Skip to comments.Diocese Too Liberal, Book Says
Posted on 05/09/2002 8:29:27 AM PDT by Armando Guerra
A controversial new book names the Altoona-Johnstown Roman Catholic Diocese as one of many dioceses that turns away qualified candidates for the priesthood in favor of a gay subculture and threatens the Church with dangerous reforms.
The book criticizes a State College psychologist who screens candidates for the diocese, saying his view of homosexuality is too liberal.
In response, the diocese says the author never contacted the diocese to verify any facts, and that the author lacks credibility.
The psychologist says the characterization is false, the author is a hate-monger, and his conservative critics are the Catholic Taliban.
The book Goodbye! Good Men describes a predatory gay subculture in some seminaries, and psychological screening that eliminates orthodox heterosexual males from the priesthood.
Written by conservative Cincinnati author Michael Rose and published by Regnery Publishing Inc. of Washington, the book contends liberals are bringing corruption into the Catholic Church.
Although penned before the burgeoning sex scandals, the book now has become a battle cry for conservative Catholics in this region.
It has also reignited a 2-year-old controversy within the Altoona-Johnstown diocese over the Churchs position on homosexuality and whether gays should be ordained.
And for one aspiring priest from Cambria County, it opens old wounds from his seminary experience, where he says he was sickened by the sexually decadent environment and criticized for being chaste.
Much of the controversy within the diocese centers around Penn State University.
Author Rose writes that David J. Brown, a clinical psychologist under contract with the Altoona-Johnstown diocese to screen candidates for the priesthood, has gone out of his way to make the case that homosexuality is perfectly normal and that homosexuality is natural, not unnatural.
He criticizes Brown for telling the school board in State College that they were wrong to exclude homosexual speakers from Penn State.
The fact that someone would pose such an argument is not news itself. But when such a man, whose views are publicly known, is contracted to screen applicants for the seminary, what is remarkable is the obvious incompatibility, the book says.
In a telephone interview form his State College office, Brown said he did testify in favor of non-discrimination and non-harassment of homosexuals.
I drew from the Bishops Pastoral Letter on the topic, and I expressed the opinion that Jesus would be appalled at such bigotry.
Rose is trying to reconfigure the current sex scandal into an anti-homosexual crusade. Its like anti-Semitism, he said.
Part of Roses central thesis is that ultra-liberals and gays have taken over the process of becoming a priest, and that I only give liberals or gays a recommendation. Thats false and paranoid, Brown said. These people are pathologically homophobic, and the goal of local conservative Catholics is to have the bishop terminate my work.
They are the local Catholic Taliban. They insist on their point of view. They are relentless, mean-spirited and punitive, he said.
Catholic conservative George Foster strongly disagrees:
Dr. Browns attitude explains the current crisis in the Church today.
Critic of modernism
Foster, an orthodox activist who grew up in Cambria County and is now an Altoona businessman, has been a vocal critic of the modernism movement in the Church.
The State College controversy two years ago is still a serious issue with him, and so is Brown.
Foster is conservative in the sense that he believes the Church must adhere literally to Vatican teachings.
Browns and other Church leaders views on homosexuality differ from official Church doctrine.
Foster cites the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which says:
Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
The Catechism refers to homosexuality as an inclination which is objectively disordered.
Brown and others who say that homosexuality is natural go against Church teaching, Foster said.
The bishop has been notified that Dr. Brown is on record against the traditional teaching of the Church. Hes not one who supports all of the teachings of the Church, and that destroys the Vaticans goal that all must promote the correct moral teachings.
Foster and conservative Catholics who were interviewed by The Tribune-Democrat say gays should not be priests.
Whats worried me the most is all the talk on how we address the current issue of pedophilia, but our talk has been too narrow. The bigger issue is of homosexuality, but its a political hot button that many try to avoid, he said.
Foster views the book Goodbye! Good Men as accurate in portraying the problems with homosexuality and with orthodox heterosexuals being screened out of the priesthood.
Foster takes issue with Browns characterization of conservative Catholics as The Catholic Taliban or homophobic.
In the Catholic Church, the priesthood is a fraternity of men. The Church cannot condone men who have sexual inclinations toward each other sitting together. Numerous priests have come out and stated that the problems theyre seeing now revolve around homosexual priests, he said.
Yes, people say thats homophobic. But thats laughable. My responsibilities as a Christian, as a Catholic, are to speak to people about the truth. You want to do it in a loving manner, but you dont want to change the Churchs teachings to do it.
The Church has always taught that there should not be unjust discrimination. But discrimination is not always a bad thing. In the matter of homosexuality, you would never advocate an alcoholic to be a bartender. Nor would I say a drug user should be a pharmacist. Where were dealing with a fraternity of men, you dont place them into a situation where their weaknesses could be worked on.
Diocese spokeswoman Sister Mary Parks defends Brown.
When he asks candidates questions, hes trying to see where theyre coming from. He may ask them from any ideological standpoint, to see what their reaction would be. A pastor must be flexible and open to all people who come to him, she said.
Some of these people who have questioned Dr. Brown have also questioned our own bishop, she said.
One of those is Foster and fellow conservatives.
They take issue with Bishop Joseph Adamecs pastoral statement on homosexuality, in which he did not strictly quote the Catechism and said the Catechism term objective disorder may sound harsh.
Foster says thats not a tiny issue.
Our diocese is representative of the nation as a whole. In Florida, a bishop resigned because he was a practicing homosexual. In Philadelphia, homosexuals are banned from entering the priesthood. In our diocese, people with problems with homosexuality have been promoted, he said.
Foster and his conservative colleagues position mirrors the Vaticans.
The chief spokesman for the Vatican says the Church must respond to the pedophilia scandal by ceasing to ordain gay men.
People with these inclinations just cannot be ordained, said Joaquin Navarro-Valls.
The Vatican also is on record as wanting enforcement of a 1961 document from the Sacred Congregation for Religious that prohibits the admission of homosexuals to the diocesan priesthood and religious orders.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia rejects candidates for the priesthood who say they are gay and expels any seminarian found to be an active homosexual.
The national debate hits home for one young man.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, because he still aspires to become a priest and fears retribution, this student finds the controversial book to be very credible.
At the first seminary he attended, he said he was shocked to see openly gay activity.
It sickened me because certain men were known to be couples. I was checked out by others and told to make sure I wasnt alone with so and so because hed come on to me.
The seminarian, from the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese, said the anecdotes in the book rang true.
I watched one guy get another guy drunk and take him back to his room. He was very predatory. I felt I was illegitimized by these people.
The problem is that theyre letting people into seminaries whose lifestyle defies Church teachings. The number of predators might be small, but they shouldnt have been there at all.
The administration is afraid to do anything, because it will tick off the bishop. They cant afford to lose students. Its a numbers game, he said.
He said that his conservative views against women being ordained almost caused him to be screened out of the priesthood. He said Brown interviewed him and called him rigid.
Brown says he does not remember any such interview, and cannot respond to an anonymous accusation.
Penn State link
Throughout interviews with both conservatives and diocese officials, the Penn State incidents crop up again and again.
In October 2000, a ceremony titled A Service of Affirmation of the Human Dignity of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People was held in Eisenhower Chapel.
The Rev. Joseph Hlubik, Penn State Catholic Community campus minister, said that although some Bible passages speak negatively of homosexuality, there are positive images as well.
Later that month he wrote an essay saying, Fortunately, with a few positive thought-provoking image of gays portrayed on television and movies and maybe even encounters with gays in our own lives, it is becoming common enough to be a topic of discussion.
Conservative Catholics, including a priest, were outraged and wrote a response, saying Hlubiks statements were contrary to the faith. In an ad in a State College newspaper, they said, If they assert their homosexuality, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when irrational and violent acts increase.
That ad elicited a response from diocese spokeswoman Parks, who said it was highly inappropriate for a priest to criticize another.
Brown criticized the ad for its homophobic negativity, and the ad also was criticized by Mary McClanahan, a Penn State staff psychologist.
She said, The American Psychiatric Association has recognized for more than a quarter of a century that being lesbian, gay or bisexual indicates no disorder.
Foster and his conservative colleagues today point to new studies they say give Roses book credibility and discredit more liberal thinking.
News reports last week described research by Judith Reisman, who used numbers from 1992 U.S. Statistic Abstracts. She found that the gay population has a large subset that commits multiple, repeated sex offenses.
Another outspoken conservative in the diocese is a former employee.
Brian Barcaro, who edits the Diocese Report Web site, says the issues are doctrinal.
Barcaro and the diocese parted company on bad terms, with the diocese saying he was fired and Barcaro saying he left for personal reasons.
His view is that the Churchs troubles today stem from too many dioceses that refuse to follow the Churchs teachings.
At one point it was said to be OK for priests at Penn State to be involved with homosexual groups. I was told to shut up. I said that if Im raising money for the diocese, I need to follow Church teachings. We did not separate on good terms.
There are problems in the Church, and there are problems in the diocese, he said during an interview with The Tribune-Democrat.
Theres a lack of doctrinal enforcement.
What keeps me comfortable is that I know whats right and wrong. It isnt a problem with improper Church teachings. Its a problem with the teaching not being passed on. The solution now is to handle the problem and not be embarrassed.
A neutral viewpoint comes from devout Catholic and Cambria County President Commissioner Fred Soisson.
Once aspiring to be a priest, he began with what was then a high school program.
The problem was that this is too early a time to make that decision. A lot of young men went in, but then matured and recognized that maybe they made the wrong decisions. Celibacy is unnatural, and to lead a celibate life, you must have a vocation.
Soisson says his faith is not shaken by the sex scandals, and suspects that some complaints are false.
The problem today is that the Church overlooked bad situations. Now, because of the media coverage, they cant hide it anymore. They can no longer afford to sweep it under the table.
I guess that would make me a Catholic Taliban. Get rid of this guy! No wonder we have so many gay priests when this is the screener. He has proven the author's point with his histrionics against homophobes. BTW - for a good conservative Catholic news source click here.
"Nobody in the official church," Adamec's assistant, Sister Mary Parks, said Monday, "really thinks the book is worthwhile."
From a related story at the link you provide (for which, thanks); in the Editor's Note: Who does she think is the "official church"?
It took forty one years to go on record as wanting this enforced? If the Vatican is unwilling or unable to discipline unorthodox or disobedient Bishops were all in trouble.
I guess that would make me a Catholic Taliban. Get rid of this guy!
Count me in too!
Does anyone know anything about this? I love BN and I don't want to shop anywhere else, but if there is a political agenda behind their not offering this book, I want to know about it.
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