Volume > Issue > Letter to the Editor: November 2002

November 2002

Rome Knew?

In the September issue Walt Buescher, a non-Catholic, writes a letter distinguished by its superficiality, flippancy, and confusion. Like many other observers, he sees the Church’s recent sex scandals as being the legacy of priestly celibacy. He asserts that in the 12th century Rome adopted celibacy, not as a way of emulating Christ but as “a cheapskate operation, designed to save money.” He believes that now, some 800 years later, the Catholic Church is paying for the sin of corrupting God’s original intention.

Curiously, he states, “Rome knew that the demand of celibacy…would be a wholesale invitation to sex deviants to head for the priesthood…. [and that it] would not remove God-given, normal, natural sexual desires.” It is unclear how Buescher can justify the stunningly glib accusation that Rome knew that clerical celibacy would grant a game-license to sexual predators.

Unfortunately for Buescher, he frames his case in terms of the scandal of homosexual pedophilia now afflicting the Church. As a consequence, he undoes his own argument. Certainly, our current crisis has nothing to do with “God-given, normal, natural sexual desires.” Apart from a certain complicity in allowing an atmosphere of degeneracy to exist, heterosexual priests have little culpability in the Church’s pedophilia crisis: The victims consist almost entirely of boys, not girls. The burden of blame falls squarely on the shoulders of homosexual clergy. Could Buescher really believe that marriage to women is the solution for homosexual priests who molest boys?

Like many misguided souls, Buescher believes celibacy is at the core of the scandals, and marriage is the cure. But the crisis is rooted in a homosexual sub-culture in the Church — and even Buescher seems to realize this — and so the suggestion to end celibacy and allow priests to marry becomes ridiculous. What Buescher has inadvertently provided is support for the argument to purge from the clerical state those objectively, intrinsically disordered homosexual priests and bishops, who will do further damage if they are allowed to remain.

Stephen Herubin

Saint John's Abbey

Albany, New York

A Regnum Christi Member Speaks Out

Your New Oxford Note, “The Register Steps Into the Ring” (Sept.), put my exact thoughts about the National Catholic Register and their treatment of Michael Rose into print. The unfair criticism and smearing of Rose and his book, Goodbye, Good Men, is the reason why I did not renew my subscription to those weaklings at the Register. As a member of Regnum Christi, which is affiliated with the Legionaries of Christ, this was a difficult decision — not to support the Register, the paper of the Legionaries. However, if the Editor of the Register wants to defend Fr. Taillon and his MTV commercials for vocations to the priesthood, I blame it on ignorance. Whoever doesn’t understand the issue at hand needs to go turn on MTV for 20 minutes, and he’ll probably keel over from shock at the obscenity it peddles. In my book, it’s a K.O. for Rose.

April Manson

Kailua, Hawaii

Anglos & Indians

In faulting Leon Podles’s reference to the “disappearance” of Mission Indians after the Anglos came, Robin Bernhoft gets an old historical irony about half right (letter, Jul.-Aug.). Sure, Anglos hunted and murdered Indians, but so did Indians hunt and murder Anglos — and one another. It serves no purpose now, other than a personal peeve, to put the whole blame on Anglos for the “disappearance” of Indians, when a reading of Parkman, Roosevelt, Prescott, DeVoto, and others shows U.S. expansion across the continent as a teeming hotbed of competing interests. The ineluctable spread of the Western “Empire” through less advanced peoples inevitably involved bloody conflict as well as gradual assimilation, intermarriage, etc. Even before the whites appeared, Indian tribes varied vastly in their pagan ways, with some far more savage than others. There were excesses on all sides. Bernhoft says that Anglo settlers “lacked the Catholic understanding of universal human personhood,” but the Indians lacked that understanding to a greater degree than the general run of Anglos.

In his urge to castigate long-ago Anglos from a supposedly “Catholic” perspective, is Bernhoft perhaps missing the higher metaphor suggested by Podles, “I am the vine, you are the branches, you must be pruned so that you bear much fruit”?

W. Edward Chynoweth

Sanger, California

Fr. Jaki

I found the article by Fr. Stanley L. Jaki on the Malines Conversations and Catholic-Anglican relations (Jul.-Aug.) enormously insightful. Congratulations on publishing it!

Fr. Paul B. Marx, O.S.B.

Collegeville, Minnesota

Fr. Jaki’s article on Canterbury confusions was excellent — and very much needed! It shows how easily ecumenism degenerates into what my late husband, Dietrich, called “ecumenitis.” I am also grateful for the light that Dimitri Cavalli shed on the Catholic-Jewish dialogue in the same issue. The NOR always targets topics in dire need of clarification.

With best wishes, and union of prayers for our battered Church.

Alice von Hildebrand

New Rochelle, New York

St. Bozo's Performing Arts Studio

In response to the letter (Jul.-Aug.) from Dan McCullough, who wonders if he needs professional counseling because of his being annoyed by the noise level before Mass: No, Dan, you do not need counseling. What is needed is for the Catholic Church to become a house of worship again rather than a performing arts studio. As an example, I tend to arrive at Sunday Mass about 15 or 20 minutes early so that I can have a few moments of silent prayer and contemplation. Several weeks ago I was trying to pray, about 15 minutes prior to the start of Mass. One of the members of the so-called music group decided it was time to tell us what the “gathering song” was, what book it was located in and on what page, and then she insisted that we rehearse the song. I looked around the church and there had to be all of 20 people. They were all trying to do the same thing I was: pray.

The Church has lost its sense of the sacred. It is no longer a house of worship, it is a performing arts studio. The priest no longer matters, it is the performers that count. I truly wish that the Church would go back to a basic service, with no performers or music for at least one of the Masses on Sunday.

Stanley Trinaystich

Monrovia, California


The Editor asks (June, p. 12), “Do any of our readers know when the handclapping entered Catholic parishes? And why?”

The first time I witnessed handclapping was at a wedding, when the bride and groom were introduced as “Mr. and Mrs.” for the first time, which was done just before they left the altar to leave the church. I believe that the father of the groom started the applause. I thought it out of place. That father was my husband. I told him I thought that was tacky. He laughed. I still think it’s tacky.

Mary Jo M. Anderson

Paris, Kentucky

Shocked & Ashamed

Your July-August issue is the first NEW OXFORD REVIEW I have read. Your name implies the legacy of Cardinal Newman, a man whose intellect was admirable and whose vision of humankind was commendable. Thus it is with some consternation that I read the word “fags” to describe homosexuals (“Desperately Jesuitical,” New Oxford Notes), as well as an anti-intellectual approach to any criticism of Catholicism. I am shocked and ashamed to see such drivel printed in something that purports to represent Catholic viewpoints. You have a responsibility not to promote hate-mongering, and what I read from you about homosexuality was the equivalent of that.

I hope you and your readers will reflect upon name-calling and spurious categorizing of people, and cut it out. Let’s eschew phrases such as “keep the trigger down” (letter from William A. Donohue of the Catholic League), and instead urge vigorous debate without vicious and useless rhetoric. To the writer of “Desperately Jesuitical”: I am refusing to disclose my own fag-or-not status.

Katherine A. Hermes, Ph.D., J.D.

Torrington, Connecticut

I read the July-August issue immediately after returning home from the annual Courage meeting/retreat where grace, holiness, and faith were palpable. I cannot adequately describe the mixture of shock, anger, and then sadness that I experienced as I read the words “but he doesn’t tell us whether or not he’s a fag,” as you wrote of Fr. James Keenan, S.J., in “Desperately Jesuitical.”

Can you possibly believe that using that denigrating term (“fag”) is ever an act of holiness? Do you honestly think that calling men and women “fags” will attract them to the freedom of chastity? Have you ever heard the Holy Father refer to anyone as a “fag”?

I liken the NOR to a slot machine: There is just enough writing that informs and enlightens to convince me to continue subscribing and wading through a preponderance of self-righteous and repetitive articles. Regrettably, there was nothing in the July-August issue that could distract me from the shameful tone of “Desperately Jesuitical.”

Patricia A. Stark

Dallas, Texas


To Katherine Hermes: You urge us to cut out the “name-calling.” How is it, then, that you accuse us of “hate-mongering,” of publishing “drivel,” and of being “anti-intellectual”? You really need to set a better example.

To Patricia Stark: We take your letter far more seriously. We would never call any woman a “fag” because that word applies only to males. We would never refer to a homosexually-oriented man who belongs to Courage and is living a life of chastity as a “fag”; rather, we’d be inclined to refer to him as a “saint.” As for Fr. Keenan, he was not writing about priests or seminarians who belong to Courage.

You ask: “Do you honestly think that calling men…’fags’ will attract them to the freedom of chastity?” Yes, we do. Flattering them by calling them “gays” will not. We believe in social stigmas. “Fag” has a negative denotation; to use the word is to assert a social stigma. Take homosexually-oriented priests who violate their vow of celibacy: They’re despicable. They need to be shamed, instead of coddled (as many bishops have done). Shaming people has a way of getting their attention and letting them know that they need to change their ways.

As for language and holiness: As David Mills pointed out in our October issue, the heretic Marcion was called “the firstborn of Satan” to his face by Saint Polycarp. Well, we haven’t gone that far. But if we were holier, maybe we would.

To both of you: We believe that the word “fag” should be taken out of the closet because etymologically it is a perfect word for actively homosexual men in our culture today. Here’s why:

In the English language we have the term “fagged out,” meaning exhausted. We also have the word “fag,” which means a male homosexual, which is short for “faggot,” which means the same. Our American Heritage Dictionary says that “faggot” perhaps originally referred to an old woman. Aha. A male homosexual is womanish, and an old woman is tired out, exhausted. Thus we see the connection between effeminacy, being fagged out, and male homosexuals.

But the connection is more explicit with the word “effete.” Its first definition in our American Heritage Dictionary is “depleted of vitality, force, or effectiveness; exhausted” — as in “the final, effete period of the baroque style.” The second definition is “marked by self-indulgence, triviality, or decadence.” We’ll get to the third definition in a second. The fourth is “no longer productive; infertile” — which suggests not procreative.

The third definition is “overrefined; effeminate.” Here we have the most common usage, namely, effeminate. According to the “Word History” for “effete,” this dictionary says that effete “has come to mean ‘effeminate'” and this “marks a return to its etymological roots,” namely, “exhausted” and “feeble.” And so “in the last two centuries or so the senses ‘characterized by weakness or decadence’ and ‘overrefined, effeminate,’ have appeared.”

Our dictionary defines “effeminate” as “having qualities or characteristics more often associated with women than men” and “characterized by weakness and excessive refinement.” Note “weakness,” which relates to exhaustion and being fagged out.

Let’s put it all together. An actively homosexual man can properly be called a fag because a fag is characteristically someone who is depleted of vitality, self-indulgent, decadent, effeminate, and not procreative. There you have it. See how our English language is resonant with meaning! Thus “fag” is a perfect word for a practicing homosexual male.

But our culture — our self-indulgent, fagged-out culture — urges us to use the word “gay.” What Orwellian Newspeak! How gay is a way of life inordinately characterized by bars, bathhouses, one-night stands, depression, suicide, drug abuse, alcoholism, AIDS, and early death? “Gay” just doesn’t fit, doesn’t do the work a word should do.

That our decadent culture insists on the word “gay” indicates ipso facto that we have entered the final, effete period of the American Republic. To use the word “fag” is to underline the point and defiantly protest our decline.

The Hell Constant

It’s time to let mathematics shed some light on the ongoing discussions of Hell in your pages. Call it the Hell Constant:

Pb x Pg = K, where Pb = the number of people who believe that some or many men actually go to Hell, Pg = the number of men who are going to Hell (if they don’t repent before they die), and K = a constant.

In other words, the more people there are who believe in Hell, the less people there are who go there, and vice versa.

John Klee

Columbus, Ohio

You May Also Enjoy

The Universal Heart

Diverse animal species on all continents share one common, efficient, and extraordinarily designed organ that allows them all to live and flourish.

Playing Parents of "Gays" For Suckers

Your 19-year-old son announces out of the blue that he's homosexual. St. Anthony Messenger to the rescue!

On Being Called

I have a vocation. I’ve known this for a very long time, ever since I…