He said he had been aware of his homosexual orientation since he was a teenager and suppressed it until he became archbishop, when he had relationships with several men because of “loneliness that became very strong.”
Archbishop Weakland, 82, said he was probably the first bishop to come out of the closet voluntarily. He said he was doing so not to excuse his actions but to give an honest account of why it happened and to raise questions about the church’s teaching that homosexuality is “objectively disordered.”
“Those are bad words because they are pejorative,” he said.
Archbishop Weakland was among those who publicly questioned the need for a male-only celibate priesthood. He also led American bishops in a two-year process of writing a pastoral letter on economic justice, holding hearings on the subject across the country.
A later effort by the American bishops to issue a pastoral letter on women was quashed by the Vatican, he said, because the Vatican did not want to give the national bishops conferences the authority to issue sweeping teaching documents.
The archbishop said it was partly because of his strained relations with Pope John Paul II that he did not tell Vatican officials in 1997 when he was threatened with a lawsuit by Paul J. Marcoux, the man with whom he had a relationship nearly 20 years before and who had appeared on “Good Morning America.”
Mr. Marcoux said then that he had been deprived of income from marketing a project he called “Christodrama” because of Archbishop Weakland’s interference. Archbishop Weakland said he probably should have gone to Rome and explained that he had had a relationship with Mr. Marcoux, that he had ended it by writing an emotional letter that Mr. Marcoux still had and that the archbishop’s lawyers regarded Mr. Marcoux’s threats as blackmail.
But, the archbishop said, a highly placed friend in Rome advised him that church officials preferred that such things be hushed up, which is “the Roman way.”
“I suppose, also, being frank, I wouldn’t have wanted to be labeled in Rome at that point as gay,” Archbishop Weakland said. “Rome is a little village.”
Asked if he had regrets about the $450,000 payment to Mr. Marcoux, he said, “I certainly worry about the sum.”
The morning in 2002 that Mr. Marcoux surfaced on national television, Archbishop Weakland said he phoned the pope’s representative, or apostolic nuncio, in Washington — Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo — who, he said, told him, “Of course you are going to deny it.”
Archbishop Weakland said he told the nuncio that while he could deny emphatically that it was date rape, “I can’t deny that something happened between us.” (Archbishop Montalvo died in 2006.)
Archbishop Weakland is still pained that his scandal, involving a man in his 30s, became intertwined with the larger church scandal over child sexual abuse.
Archbishop Weakland and the Milwaukee archdiocese are also the target of several lawsuits accusing them of failing to remove abusive priests, allowing more minors to be victimized.
In the interview, he blamed psychologists for advising bishops that perpetrators could be treated and returned to work, and he blamed the Vatican’s tribunals for spending years debating whether to remove abusers from the priesthood. In one case, he said, the Vatican courts took so long deciding whether to defrock a priest who had abused dozens of deaf students that the priest died before a decision was reached.
“The concern was more about the priests than about the victims,” Archbishop Weakland said.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
NYT: Ex-Archbishop Speaks About Catholic Church and Homosexuality
From the NY Times.