Thursday, 22 July 2010

Priests and Prostitutes

No, not a theme for a fancy dress party, but a real- life problem.
Mike Jones is a (former) male prostitute with first-hand personal knowledge. He was the man some years ago who outed one of his clients as Ted Haggard, then a popular and successful bible-punching preacher well-known for his regular attacks on the homos "sinful" lifestyle - but who furnished his church with homeorotic statues and populated his stage with hunky male assistants:
When I attended Haggard's New Life Church after the scandal broke, I was amazed to see all the explicitly homoerotic statues and paintings—sculptures of nude, muscular men all over the place. I also noticed that all the people on stage where Ted would preach were young men—not a female in sight. I was later told that Ted picked out all the art work and the final decision as to who was on stage lay with him.
After J0nes read reports of Father Kevin J. Gray. the Connecticut priest who is facing trial over allegations that he had stolen $1,3 million from his parish to pay for high living and hustlers in New York, he wrote at the Daily Beast that based on his extensive experience, a sizeable proportion of men hiring prostitutes are clergy. Thinking about it, this doesn't really surprise me. We know that priests after all are no more than human, and that a significant proportion of priests are not totally celibate. Some few are lucky enough to negotiate proper, stable relationships - but what, exactly are the options for a priest who is closeted? Some discreet toe tapping in a toilet cubicle, and run the risk of being rumbled, like Larry Craig? Late night cruising in the park?
No, there are sound reasons for thinking that some priests may see the safest option for some safe sex is just to buy it. There is, however, one major problem. Sex for sale is outside the pay scale for Catholic Priests. (Unlike some other preachers, such as Alan Rekers) . Mike Jones describes one solution.
But more than once I was paid for my services with a handful of crinkled ones and fives. I would think to myself, how could they take from their own church’s collection plate? The answer is simple and sad: addicts will do whatever they need to do to support their habit.
I have written before of the many ways in which the insistence on compulsory celibacy is damaging to our priests - and to their partners, where they are lucky enough to have them. What I hadn't considered, was that it might even lead some to steal from the church.
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