Comments: Week of February 4, 2019

Photo: New York Magazine

1. In New York’s latest cover story, Andrew Sullivan wrote about the central paradox of the Catholic Church: It’s an institution made up of thousands upon thousands of gay men yet teaches that gay people are “objectively disordered” (“The Gay Church,” January 21–February 3). Francis X. Clooney, S.J., a professor at Harvard Divinity School, responded, “Sullivan’s thoughtful essay invites readers to think holistically about sexuality and priesthood so that we can find our way to create a more humane and more spiritual environment for the imperfect Catholics (all of us) who would still follow Christ. But where do we go from here? I write with experience, a priest (more than 40 years) and a Jesuit (more than 50), and all this time a celibate. As I get older, I am all the more convinced the Church must foster unreserved respect for every person regardless of sexual identity; face up to the disparity between God’s calling and current rules on who is welcomed to serve; protect truth-tellers who help make the Church more Christ-like by exposing hypocrisy and cowardice; and honor celibacy as a daunting but precious gift. What matters in the end is that we walk with Christ, loving God and neighbor.” We also heard from those who shared their experiences as gay practicing Catholics. Patrick Gothman, a former missionary, responded, “I left the seminary after three and a half years when I came to the conclusion that the priesthood made an excellent closet, but not a healthy one. This is what the Catholic Church has to answer: Is there a place for gay men among the clergy who are not there in hiding, and what will it do with those who are?” Meanwhile, UMass legal-studies professor Peter d’Errico provided historical context: “Sullivan’s powerful analysis of the terrible history and consequences of church celibacy becomes even stronger when we understand its 11th century origins. The doctrine was instituted not as a moral issue but a political and economic matter — to protect priestly property.” San Diego State history professor Mathew Kuefler added, “Sullivan has plotted a sensible path through the contemporary crisis about gay Catholic priests. It remains to be seen whether pressures from an increasingly tolerant (and fed up) Catholic laity will force an end to the long-standing clerical regime of silence and secrecy.”

Photo: New York Magazine

2. Jill Abramson shed light on her tumultuous tenure as the New York Times’ executive editor (“Difficult News,” January 21–February 3). Commenter Isokol wrote, “This is an impressive piece. Jill Abramson takes the most direct shots at herself and her own mistakes, showing an admirable self-awareness. One gets the sense if she could do it again, she’d make a much better Executive Editor today.” Veteran magazine editor Tony Case added, “Her championing of journalistic independence in our age of compromised newsrooms and newspeople — where editors spend more time focused on generating ideas for revenue than generating ideas for quality content — is something that I, as someone who’s been one of those editors constantly pushed to cross ethical boundaries and to put sales before scruples, seriously admire. As the Times continues to rise and as digital players like BuzzFeed and Vice once hailed as the ‘future’ now struggle, Jill and the principles she professionally lived and nearly died by will be vindicated.” But Columbia Journalism School’s Bill Grueskin wrote: “Abramson cites many reasons for her sudden firing as the Times’ top editor, including her reluctance to work with the company’s business side, or as she sees it, her protection of the newsroom’s independence. But editors must beware they’re not making a false choice. Not every interaction with the ad department inherently corrupts the news report. Indeed, would any editor as talented as Abramson want the business side to develop these ventures without newsroom input and oversight? Abramson had the misfortune to become Times editor at a perilous moment, when management wanted an editor who would build the Times’ future in all its forms, protecting both its integrity and its financial viability.”

3. For New York, Lauren Levy demystified the preadolescent meme machine and self-described “youngest flexer of the century,” Lil Tay (“Who Was Lil Tay?,” January 21–February 3). Arielle Pardes wrote, “I will never not be jaw-droppingly fascinated by the world of ultra-young social media influencers.” Marketing consultant Nabeel Azeez tweeted, “The entrepreneur in me gives props. The father in me wants to b****slap the parents.” But Tay’s mother, Angela Tian, wrote to challenge the portrayal of her parenting: “Where was Chris Hope [Lil Tay’s father] before she became famous? Some people are only cloutchasers and want to take advantage of Lil Tay, but I am the only parent focused on Tay’s upbringing. My first priority is her well-being and happiness, and in order to do that I had to sacrifice my career. We are a loving family, and the perception of us in social media is completely false and unfounded.”

*This article appears in the February 4, 2019, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!

Comments: Week of Comments: Week of February 4, 2019