More Homosexual Propaganda
In Baltimore's Diocesan Paper


By Leon J. Podles

March 12, 1987


The Catholic Review in Baltimore continues to print homosexual propaganda. Wanderer readers will remember Gary Potter's analysis in the June 26th Wanderer of the pamphlet Homosexuality — A Catholic Perspective, a reprint of articles from The Catholic Review. The pamphlet was published by the Archdiocesan Gay/Lesbian Outreach (AGLO), but was withdrawn and disavowed by the Archdiocese after The Wanderer's article.


Among other lies and distortions, the pamphlet tried to justify its positive evaluation of homosexuality by referring to the examples of Naomi and Ruth, Jonathan and David, St. Paul and Timothy, and even Jesus and the Apostle John. Paul Thomas, a priest and a team member of AGLO, has now added St. Aelred to the catalog of homosexuals, in "Saintly Model for Homosexuals" (The Catholic Review, Jan. 7th, 1987).


Thomas claims that " Aelred's erotic attraction to men remained a dominant force throughout his entire life." Thomas asserts that Aelred was promiscuous in his youth, and formed a homosexual attachment to a man "sweeter to me than all the sweet things of life." Thomas commends Aelred for not adopting an "anti-physical attitude" after his religious profession, for allowing his monks to hold hands, and for emphasizing "the need for close same-sex interpersonal relationships."


Thomas states that Aelred "fell in love with two fellow Cistercians." The evidence for this is Aelred's referring to a friend as "the refuge of my spirit, the sweet solace of my griefs, whose heart of love received me when fatigued from labors, whose counsel refreshed me when plunged in sadness . . . I deemed my heart in a fashion his, and his mine. . . . We had but one mind and one soul. . . ."


Aelred, according to Thomas, achieved sainthood "not by repressing homosexual feelings but by controlling and integrating them into his monastic discipline and spiritual reflections." Aelred is supposed to have given "same-sex love (without genital contact) its most profound and lasting expression in a Christian context." As the clincher, Thomas quotes Aelred: "It is a great consolation in this life to have someone to whom you can be united in the intimate embrace of the most sacred love . . . with whom you can rest, just the two of you, in the sleep of peace, away from the noise of the world, in the kiss of unity, with the sweetness of the Holy Spirit flowing over you. . . ."


A Distorted Picture


This article is of course totally untrue and is blasphemous in its identification of homosexual love with "the most sacred love" and "the sweetness of the Holy Spirit." The Cistercian Abbot of the Abbey of the Benesee, Piffard, N.Y., Abbot John Eudes Bamberger in his letter to The Catholic Review on Feb. 11th, 1987, took exception to Thomas' article. The abbot, who presumably knows his Cistercian history, criticizes Thomas' article as "an equivocal article that presents a distorted picture of St. Aelred based upon a tendentious interpretation of data lifted out of context." Abbot Bamberger continues, "There is not the slightest evidence that St. Aelred was homosexual. . . . His teaching on friendship and his praxis is actually very exacting and requires much depth and ascetic denial. It does not exclude minor physical expressions such as are commonly seen among heterosexual men in certain cultures today. . . ."


Abbot Bamberger, rightly offended by Thomas' claims about Aelred, says that "it does no honor to the Church to present as a model for the gay community a man given to austere penance as if he had cultivated eroticism." The abbot hopes (forlornly, if one may judge by the past practice of The Catholic Review) "that articles which serve to confuse the faithful in this matter will not be accepted by the archdiocesan newspaper."


Paul Thomas has both an obvious and a hidden purpose in the article on St. Aelred, both highly, pernicious. The obvious intention is to identify friendship and homosexual attraction. The hidden agenda is to have the Church ordain admitted homosexuals to the priesthood with the understanding they will be celibate but will continue in "nongenital" homosexual relationships and expressions of desire.


The source of Thomas' confusion of friendship and homosexual desire is hard to diagnose. Anyone with the slightest degree of education knows that there are many cultural-bound ways of expressing love, erotic desire, and sexual identity. Scots wear kilts. Men in Latin cultures kiss and embrace. Tennyson refers to his late friend as:


My Arthur, whom I shall not see Till all my widow'd race be run; Dear as the mother to the son, More than my brothers are to me (In Memoriam).


Only a particularly dense 12-year-old boy could mistake this language, or the different ways of expressing affection and of dressing in different countries, as evidence of homosexuality.


Aelred, like Tennyson, could use language drawn from courtship and marriage to describe friendship because the two were completely distinct. Numerous commentators have used the erotic language of the Canticle of Canticles to talk about charity, and the relationship of God and man. Metaphors from one area of experience are used to describe another area of experience, without any identification or confusion of the two. Using Aelred's language as an indication of homosexuality is like thinking the poet who said "My love is as a red, red rose" was planning to cut his beloved's head off to put into a vase on the parlor shelf.


Thomas' identification of friendship between men and homosexual desire, his conflation of the two things into "same-sex love" is both very stupid and very damaging. Men, especially adolescents, who are exposed to such ideas, will react by thinking that if they have close friendships, they are homosexual. This will either damage the friendships or lead them into contaminating friendship with sexual desire.


Leadership Qualities


Thomas' hidden agenda is to justify the ordination of homosexuals, and therefore follow the supposed example of St. Aelred. I think it highly inadvisable to ordain homosexuals, even if they sincerely intend to be celibate. Homosexuality is a grave personality disorder, as are pedophilia and alcoholism. It would be a mistake for a bishop to ordain men whom he knows have such problems.


A priest is a leader of the Christian community, and should be an example of upright and virtuous living, and of properly informed Christian character. St. Paul insists that a bishop "must be above reproach, the husband of one wife [that is, not having remarried after widowhood, for such a marriage would be evidence of inability to restrain sexual desire], temperate, sensible, dignified ... not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, no lover of money" (I Tim. 3:2-3).


While the Church includes all types of sinners in various stages of repentance, the leaders of the Church must be of outstanding character. A person afflicted with serious personality disorders may sincerely cooperate with God's grace and thereby attain sanctity, but he should not be placed in a position of leadership.


There are practical reasons why homosexuals should not be ordained. Living in a male environment would be a temptation to them, and having as companions other admitted homosexuals would double the temptation. The Church is realistic about human nature, and does not mix celibate heterosexuals in the same community. The same realism would exclude homosexuals.


There are, however, more profound psychological reasons why homosexuality makes a man unsuitable for ordination. Homosexuality is closely connected to irresponsibility, which may take the forms either of violence or of aestheticism, superficiality, and frivolity (the latter are more likely to characterize homosexuals who seek ordination). This tendency to irresponsibility is innate to the homosexual orientation, and irresponsibility is a disqualification for a position of leadership.


Innately Sterile


Irresponsibility and homosexuality are closely connected because of the structure and meaning of human reproduction. The first and most basic relationship of responsibility is that of parent and child. A parent brings a helpless being into existence, and unless the parent takes' responsibility for the child, the child will perish. Because of the biological structure of reproduction, women are innately the more responsible sex. A woman's connection with her child is so obvious and profound that for a woman to reject her child is for her to reject herself. Her sexuality is more diffuse than man's; it extends over courtship, conception, pregnancy, nursing, and is closely connected with affection. The man's connection with his child is less obvious and immediate, and his sexuality is focused on intercourse, and is less connected with affection.

The woman is a mother; the man must learn to be a father. Every culture that survives finds a way of teaching men to take responsibility by enmeshing him in marriage, the care of children, in longterm work and plans.

Homosexuals are removed from this structure of human reproduction that tends to teach men how to be responsible. Their sexual desire is innately sterile, and cannot issue in the children who awaken a man to fatherhood, maturity, and responsibility. Homosexuals' sexual focus is even more exclusively genital than the heterosexual male's. They have even less reason to be connected with children, society, the future. A homosexual by grace may be able to overcome these ultimately self-destructive tendencies, but the weakness of his personality makes him unsuitable for the position of a leader of the Christian people.


A priest is called "Father" because of his acceptance of responsibility in the Church. He must celebrate the sacraments and preach the Gospel, and so guide his flock to eternal life. Although the priest's leadership is supernatural, grace builds upon nature, and does not destroy or ignore it. Leadership qualities and a capacity to accept responsibility are normal signs of a vocation, and homosexuality is a sign that the person lacks these qualities and this capacity.


The Church needs a greater sense of responsibility among the clergy, not less.


(Leon J. Podles, who has a doctorate in English from the University of Virginia, is an investigator with the government. He is married with five children.)