WHY DO MODERN CATHOLIC GAY SEMINARIES HAVE A GAY SUBCULTURE?
That is a very valid question we must ask even given the ongoing controversies at our own Maynooth seminary.
During the night the following email arrived to me from a Maynooth source:
Conor 'Jasmine' Gannon with Shane 'Aladdin' Costello and Joseph 'Monkey' Gormley on Jasmine's floor in Maynooth. (Picture from Snapchat)
The girls in cafe bonbon in Maynooth posing.
Jasmine meeting Francis"
The Maynooth source included the following pictures in the email. These picture had already been published on the internet by one of the seminarians in his Snapchat account.
As you can see from the email the three seminarians nicknames are "Jasmine", "Aladdin" and "Monkey".
A former seminarian who was in St Andrew's Seminary in Scotland when the gay and disgraced Cardinal Keith O'Brien was the spiritual director there, said the following
"Homosexual behaviour was relatively commonplace at the institution, a former country home with more than 50 rooms, which had opened to trainee priests in the Fifties and closed in 1986.
‘At a conservative guess, at least a third of my peers had gay feelings for other seminarians during their time at St Andrew’s,’ says one alumnus, ordained in 1982. ‘For many gay men at the time, particularly from rural communities, the priesthood was one of the few career paths you could pursue without having to spend your life answering awkward questions about why you weren’t yet married.’
Another former seminarian, who dropped out after less than a year and is now openly gay, says the homosexual identity of many of his peers was an ‘open secret’ among staff and students.
In the tight-knit, secluded environment, daily rituals such as lighting candles or preparing the altar for Mass became loaded with homo-eroticism, he said.
‘We all knew it went on. When alcohol came out, you’d see people becoming more tactile,’ he says.
‘The irony was that the gay seminarians would generally be the ones to take the most conservative positions when we’d discuss sexual issues. It was the hypocrisy that I couldn’t stand.’"
This seminarian goes so far as to say that even lighting the altar candles for Mass was "loaded with homoeroticism".
Many priests and theologians have commented about the gay sub-cultures in Catholic seminaries:
An anonymous priest from the Boston area commented in an interview with Joe Fitzgerald of the Boston Herald: "there's a subculture of gay priests and everyone knows it. I went through seminary with a lot of them and got hit on. And when I reported it, I was harassed to a point where, emotionally, it was very difficult to get ordained. I'm not the only one who had to fight to get through it; I know guys who left because of it. It was clear there was a cabal tacitly saying, 'Don't bother reporting this stuff.' You wouldn't believe the self-justifications, like, 'Well, celibacy only applies to not getting married, so since we're not getting married we can do whatever we want.' It was horrible, with a lot of intimidation, but I stayed because I felt this was what God was calling me to do; besides, if I'd walked, they'd have won." 8
Father McBrien, a theologian at the University of Notre Dame, commented that some seminary students "...who feel they have a genuine vocation for priesthood go into a seminary and feel very alienated by the gay culture. I don't say this in any homophobic sense. It's just the reality." 2
Pope John Paul II held a meeting with the American cardinals which dealt with the clerical sex scandals. Afterward, Bishop Wilton Gregory, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said: "One of the difficulties we do face in seminary life or recruitment is made possible when there does exist a homosexual atmosphere or dynamic that makes heterosexual men think twice [about entering.] It is an ongoing struggle to make sure the Catholic priesthood is not dominated by homosexual men." 9
R. Scott Appleby, a history professor at Notre Dame, said: "People I know quite well have left the seminary either in disgust because people are not keeping vows, or in alienation because they’re not gay. In some cases it’s a serious problem." 3
The Most Rev. Wilton Gregory said: "[T]here does exist a homosexual atmosphere or dynamic that makes heterosexual men think twice."3
The Rev. Charles Bouchard, president of the Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis said: "I think straight priests and seminarians shouldn’t be whining. I just don’t think it’s a big deal." 3
Father Donald Cozzens wrote: "What impact does the gay subcultrue have on the straight priest and seminarian?....straight men in a predominantly or significantly gay environment commonly experience chronic destabilization, a common symptom of which is self doubt...Their psychic confusion, understandably, has significant implications for both their spiritual vitality and emotional balance." 10
Timothy Radcliffe, Master of the Order of Preachers, commented on the emergence of a homosexual sub-culture within a seminary or religious order: "It can threaten the unity of the community; it can make it harder for the brethren to practice the chastity which we have vowed. It can put pressure on brethren to think of themselves in a way that is not central to their vocation as preachers of the Kingdom..." 11
It is quite clear that seminaries like Maynooth have a gay subculture.
You see this in the flamboyant behaviour of some seminarians - their love of dressing up in lace - and the fact that they refer to each other by female names and referring to each other as "girls".
It also shows itself in two seminarians having "exclusive friendships" or in seminarians belonging to a feminine "gay gang".
Some seminarians have talked of seminarians changing diocese so that after ordination they can be in the same diocese as their "Friend".
There is talk about "goings on" at World Youth Day and in "The Meadow" in Lourdes after dark.
I ask myself where this gay subculture comes from.
Is it emanating from:
1. The twisted Catholic teaching on homosexuality and sexuality in general?
2. The fact that the seminary / priesthood allows you to live a double life - a "respectable life" as a seminarian / priest and a secret life as a gay man?
3. Having a seminarian / priest partner / lover is safer from exposure than having a lay partner / lover?
4. The fact that many bishops and seminary staff have a gay orientation themselves and are "preferential" to gay candidates for priesthood?
I would very much appreciate the views of Blog readers on this complex issue.