Publisher's Note: SFGN apologizes to Tony Adams for a headline he feels was personally and professionally damaging. The headline in the March 28, 2018 issue, "Tony Adams is the Hypocrite," does not reflect the opinion of SFGN but was intended to reflect the content of a letter to the editor.
I would like to address some of the issues I have with the 3/14/18 article by Tony Adams, “Vatican Vice.” To begin with, the topic is not Vatican vice but homosexual priests and a male prostitute in Naples, Italy. The male prostitute is euphemistically called a “male escort” in the otherwise salacious headline. (His name Mangiacapra means “eat” “goat” in Italian, which may be related to mangiacaparra, a “cheat or swindler.”)
Mangiacapra asserts that, in this interview and in his book (which he is pushing), he wanted to out, to expose the hypocrisy and sin of priests in the Catholic Church who are actively gay.
There is a certain irony in a gay prostitute taking the high road and outing hypocritical priests as sinners.
He says, “I wanted to expose the ‘bad apples,’ not to throw mud at the Catholic Church but to help her get rid of the rot that contaminates the healthy part – that priests are allowed to do the opposite of what they preach.” He admits that “I am a sinner denouncing the priests who are the supposedly moral leaders but are committing sin. I like to think that the priests who have sex with me are not souls to be saved but only hearts and minds to be liberated from their hypocrisy. Basically, my sex work is a ministry similar to that of priests, but more scrupulous [“having moral integrity”].” Indeed?
To begin with, if Mangiacapra has such scrupulous moral integrity, he could, no should refuse to have sex with hypocrites. Though, that might take his clientele down to zero. Mangiacapra’s real goal is not living with moral integrity but money.
But let us turn to the vocation of priesthood. In the real world, priesthood (or the monastery) and marriage were often considered the only possibilities open to “gay” people. Not all men who became priests were gay, not all who became priests knew they were gay when they entered the priesthood. Likewise, not all gay men who married knew they were gay when they married. Priesthood and marriage were falsely believed to possibly “cure” those who were gay. Gay men who married ran the risk of ruining two lives not just one. (Many gay men who married had children and a positive experience, and I envy them in many ways.)
Celibacy is a “call” not given to all people. These days, the church is rightly reconsidering the demand for celibacy for clergy. Peter had a mother-in-law. Orthodox and Episcopalian priests may marry. Episcopalian or Lutheran clergy who convert are permitted to keep their wives, which is not fair to faithful Roman Catholics.
The bottom line, admittedly, is that priests (and monastics) who are actively gay are hypocrites. But an awful lot of people are hypocrites of varying degrees.
For instance, the author of the article, formerly a priest and a hustler, indicates that “having been trained to respond to the sexual overtures of older priests, I took the logical route in my new circumstances; I became “a Manhattan hustler.”
The truth is, anyone who takes a vow of celibacy could keep the vow and say no to sex. Adams was not “trained to respond to the sexual overtures of older priests;” he freely chose to comply. Becoming a hustler was also a choice he freely made and not “the logical route” in his new circumstances. Who is the hypocrite here?