From the Times
[Article entitled "Admirers of Fallen 9/11 Hero Disdain the Vatican's Likely Plan to Bar Gays as Priests"
by Andy Newman in the New York Times, September 25, 2005]
The Rev. Mychal F. Judge, the Fire Department chaplain who died in the rubble of 9/11, was, and still is,
one of the most widely loved Roman Catholic priests in New York City's recent history.
For 40 years, Father Judge tirelessly ministered to firefighters, their grieving widows, AIDS patients, homeless
people, Flight 800 victims' families and countless others. At his funeral, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani called him a saint, a
sentiment that admirers have followed up by campaigning for his canonization. A simple prayer that Father Judge wrote has
been circulated around the world and attached to thousands of donations to the needy. Pope John Paul II accepted the gift
of his helmet.
Father Judge was also, according to many of his friends of all sexual orientations, a homosexual. A celibate
homosexual, he told friends, but a homosexual nonetheless. And reports last week that the Vatican is likely to try to bar
gay men, even celibate ones, from the priesthood stirred anger among those who revere his memory.
The former city fire commissioner Thomas Von Essen, a close friend of Father Judge's, said Thursday that
excluding men of his caliber from the priesthood would be simply "a shame."
Mr. Von Essen, a married, practicing Catholic who said that Father Judge came out to him years before his
death, added, "To sacrifice your life to God and try to do so much good every day and to be prevented from doing that—It's
no wonder they can't get anyone to join the church to become a priest or a nun."
On Thursday, Andrew Sullivan, the outspokenly gay and Catholic journalist, posted on his Web site an oft-reprinted
photograph of Father Judge's limp body being carried off by firefighters on 9/11 minutes after he had given last rites to
one of their own. Above it was the sardonic headline "Unfit for the Priesthood."
Mr. Sullivan said on Friday that Father Judge's work with the Fire Department mocked the assertion, made
by a Catholic official who described the expected new rule, that even celibate gays should not enter the seminary because
the temptations arising from being surrounded by men there would be too strong.
"The idea that gay priests somehow cannot serve straight congregants, when you have this priest working with
one of the most stereotypically macho organizations—and he gave his life to them—captures some of the cruelty
and bigotry we see in the Vatican now," Mr. Sullivan said in a telephone interview.
Father Judge, a gregarious, sandal-shod Franciscan friar who was 68 when he died, was a longtime member of
a gay Catholic group, Dignity, and he often spoke up for gay rights. But several of Father Judge's admirers from conservative
backgrounds declined on Friday to discuss his sexuality because they said it had no relevance.
A gay man who posted a Web site promoting Father Judge's canonization, said he did not see why anyone would
care, either. The man, Ralph W. Vogel, attended Masses that Father Judge offered in the 1990's for gay and lesbian Catholics
in a Unitarian church on Staten Island. "I don't know anything personally about his sexual orientation, and it's not really
important to me other than 'Wow, he was there,'" said Mr. Vogel, a director of volunteer services at Ronald McDonald House.
In fact, some prominent conservative Catholic commentators said on Friday that the church should not concern
itself with the sexual orientation of candidates for the priesthood who honor their vows of celibacy.
"I don't really care, and I don't think most Catholics care if a priest is gay" as long he does not act on
his urges, said William Donohue, the president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and a fierce critic of
what he has called declining moral standards.
The Vatican document on gay seminarians has not yet been completed, and exactly how the authorities would
go about screening out homosexuals remains an open question. The Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, a conservative Catholic who edits
the religious journal First Things, said that he doubted that the final document would include celibate gays in the
ban. Such a policy, he said, "would raise enormous theological and moral problems in the teaching of the church."
Mr. Donohue said that the while the Vatican did need to address the sexual abuses committed by priests and
damage they have done to the church, "the answer to the problem is not all of a sudden to roll out of bed and have this universal
The founder of the Web site, Burt Kearns, suggested that Father Judge himself could help repair the church's
"If you look at the work and life of Mychal Judge, this is a man who should be on the recruiting poster for
Catholic priests," Mr. Kearns said. "He was a great priest."
[Press release entitled "Gay Catholic Group DignityUSA Condemns New Vatican Inspection of U.S. Seminaries
for Homosexuality" dated September 16, 2005]
Washington, DC – DignityUSA today strongly condemned the new Vatican apostolic visitations of the 229
Roman Catholic seminaries in the United States in search of "evidence of homosexuality" and faculty members who dissent from
church teaching. A twelve-page document is now being distributed to seminarians and faculty as part of the review, as reported
on the front page of The New York Times on September 15, 2005.
"The Vatican continues to be obsessed about homosexuality, misguided about human sexuality, and misdirected
regarding the sexual abuse crisis in the Church, stated Debbie Weill, Executive Director of DignityUSA. "While a review of
seminary programs may be appropriate in the aftermath of the sexual abuse crisis, an apparent witch hunt for homosexual seminarians
and supportive faculty is not. The Church is fostering a climate of hostility towards some of its very best priests and bishops.
This is not the Church Christ called us to be," Weill added.
"While the Vatican fails to address the core issues relating to the sexual abuse crisis, DignityUSA reminds
Church leaders of several key points:
- sexuality experts have reportedly instructed the Vatican that there is no link between pedophilia and homosexuality,
- gay priests are not the cause of the sexual abuse crisis in the Church,
- Church leaders have not accepted responsi-bility and have not been appropriately reprimanded by the Church for their failures
to deal appropriately with the still ongoing sexual abuse crisis in the Church, and
- candidates for the priesthood should be evaluated in terms of sexual maturity and their likelihood to be celibate, not
sexual orientation," Weill continued.
DignityUSA is the nation's foremost organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics, their
families, friends and supporters. Founded in 1969, it is an independent nonprofit organization with members and chapters across
DignityUSA works for full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in the life of the
Church and Society. For more information contact: www.dignityusa.org, or Debbie Weill, Executive Director of DignityUSA at 202-861-0017 (office), 202-725-5894
Let your life speak
"Sire," announced the servant to the King. "the saint Narottam has never deigned to enter your royal temple.
"He is singing God’s praise under the trees by the open road. The temple is empty of worshippers.
"They flock round him like bees round the white lotus, leaving the golden jar of honey unheeded."
The King, vexed at heart, went to the spot where Narottam sat on the grass.
He asked him, "Father, why leave my temple of the golden dome and sit on the dust outside to preach God’s
"Because God is not there in your temple," said Narottam.
The King frowned and said, "Do you know twenty millions of gold went to the making of that marvel of art,
and it was consecrated to God with costly rites?"
"Yes, I know it," answered Narottam. "It was in the year when thousands of our people whose houses had been
burned stood vainly asking for help at your door.
"And God said, ‘The poor creature who can give no shelter to his brothers would build my house!’
"And he took his place with the shelterless under the trees by the road.
"And that golden bubble is empty of all but hot vapour of pride."
The King cried in anger, "Leave my land."
Calmly said the saint, "Yes, banish me where you have banished my God."
--By Rabindranath Tagore,
from Fruit Gathering
I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran
over and said "Stop! Don't do it!"
"Why shouldn't I?" he said.
I said, "Well, there's so much to live for!"
He said, "Like what?"
I said, "Well...are you religious or atheist?"
He said, "Religious."
I said, "Me too! Are you Christian or Buddhist?"
He said, "Christian."
I said, "Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?"
He said, "Protestant."
I said, "Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?"
He said, "Baptist!"
I said, "Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?"
He said, "Baptist Church of God!"
I said, "Me too! Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?"
He said, "Reformed Baptist Church of God!"
I said, "Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church
of God, reformation of 1915?"
He said, "Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!"
I said, "Die, heretic scum", and pushed him off.
-- Emo Phillips