Culture Wars Feature Article

The Unanswered Question behind the Rembert Weakland Scandal: Was the Implementation of Vatican II a Homosexual Fantasy?

by E. Michael Jones


This article was published in the July/August, 2002 issue of Culture Wars magazine. Order

 

I would say that my role and my legacy has been to keep the Catholic church very much alive within the bigger, larger community. There's a tendency in the Catholic Church now toward an isolationism. And that's part of the reform of the reform, a kind of return to what was called in the last century integrism, almost as if the church becomes a separate society. And I've avoided all of that. I've taken the risk myself, and I've kept the community aware that the Catholics are here to stay. - Rembert Weakland on his legacy as archbishop of Milwaukee

I believe in aristocracy, though--if that is the right word, and if a democrat may use it. Not an aristocracy of power, based on rank and influence, but an aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate and the plucky. Its members are to be found in all nations and classes, and all through the ages, and there is a secret understanding between them when they meet. They represent the true human condition, the one permanent victory of our queer race over cruelty and chaos. - E. M. Forster, "What I Believe."

It was almost as if God took pity on the Catholic Church. Just as the media had succeeded in framing the sexual crisis which has plagued the Church ever since the close of the Second Vatican Council by falsely defining it as the "pedophilia" issue, the story of Rembert Weakland broke. Weakland, ordinary of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee since 1977, admitted not only to having an affair with an adult graduate student in theology shortly after assuming his duties as archbishop, he also admitted to paying a settlement of $450,000 to keep the incident quiet. That, of course, is precisely what he did not admit, at least not in the first few days of the scandal, but the conclusion, given the particulars in the case was inescapable. Paul Marcoux, the man who received the archdiocesan settlement in 1998, had no chance of winning an abuse case if the case had ever gone to trial because he was an adult when the sexual activity took place, and all the evidence points to the fact that it was consensual.

If he were simply interested in having the truth come out or saving the archdiocese money, Archbishop Weakland could have allowed the case to go to trial and would have been exonerated of any charge of criminal activity. In fact, the case probably never would have gone to trial. But if it had, the archbishop, in order to defend himself, would have had to admit that he engaged in consensual homosexual activity, and it was this threat of public exposure and not any worry about conviction that led Weakland to settle out of court with archdiocesan money. It was blackmail, pure and simple, and Weakland, by forking out $450,000 in archdiocesan money to keep his blackmailer silent, admitted 1) that homosexual activity was particularly heinous, so heinous that there was no point in defending a civil or criminal case if he had to use the consensuality of the act as his defense 2) that the settlement was motivated by a desire to save his reputation--his "legacy," as he used to say--and the power that went with it. Weakland admitted issue number two in a penance service a few days after his initial statement. He also admitted that his earlier claim, that the settlement had been covered by his speaking fees, which he had given to the archdiocese over the course of his tenure, had fallen about $200,000 short. By the time his initial reaction unravelled under the pressure of public scrutiny, it looked as if his legacy, or at least his own estimation of it, might have to undergo some revision as well.

The revelation came at just the right moment, or, from the perspective of the culture of appetite and its pundits, the revelation came at exactly the wrong moment. Less than a month before the nation's bishops were scheduled to meet in Dallas to deal with the "pedophilia" issue as defined by the pundits and the media-designated Catholics, the sudden emergence of the Rembert Weakland case gave some indication that pedophilia was not the issue. Rembert Weakland had not been accused of molesting minors; he was in effect guilty of engaging in the type of activity that the media insisted on promoting as good. The Weakland scandal made news just as the mainstream national media were putting the finishing touches on their campaign to de-link pedophilia and homosexuality. On virtually the same day that the Weakland story broke, Amanda Ripley was writing in Time magazine that "no mainstream research has found an link between pedophilia and homosexuality" ("Inside the Church's Closet: Gay Priests talk about their Hidden Lives, love of the Church and fear of being scapegoated in the sex scandals," by Amanda Ripley, Time, 5/20/02, p. 60ff).

Ripley's attack was most probably motivated by a sermon by Msgr. Eugene Clark of St. Agnes Parish in New York City. Clark, according to a story that was reported in the New York Daily News, claimed that the church's real problem was the proliferation of homosexual priests. The media, which had feared all along that the Church was going to define the problem as a homosexual issue, now found that their worst fears were coming true. "Since many of the victims are teenage boys, the thinking goes, the perpetrators must be gay--and that must be the problem, not sexual repression, not leaders who ignore serious criminal allegations," wrote Ms. Ripley, obviously before the Weakland scandal broke.

The Weakland scandal put people like Ms. Ripley in a bind. Here was a bona fide scandal, another club with which to beat the Church, but it was unfortunately the wrong club. In order to attack the Church by way of Weakland, the pundits of the culture of control through appetite first had to accept the fact that homosexuality was wrong. Since they obviously couldn't do that, their next move should have been to rush to Weakland's defense for engaging in their version of heroic virtue, but no one seemed interested in doing that either. As a result, the national media chose to ignore the story for the most part. The news items simply remained news items; they did not get spun into agonized ruminations of the sort that pedophilia had wrung from Andrew Sullivan, Maureen Dowd, etc.

This option, of course, was not available to the pundits in Milwaukee. They had to deal with the story, and since people like Tom Heinen of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had been overwhelmingly supportive of Weakland as a man happy to stick his thumb in the eye of the Vatican whenever he had the chance, they had to come to grips with what Weakland was referring to as his "legacy," the reason he paid the hush money in the first place. Ever since the sympathetic profile of Weakland appeared in the New Yorker in 1991, the archbishop of Milwaukee had been the culture of appetite's model of the ideal bishop. The New York Times dubbed Weakland "the nation's most outspokenly liberal bishop." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Bruce Murphy noted that Weakland had "placed women in position of authority, criticized militants in the anti-abortion movement, and testified in favor of gay rights" ("For a Pillar of Strength, outer courage crumbles in face of inner weakness," by Bruce Murphy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6/2/02). Now the revelations of Weakland's secret life made his idealism sound like special pleading. It turns out his testimony in favor of gay rights wasn't motivated by disinterested benevolence after all. The same could be said of feminism and abortion. The man who had been caught in the snares of sexual deviance would naturally not look with favor on those who were defying the dominant culture by protesting abortion. They were bringing up the same sexual standard he had transgressed; every time the local prolifers mentioned the standard his transgression would come to mind. No wonder he criticized them. Feminism, like gay rights, was another politically organized rationalization of sexual transgression. By promoting feminism, Weakland was subverting the same moral standards he had subverted by engaging in homosexual activity. No wonder the feminists loved him; no wonder the feeling was mutual. They were both engaged in the same campaign of subversion.

But as I said, the media who had to cover the story were not rushing to see how homosexuality could become the Rosetta Stone which would explicate Weakland's legacy, because for the most part, his legacy was their legacy too. They had promoted him as the man of courage (the "Pillar of Strength") who was willing to defy Rome when it came to morals. He was willing and eager to represent the "American" position; since they represented it too, they promoted his career. Now that his career had gone down in flames, they seemed reluctant to poke around too thoroughly in the still-smoldering wreckage. They were, as I said, in a bind. They couldn't praise him for being a homosexual, especially since he had paid a large sum in blackmail, but they couldn't demonize him as a pedophile either. The simple facts of the case put the issue of homosexuality right in the middle of public view after so much effort to disguise it and prohibit any discussion of it. The real issue, Ms. Ripley was telling anyone who cared to listen, was "sexual repression." The Weakland scandal, however, indicated that that was not the case.

At the time the Weakland scandal broke, the nation's Catholic bishops were being urged to formulate a policy based on two mutually contradictory courses of action. On the one hand, they were being urged to adopt an attitude of zero tolerance toward sex offenders by people like Andrew Sullivan and other media designated Catholics. Of course, the fact that Sullivan is a homosexual means, of course, that there will be no zero tolerance of homosexuality. So the bishops were being urged to tolerate homosexual activity when priests engaged in it with young men over the age of 18 and to demonize anyone who sinned by engaging in sex with young men before their 18th birthday.

The first thing that needs to be said about zero tolerance is that it is flagrant in its disregard of Scripture, according to which Jesus urges his followers to forgive not just seven times but seven times seventy times, which is to say as long as forgiveness is necessary. The Vatican was quick on picking up the flaws in the unrealistic legalism the lay at the heart of zero tolerance. Writing in the May issue of Civilta Cattolica, Rev. Gianfranco Ghirlanda, S.J. claimed that "even if the priest is guilty, the first thing a bishop should do is try recover him." This does not mean that the bishop should place the Christian community in jeopardy, but it also means that the bishop does not have to run to the state to deal with the issue properly, especially if the incident remains an isolated one. Ghirlanda went so far to say that a bishop should go to jail rather than comply with a law which requires automatic reporting of every allegation. Zero tolerance is at best a dubious legal idea; it is beyond that a preposterous theological idea, one which flies in the face of not only Scripture but sacramental practice in the Catholic Church as well. The existence of the confessional is a mute rebuttal to the idea of zero tolerance. The real issue is why people with these tendencies were not rooted out during their seminary years, and the real issue there is the ongoing process of sexualization and lack of resistance to the dominant culture that has characterized Church life since the close of the Vatican Council, almost 40 years ago.

In order to understand the strategic significance of zero tolerance and why the designated Catholic pundits are proposing it so vociferously, we have to link it to the other part of the media campaign that is being waged against the Church, namely the delinking of sexual scandal with homosexuality. In addition to Amanda Ripley writing in Time magazine that "sexual repression" and not homosexuality was the real issue, the Human Rights Campaign, a homosexual advocacy organization, claimed in a full-page ad which appeared in the New York Times that the Catholic Church was "unfairly holding gays responsible for this crisis." Like the Ripley article in Time, the New York Times ad appeared just as the Weakland scandal broke, making it even more difficult to maintain that homosexuality had nothing to do with the issue, even though not one of the pedophiles yet charged has had any contact with members of the opposite sex.

The two strategies--so contradictory at first glance--make sense when taken together, as a strategy for weakening the Church. According to its concerned Catholic friends--people like Andrew Sullivan and Anna Quindlen and Maureen Dowd and the rest of the scribes who receive a paycheck from institutions interested in weakening the Catholic Church--the bishops should simultaneously foster the homosexual clergy who happen to have sex with males over the age of 18 and crack down with a zero tolerance policy on those who have sex with males under the age of 18. Implementation of this policy would result in the decimation of the Catholic clergy in this country. It would mean deliberately promoting behavior that would result in removing the priests who engaged in it. The promoters of this policy say there is no connection between pedophilia and homosexuality, but what is the objective basis for this statement? As it stands now, the distinction between praiseworthy behavior and heinous behavior is a legal fiction, namely, the victim's 18th birthday. Suppose the same culture which is promoting this solution suddenly decided that the age of consent was 16 or 21? The determination of the crime, in other words, lies wholly in the hands of those who define it in the first place. There is no objective moral law here, just the politically motivated whim of the people who control the media. And that whim, supercharged with moral indignation, is now supposed to become the basis for the bishops' policy.

It doesn't take a genius to see what effect this would have on Catholic clergy. They would be at one and the same time urged to indulge in their sexual appetites and then punished for doing just that if their conduct fell afoul of the media appointed guardians of morals. It should not be surprising that the culture of say yes to appetite is proposing this for the Catholic Church because this is precisely the same moral regimen that American cultural imperialism through sexualizing agents like MTV is proposing for the entire world. Since the Catholic Church, along with Islam, is the main impediment to the implementation of the globalist scheme of control through appetite, it is not surprising that the same globalists who are orchestrating the attack on the Church would propose this sort of solution to the Church's problems. With friends like this, the Church needs no enemies. The cultural mandarins are now proposing the same system of control for the Catholic Church which they have imposed on the nation's universities, the military and the nation's large corporations. That system of control mandates maximal excitation of sexual appetite and maximal prosecution of those who act on those appetites when their politics do not conform to those of the global hegemonists. For some indication of how this system of control gets carried out, I recommend a comparison of the double standard that got used in prosecuting the sexual scandals surrounding President Clinton and the Rev. Jimmy Swaggart. The lesson to be derived here is that there is no objective criterion for behavior according to the mandarins controlling the culture of appetite, but that does not mean that people will not be punished for sexual dereliction. It just means that the punishment will fit not the crime but rather the political agenda of those doing the punishing.

Those who would like some inkling of how this system would work in the Catholic Church need only look to the nation's university campuses--the front lines in the social engineering of sexual behavior--and the rise of the concept of date rape. Date rape is an example of how the sliding scale of moral enforcement changes according to the agenda of government-sponsored individuals in charge of government-funded institutions. During the '60s and '70s, single sex dorms were abolished, and college students were forced to live with members of the opposite sex, share bathrooms with them, etc. The net result was an increase of sexual activity, which the feminists then stigmatized as, among other things, date rape, punishing in effect the students they had thrown together in the first place, knowing full well that this proximity would lead to sexual activity. Now the pendulum is swinging once again. As if tacitly acknowledging that the feminist inspired exploitation of the reaction to sexual liberation has created more problems than it has solved, Harvard recently abandoned its investigative norms for date rape, according to which the woman was always right when she was the accuser. Now the more traditional legal rules of evidence have been reinstated.

Something similar has already happened within the Catholic Church. The bishops allowed the sexualization of their institutions because they were bent more on assimilation than opposing the culture they inhabited. Now the people who acted on that incitation of appetite are being punished--selectively, of course--because selective punishment is always more divisive than straight forward enforcement of rules. The media mandarins are now urging the nation's bishops to write that double standard into church law. The bishops are being urged to be simultaneously lenient and draconian, not because that makes moral sense, but because that policy would create maximal disruption within the Church and because its purely arbitrary nature would further demoralize the nation's Catholic clergy. Implementing this policy would be a tacit admission that here is no such thing as objectively evil moral actions. It will mean that only those who uphold the norm will be punished when they sin. The combination of zero tolerance and the promotion of the homosexual as ideal citizen and heroic freedom fighter against sexual repression is a formula which will guarantee the destruction of the church and any other institution which implements it. The people who are urging this contradictory policy on the Catholic Church ignore the fact that the Church is in such peril right now largely because the nation's bishops have already tacitly adopted this system as an expression of their desire to be accepted by American culture. Most bishops had adopted it inadvertently; some, as in the case of Archbishop Weakland, in less innocent fashion. In order to propose a solution to the scandal, the bishops have to get to the heart of the matter.

The real issue is certainly not pedophilia; it is not even homosexuality. There may--pace, Ms. Ripley--be no connection between pedophilia and homosexuality, but the Weakland case has nothing to do with pedophilia. Rembert Weakland was engaging in what the culture of appetite considers virtuous behavior, namely, homosexuality between consenting adults. In order to see why the pundits of the culture of control through appetite are promoting this sort of behavior among Catholic clergy, one need only view the devastation that Rembert Weakland has visited upon the archdiocese of Milwaukee during his tenure there. Homosexuals, as I have said elsewhere (see my piece on Sir Anthony Blunt in Degenerate Moderns) are by nature of both their orientation and actions subversives. The preliminary issue is homosexuality--both in action and orientation; the preliminary issue is also repentance, of sin in general and sexual sin in particular, as well as the amazing connection between the brain and the genitals which unrepentant sexual sin engenders. But the major and overriding issue the bishops need to address is the sexualization of the Church, something which has followed unconsciously on the heels of the general sexualization of the culture at large. In order to propose solutions, the bishops have to have a clear understanding of the problem, and, as if moved by the hand of God, that is precisely what arrived on the scene on the eve of the bishops' meeting when the case of Archbishop Rembert Weakland broke.

The most damning bit of evidence to surface during the scandal and the best place to begin the explication of that sexualization of Church culture and the far-reaching consequences it entailed was a letter which Weakland wrote to Paul Marcoux in August of 1980 breaking off the affair. St. Thomas Aquinas, giving expression to the general wisdom of the West on sexual matters, said that lust darkens the mind. When appetite becomes so overweening that it is willing to transgress the moral law, the man who consents to that transgression becomes blind, unable to exercise reason or discernment, the faculties which make him specifically human. This is a humiliating condition for any human being; it becomes tragic in a personal sense and catastrophic for the church when the person in that condition happens to a bishop, the absolute spiritual ruler of the local church. Etymology alone makes this clear since the word bishop, in its Greek root, contains the idea of vision at its heart. The bishop is episkopos, the man who watches over (epi skopeo) things. The administration of the diocese, in other words, is based on the vision of the presiding bishop. If the bishop's vision is clouded by lust, his administration will be based on the systematic implementation of disorder, a fair description of Weakland's tenure in Milwaukee.

In his letter of August 25, 1980, Weakland writes to Marcoux after the relationship went sour over the summer. He characterizes his emotional state as "the pain of deep love." It would be safer to say, judging from the rest of his letter, that Weakland's pain has been caused by following his disordered appetites into an impossible situation, a situation in which he has become blind first of all to the fact that what he calls love is really appetite but also, and more pertinently, to the fact that he is being blackmailed and unable to admit that fact. "Was our friendship to proceed or fall on my ability to provide [money]?" Weakland asked. Evidently Marcoux felt that it was. And the fact that Weakland had already given Marcoux $14,000 did little to disabuse him of that notion, but Weakland even after bringing up the idea, banishes it from his mind. "I . . . find it hard to believe--and I refuse to do so [my italics]--that this money aspect was so vital to our friendship." Weakland then nobly refuses to tap into what he calls "church money" to fund Marcoux's Christodrama project, an unlikely combination of the Gospels and psychodrama, but "it is not because I don't love you," he is quick to add.

Weakland's letter to Marcoux is a text-book illustration of the effect of lust on the mind. Weakland's intellect has been so darkened by his erotic fascination with Marcoux that he can't bring himself to see that he's dealing with a blackmailer. His blindness is moreover a willful blindness. It was created by an act of the will when he became involved sexually with the man, and it was kept in existence by an equally willful act, his refusal to look at the real dimensions of the relationship. This is obvious to even the casual reader of the letter because the casual reader of the letter is not erotically involved with the man Weakland is writing to. Weakland sees everything about the relationship through the haze of erotic appetite. As a result he sees nothing, or next to nothing. His momentary insights into the narcissistic and ultimately futile Christodrama project are lost almost as soon as they are gained. The net result of Weakland's sin and subsequent blindness is a relationship that was nothing more than dueling narcissisms. Marcoux's life revolved around a project he called Christodrama, which was an essentially homosexual narcissistic scheme of self-dramatization covered over with a veneer of religiosity. Weakland was smart enough to see through this scheme but not smart enough to admit to himself that the sexual attraction he felt for a much younger man was not reciprocal, and that he was supposed to pay for his sexual gratification and the ego gratification that went with it with hard cash. Mutual masturbation led to mutual lying.

Whatever the source, what resulted was, in Weakland's words, "a kind of vicious circle I don't know how to get out of." As Wilhelm Reich had predicted in The Mass Psychology of Fascism, his blueprint for the sexual subversion of the social order which came to be known as the "sexual revolution," the net result of deviant sexual activity is alienation from God. Reich, it should be remembered, mentioned the case of the seminarian as exhibiting, at least from Reich's point of view, the prime benefit to be derived from introducing the clergy to deviant sexual activity. The pay-off is that the idea of God evaporates from the seminarian's mind, which is precisely what happened in the case of Rembert Weakland after he got involved with Paul Marcoux. "During the last months," Weakland wrote to Marcoux in a passage that bespeaks equal parts honest self-evaluation and homosexual self-dramatization, "I have come to know how strained I was, tense, pensive, without much joy. I couldn't pray at all. I just did not seem to be honest with God. I felt I was fleeing from Him, from facing Him." The effect of illicit and perverse sexual activity is just what Wilhelm Reich and St. Thomas Aquinas said it would be, namely, blindness and alienation from God. The difference between Reich and Aquinas is that Reich tried to mobilize that truth into a weapon of cultural subversion. Rembert Weakland fell into that trap at precisely the time that the culture of appetite was implementing Reich in various ways on a widespread cultural basis. The Church in the name of openness to the modern world, let its guard down; it allowed the sexualization that was occurring during the '60s and '70s into its institutions. Once clergy got ensnared, they became instruments of subversion within the Church. But more on that later.

The power of illicit sex is not absolute. Even someone as blind as Weakland was when he wrote his "love" letter to Marcoux has moments of lucidity and grace, moments when conversion is possible. This is, in fact, what seems to have happened when Weakland wrote the letter. The bitter ending of his affair with Marcoux led Weakland "back to the importance of celibacy in my life--not just physical celibacy but the freedom the celibate commitment gives." Weakland found that sexual vice has made "my task as priest-archbishop almost unbearable," and as a result he "came to realize that I was at a crossroads." He would have to choose. Weakland never tells us what the alternatives were, probably because they seemed so obvious to him at the time, but it's worth explicating the options in a way that he probably did not. When he reached the "crossroads," Weakland had to decide whether he was going to subordinate his homosexuality to the demands of the priesthood, or--the option he never articulates--to subordinate his priestly duties to the demands of his illicit and perverse sexual appetites. In the May 1988 issue of Fidelity, I wrote that

The demands of conscience remain constant. Those who commit evil will be troubled by its pangs, and in their trouble they have on two alternatives: they can either conform their actions to the moral law or the moral law to their actions. The former case calls for repentance, the latter rationalization, ideology, and, ultimately, a social activism in which those who feel guilty will unite and try through political means to make wrong right. Guilt over abortion is the engine that pulls the women's movement. Forster's "queer race" now has its own political arm. Homosexuals are now a potent fifth column within the Catholic Church. Now as then, subversion is the goal and ruin the consequence--ruin for those who choose sodomy and fail to repent, but ruin as well, as recent history has shown, for the country which lacks the will to enforce the moral law.

Although the article was about Sir Anthony Blunt and the Cambridge traitors, I had written it with the Catholic Church in mind after watching Weakland's performance at the synod on the laity in Rome in the fall of 1987. As the reference to E. M. Forster's famous speech ("If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friends," the homosexual Forster wrote, "I hope I would have the guts to betray my country.") indicates, I was talking about the effects that perversion had on public life in England, but trying to draw lessons for American from them. Some who have read the article have taken its premise and drawn from it the conclusion that a homosexual cabal is now running the Catholic Church in the United States. I think, as I will explain later, that that's an unwarranted oversimplification; the situation is more complicated than that. I don't think homosexuals run the Church in the United States any more than I think that homosexuals ran the government in England during World War II. On the other hand, it would be foolish to deny that homosexual activity is without consequences. The thesis of "homosexual as subversive" and in fact all of Degenerate Moderns where it was collected, is that ultimately every human being decides whether he is going to subordinate his desires to the truth or whether he is going to subordinate the truth to his desires. Rembert Weakland found himself at this crossroads in August of 1980, and his letter's endorsement of celibacy indicates that he chose the former option, in other words, that he chose to subordinate his desires to the truth.

But did he? Did he continue to "affirm the importance of celibacy" in the years following the end of his affair with Paul Marcoux? According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,

Weakland "confided to District Attorney E. Michael McCann years ago that he had a consensual sexual affair with a man." McCann, according to the same report, "said it's clear to him Weakland was talking about Marcoux." Marcoux, according to McCann, "said he did not come to view the relationship as abusive until 1997, when he confronted Weakland and threatened to sue." In the fall of 1980, Weakland wrote a letter to the priests of the Milwaukee archdiocese in which he said that they should take courage if they had succumbed to temptation. It was in many ways a letter to himself, but at least it upheld the norm. Eleven years after he wrote the letter to Paul Marcoux, he was no longer affirming his commitment to celibacy. In a flattering profile which appeared in the New Yorker in 1991, Weakland backed away from the endorsement he had written in the Marcoux letter eleven years earlier. "Across the board," he concluded, "celibacy works to our detriment in the church." Since for those who subordinate truth to their desires, theological doctrine is always a function of personal behavior, it seems safe to say that Weakland's 1991 reservations about celibacy are based on his own backsliding in the sexual arena. Whether he did or he didn't, the options are fundamentally limited. Weakland was not a young man when he had his affair with Marcoux. He was in his fifties and judging from the way he describes it most probably had years of bad habits behind it.

Even if Weakland repented and reformed, we are still dealing with a man who has a fundamentally disordered view of the world. Anyone who thinks that a blackmailer loves him has lost contact with reality. If Weakland had led a chaste life from there on in, he could have been a successful cocktail bar pianist or hairdresser, but he was, simply because of that disordered inclination alone and not because he had acted on it, not qualified to be a priest and certainly not qualified to be a bishop whose vision was crucial to guiding the archdiocese through critical times. Homosexual orientation alone is an impediment to the priesthood. It is in itself a disorder which disqualifies, just as lacking fingers or being prone to epileptic fits disqualifies. This is not to say that people who have these inclinations and resist them are bad people, only that people with those inclinations are not qualified to be priests. According to "Careful Selection and Training of Candidates for the State of Perfection and Sacred Orders," (The Canon Law Digest, Vol 4, pp 468-72 Officially published documents affecting the Code of Canon Law 1958-62, Volume V, The Bruce Publishing Company, Milwaukee 1963),

Advancement to religious vows and ordination should be barred to those who are afflicted with evil tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty, since for them the common life and the priestly ministry would constitute serious dangers.

The task before the bishops is clear. They have to stop the sexual infiltration of the Catholic Church. That means barring from ordination anyone who "shows himself certainly unable to observe religious and priestly chastity, either because of frequent sins against chastity or because of a sexual bent of mind or excessive weakness of will." That means "any candidate who has a habit of solitary sins and who has not given well-founded hope that he can break this habit within a period of time to be determined prudently, is not to be admitted to the novitiate." This means that the bishops will have to deal with theologians who rationalize masturbation as well, people like Rev. Edward C. Malloy, president of the University of Notre Dame. But beyond all that, it means excluding from the priesthood those who have homosexual tendencies, even those who don't act on them. That means that the bishops will have to defy the dominant culture and discriminate against homosexuals at the very moment when the dominant culture is ready to raise the status of that discrimination to criminal activity.

Which brings us to the heart of the issue, namely, the bishops' relationship to the dominant culture and the sexual standards it has been promoting since the cultural revolution of the '60s. This, in turn, brings us back to the spectre raised by Father Ghirlanda of bishops going to jail rather than conforming to the standards of the culture. Can the bishops look someone as intimidating as Anna Quindlen in the eye and say they are not going to let homosexuals be ordained as priests? If they don't feel that they can do this, then they should resign. This and not how they handled particular cases of abuse is the real issue. The former norms need to be reinstated by bishops who are willing to stand athwart the sexual juggernaut and say to the mob of scribbling women and effeminate men-- pace Maureen, pace Amanda, pace Anna, pace Andrew, not in the Catholic Church. We are prepared to discriminate against homosexuals. We are prepared to defend the moral norm as defined by the Catholic Church.

As unlikely as it sounds, that is the simple part because all it requires is a simple act of will on the part of the bishops. If the current crisis wakes the bishops out of their dogmatic slumbers on sexual and cultural matters, then it will be a happy fall indeed. At this point it is far from certain that the nation's bishops have the collective will necessary to oppose the culture of appetite and its sexual control mechanisms, but even if they do find that will and the courage to apply it, that is only the first step. The next step requires them do an examination of conscience and take an inventory of the damage the sexual revolution has already done to the Catholic Church.

A good place to start might be an analysis of the episcopate of Rembert Weakland. Rembert Weakland's career as a homosexual subversive within the Catholic church in the wake of Vatican II brings up a broader issue: to what extent was the implementation of Vatican II a homosexual fantasy? The same pundits who defended Weakland in Milwaukee are raising this very issue, although not in precisely those terms. Tom Heinen, Weakland's faithful apologist at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, still sees Weakland as "an archbishop whom progressives once hailed as a potential American pope." And Heinen was still praising him even after Weakland "had fallen from public grace in the twilight of his career." According to Heinen, Weakland was "one of the primary architects of the new liturgy that came out of the Second Vatican Council" as well as a "pre-eminent liberal intellectual in an increasingly conservative church" ("Some shocked, some saddened, but some not surprised," Tom Heinen, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 5/24/02). Heinen never dares to say that Weakland's accomplishments were rooted in his homosexual view of the world, but his colleague David Umhoefer at least raises the issue, wondering with Milwaukee's faithful, "did Weakland's struggles with sexual questions and the until now private accusations of abuse against him color his actions in defending and dealing with priests in similar situations over the years. How did they affect his controversial views about teenage victims in such cases? ("Weakland's view take on new meaning after scandal," David Umhoefer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online May 25, 2002). Better still, combining both lines of thought, we might ask how Rembert Weakland's homosexuality influenced his understanding of the liturgy and the measures he took to change the liturgy and liturgical music in the late '60s. Was Weakland's implementation of Vatican II a homosexual fantasy?

The attack on sacred music began before the council was over, and Rembert Weakland led the attack. According to Robert Skeris, former head of the Instituto Pontificio di Musica Sacra in Rome, "in the United States the liturgical revolution against the Roman rite and its treasury of sacred music was led by Archabbot Weakland as chairman of the Music Advisory Board of the Bishops Committee on the Liturgy" (Cum Angelis Canere, "A Chronicle of Reform," p. 377). Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Vatican II document on the sacred liturgy left no ambiguity about the Church's relationship to the patrimony of sacred music:

Gregorian chant is the special music of the church and must be given primacy of place: the long tradition of sacred music in all styles must be fostered and used; the purpose of music in the liturgy remains the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful; the reforms begun by Pius X must continue and grow, especially the active participation of the people.

(Cum Angelis Canere, "A Chronicle of Reform," Robert Skeris, p. 368).

With directives this clear, the implementers were going to have to be especially creative if they wished to subvert them. The creativity began in April of 1965, six months before the council concluded, when Father Godfrey Diekmann, O.S.B., one of Rembert Weakland's Benedictine colleagues and like him a member of the United States Bishop Conference's Music Advisory Board, gave a talk at the National Catholic Educational Association meeting in New York on "Liturgical Renewal and the Student Mass." In his speech Diekmann called for the use of what he termed the "hootenanny Mass" as an option in celebrating the Mass with high school students. Weakland and Diekmann were proposing what they termed "folk music" as a culturally relevant alternative to musica sacra, one that was supposed to be especially appealing to young people. Problems arose, however, almost immediately because 1) what went by the name of "folk music" in the '60s was really popular music, the sort of thing that one might hear on the radio at the time. That music was well on its way to becoming ideologically charged Negro Dionysian music at the time, with all of the subversive potential I have discussed in Dionysos Rising. Secondly, what got started as an exception--a Mass for high school students--quickly spread and became the tacitly accepted norm at parishes across the country. All in all it was an especially effective act of subversion, and Rembert Weakland was its prime mover in America. His vision became the liturgical norm for the country, and his vision was, as subsequent events would clearly show, fundamentally flawed.

Less than a year after Father Diekmann pleaded the case for the "hootenanny Mass" before the NCEA, Rembert Weakland did the same thing before a meeting of the bishops' Music Advisory Board in Chicago in February 1966. Anxious to obtain the board's approval, Archabbot Weakland gave an impassioned description of the success of liturgical experiments at the Benedictine college at Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Weakland was especially moved when the boys there sang during Mass "He's got the Archabbot in the palm of his hand" (cf. Cum Angelis Canere, p. 379). Like his letter to Paul Marcoux, Weakland's vision of the new liturgy was suffused with a homoerotic haze which fundamentally distorted its meaning. In his experimental Masses at the college at Latrobe, Weakland was no longer confronted by a liturgy whose sacredness called his limitations into question. Now in fact he as celebrant was the center of attraction. All those boys were singing about him, a fact which must have been doubly pleasing to a homosexual first of all because of obvious sexual reasons but also because the new desacralized hootenanny liturgy reduced the Mass to something which no longer pricked his conscience by troubling reference to a transcendent judge of all human action. The hootenanny liturgy was at once both sexually stimulating--all those boys singing about the archabbot-- and soothing to the conscience. It was desacralized "folk music" which made this remarkable transformation of Weakland from priest to center of attraction possible. Therefore, Weakland campaigned vigorously and pleaded passionately for the dumping of musica sacra and its replacement with Dionysian "folk music."

Eventually a much-modified approval of "music for special groups" got passed by a one vote margin, and once that non-canonical recommendation of the Music Advisory Board got passed it became the norm for the entire country--completely contrary to canon law and the deliberations of the Council which had been used to justify it--but the norm nonetheless. The fact that this resolution became the norm was largely attributable to the power that the media wielded in the '60s, a power which Rome was powerless to stop. "American newspapers, both secular and ecclesiastical," according to Father Skeris,

announced that the American bishops had approved of the use of guitars, folk music and the hootnenanny Mass. Despite repeated statements from the Holy See prohibiting the use of secular music and words in the liturgy, the movement continued to be promoted in the United States and in Europe. Deception played a part, since American priests were allowed to think that the decision of the Musical Advisory Board was an order from the bishops themselves. In reality, an advisory board has no legislative authority, nor does a committee of bishops have such authority (Cum Angelis Canere, p. 379).

The intentions of the Vatican Council on liturgy as expressed by Sacrosanctum Consilium were, in other words, subverted, largely through the efforts of Rembert Weakland, who, it turns out was a homosexual. His vision of the liturgy was similar to Charles Reich's vision of the counter-culture as expressed in his ephemeral best-seller, The Greening of America. Reich, who was also a homosexual but not forthcoming about that fact when he wrote Greening, wrote that "music has become the deepest means of communication and expression for an entire culture" (Greening, p. 260). By culture, Reich meant the counter-culture, which meant his eroticized view of young men in blue jeans and no shirts playing Frisbee at U Cal Berkeley in the '60s. ("Bellbottoms," Reich wrote, "have to be worn to be understood. They express the body, as jeans do, but they say much more. They give the ankles a special kind of freedom as if to invite dancing right on the street. They bring dance back into our sober lives. . . . No one can take himself entirely seriously in bell bottoms" [Greening, p. 255]). By music, Reich meant the Negro Dionysian pop music that was playing such a crucial role in the sexual revolution at the time:

Unquestionably , the blacks made a substantial contribution to the writings of the new consciousness. They were left out of the corporate state, and thus they had to have a culture and life-style in opposition to the State. Their music, with its "guts," contrasted with the insipid white music. Their way of life seemed more earthy, more sensual than that of whites, They were the first openly to scorn the Establishment and its values; as Eldridge Cleaver shows in Soul on Ice and Malcolm X shows in his autobiography, they were radicalized by the realities of their situation. When their music began to be heard by white teen-agers through the medium of rock'n' roll , and when their view of America became visible through the civil rights movement, it gave new impetus to the subterranean awareness of the beat generation and the Holden Caulfields (Greening, p. 239).

It was this music that Rembert Weakland brought into the Catholic liturgy shortly before "the summer of 1967 when," according to Reich, "the full force of the cultural revolution was first visible." On March 15, 1967, Pope Paul VI issued Musicam Sacram in a vain attempt to stem the tide of musical desacralization proceeding step by step alongside the cultural revolution in America. Musical descralization was, in effect, the importation of the cultural revolution into the Catholic liturgy. Four years later, Pope Paul VI was still warning a Church whose liturgists had no intention of listening. On April 15, 1971, Paul VI told a convention of the Italian Society of St. Cecelia, that "all is not valid: all is not licit; all is not good." Cheap Dionysian pop music, as the prime manifestation of secular culture, was "not meant to cross the threshold of God's temple."

The fact that the liturgists were not listening became clear at a meeting of the Musical Advisory board in Chicago in November 1968, when the liturgical revolutionaries showed their "true colors." On November 21, Rev. J. Paul Byron celebrated Mass for the conference at Old St. Mary's Church. At the Mass folk songs by Phil Ochs and Pete Seeger were sung as the liturgy's music. The rationale for using this kind of desacralized music was given in an article appearing in Worship, which explained that "the hootenanny Mass can give explicit eucharistic and christological specification to youth's intense involvement in the movements for racial justice, for control of nuclear weapons, for the recognition of personal dignity" (CAC, p. 395).

"Some," wrote Father Skeris, referring principally to Rembert Weakland, "were trying to assert that all things are sacred, and thus all music was suitable for the liturgy. They were in fact saying that nothing is 'sacred,' and the result was a desacralization" (CAC, p. 383). Misery loves company nowhere more than in the realm of sexual sin. As a result it soon became obvious that the horizontal, desracalized liturgy would appeal to a culture that was in the midst of being sexually engineered by succumbing to sexual passion. That meant that the homosexual as the vanguard of sexual liberation could count on a large following among Catholics who had rejected other aspects of the Catholic Church's moral teaching. The contraceptors were of one mind with the homosexuals in their willingness to defend sterile sex, and there were a lot more contraceptors in the Church than homosexuals. They too would derive comfort from a liturgy which had been neutered of its transcendental elements because that is precisely what they had done to their sexual lives by becoming contraceptors.

The net result of the reform was clear: if everything's sacred, nothing's sacred. And if nothing's sacred, then why not use the Mass to promote political ends, especially if the political and the sexual were so intimately linked? Music was the crucial link in this equation. Dionysian music promoted subversion in the Catholic Church, but it promoted it subconsciously, in the way that only music can, bypassing the conscious mind and entering into the soul directly, creating there a sense that things hitherto forbidden were somehow now possible.

Charles Reich makes explicit the kind of moral possibility that Negro Dionysian music proposes implicitly but compellingly. "'Ball and Chain,'" Reich wrote, referring to the Big Brother and the Holding Company song which made Janis Joplin famous, "was contemporary American white 'soul,' and it spoke of the bomb, and the war, drugs and the cops as well as the intense sexuality of the blues and the yearnings and mysteries of black soul" (p. 268). It also made a pretty compelling case that illicit sexuality can be a form of addiction and bondage, but Reich missed out on that point while rushing to make the point he wanted to make instead, namely, that this sexual misery was liberating. Reich was a virgin at the time he wrote those words. He would have his first homosexual experience only later after he was famous, but the homoerotic glow suffused his entire vision of the new America. "What the music is starting to tell about," according to Reich is that "an individual cannot hope to achieve an independent consciousness unless he cultivates, by whatever means are available, including clothes, speech mannerisms, illegal activities, and so forth, the feeling of being an outsider" (p. 276, my emphasis).

Reich's vision is remarkably consistent with that of E. M. Forster, particularly the vision proposed in Maurice, Forster's long-suppressed homosexual novel. When the king and queen pass by Maurice at the end of the novel, he bares his head but goes on to say that "he despised them at the moment he bared his head. It was as if the barrier that kept him from his fellows had taken another aspect. He was not afraid or ashamed anymore. After all, the forest and the night were on his side, not theirs; they, not he, were inside a ring fence."

Like E. M. Forster and Sir Anthony Blunt and the rest of the Cambridge traitors, Rembert Weakland led a double life. What Maurice felt toward the king and queen and England, Weakland felt toward the pope and Rome. Being a bishop in an historically Protestant country, Weakland recognized early on that he would get a sympathetic hearing from the quondam Protestant establishment and the people it paid to write for its newspapers if he adopted the traditionally American animus against Rome. This was nowhere more apparent than in the role he played as the prime mover behind the American bishops' delegation's quest for altar girls at the 1987 Synod on the Laity.

In one of the fatuous interviews he gave to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel before the scandal broke, Weakland claimed that he was so independent Rome didn't know what to do with him. That's not the impression I had when the synod fathers passed around a picture of Weakland being anointed by Ethel Gintoff, editor of the Milwaukee archdiocesan newspaper, and sent of to Rome to bring back approval of altar girls. Behind the venially sinful merriment which the photo engendered among the bishops attending the synod was the tacit consensus that here was a bishop who saw himself as a lackey to the feminists, something they felt was incommensurate with the office of bishop. Independent, in other words, was not the first word that sprang to the minds of the world's Catholic bishops when Weakland's name was mentioned. Americanism, maybe, but not independence. In fact it was the 1987 synod on the laity which tarred the American bishops who followed Weakland's leadership as being hopelessly chauvinistic, profoundly provincial, and ultimately naive when it came to cultural issues.

"Though Americans may be perceived as imperialistic," Father Bryan Hehir said to a group of Catholic bishops, priests and laity attending a secret meeting at St. Mary's College shortly before the synod on the laity, "they should not hesitate to push their program at the synod, and particularly to insist on the rightness of their idea of the Church in the world. The US experience is valid--certainly for the US--and the rest of the world should learn from it too" (cf. E. Michael Jones, "The Synod on the Laity Just says No to Altar Girls," Fidelity, December 1987, p. 32ff). Father Hehir, who was then at the peak of his fame as the author of bishops' statement on nuclear weapons, was not alone in promoting Americanism at the secret meeting. In fact he was articulating the fundamental consensus of the delegation of American bishops who were heading off to the synod. All of those who attended the meeting (with the exception of Germain Grisez, who wrote the report exposing the machinations there) were united in the belief that America had something to teach the universal Church. Just what it had to teach became apparent in the course of the meeting. What America had to offer the Catholic Church was sexual liberation. The resentment of Church bureaucrats tied to what they perceived as an oppressive sexual code while living in liberated America was palpable, to Germain Grisez at least, at the secret meeting. Doris Donnelly, a feminist from St. Mary's who gave the conference's keynote address, claimed in Grisez's words that

the 1976 [Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith] declaration on the ordination of women holds that women are incapable of imitating Christ and thus departs radically from the whole Christian tradition about following Christ! She wants a canon law making rape and incest crimes if abortion is to remain a crime (obviously she resents the canonical provision on abortion). She thinks that the draft's treatment of sexuality is okay but not very clear. Sexuality is one's need to be in communion with others. God is not solitary. She doesn't like anything on the roman working paper's statement on women. She rejects its attempt to mark out distinguishing feminine and masculine characteristics, but she makes her own attempt: Men fear being tied down by relationships, whereas women fear the rupture of relationships.

Theologian Lisa Sowle Cahill, one of the people at the conference who, unlike Grisez, had ready access to the microphone anytime she wanted to say something, attacked the Church's position on contraception "as if the whole thing were a matter of terminology." When Grisez countered by telling the story of a man who followed bad pastoral advice, began acting on his homosexual impulses, slid into promiscuity and was then dying of AIDS, Cahill countered by claiming that "the bad experience of people trying to live up to the Church's teaching outweighs the odd case where things work out badly."

Rather than make a frontal assault on the Church's sexual teaching, the conferees decided to ask for altar girls because that would be one step toward women's ordination, which would in turn erode other aspects of church teaching on faith and morals. It was the bishops in attendance, those chosen as delegates to the synod by the majority of the American bishops, who formulated this strategy. "Bishop Imesch," according to Grisez, "says those going to the synod should come back at least with altar girls; others added the installation of women as ministers. But all agreed that these are only steps toward full equality." Other bishops were equally frank in their willingness to lobby the world's bishops on behalf of America's feminists. Archbishop May, according to Grisez, said, "we cannot go in there and urge women's ordination; they just won't let us." Similarly, Cardinal Bernardin opined that "we can say anything we want, but then there are consequences; look what happened to John Quinn in 1980."

Cardinal Bernardin was referring to Archbishop Quinn's intervention at the 1980 synod asking the Church to rethink and, by implication, overturn the Church's teaching on contraception and the flak he received for making the suggestion. By 1987 it was clear to anyone with eyes to see that a consensus had emerged among a large segment of the American bishops that the Church was wrong when it came to understanding sex, and American culture was right. In fact it's safe to say that the majority of American bishops felt that way because the delegation to the synod was chosen by a majority of those bishops and chosen specifically as a way of sending a message to Rome. Rembert Weakland was chosen specifically as a delegate and Bernard Cardinal Law, who was perceived as a conservative, was rejected precisely because the overwhelming majority of American bishops wanted to send Rome a message. The message was very simple: Rome was wrong and America was right when it came to sexuality. That was the consensus among those who gathered at St. Mary's College. Germain Grisez might have dissented from the Americanist line, but no bishop did. The bishops who chose him as a delegate may or may not have known that Rembert Weakland was a homosexual; they may or may not have understood that homosexuals subvert the institutions they occupy, but they most certainly knew that he did not accept traditional Catholic teaching on issues like contraception, abortion, homosexuality and the ordination of women. That is, in fact, why they chose him as a delegate to the synod, to send precisely that message to Rome. Even if Weakland had never opened his mouth at the synod, that message would have been clear. That is why they chose him as a delegate.

That is precisely the issue that the American bishops need to face right now. They need to repudiate clearly and forcefully the Americanism that was always a front for sexual subversion. They need to draw a clear line between the sexual practices condoned and promoted by the American Imperium of control through appetite and the sexual morality which the Church has preserved through two millennia of strife. If they can't do that, if they can't look Anna Quindlen in the eye and say we will not ordain homosexuals even if they don't act on their orientation, then they should resign. If they can't understand that they are the Church's emissary to the culture and not vice versa, then they should resign. It is precisely that issue, and not how Bishop So-and-So handled this particular case, which lies at the heart of the current crisis in the Church, and that is so because this issue has lain at the heart of the crisis, a crisis which did not begin in January when the pedophilia story broke, but one which has plagued the Church for the past 40 years. The culture of appetite, like all manifestations of appetite, has returned to bite the hand that has fed it so faithfully over the past four decades. Operating according to a logic not its own, it has been forced to expose Rembert Weakland, even though he has done the bidding of that culture more assiduously than any other American bishop. The American bishops should draw a cautionary tale from Weakland's unhappy fate and that which awaits rest of the fifth column within the Church who have spent their careers serving the god of appetite and the culture which worships it.

But Weakland's animus goes deeper than disgruntled pique at being denied an honorary degree at the University of Freibourg in Switzerland. Like Maurice in E. M. Forster's novel of the same name, Rembert Weakland hated nature and he hated order, because nature is nothing more than a manifestation of divine order. He hated nature because he was plagued by unnatural desires and succumbed to them and in the end identified with them against the Church which upheld the standards he could not follow. Weakland's rage against order (and nature and beauty) manifested itself throughout his career as a priest, from the time when he desacralized the church's music to the bitter end of his tenure as archbishop of Milwaukee, when he willfully defied both Rome and thousands of concerned Catholics by deciding to wreck St. John's Cathedral in Milwaukee in the name of renovating it. This was to be his final legacy. The 40 foot high baldachin, the architectural ornament which signifies the presence of the sacred at the altar, was demolished and its marble pillars removed from the cathedral in pieces. The crucifix is now tilted and the sight line in the Church is now off center. The Church now has two organs, one where the tabernacle used to be. The tabernacle, as has now become customary with renovations of this sort, has been banished from the center of the church to a side chapel. (Weakland once regaled one audience by telling them that pipe organs were part of the decor of whorehouses in France. Now the cathedral, as per his instructions, has two of them.) The pews have been removed and replaced by movable oak chairs with kneelers and upholstered seats and backs. Weakland did all this in spite of a letter which Cardinal Jorge Medina, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments since 1996, wrote to Weakland pointing out four areas in which he said the cathedral plan was contrary to canon law and asking him to cease and desist. Two other congregations wrote letters ordering him to stop, but Weakland ignored them all. He was determined to wreck the cathedral. More than that, he saw wrecking the cathedral as his final legacy to the archdiocese of Milwaukee, and in many ways, he was right. His legacy was wrecking.

The people who supported Weakland's views on the church also supported his views on how to wreck the cathedral. One couple, who taught pre-Cana classes, felt that being "able to view other individuals worshipping at the same time, and to be closer to the Eucharist and Christ" is "the reason we go to church." A lector at the cathedral, surveying the wreckage, announced "it's going to be beautiful." Plato once said that disordered souls like disordered music. It's time to draw analogous conclusions about the souls of those who praise wreckage as beauty. Queers who let their sexual compulsions get out of control become, as Forster's novel Maurice indicates, wreckers. It's time to bring the era of subversion which followed the council to a close. It's time to repudiate the wreckers, but it's also time to repudiate the rationale for the revolutionary changes which the wreckers wrought in the church. It's time to expose those changes for the homosexual fantasy they were from the beginning. As Weakland's prayer service indicated, it is a time of repentance. The bishops should join in with Archbishop Weakland and hold a penitential service of their own when they gather in Dallas. At that service, they should remember that it was they who chose Archbishop Weakland as their delegate to the 1987 synod on the laity in order to send Rome a message. Recent revelations about Weakland's character give new meaning to the message they intended to send and why they need to repent as well. CW

E. Michael Jones

 

E. Michael Jones, Ph.D. is the Editor of Culture Wars magazine and author of numerous books available from Fidelity Press.

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