Sunday, November 27, 2005

I Can See the Fallout On This One Coming From A Mile Away

Here's the latest trip off the wire -- from The Star-Ledger in Newark, of all places....

If you asked for this Instruction, the first-fruits of your activism have sprung up.
He left the Catholic priesthood in 1998, he said, because he was tired of shielding his identity as a gay man from a church that condemns homosexuality.

The Rev. Mariano Gargiulo, now an Episcopal priest in the Newark Archdiocese involved in a long-term relationship, said he believes an expected Vatican edict this week banning most gay men from entering the seminary also will force many priests from the clergy.

Gargiulo, who said he remains friends with dozens of gay Catholic priests from his days in the Archdiocese of Newark, predicted the ruling, while not applying to current priests, will heighten tensions within the church....

Older priests are less likely to leave, Gargiulo said, because they will need the Catholic Church to support their retirement.

"They're going to hide," he said. "They're going to put themselves deeper in the closet because it's a comfortable lifestyle."

But was Garigulo a gay seminarian?

Gargiulo said he was not part of any gay scene at the archdiocesan seminary, Immaculate Conception in Mahwah, which he attended in the late 1970s. He said he previously sensed he was gay but did not fully realize or "deal with it" until 1982, the year after he was ordained....

In the mid-1980s, Gargiulo said he broke his priestly promise of celibacy six times, most of the time with other Catholic priests. Still, he said, he planned to remain a Catholic priest.

"I was coming to grips with the fact that I was human and would have slips or mishaps," he said. "But then, as you understand yourself more and more ... you begin to realize, this is not right."

He said he would stand by the altar at Catholic weddings, administering marriage vows and feel like a hypocrite for breaking his celibacy promise.

"This is not right," he would tell himself, he recalled. "I'm asking these people in front of me to be faithful to their marriage vows. ... And am I being faithful?"

Well, at least he's being honest about it, right? And he's unabashed in his praise of the former archbishop of Newark -- you know him.
Gargiulo met with Theodore McCarrick in 1998. He told the archbishop he was gay and in a five-year relationship with another man.

Gargiulo said McCarrick told him he wanted him back as a priest, but that he would have to be celibate. Gargiulo told McCarrick he would not return.

"I said to him, 'I have to tell you that my partner is in the outer office, and if you'd like to come and meet him that would be fine, and if you don't, I understand that completely.'

"He said 'Oh no, I'll come out and meet him.' He came out, he shook his hand, he was very nice. He said, 'Mariano's worked very hard for us for many years, and you take care of him. And God bless you both.'

"I have to say, he's a gentleman. He truly is."

Yup, to paraphrase Molly Ivins, Uncle Ted's so much better a human being than anyone who's ever trashed him, it's a monument to his Christianity. Say what you will, but it's true.

So the wayfaring padre then went Episcopalian....
Gargiulo was then shocked, he said, by a letter he received three years later from McCarrick's replacement, John J. Myers, in response to a letter from Gargiulo saying he had decided to become an Episcopal priest.

Myers' letter told Gargiulo he was classified as a schismatic and thus automatically excommunicated. (James Goodness, a spokesman for Myers, said the excommunication had nothing to do with Gargiulio's sexual orientation.)

Hate to hurt anyone's feelings but, well, duh. Schism is schism, whether you've gone ECUSA or SSPX. It's all the same.
Gargiulo showed the letter to Jack Croneberger, who had recently become Newark's Episcopal bishop. A month later, as Gargiulo was received into the Episcopal Church, Croneberger stunned Gargiulo by doing something a Catholic bishop would never do.

"He invited (my partner) up, and he had us on each side of him, and he grabbed both our hands. He said, 'I want to thank you for being an example in the church of what a gay couple can be and how a loving gay couple can be part of the church community.'"

Hey, nobody said these would be easy days.... And who asked for it, again?