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Gay Theologian Expounds on the Church’s Homophobia and Shift to the Right

Comment: A recent Spiegel article recorded the observations of  David Berger, a gay former Catholic priest. Berger discussed homophobia in the Church and among its powerful supporters, as well as the Church’s political lurch to the right.

Interview With Gay Theologian David Berger: ‘A Large Proportion of Catholic Clerics and Trainee Priests Are Homosexual'”; Spiegel Online; 11/22/2010.

Excerpt: . . . . Berger: I kept having to listen to inhuman views. For example, Hitler was praised for having interned and murdered homosexuals in concentration camps. The point came when I couldn’t remain silent any longer …

SPIEGEL: … after you and your career had profited for a long time from contact with these right-wing circles.

Berger: Ever since Pope Benedict XVI, at the latest, you have to be anti-modern to have a career in the Catholic Church. I criticized the relatively progressive theology and left-wing church policy of Karl Rahner. That is how people noticed me. Because I was an expert on the medieval thinker Thomas Aquinas, I was invited by almost all right-wing conservative groups to give lectures. I was in touch with the Sedevacantists, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, the Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, Una Voce, Opus Dei and the Servants of Jesus and Mary.

SPIEGEL: What went on at the meetings?

Berger: These groups are very careful about who they invite. They meet in very high-class venues, sometimes in former aristocratic residences or in luxury hotels. Old men smoke fat cigars, drink expensive red wine and eat well. It is a parallel world whose inhabitants seek to defy the modern world.

SPIEGEL: And what do they discuss?

Berger: They talk about a supposed Jewish global conspiracy or about how to keep emancipators, freemasons and gays out of the church. For many years, there were “gentlemen’s evenings” in Düsseldorf that were organized by a tax consultant. They increasingly became a focal point for a right-wing Catholic network. At one of the meetings, which were regularly visited by senior clerics, the man sitting next to me, a retired university professor, was railing against the gay parades on Christopher Street Day (in Germany): “Instead of standing in a corner, being ashamed of themselves and just shutting up, they behave like pigs gone wild.”

SPIEGEL: Why didn’t you turn your back on the church at that point?

Berger: Many gays are attracted by the clear hierarchies of the male world of Catholic rituals. Among clerics I discovered extremely effeminate behavior of the sort I knew well from certain gay scenes. People give each other women’s names and attach very high importance to clerical robes in all colors. Just think of the nicknames Bishop Walter Mixa (who recently stepped down amid accusations of violence and financial irregularities) and his housemaster friend gave each other: “Hasi,” or “bunny,” and “Monsi,” short for monsignore.

SPIEGEL: Did you get the impression that your homosexuality may even have helped your career?

Berger: In clerical circles I kept getting shown through unmistakable looks, hugs, stroking of my upper arms and excessively long handshakes that one didn’t just appreciate my work a lot. The fact that many prelates had homosexual tendencies is certain to have made them more ready to help me get positions.

SPIEGEL: And these gentlemen weren’t homophobic?

Berger: The contradiction between evident homosexual inclinations and homophobic statements is one way in which people in the church deal with their own, usually suppressed inclination. . . .


One comment for “Gay Theologian Expounds on the Church’s Homophobia and Shift to the Right”

  1. That story would need a whole book as a comment. I will try to make it short. First, the world described by Berger is accurate. While homosexuality is denounced among clerics, an important proportion of these are homosexuals or have homosexual tendencies that they’re trying to suppress or control. The whole Church is struggling in that toxic atmosphere. Note in passing that the same could maybe be said concerning pedophilia, but that remains to be studied more closely, which the article mentionned doesn’t seem to cover here.

    The meetings that are described in the article are really, for me, the essence of fascism. That’s how fascism begins. An elite, incapable or non-willing to live a healthy, normal sexual life, in contempt of progress, try to perpetuate their culture regardless of what is going on outside their tiny world.

    When a group or a society has negative views regarding sexuality, when certain minorities are targeted, especially Jews, and when secret societies are regarded with suspicion, then you know that fascism is just waiting at the door. To give an idea, think about how the Catholic Church and Islam view sexuality, think about the sudden rise of anti-semitism in the world, and how secret societies are attacked over the internet.

    It has always been the case that to have a career in the Catholic Church one has to be anti-modern and right-wing. It is not new. Ratzinger is just another careerist. When he was younger, he was a respected progressive theologian but then all of a sudden, when a was made Head of the Doctrine of the Faith, he switched allegiance and “became” a conservative theologian. Catholics have been fooled by that guy. We have been had. And that was not the first time.

    Posted by Claude | December 3, 2010, 10:56 am

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