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‘Is Pope Benedict XVI Gay?’ Wonders Andrew Sullivan

Prominent gay (and Catholic) blogger Andrew Sullivan seems to think the Pope might be gay. Why does he think the notoriously homophobic Benedict XVI plays for his team?

He writes:

At times, it seems to me, his gayness is almost wince-inducing. The prissy fastidiousness, the effeminate voice, the fixation on liturgy and ritual, and the over-the-top clothing accessories are one thing. But what resonates with me the most is a theology that seems crafted from solitary introspection into a perfect, abstract unity of belief. It is so perfect it reflects a life of withdrawal from the world of human relationship, rather than an interaction with it. Of course, this kind of work is not inherently homosexual; but I have known so many repressed gay men who can only live without severe pain in the world if they create a perfect abstraction of what it is, and what their role is in it.

While I’m not remotely qualified to opine on whether the purity of the Pope’s theology is a sign of his repressed homosexuality, Sullivan is right that Benedict is a clothes horse. And even were he to want to, the former Cardinal Ratzinger would be unable to to persuasively defend himself from Angelo Quattrochi‘s assertion that he is “simply the most repressed, imploded gay in the world.” As Sullivan notes, “Ratzinger’s command that gay priests should actively lie about their orientation makes any public statement about this on its face lacking in credibility.”

Sullivan is careful to say that there’s no evidence that the Pope has ever acted on his impulses or explored his sexuality, and is therefore not a hypocrite. As Ratzinger himself wrote in 1992, “An individual’s sexual orientation is generally not known to others unless he publicly identifies himself as having this orientation or unless some overt behaviour manifests it. As a rule, the majority of homosexually oriented persons who seek to lead chaste lives do not publicise their sexual orientation. Hence the problem of discrimination in terms of employment, housing etc, does not usually arise.”

So the Pope may be gay, but he has not engaged in gay behavior. He has not sinned, according to his own belief system. Shortly after his 1992 statement, however, he met Georg Gaenswein, a young Bavarian priest who would become his personal secretary. Colm Toibin describes Gaenswein as “remarkably handsome, a cross between George Clooney and Hugh Grant, but, in a way, more beautiful than either.” I would not go so far, but you may judge for yourself. To me, he looks more like a cross between Seth Meyers and Nathan Fillion, and that’s still pretty good. Gaenswein and Benedict, both Bavarians, are around each other all day; they even take an afternoon nap at the same time. They eat together and pray together, so one speculates whether they share a chaste love for each other as well. Says Gaenswein: “I know who the Holy Father is and so I know how to behave appropriately. There are always some situations, however, when the heart beats a little stronger than usual.”

Perhaps this is all just vicious innuendo. I hope so. Not so much because I don’t want Benedict to be a hypocrite. (He’s already blamed the sexual abuse of children by priests on liberalizing mores towards homosexuality. He placed the Church scandals surrounding such sex abuse on par with other challenges facing the Church such as the ordination of women.)

No, I just don’t want to live in a world where Mel Gibson‘s father is sometimes right.

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