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A Leaven In The World… “In The Closet Of The Vatican”: Lost Distinctions

March 11, 2019 Our Catholic Faith No Comments


Worldly folks don’t get it: Sinners in the Church, who are indeed practicing their faith, must teach what is right no matter their personal sins or weakness. Frederic Martel’s salacious new book, In the Closet of the Vatican, is just another example of a mundane spirit so easily manipulated by the evil one, another in a long line of such accounts of the sins of the Church’s members. And just like all those other books, it does not address, or affect, the billions of Catholic Christians who humbly and obediently live their faith each day, including Confession.
In the Closet of the Vatican promises scandals galore and doesn’t disappoint. It would be significant if those were the most important things about the Church. Yes, men in power sometimes become corrupted. Yes, they sometimes use power for less than holy motives. But it isn’t hypocrisy to teach what is true no matter how many and grave the sins of the teacher.
This distinction is lost on Frederic Martel, perhaps because it would delegitimize his primary thesis: “hypocrisy,” as promised by the book’s subtitle, Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy. As in every organization, some in the Church are hypocrites. The ordained fall into this trap because they are sinners primarily responsible for voicing moral teachings of the Church. They are vulnerable targets for those whose agenda is to change or undermine the teachings. If the sinful cardinal, as Martel would put it, is committing a sin which seems to contradict his teaching against the redefinition of marriage, for example, well then the teaching must be wrong and must be changed. The real story here is that conversion is always possible for the sinner who persists in confessing the moral truth. This is the grace of faith, the seed from which conversion may grow.
Contra Martel, tragedy for the human person is rejection of the truth. Yes, rejecting the truth in one’s action is sin, and he is right to fault such, as does the Church. Truth forbids us from doing otherwise. Conversion of the sinner, however, remains the goal and purpose of the Church. Martel despises the Church because he cannot compromise it for his subversive ideology. Whatever cannot be instrumentalized must be destroyed to advance his worldview.
Surprise: Some ordained clergy, perhaps even some bishops or Popes, have correctly taught some things as sins which they may themselves have confessed. That comes with the job of being a priest, including priests who become bishops or cardinals. Yes, some priests have failed to teach the truth, which is always true hypocrisy. That doesn’t mean the teachings of the Church no longer retain their authority as morally binding on all who claim the title Christian.
Thus the heroism of the priest, who puts himself in the way of the “gunfire” directed at the Church as a consequence of the teachings of Christ. The sad spectacle of Martel and those who share his squalid vision is that they inhabit a small, closed, and impoverished world of their own projection where there are no heroes, only victims and users.
His terms betray his outlook: Cardinals and other Church leaders go into one of two bins, “homophilic” or “homophobic” (if they’re not “unstraight”). The militant “gay agenda” will admit of exceptions.
Christ teaches us to love all our neighbors. One of the most beautiful aspects of the “pastoral,” which Martel praises by the way, is that priests have room in their hearts and lives for every person, no matter their color, “orientation,” or language. Using the word “homophilic” to describe the morally right acceptance of souls suffering same-sex attraction (SSA) is hypocritical of Martel, who one minute condemns the Church for cardinals who oppose his “gay” agenda, and the next minute frames prelates as fellow-travelers for associating with SSA persons — not scandalous under certain conditions. Those opposing his agenda are “haters,” “homophobic,” a crime prosecutable in a court of law, Martel is quick to remind readers.
For him male friendship doesn’t exist. Cardinals and other priests live exclusively with men, even in small communities of two, because they are called to the celibate life. Without seeking to settle the issue of who should or should not be ordained, the fact is that men of all kinds have been ordained. The sad spectacle of sinful public behavior where men forgot their priesthood has made this all too evident. As a comedian who identifies as Catholic recently joked about the Church, “Don’t Google us.” Martel sees only evil, which sells his book.
The Church’s mission, salvation of souls, should always come first. Sexual abuse victims have not always been afforded that consideration, and cardinals or bishops, among others, have in cases neglected to care for them when they made themselves and their abusers known. Martel or anyone who speaks out about this is right to do so. Too many souls have suffered further grief needlessly because men of the Church forgot their God-given priorities. The Lord Himself speaks to pastors when He commands, “Let the little children come unto me.”
Sin and grace have told the story of Christianity from the beginning. All practicing faith with regular exposure to the Gospels cannot be surprised at the contemporary betrayal by some bishops and, God forbid, Popes, seeing as we do the tragic precedents of Judas and Peter. The end of the story is most important, as the histories of these two men demonstrate. Peter’s redemption contrasts with Judas’ despair. The Lord is present through His Church for the grace of conversion, no matter where it occurs in our journey. Our Lenten season each year seeks divine mercy as the crowning victory for each soul.
We are not made for this world, having immortal souls as we do: It cannot be our home forever. The disease most inimical to grace is a mundane orientation deprived of the horizon of eternity. Drunkenness upon the flesh, which animates Martel’s book, is condemned to disappoint, as well as damning the soul to eternal deprivation of God. His primary thesis, of the “necessity” of acting on SSA attraction for happiness and fulfillment, is a psychological illness. A matter of intellect can change. Martel refuses to acknowledge that which would disprove his worldview. Grace imperils the certitude of disbelief.
People experience temptations all the time, including sexual ones, that they refuse to act on through the power of sanctifying grace in accord with Church teaching. We are all capable of falling because we are weak as distinct from truth, unchanging no matter the power of sin.
Weaknesses of the book include uneven and biased treatment. He quite readily seeks justice for Cardinal Maradiaga, a papal ally accused of moral wrongdoing, as “currently being investigated but innocent until proven guilty” but doesn’t do the same for Cardinal Pell, also under indictment at the time the book was written. Could it have to do with the orthodoxy of the latter, an obstacle to Martel’s twisted agenda? He also smears Cardinal Danielou, who died with cash in his possession at the home of a prostitute. Martel does not cite a source for his salacious interpretation of the facts, the case throughout the work. Facts seem often to get in his way. The book amounts to an indictment of the abnormal psychology of homosexuality.
Thank you for reading.

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