Although the good people of Massachusetts were revolted by the behavior of Catholic priests with (mostly) teenage boys, and they sent Cardinal Law packing to a sinecure in Rome for having tolerated such an orgy, they seem to have had (perhaps not unreasonably) lower standards for congressmen.
In 1983 Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts took under his wing a young homosexual, Greg Davis (also known as Steve Gobie) who had been in trouble with the law. Davis responded to the Congressman’s generosity by running a prostitution business from Frank’s bed. Frank found out and kicked the bum out. So far, so good. If the Congressman wanted to play Pygmalion, it was his own business.
However, in researching an abusive priest, Fr. Gabriel Massaro, I came across newspaper stories about another Gabriel Massaro (I think that he is a different person, although in this demi-monde one can never be sure) who also had a connection with Davis and Frank.
Davis’s troubles with the law, it seems, were “four felony convictions in 1982: possession of obscene material, production of obscene items involving a juvenile, oral sodomy, and possession of cocaine.” Franks had met Davis through an ad in a gay paper, paid him for sex, and wrote letters on congressional stationery to Davis’ probation officer, all to help a convicted child pornographer.
Gabriel Massaro, a principal, of the Chevy Chase Elementary School, also met Davis through a friend and met Frank at a meeting at the congressman’s apartment with Davis’s probation officer.
While having a relationship with Frank, Davis was also having a relationship with Messaro. Messaro responded by letting Davis use school facilities to run his prostitution business, including servicing clients in the school’s offices.
When asked whether Davis had been involved with any children at the school, Messaro responded “Oh God no. He couldn’t have. I don’t think so. No.” However, seeing the handwriting on the wall, Messaro resigned from his position as principal.
Frank brazened it out, and is still in Congress, representing the people of Massachusetts. But after all, Gerry Studds had been reelected by the people of Massachusetts after being censured by the House for a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old House page. In fact, the Washington Post reported
Rep. Gerry E. Studds (D-Mass.) was greeted in this secluded resort [Martha’s Vineyard] tonight with two standing ovations from several hundred residents and summer visitors who turned out for the congressman’s first town meeting since he was censured by his House colleagues for sexual misconduct with a 17-year-old male page.
While I think that its right to hold priests to higher standards than politicians, (as Mark Twain remarked, our only native criminal class), I also think that the rather low standards of behavior to which Massachusetts voters held their officials perhaps led bishops to believe that the people of Massachusetts wouldn’t mind a little corruption in the Church as well.