Friday, June 07, 2002

Gay subculture

Seminary replies: 'No way'

        Does a great moral evil lurk in the sunlit halls and gardens behind massive stone walls at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Cincinnati?

        “Absolutely false,” “wrong” and “a malicious slander,” said priests and seminarians at the Athenaeum of Ohio on Beechmont.

        And they were just warming up.

        The accusation was made by author Michael S. Rose of Cincinnati, whose book, Goodbye, Good Men, argues that liberal theology has allowed a network of homosexual priests to control some seminaries, spreading a moral evil of attacks on celibacy, homosexual “dating” and sex crimes against teen-aged boys.

False witness

       What raised the temperature at Mount St. Mary's was Mr. Rose's quote from an interview for my May 31 column: “Cincinnati's seminary is one of the most liberal seminaries in the country, with a significant gay subculture problem. Things are getting better but it has a long way to go.”

        Mr. Rose now says he meant Mount St. Mary's used to have such problems.

        But the men at Mount St. Mary's want everyone to know there are no such problems now, if there ever were.

        “I don't know what a gay subculture is, but there's certainly nothing like it here,” said the Rev. Gerald R. Haemmerle, president and rector. “It would be dealt with very quickly.”

        Fifth-year seminarian Dan Schuh agreed: “There hasn't been a hint of anything homosexual here.”

        Student Ron Combs said, “Suddenly, we're under a further shadow.”

        They know how that feels, graduating while their church is shaken by a nationwide sex-abuse scandal.

Forgive me, Father

        During a visit to Mount St. Mary's, I listened to four faculty members and three students criticize Mr. Rose's book and vent frustrations.

        The Rev. Andrew Umberg said he worries that, “The term priest-pedophile has become so common, the hyphen is being taken out.” He says the media seldom mention that Cincinnati adopted a child protection policy 10 years ahead of most dioceses.

        The Rev. Jeffrey Kemper acknowledged, “There are problems in certain places to some degree” in the church, and the attacks on adolescent boys “are obviously homosexually oriented because they are directed at (males) and are not heterosexual pedophilia.”

        Others emphasized the church's contrition, apologies and regret.

        Mr. Rose has been a thorn in the side of the church since he was editor of St. Catherine's Review.

        He may be wrong about Mount St. Mary's, but there is ample evidence that he is onto something. Books, magazine articles and news stories are beginning to reach the same conclusion: The church has a problem with what liberal priest and author Andrew Greeley calls “the lavender mafia.”

        It's ridiculous to jump to the conclusion that all homosexuals are molesters — and just as ridiculous to pretend none are because it's politically incorrect to criticize gays.

        The same goes for priests. Most are dedicated and faithful to their vows, and should not be shadowed by the sins of a few.

        E-mail or call 768-8301.


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