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Altared Lives 

Crank Call

It was a toss-up this week whether to write about the end of Jessica Simpson's marriage or the latest news from the Vatican regarding the admissibility -- rather, the inadmissibility -- of "homosexual" men to the Catholic priesthood. (Never mind "homosexual" women; no woman of any kind is allowed in the Catholic priesthood. We'll leave that to the Episcopalians and the Methodists and see if they have a shred of decency.)

Anyway, the Vatican won, because, despite all the publicity she gets, I really don't know who Jessica Simpson is. It's hard to explain. I see her face everywhere, but I don't have any idea who or what she's supposed to be. Jessica is like Paris Hilton in that way. Rather, she's like Suzanne Somers, which I guess is an accomplishment in itself.

All right -- I know that Jessica has a younger sister called Ashlee (emphasis on the "ee"), who humiliated herself a while back trying to "lip-synch" on "Saturday Night Live." But I don't think Ashlee should be punished for that. We all want to lip-synch, don't we, and who are we to judge?

Moving right along, I gather that Jessica and her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick Lachey had a TV "reality" program called "Newlyweds," and that they both have artistic pretensions -- magazine covers, "singing" and so forth. But I don't know, and don't want to know, the details. I'm just glad Jessica and Nick "still love each other and always will" -- Amazing! Just like Brad and Jennifer! -- and that Jessica is now seeing a psychiatrist to work out her problems.

So, the Vatican beat Jessica -- although in saying so, I'd hate to be accused of "Catholic-bashing." I'm often told that "Catholic-bashing" is the only still-acceptable prejudice in the United States. I don't believe that's true; lots of prejudices are still acceptable in the United States, among them the prejudice against "homosexuals." And right there, the Vatican and I part company.

Oh, I know -- all those abused altar boys. But did you read the latest? No? Then I'm going to tell you. Indeed, I'm going to quote exactly what the newspapers said. The following comes from The Telegraph in London, although it was also broadcast by every wire service in the world. From the Telegraph's "Religious Correspondent," Jonathan Peter, on November 30:

A long-awaited Vatican document that bars men with "deep-seated" homosexual tendencies from the priesthood was officially published yesterday in the first major ruling of Pope Benedict XVI's reign.

The document, which has been widely leaked, earned the fierce opprobrium of liberals who said that it could trigger a witch-hunt and force gay clergy underground.

No foolin'! For this, I might become a "religious correspondent" and get paid for it. But this isn't the time to be worrying about "liberal" tendencies in journalism. The new pope -- a German by the name of Ratzinger (emphasis on the "Rat") -- used to head up the Inquisition. This insult is "the first major ruling" of his reign.

He might have waited just a little. Or, for that matter, he might go to Baghdad and stand in a public square, daring to be bombed, either by "the terrorists" or "the coalition." It would put an end to that war right quick. It certainly would have, at least, if John Paul II had done it. Even the Bush boys wouldn't bomb a pope with high ratings. Or if they did, they'd say, "No, we didn't." But a pope who got himself honorably bombed in Iraq would be a hero forever. Kind of like Jesus.

Personally, I'd suggest that only eunuchs be admitted to the priesthood, and that if they aren't eunuchs when they apply, that they then undergo voluntary castration. This would take care of both the "sex abuse" and celibacy issues -- though it would doubtless lead to a lot of married Catholics complaining that a eunuch can't understand them.

Still, you'd think Pope Rat had more important things to worry about than what grownups do in bed. A hundred thousand people are about to freeze to death after the earthquake in Pakistan. Forty million around the world are infected with HIV; one of them dies every seven minutes of your busy day, and most of them aren't "gay." The environment is going to hell in a hand basket, thanks to the emissions of global capitalism. And what is "God" doing? Issuing "statements" about sex. That'll get 'em back in the pews!

I'm trying to think what the difference might be between "deep-seated" homosexuals and some other kind. I wouldn't have used the word "seat" in the first place, referring to gay men. Maybe it reads better in Italian. But thanks to Ronald Reagan, the United States now sends an ambassador to Vatican City, so anything the Vatican says or does goes beyond "religion." It becomes a matter of public policy, of actual offense. If it came from an "Islamic" nation, such a pronouncement would be roundly and quickly condemned.

Please, forgive my cynicism -- my negativity, as I'm told constantly I suffer from. And then get out there and do something, because your churches aren't.

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