief system.
As for Andrew Sullivan's analysis which I believe is 100% on point, here are some highlights:
What Toibin conveys is the special love many homosexuals have had - for two millennia - for this institution [the Catholic Church] and its mission; and the choice the hierarchy has had for several decades to move forward in hope with these [gay] Catholics or to move back in fear against them. So far, tragically, fear has won. But Toibin also sees the potential for a reborn Christianity in the papacy of John Paul II - wrecked by the white-knuckled reactionary politics that grew under him and now defines the Vatican.
The pursuit of control is really a fear of scrutiny and transparency which, when added to the unspeakable crimes of the past, ineluctably led to the current meltdown in the West. The homosexual question is not in any way marginal to this; in fact, you could see it as a central challenge for a church caught between truth and power.
And this collapse of authority rightly means that this Pope himself is no longer immune to the kind of scrutiny once deemed unimaginable. The church, having been revealed to have concealed raw evil, now has little option but to allow the light in, or face sheer disbelief.
It seems pretty obvious to me - as it does to Angelo Quattrochi, whose book is reviewed by Toibin - that the current Pope is a gay man. I am not claiming that Benedict is someone who has explored his sexuality, or has violated his own strictures on the matter. There is absolutely no evidence of that, or of hypocrisy of any sort. But that does not mean that he isn't gay. In fact, Ratzinger's command that gay priests should actively lie about their orientation makes any public statement about this on its face lacking in credibility. But when you look at the Pope's mental architecture (I've read a great deal of his writing over the last two decades) you do see that strong internal repression does make sense of his life and beliefs. At times, it seems to me, his gayness is almost wince-inducing. The prissy fastidiousness, the effeminate voice, the fixation on liturgy and ritual, and the over-the-top clothing accessories are one thing.
But what resonates with me the most is a theology that seems crafted from solitary introspection into a perfect, abstract unity of belief. It is so perfect it reflects a life of withdrawal from the world of human relationship, rather than an interaction with it. Of course, this kind of work is not inherently homosexual; but I have known so many repressed gay men who can only live without severe pain in the world if they create a perfect abstraction of what it is, and what their role is in it. Toibin brilliantly explains this syndrome, why the church of old was so often such a siren call for gay men who could not handle their own nature. In Benedict, one sees a near-apotheosis of this type, what Quattrocchi describes as "simply the most repressed, imploded gay in the world."
I would like to return to the world where this kind of speculation was disgraceful, unnecessary and blasphemous. But when this Pope has already enabled the rape of children, has covered up the crimes of many priests, when he has responded by blaming gay men for the moral failings of his own church, when he has publicly demanded that gay Catholics remain in the closet, i.e. lie about themselves as a sacred duty ... then such deference becomes much more difficult.
Can I understand how Benedict XVI placed himself in his fictional mental world? Most definitely. However, when the fall out from one's own mental contortions and refusal to admit who they are results in harm to the lives of literally millions of gays - and others - world wide, the moral obligation becomes one of facing the truth and ending the lies. Both the lies Benedict tells himself and the lies he preaches against God's LGBT children.