Michael Hamar

Andrew Sullivan Thinks the Pope is Gay - and I Suspect He's Right

Filed By Michael Hamar | August 20, 2010 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Living
Tags: anti-gay churches, Benedict XVI, gay Catholics, morality, Roman Catholic Church, sexual abuse by priests

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 pope_8-19.jpgthat 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.

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Christ. Andrew Sullivan of all people assumes a guy's gay because he's neat, effeminate-sounding, and a snappy dresser? By those standards, Andrew Sullivan himself is straight as an arrow. And what is up with his "fixation on liturgy and ritual"? The Pope, being fixated with liturgy and ritual! Imagine that!

Of course he's repressed. Or course he's cut off from society. He's been in the Catholic church his whole life. He took vows specifically promising to be repressed and to cut himself off from society.

This just looks like projection to me. A lot of gay people see homosexuality where there is none. I'm guilty of it too. But I really, really don't think the Pope's gay. The reasoning is based entirely on stereotypes and assumptions.

And anyway, what good does it do to even speculate about this? If Papa Ratzi was indeed in the tribe, and everybody found out about it, you know what their reaction would be? "Well, I knew the Catholic church was full of child molesters - and the Pope himself is a homosexual! He must have raped children too." Speculating about this helps nothing and just reinforces the nastiest, most damaging stereotypes about us.

I am not sure that "everybody' equates homosexuality with child molestation, as in the reaction you anticipate from "everybody" if the Pope were outed. I do think many people may more or less equate the catholic priesthood with molestation at this point, ( even if that's unfair to some priests,) because we intuit that the same twisted need for power often drives both. But even if some ignorant people still do regard all gays as child -molesters, trying to pretend that tons of catholic clerics, including many flamingly queeny ones, are not, in fact, gay, isn't the way to counter that, because it's not truthful or credible.

Okay, perhaps "everybody" was a bit hyperbolic. I don't think we should deny that there's a lot of gay priests out there, but we should talk about the priests we KNOW are gay, not speculate pointlessly and with no evidence about the Pope. You can't deny that Papa Razti - along with various other high-ranking church figures - has scapegoated gays for the child molestation scandals. Spreading the word that every priest with a nice pair of shoes is gay does not help things.

My thoughts exactly, Samwise. I couldn't say it better.

Nevertheless it is beyond credible dispute that a huge number of catholic clergy are and always have been repressed and/or (semi-) closeted gay men. Examining this nexus is a legitimate and valuable line of inquiry for queers.

Yeah ... if B16 is gay, then he is one of the most closeted gay men on Earth. He would have to be in order to still be elected to the papacy by the College of Cardinals --- in the current homophobic environment of the Vatican, the last thing they need is a gay Pope.

I agree with Samwise --- this discussion is silly and irrelevant, even if it was Andrew Sullivan who started it.

Speculating about the hypocrisy of a possibly closeted Pope Benedict XVI - who calls gays "objectively disordered" and our relationships "intrinsically evil" - reinforces nasty images of gays? To me, you've got it backwards. Benedict's statements fuel homophobia.

I was raised Catholic (but had the sense to leave that Church) and know only too well the damage the Catholic Church's anti-gay agenda does to countless lives every day. If in fact Benedict is a closeted homosexual, then all the more shame on him and the Catholic Church.

No doubt he's made horrifically offensive statements. But spreading rumors about his sexuality won't him won't make him stop making those statements. Hell, if he actually IS gay and closeted, if anything, it'll cause him to be MORE vocally homophobic to throw people off-track. Secondly, we can't even out him because we have no evidence: he's never had sex. All we've got is winks and nudges about his close relationship to his male assistant. And even if it were possible to out him, and we did, what then? Aren't Popes elected (crowned?) for life? Can the Vatican fire him?

A lot of people are against outing public figures, except when it comes to public figures who hurt the gay community. More and more, I find myself also opposed to outing the homophobic public figures because then our popular representatives will be a bunch of self-loathing, hateful lunatics. But this is all hypothetical because we have no actual evidence that the Pope IS gay, just a lot of silly gossip.

Also, admittedly, I hate the thought of having any kind of association with the Catholic church, however indirect.

To me, the only point I see in speculating whether or not the Pope is gay is knowing that if he is, he's created his own living hell. Good.

In the meantime, though, whether he is or isn't is sort of irrelevant. He continues to spread hate for the rest of us, and I don't see that changing in his lifetime.

I want to believe the Pope is gay, but for one crucial thing. The man is apparently unaware of hem weights. How many times has he been caught on camera at airports with his little cape flying over his head in the wind or jet blast, enhancing his resemblance to a frilled lizard.

A proper gay man would have sewn chain into his hems to get that proper alluring swing. Or more likely he'd make his boyfriend Ganswein do it. And that's a lot of hem-sewing: the Pope has a huge closet.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | August 20, 2010 8:25 PM

Look....if God had wanted the current Pope to be gay, She would have made sure he had ruby red slippers and a little, dog, too. I don't see any Toto, so all bets are off.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | August 20, 2010 8:25 PM

Look....if God had wanted the current Pope to be gay, She would have made sure he had ruby red slippers and a little, dog, too. I don't see any Toto, so all bets are off.

Colm Toibin's essay is probably one of the best things I've read on clerical culture, gay priests, and institutional fear- and I lived it.
In Rome.
Totally worth the read.

I knew the Pope was gay when I saw that vid of him (pre-Papal days)slapping at the hands of a persistent reporter years ago. It was so 'mary', so drag queen-esque in it's delivery. But the real give-away was the pouty lips, the indignant expression, and the way he 'hmmmphed!' and flounced into his limo all insulted. If I weren't so lazy, I'd search for a clip of it, but right now there's a quiche demanding to be released from my oven :)

Joe-Allen Doty | August 21, 2010 11:26 AM

Unlike some modern folks and some ignorant folks who create modern dictionaries, a homosexual should not be called "gay" unless he is out of the closet about his sexual orientation.

I don't call closeted homosexuals, not even heterosexually-married homosexuals, "gay." They are not really happy about their sexual orientation.

Andrew Sullivan is a Roman Catholic Church in his beliefs. To be RCC and openly gay is somewhat of an oxymoron. One needs to be educated about the TRUE history of Christian Orthodoxy and the fact there is no Biblical support of most of the RCC doctrines and rituals.

Using the title "Pope" (Papa in Italian) actually goes against what Jesus said about folks getting themselves promoted to religious positions so they could use titles for themselves. He did not approve of them doing that. Since "Pope/Papa" is like calling one Daddy or Father, Jesus said when referring to those in religious leadership, "Call no man 'Father'; because your only Father is in Heaven."

The RCC Pope is also the head of his own country known as the Vatican.

If I had to hazzard a guess, yes I would say the pope is gay. But it's more complicated than that, and many lives are sadly being lost and destroyed by these bigot religious types. Let people be folks and let your silly gods do the judging as thats what many of your fantasy books preach.

I don't think I want the Pope to be gay. The straight world can keep him.

But... he neither identifies as gay and there's no proof he's ever had gay sex. Still, having same-sex desire paints the picture of a much more troubled person deep down inside there.

I don't think we want to claim him.

I find it laughable that Andrew Sullivan's chisme on Bene16's sexual orientation is more worthy of publishing than a possible exploration of his own adherence to a cult that is basically oriented around mental illness attributes (heavenly visions? genocide and torture campaigns in the name of god, practicing exorcism on mentally ill people to name a few.)

One wonders what it takes to get people to exorcise these evil spirits and poisonous influences from their own lives