What the Military Must Learn from the Church
Yesterday, our Commander in Chief – the man whose most central oath is to strengthen and defend our country and its military – signed into law an action that will do more to damage U.S. military strength than any bombs or tanks of our enemies. With all due respect to separation of Church and State, the U.S. military could learn some valuable lessons from the Roman Catholic Church.
The combat forces of the U.S. military, like the Catholic priesthood, have always been built on a distinctly masculine bond of obligation. Both bands of brothers gather to protect something Sacred. The priestly gathering is most visible whenever two or more gather around the altar to celebrate Mass, with Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, at the Sacred Center.
Just as the military bands together in its collective duty to protect the nation and her citizens, so the priestly fraternity bands together in its duty to spiritually protect the Church and her members.
This week, our elected officials voted to repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. By so doing, for the first time in this nation’s history, they’ve opened the U.S. military’s combat forces to practicing homosexuals. It would behoove the military to take a look at how such an open policy toward homosexuals worked in another male fraternity, that is, the Catholic priesthood.
Been There, Done That
In Michael Rose’s 2002 book Goodbye! Good Men: How Catholic Seminaries Turned Away Two Generations of Vocations From the Priesthood, he explores the Church’s own period of openly accepting homosexual seminary candidates. Many seminaries celebrated the intimacies of homosexual relations, which are directly opposed to true “brotherhood.”
Rose describes the “lavenderization” of seminaries such as Chicago’s Mundelein Seminary and the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, and the homosexual culture present there even into the 1990s.
It is this culture that gave rise to the ordination of homosexuals who later went on to become serial abusers, men like Daniel McCormack, who reportedly had engaged in homosexual relations prior to and during his time at Mundelein. After his ordination, Father Daniel McCormack molested at least 23 boys.
The connection between homosexuality and abuse was clearly demonstrated in 2004’s The Nature and Scope of the Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States, otherwise known as the John Jay Report, which was conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
According to the John Jay Report, 81% of the victims of clerical sexual abuse were males, the majority of whom were between the ages of 11-17.
Dr. Paul McHugh, former psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, has said that the report shows that the Catholic abuse crisis was “homosexual predation on American Catholic youth.”
Psychiatrist Dr. Rick Fitzgibbons has echoed that.
“The John Jay report has revealed clearly that the crisis in the Church is not one of pedophilia but of homosexuality. The primary victims have not been children but adolescent males. Fitzgibbons told Catholic News Agency that “every priest whom I treated who was involved with children sexually had previously been involved in adult homosexual relationships.”
It has always been the policy of the Church not to accept homosexuals as priests. For three decades that policy was egregiously disregarded. Following the sexual abuse crisis in the Church, and the results of the John Jay Report, the Church reaffirmed its policy in the 2005 statement, “Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with Regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in View of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders.”
That statement indicated that “the Church…cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture.’” Furthermore, the statement went on, “Such persons, in fact, find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women.”
In an accompanying Vatican commentary on the statement, Monsignor Tony Anatrella argued that theologically, homosexual priests cannot effectively incarnate either the “spousal bond” between God and the Church, or “spiritual paternity.”
“He must, in principle, be suitable for marriage and able to exercise fatherhood over his children,” wrote Monsignor Anatrella. Because the priest acts in the “person of Christ,” Anatrella said that the Church calls only “men mature in their masculine identity.”
“The Church has the right to refuse holy orders to those who do not have the requested attitudes or who, in one way or another, are not in harmony with the teaching it has received from its divine master,” he added, saying that the homosexual tendency was actually a “counterindication to the call to holy orders.”
Homosexual relationships caused a deep fracture in the priestly male fraternity. Pseudo-intimacy and intrigue replaced the outward looking evangelization of apostolic brotherhood. Bishops were unwilling to discipline the abusive priests under their charge. The Communio became divided. Religious leaders hid their own homosexual proclivities. The worst priests desacralized the liturgy and their vows and their priestly identity, while good priests often became isolated, fearful, and rigid. All priests were maimed.
The Consequences of Eroticizing Philia
What will be the result once the military has been compromised by disordered love? What will happen when an 18-year-old recruit finds himself in an unequal power differential with a superior officer who wants something more than push-ups? What’s likely to happen when brotherhood is tested on the field in the midst of battle?
Albert Einstein once said that doing the same thing, yet expecting different results, is the definition of insanity.
Is there some relationship that all of us can understand, which is deeply harmed by eroticization? That relationship, of course, would be the family. This is why the incest taboo is universal. The relationship of brothers in a family is powerful because there’s absolutely a sexual taboo which disallows eroticizing that relationship. Just as incest destroys the family as a body, the eroticization of male-male relationships destroys true brotherhood – the kind of brotherhood that is necessary for group strength and unity.
According to the report of the Pentagon’s Comprehensive Review Working Group, 62% of service members predicted potentially negative effects from the repeal. 67% of U.S. Marine combat forces said that putting homosexuals in their units would hurt their effectiveness in the field. 48% of Marines said that it would hurt their effectiveness in “intense combat situations.”
General James Amos, commandant of the Marines, told reporters that the distraction of having homosexuals in the ranks could cost Marines their lives.
When the loyalty of a brother soldier is corrupted – whether in barracks, cockpits, or foxholes – the strength of a nation’s military is severely compromised.
Disordered love leads to disordered loyalties.
Take, for example, the case of open homosexual, Army specialist Bradley Manning. As reported by the U.K.’s “The Telegraph,” Manning is the soldier who was demanding “equality on the battlefield,” and spent more than eight months downloading hundreds of thousands of classified documents and cables, which he later leaked to Wikileak.org creator Julian Assang.
Modeling Properly Ordered Male Love
Just as society can learn about marriage from the Church, the U.S. military can learn from the properly ordered male protective duty.
How ironic, that at the same time that Congress was voting to impose its morality on the American military, Pope Benedict XVI spoke with the Vatican Curia about the disastrous results of a corrupted priesthood.
In his Christmas message, Pope Benedict said that the Church’s garment has been torn by the sins of her priests.
“We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life, to allow such a thing to happen,” said the Pope, citing the reigning philosophy of the sexually derelict 1970s. “It was maintained – even within the realm of Catholic theology – that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself…Morality is replaced by a calculus of consequences, and in the process it ceases to exist. The effects of such theories are evident today.”
Yet, the Church bears, in herself, the answer. The Church already possesses a robust anthropology of male love. We, as a Church, have a sacramentalized male bond. We’ve been informed by the institution we are in that there is a proper way for men to love one another. The priestly fraternity images brotherly love, properly ordered. Homosexual behavior images disordered affection.
In the priesthood, the priest unites with the spotless Bride – the Church. The priest sacrifices his own desires, giving up the love of another, for a far greater love. He surrenders his own singular needs and desires for the good of the many – Christ’s Body, the Church.
A soldier makes this same archetypal masculine sacrifice for the nation. He sacrifices personal freedom and family for the good of the nation. In both cases, it’s a sacrifice that, in different times and places, requires the shedding of blood – for God and country. And, in both cases, it’s a peculiarly masculine sacrifice.
The Church has an intimate understanding of the human person and properly ordered love. When the brotherhood is perverted, the institution breaks down. The breakdown in fraternity is a fissure that threatens to corrupt the entire institution.
A Deeper Conversation is Necessary
We have been promised that the gates of Hell will never prevail against the Church, instituted by Christ. The Armed Forces, however, carry no such divine promise. This radical disruption of the Armed Forces of the world’s most reliable Christian nation represents a desacralization of the male military bond. The center may not hold.
Christian intellectuals and journalists have been woefully inarticulate in expressing our need for a properly ordered brotherhood to form our cities, our nation, our Church. Have we been lulled to sleep by the lies of the homosexual lobby? Don’t we think that our authentic love for each others as brothers is worth defending? Is there no one left to fight for the integrity of the institution which most protects our nation? Where is the discourse? Where is the moral outrage?
In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. said that we would have to repent in this generation “for the appalling silence of the good people.”
It is not enough to debate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” vs. open homosexuality in the military. Our conversation must be centered on our categories. What is the nature of military obligation for all male citizens? What should be the structure of our service academies, military training, and combat to fortify the strength of our nation in the face of our enemies?
Our Commander in Chief, instead of rallying people together to defend the nation, the widow, and the orphan, has rallied the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to weaken our Armed Forces under the guise of civil rights. By doing so, the president has betrayed the legitimate civil rights movement by equating it with homosexuality, an idea that most of the African-American base that elected him strongly disagree with.
The Armed Forces, like the Church, have the right to refuse those who present themselves (because of physical limitations, poor eyesight, anti-American ideologies, etc.) for service to protect the Sacred. That’s why it’s called the “Selective Service.” This isn’t discrimination; it’s a necessary power to preserve the fundamental bond which sustains the institution.
Let us remember this Christmas the relationship between life and protection. As soon as the Light entered the world in that Bethlehem cave, Satan and his tyrant sought to destroy Him. Without the protection offered by Joseph, the baby King and his mother never would have made it out of Bethlehem. Like the babe, our nation needs protection, now more than ever, from the enemies that assail her from both within and without.