Paul Sepuya

June 1999

Many of us gay, bisexual and lesbian people become disillusioned with our religions, some turning to other forms of spirituality or none at all. This is especially true within religions historically unfriendly to us LBG people. Though I was not raised Catholic, I attend a Catholic high school, and I happen to believe that the Church as an institution of people is hypocritical. You hear rare cases of clergy having mistresses, altar boy molestation, and even Mafia tie-ins in Sicily. Most people are truly good in serving their faith, and I never thought that anything would surface at my school.

Something in the air at my school smells like scandal, and it's coming straight from the principal's office. Straight from the desk of a Jesuit priest, who stood up and acted to be the moral leader of the Catholic school I attend. That is, until May 14, when the whole city found out from 60 Minutes about his alleged history of homosexual come-ons to fellow Jesuits in the seminary.

Alleged. That's all it is. "For all we know, he could be innocent," my mother says. True, true. But the man is facing a sexual harassment (along with another Jesuit) from a ex-seminary student who claims that he and the other priest sexually harassed him, sent him homoerotic, pornographic materials, and invited him into sexual acts and cruise gay bars.

Oh, the gay thing alone I don't care about. It's the hypocrisy between the man, the Catholic Church and the Jesuit Order, and his priorities. If the man is homosexual or bisexual, I do not believe that he bares the majority of the fault here. The Catholic Church excludes women from priesthood, forces its men to repress their natural human sexuality (barring bisexuals and homosexuals outright), and still shrouds its scandals in secrecy. It seems to me to be pure ignorance when they wonder why things come out like this. Other denominations, such as the Episcopal/Anglican and others allow for all people who are called to minister as priests. Man or woman, gay straight or in between, married, dating, or single.

This is important for the fact that these men and women are not forced to keep an important part of most of their lives secret, and lead to clandestine affairs which require even more clandestine affairs to cover up. Had this been the case among the Catholic Church, maybe these men would not have run to the priesthood in hopes of forgetting their sexualities. Maybe they would not have been reduced to their alleged actions if they could express themselves, all of themselves in a more healthy manner instead of this apparent obsession and sexual persecution of a man who wanted nothing to do with their advances.

Let's assume he's innocent: The Jesuits were involved in a cover-up, which included moving witnesses and another priest who says he'd testify against his fellow Jesuits. The priests accused moved from the seminary to other positions, and one eventually ended up as principal of my school. And now, after running away from the whole thing for years, instead of facing up and telling his side of the story, instead of the Church allowing the public to know its story, I and everyone else had to find out from 60 Minutes on CBS. The whole thing could have been ended quietly, but you can't run away forever, even if you're innocent. You must clear your name.

Let's assume he's guilty: Yes, people make mistakes. But this man is a public Church figure who stands up as a minister of God to believers in the Church. People look to priests, and say, "oh, he's a priest. We can trust him." This man used his influence as a priest to tell us what the Church says is right and wrong. I actually feel sorry for him, that people may only think of him and this, instead of the good works he's done.

One night I thought, what if some scared and upset kid or adult came to him for Confession, or priestly advice... What to do about their homosexuality or bisexuality, or being transgender even? Would he have sincerely told them they must accept what the Church says is sin and altogether wrong, and would he have wanted to help by saying, "I know what you're going through" ?

He obviously got the wrong calling, if he turned his back on some young kid in trouble, just so he could stand at his pulpit on Sunday to preach the sin of homosexuality, premarital sex, and lies.

until next month,


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