The Truth needs cleaning up.
originally posted May 24th, 2010; revised July 12th, 2021
"I would just say this. The most important thing is to clean up the truth. And the truth is I have never said anything." —Edward Cardinal Eagan
|A truly welcoming smile|
This head spinning statement by the Archbishop of New York, Edward Cardinal Eagan was read by the rector of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Monsignor Eugene Clark, in 2002. Standing in for the embattled Cardinal Egan, Clark blamed the sex abuse scandal on gays, railed against homosexuality as an “intrinsic disorder" and said it was a "grave mistake" to allow gays into the priesthood.
Clark would later be forced to resign after his affair with his secretary, a woman 30 years his junior, came to light in 2005. The king of outing high level hypocrites, Michelangelo Signorile, had a blast with this. “Now here is Monsignor Clark, three years later, at the age of 79, exposed as engaging in an adulterous affair with a married women 30 years younger, proving that the greatest threat to marriage is in fact pompous, hypocritical, heterosexual men who can't keep their dicks to themselves even as they become octogenarians.” A Monsignor's Closet, 2005-08-24
I’ve had at least a few things to say about the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church. I also had personal experience with the cloak of secrecy that gay priests are forced to wear. It didn't fit me well. I wrote “Don't Ask, Don't Tell—A Jesuit Strategy” when I revisited a conversation that I had with my friend Avery Dulles (who by the way did not much like wearing his cardinal attire). I did not mention Avery by name when he was alive out of respect for his position and our friendship. Though I think that he might have endorsed what I said, I didn’t want to expose my version of his words to lurkers on the Internet who love bits of gossip that they can distort.
I will not just make a statement and then stand back. It’s time to keep up the pressure.
So let’s try a little humor. Among gay clergy a lot of dark humor floats from one pink rectory to another. The main characters here are John 23, Francis “Fanny” Cardinal Spellman, and John Joseph Cardinal Wright of Pittsburg and the Vatican. (Even though Wright wasn’t yet a cardinal during Vatican II, I think I am allowed the conflation for humor’s sake).
Even if gay as suspected, John 23 and Wright, were straight arrows. “Fanny” Spellman, however, was notorious for his liaisons with any number of New York chorus boys and hustlers, so much so that it seems he had a member of his staff dedicated to quelling rumors and preventing them from reaching the pages of the tabloids. In New York gay bars of the 60’s there was always someone who swore that they heard directly from his lips: “If you threaten to go public, who’ll believe you? You’re a nobody, and I’m the Cardinal Archbishop of New York.”
When John 23 sent out the official announcement to the opening of the Second Vatican Council, he included a private note to all the cardinals, archbishops, and bishops asking them to tone down their dress. It was to be a solemn occasion, yes, but given that he as Pope was striving for reform, remaking the image of the Church in the modern world, simple clerical garb would be enough. Leave the cappae magnae home.
The day of the opening of the Council rolled around and the US prelates were gathered together inside St. Peters, dressed down as requested. Drum roll and trumpets, the doors swung open, and there was John 23, sporting a Triregnum, carried on his sedia gestatoria by 12 hunky guys in red, surrounded by fans of white feathers (a boa would not have seemed out of place).
Spellman turns to Wright and says, “Bitch” sotto voce.
No Sackcloth and ashes! God forbid!
Pope Benedict called for penance to atone for the sins of the Church, one presumes for not reprimanding pedophile priests and allowing them access to children even after their crimes had been reported. But Benedict’s penance doesn’t call for sackcloth and ashes. Oh no, quite the contrary.
He’s taken the papal throne out of the Vatican Museum where it has been in mothballs since Paul VI's reign. The Pope’s little red slippers which John Paul 2 put in the closet are out and polished—you have to have shoes to match.
Even lowly bishops have taken to the 60 foot cappa magna once again. A reliable Jesuit source reported that more than 50 years ago, Pius XII officially cut its length to 12’, but here’s a photograph of Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception taken on April 26th 2010. That’s 60’ if it’s an inch.
|Pius VIII riding high in 1828|
And there are rumors that Benedict wanted to dust off the sedia gestatoria “for security reasons.” This certainly doesn't look like penance, or maybe that's how old queens do penance.
I had friends who really did molest teenagers. Two are now dead; one served time in jail; one lives anonymously in a trailer park, but at least they are hopefully no longer under Vatican protection.
The truth does need cleaning up, by you. It’s so easy to make fun of the hypocrisy. Why do you guys leave yourselves so open to this kind of abuse? Because you’re caught in an untenable position and are forced to defend it. I’ve had some experience trying to be honest. It’s tough, but it’s not the truth that needs cleaning up. For the record, y'all did say something, actually many things. And you lied.
Penance my ass.