SSA and AA

Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio states he would like to maintain the current military policy of not asking, not telling of one’s same sex attraction. Other web sites and fora are discussing this issue quite ably, if not hotly. In the comment section, you’re free to discuss whatever aspect you wish. I found one quote to be very curious, so I’m drawing it out:

The archbishop likened the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy with the ways that alcoholics have benefited from Alcoholics Anonymous. “Like homosexuality, there is rarely a cure,” he said. “There is a control through a process, which is guarded by absolute secrecy.”

The archbishop mischaracterizes AA (if not same-sex attraction). The hallmark of twelve-step programs is anonymity, not “absolute secrecy.” A recovering person may choose to keep his or her addiction a secret from some people and in some situations. Rarely does a recovering person go to a bar and announce, “I’m a recovering alcoholic!” Usually that would be a immature gesture to get attention. But in a deep conversation between friends, it might be revealed that one of the people is a recovering addict. That might be perfectly appropriate.

Is secrecy about sexual orientation a morale issue? I’m sure it is, either way “Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell” gets decided. In general I would think that honesty makes for a healthier individual. And we want our soldiers to be healthy. No doubt, some people within the military are uncomfortable with what they see as “immoral activity.” Some people serving in the military are teenagers–not exactly the most mature segment of society. I can imagine many issues of concern for morale. Danger to one’s life and one’s comrades would seem to be at the top of most lists. This pacifist has a solution to that morale problem, but let’s hold it for another post, another day.

Archbishop Broglio has heartfelt concerns about changing this policy. I can respect that, even if I’m  inclined to disagree. I wish he would tighten up his arguments with regard to AA.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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9 Responses to SSA and AA

  1. Liam says:

    Indeed, the AA aspect of his argument betrays ignorance or mischaracterization of AA. AA’s rule is a prudential rule to prevent detraction by others. It does nothing to prevent people from self-disclosing, and the many people in recovery I know are not in the closet about it whatsoever.

    More profoundly, his remarks betray a spiritual blindspot about the deep moral evils that arise from a closet, especially (but not only) if externally imposed. A moral teacher who manifests such ignorance loses his right to credulity and docility on the part of his intended audience.

  2. Mike says:

    In AA, anonymity is at the level of press, radio, tv, and film. As soon as someone starts talking publicly about going to meetings, I see personalities in play, not principles.

  3. Jimmy Mac says:

    What ignorant pap: “Like homosexuality, there is rarely a cure,” he said. “There is a control through a process, which is guarded by absolute secrecy.”

    We already have encouragement for secrecy, self-loathing and failure to mature psychosexually in the priesthood. Really successful, that!

  4. Thom says:

    The Bishop is out of line. Not only did he mischaracterize AA, he also displays his ignorance about gay people, and what homosexuality actually. Unlike alcoholism, it isn’t a disease. Furthermore, this is the first I’ve ever heard from this Bishop. If he wanted to be heard and listened to, he should have been trumpeting- all along- the Pope’s message from last week that “peace is never achieved through violence.”

  5. smf says:

    Was the bishop perhaps suggesting that don’t ask don’t tell and the secrecy it requires helps those with same sex attraction to resist those tendencies?

    After all fear of temporal consequences does seem to restrain the behavior of many people in many ways that the underlying moral principal or even the prospect of eternal consequences sometimes does not.

  6. Liam says:

    smf

    a lovely consequentialist argument in favor of the inherent web of deceit that follows. Too bad it’s not really Catholic, since consequentialism is more at odds with fundamental Catholic moral principles than homosexuality.

  7. smf says:

    I don’t think it is necessary for someone with SSA to ever tell anyone about it. There is no dishonesty needed to simply live with those challenges and not make some public spectacle of yourself. (I wish quite a few people of varying sexual inclinations would keep things more to themselves.)

    I will however say that don’t ask don’t tell does have a somewhat dishonest element to it, since under current law anyone who is homosexual is legally barred from serving in the military. This means those that do serve are implicitly lying and breaking the law, but the policy creates an enforcement loophole through selective enforcement.

    To my mind the military environment is probably not the best place for someone dealing with SSA. It would create all sorts of extra issues for that person, even assuming no one else knew. In the case of someone who is very publicly “out” that has a different set of issues mostly regarding how others will react.

    Those who are honest about the matter already admit that integration of females has been and continues to be a serious challenge that creates some rather serious problems on an ongoing basis. I suspect the same will likely to be true of this issue, too.

    • Liam says:

      “I don’t think it is necessary for someone with SSA to ever tell anyone about it. There is no dishonesty needed to simply live with those challenges and not make some public spectacle of yourself.”

      Wow. That is pregnant with all manner of faulty assumptions.

  8. Mike says:

    To my mind the military environment is probably not the best place for someone dealing with SSA.

    As long as the bigots of the world call it “SSA” in an attempt to sterilize and denounce what is God-created and God-blessed, then you may be right. Fortunately, the evil that is the religious bigotry expressed by the Catholic Church against gay men and women will pass.

    Yes, as long as the Catholic Church deals with homosexuality as it does, it is an evil institution, with nothing of God about it.

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