Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Homosems, A Year On

Hard to believe, but it's coming up on a year since the run-up and release of the Vatican instruction on seminarians with a homosexual inclination (SWAHIs) caused more than a bit of tumult in the world press and in the chattering circles. And to commemorate the anniversary, it seems one of the most vocal players in the drama has returned to prominence -- but not in the most flattering light.

On the day the "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" was released by the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano published a controversial editorial from the French psychoanalyst Msgr Tony Anatrella, a consultor to the Pontifical Council for the Family.

Saying that "homosexuality results as a lack of plenitude and an immaturity of human sexuality," Anatrella went on to opine on the difficulty of the "homosexual person to incarnate effectively this symbolic reality of spousal tie and spiritual paternity" and that gay priests "will need a special care, and regular interventions on part of the authority, and a life set in a constant medical and psychotherapeutic cure."

The op-ed was met with a good bit of head-shaking from Vatican officials, who were keen to move quickly past the Wojtyla-initiated project and not throw fuel on the international furore the document had provoked. Not even a year after said piece, however, it could be said that their fears were founded in an unintended way: word from Rome is that Anatrella is under investigation by French authorities for the sexual abuse of a male patient.

According to the complaint, filed on 30 October in Paris, a French ex-seminarian named Daniel Lamarca said that, while being treated by Anatrella in 1987, he had sexual relations with the cleric, who Lamarca went to in the hope of "curing" him of his homosexuality. The patient was 23 at the time and spoke of "bodily work" therapy sessions with Anatrella that, according to the accuser, would progress into sex.

The charges appear in an article in the French journal Golias under the headline "The Strange Methods of Dr Anatrella." Lamarca also claims to have informed the then-archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, of Anatrella's conduct. While the patient says he was promised that Lustiger would take action on the allegations, it was his finding that none was taken.

The Parisian prelate -- a favorite of the late pontiff -- had a private audience with Benedict XVI in recent weeks; Lustiger informed his former presbyterate last month that he is in the final stages of terminal cancer.

As one would expect, Italian gay groups have used the report to rip the church over its teaching on homosexuality, of which Anatrella had previously been a leading conservative voice. Aurelio Mancuso, head of the flagship organization Arcigay, asked an Italian wire "if the Catholic Church will ever really ask forgiveness for all the suffering it has procured and continues to procure on the young people and the gays of the world. Each day we're subjected to the harsh moral reprimands on the part of an organization that, by the admission of many priests and cardinals, has hid violence against minors, abuses in its seminaries, discrimination against gays.

While Mancuso said that "justice will clarify the accusations" against Anatrella, the activist castigated the appearance that "this spokesman of the church in matters of homosexuality is evidently one of many homophobic Catholic priests who have great personal problems with respect to their own sexuality."