Saturday, January 16, 2016

John Allen on the Vatican's "Gay Lobby"

As someone who's written about homosexuality and the Roman Catholic priesthood (see, for instance, here and here), I appreciate veteran Vatican watcher John Allen's recent Crux article, "Decoding What It Means to Say the Vatican Has a 'Gay Lobby'."

Here's, well, the crux of what Allen has to say (with thanks to Terry Nelson at Abbey Roads for first bringing Allen's insights to my attention) . . .

[W]hen Italians say there’s a “gay lobby” in the Vatican, they don’t mean an organized faction with the aim of changing Church teaching on homosexuality or same-sex marriage.

Instead, what they have in mind is an informal, loosely organized network of clergy who support one another, keep one another’s secrets, and help one another move up the ladder. The group is perceived to have a vested interest in thwarting attempts at reform, since they benefit from secrecy and old-guard ways.

It’s called “gay” because, the theory goes, a Vatican official’s homosexuality can be a very powerful secret, especially if he’s sexually active, and threatening to expose him can be an effective way of keeping him in line. It’s hardly the only such possibility, however, and, in any event, the emphasis is not on sex but secrecy, as well as the related impression of people getting promoted or decisions being made on the basis of personal quid pro quos.

That’s not to say that the perception of a widespread presence of gays in the clergy isn’t a strong part of the picture, especially in light of the furor last fall over Polish Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa, the former Vatican official who outed himself on the brink of a controversial Synod of Bishops on the family.

Yet the speculation over a “lobby” isn’t really about sexual orientation, but the impression of a system in which people living personally conflicted lives look out for one another. In that sense, the term “gay lobby” is often synonymous for Italian-speakers with corruption, secrecy, and a sleazy sort of personal patronage.

– John Allen
Excerpted from "Decoding What It Means to Say
the Vatican Has a 'Gay Lobby'
January 15, 2016

Related Off-site Links:
Two Bishops: The Vatican Isn’t a "Den of Thieves," But Has a "Gay Lobby" – Inés San Martín (Crux, January 14, 2016).
Vatican Gay Lobby? Really? – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, January 17, 2016).
The Vatican's Secret Life – Michael Joseph Gross (Vanity Fair, December 2013).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Gay Men in the Vatican Are Giving the Rest of Us a Bad Name
A Ewe Questions Her Shepherds
To Be Gay in the Vatican
Homosexuality and the Priesthood
Quote of the Day – May 9, 2014
Why I Take Hope in Pope Francis' Statement on Gay Priests
Officially Homophobic, Intensely Homoerotic
A Fact That Should Be Neither Surprising Nor Derogatory
Vatican Stance on Gay Priests Signals Urgent Need for Renewal and Reform
Report: Homosexuality No Factor in Abusive Priests
Weakland, the Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal, and Homophobia
Keeping All the Queens Under One Roof
What Is It That Ails You?
What the Vatican Can Learn from the X-Men

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