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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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