First, my last blog article about sexually active priests quickly catapulted to one of my most read articles. I am always humbled that people invest their time reading my blog.
But, I neglected to highlight one extremely important point in that article so I will do so now before delving into some recent comments Pope Francis made. The one African priest discussing priests' sexual activity with me blurted out, almost as a defense for priests not honoring the implied chastity of their celibacy, that such sexually active priests do so in "secret." What he saw as insignificantly dismissible, making priests' sexual activity permissible, to me exposes significant moral disconnect and systemic foundational rot in the church.
Over 125,000 priests have fallen in love and done the honorable and healthy thing for themselves, their lovers and their relationships...they married. And as a reward for their honest, healthy relationships, these men were expelled from the priesthood.
Instead, we are left with the cowardly, selfish priests who engage in sexual relationships that they hide as though their lovers are some sort of embarrassing sin whom they publicly pretend do not exist so that they may continue in their prestigious role, deluding themselves that they serve some higher purpose as a priest, and therefore it's ok to stuff their lovers in closets...for the greater good of humanity. These insidious men, who number 50% of the priesthood, are the ones we are stuck with...playing some perverted charade that they, who are fundamentally dishonest about their relationships and sexuality, provide the most astute moral guidance to lay people about human relationships and sexuality. Is my mind the only one numbed by the painful realities this demonstrates about the clergy's moral fiber and the resulting systemic societal impact of revering categorically dishonest men as ultimate guardians of truth?
Continuing in the category of mind numbing moral pain inflicted by clergy, let us turn our attention to Pope Francis' recent statements about condom usage to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. A reporter posed this moral question to him and the pope replied that he did not need to consider that question until African food and water security issues were solved. He rather dismissed HIV/AIDS as some obscure insignificant threat to life. Yet, if we read reports from the World Health Organization, we see this disease as a front-runner astride malaria as a leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa.
Francis, what gives? Truly, that ranks among the most callous statements dismissing human lives that you've ever said.
Even if it were true to portray sub-Saharan Africa's 60% hold on all HIV/AIDS cases worldwide as insignificant...and it is not true...to say we should not concern ourselves with easily, I repeat, EASILY saving those lives until other concerns are addressed is like saying we should not treat prostate cancer to prevent the annual 27,540 deaths attributable to it until we first eliminate lung, breast, colon, and pancreatic cancer because they all account for WAY more deaths. "Sorry guys with prostate cancer, but we can't be morally concerned about preventing your deaths until we eliminate the cool kids' types of cancer?"
I find myself wondering how often the pope listens to what he says or reflects upon what he said and thinks, "Yowsers! Jet lag struck again! Senior moment! Stupid, callous thing to say!" But, words are a little like toothpaste squeezed out of the tube...difficult and messy to undo.
But both topics leave me wondering, "which lives are you 'pro'?" Evidently not lives whose acknowledgement would require humble honesty about clergy sexuality and relationships, nor ones which saving would require humble reclassification of a tool as "good" that they have invested years demonizing due to their twisted understanding about what it means to have healthy sexual relationships open to life.
Maybe it is time to right the barque of Peter and resume allowing clergy to have honest sexual relationships...reinstating the honest clergy who married their partners, re-permitting clergy to marry, and at the same time, ridding church leadership of the 50% of clergy with dishonest sexual relationships.
Pope Francis, you could do much for the church's and your personal credibility if you did two things: 1) re-instate a married clergy and 2) publicly correct your callous statement dismissing the lives of 36.1 million people with HIV/AIDS. Really, truly, those 36.1 million lives matter and it is immoral to not prevent the preventable to save them. Absolutely, infallibly, immoral.