Tyler Clementi, a highly regarded violin player, was described as a shy college freshman at the time of his suicide.
Today, February 28, the See of Peter will become vacant, and Joseph Ratzinger, whom the world knows as Pope Benedict XVI, will make his way to Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence, where he will await the election of his successor. Long after, some will claim, as they do now, that he abdicated to save himself from the crushing weight of a sex scandal.
A commission of three cardinals, it seems, whom the pope personally appointed to investigate “VatiLeaks” (the leaking of private correspondence by his butler), turned up evidence of the scandal, now looming. According to the Italian newspaper la Repubblica, the cardinals presented the pope with a dossier, based on scores of interviews, in which they asserted that a Vatican faction “united by sexual orientation” (homosexuality) is being subjected to “external influence” (blackmail) by male prostitutes.
The bigger scandal, if this report is true, is that highly placed homosexual clergy within the Vatican, whose life’s work is to ensure the smooth functioning of an unapologetically anti-gay institution, are having sex with men. Such hypocrisy truly boggles the mind. Knowing the devastating impact of homophobia, which the Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality helps to fuel, how could these clergy satisfy themselves while turning a blind eye? If, in fact, they were not turning a blind eye, where then is the proof of their advocacy?
Permit me to quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2357:
“Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’ They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”
And permit me to share a statistic: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth are five times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.
As Pope Benedict XVI becomes Pope Emeritus, a reflection on the martyrdom of Tyler Clementi
One wonders whether any of these highly placed homosexual clergy within the Vatican, while they were having sex with male prostitutes in and around the Eternal City, thought of Tyler Clementi. It is doubtful that any of them had even heard of the bright-eyed, 18-year-old violin virtuoso who jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge after his college roommate and another classmate used a webcam to spy on him kissing another man. For a teenager, who just three weeks earlier had come out to his parents, becoming the subject of public ridicule, proved to be more than he could bear.
Another papal conclave will soon be underway, and once again a group of cardinal electors will process into the Sistine Chapel, where they will elect a new pope, while chanting the ancient “Litany of the Saints,” which invokes the names of famous martyrs, such as Saint Stephen, Saint Lawrence, and Saint Vincent.
V. Sancte Stephane.
R. Ora pro nobis (Pray for us).
V. Sancte Laurenti.
R. Ora pro nobis.
V. Sancte Vincenti.
R. Ora pro nobis.
The cardinals would be wise to include in the “Litany” the name Tyler Clementi, who was more than a suicide. He was a martyr, martyred for being gay, martyred by homophobia.
His cousin, Jennifer Ehrentraut-Segro, a practicing Catholic, while appearing before the New Jersey Assembly Judiciary Committee, spoke of the sinister power of homophobia, saying, “Please consider the ripple effects of our thoughts, judgments, and misperceptions of other people’s lives and the ones they love.”
Who better to help guide the election of a new pope, whose mandate will be to root out darkness in high places, than one martyred by darkness in high places?
Rabbi Robert Teixeira, LCSW, is founder and spiritual director of Uri! Uri! Awaken! Awaken!, a community of spiritual seekers based in Manhattan.