The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Saturday, October 12, 2002  

The Politics and Theology of Denial

Father Richard John Neuhaus, editor of First Things, really cracks me up.

Here he is in the latest issue:

“You know about Father Mychal Judge, the gay priest who was killed giving the last rites to fallen firefighters at the World Trade Center? No you don’t. Fr. Mychal was not homosexual, never mind, as has been endlessly repeated in the media, ‘openly gay.’ He was a faithful celibate priest noted for his heroic service to all in need. The story of his being gay is a total fabrication of homosexual activists and their friends in the press.”

Says who?

“So says Dennis Lynch, a lawyer who was a close friend and collaborator of Fr. Mychal’s who knew him for ten years and has gone to the trouble of interviewing scores of others who worked with him closely. All of them agree that the legend of ‘the gay priest’ is nothing but propaganda. As you might expect, there are those who persist in claiming that they know Fr. Judge was gay.” [Ed.: The article is not yet online.]

Well, I guess that means we’re to put Fr. Neuhaus in the “Fr. Judge was straight” camp, though, if Fr. Judge couldn’t be celibate and gay I’m not sure how he could have been celibate and straight either.

No matter, the brave and fiercely independent Fr. Neuhaus, a former Lutheran minister, who having never married was able easily later in life to convert to Catholicism and move all but immediately into the priesthood, a vocation he has spent cavorting with war-mongering and gay-baiting neoconservatives, appealing to Richard Mellon Scaife for next year’s operating budget, and appearing at almost any conference that extends him an invitation, backs off this seeming assertion in the very next paragraph:

“I don’t know what to believe, but I have talked with Mr. Lynch and find his argument persuasive. For further information, he can be reached at”

I also have read Lynch’s argument as published in numerous outlets this year and I found it unconvincing, but then again, I was trying to be objective.

Is Fr. Neuhaus approaching the matter with an open mind? After all, Fr. Neuhaus has on numerous occasions expressed his disgust for gay men and women and particularly for gay clergymen, even those who adhere to their vows of celibacy. And it’s Fr. Neuhaus, not me, who has in print bemoaned the purported exclusion of manly men from the priesthood.

As a matter of fact, I e-mailed Lynch several specific questions about Fr. Judge in an effort to determine exactly how well he knew the man. That was nearly six months ago. I have yet to hear from him.

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