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I’m a recovering Catholic.? Growing up with those traditions gave me an appreciation for the ancient rituals of belonging to something.? Holy Week approaching reminds me of my favorite ritual in the church calendar, the Holy Thursday mass, which is so thick with the highest rituals, you leave the church with the smell of incense still in your nostrils.? It’s pretty damn cool.

I haven’t been to Holy Thursday mass in years.? Like most American Catholics, I’ve stripped pretty much all of the catechism out of my Catholicism – it’s more like being Polish & Italian to me than being in a religion.? And since coming out of The Closet,? I’ve grown further apart from the church, largely because of the effect Catholicism has had on my acceptance of my sexuality, and that of others, and my total conviction that the Catholic Church is one of the foundational pillars of The Closet writ large.

When the current pope was being elected, I paid a lot of attention, in the hope that somehow, a new pope would be elected who threw open the welcome doors again, and I could come back into the church without fear of having a man in a collar condemn my existence to hell.? When Pope Benedict was chosen, I was crushed, and turned my back on the Catholic Church again, for this very same reason.

The Closet is now biting the Church back.? If you are gay, and you are a priest, The Closet is your own ticking time bomb, and when it explodes, it will destroy you and everyone around you.? There is no relationship between pedophilia and being gay, don’t get me wrong.? Priests deny their sexuality whether or not they are gay.? You cannot take sexuality out of humanity, no matter how hard you try, but the Catholic Church by doing so creates a Closet On Steroids.? The Catholic Church makes it an institutional, in fact, divine priority, to perpetuate The Closet in the name of Jesus Christ.? Not even its own priests are permitted out of it.? That’s how powerful The Closet is if you are Catholic.

But as these abuse scandals prove every time, when human sexuality does find the way out, as it always will, the Catholic Church will make excuses for its priests, all to perpetuate That Closet, excuses that do not apply to a kid growing up gay.? No, even as all of your priests live in The Closet, and may be abusing children all around you, your own existence is deemed sin.? Whenever people learn that I was an altar boy, and combine that nugget with my criminal conviction, they assume I was abused as an altar boy by a priest.? No, that didn’t happen, thank God.? What did happen is precisely what the Catholic Church wanted to happen – I denied who I was to myself, everyone else, and to God.? That took an immeasurable toll on my life, and still does.

Because if you deny truth to God, that’s the biggest sin of all.? Sin of that nature is powerful.? So powerful, it will destroy whoever succumbs to it.?? The Closet is not holy, it is not truth, it is not God’s intention, it is the flimsy work of man in service to a lie, and nothing built on lies lasts forever.? That includes a sitting pope who is standing at the door of The Closet with the keys he claims Christ handed him to keep it shut.

Serving sin to perpetuate untruth is pretty bad stuff under any religious dogma – doing so in the name of Jesus??? This pope may soon find out just how high a price The Closet takes.

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