When we are in Baltimore, we often go to the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Towson. The pastor, Father Joe Barr, is an energetic priest and the masses are more than tolerable. One of his assistants is (or was until this weekend) the Rev. Mark Bullock.
Alas, the Baltimore Sun had this story:
According to a police report of the incident, Mark Stewart Bullock, 47, was at Bush River Books & Movies, an Abingdon adult store on the 3900 block of Pulaski Highway, the night of Jan. 16, when two deputies, investigating complaints of indecent exposure, discovered him nude from the waist down in a movie theater inside the shop.
Bullock was sitting on a couch with “his pants completely off,” stated the report, which went on to state that “Bullock was not wearing any underwear and [was] exposing his penis.” He was sitting in a public area where store customers could see him, sheriff’s deputies said.
The “bookstore” had become very popular.
Monica Worrell, a spokeswoman for the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, said deputies routinely look in on adult bookstores to ensure they are complying with the law. This particular shop was drawing more traffic than normal, according to community members, who had voiced concerns at a council meeting, leading the sheriff’s office to investigate.
“Throughout the course of doing that, we found violations of law,” Worrell said. Several arrests were made, she said.
My knowledge of Bullock was limited to occasional Sunday masses that he celebrated.
The priests of the parish, aware of Catholics’ tendency to lapse into alpha sleep at the start of a sermon, have tried to make the homilies more interesting.
He was a good preacher. Bullock gave a Christmas sermon on the contrast between the hymn we has just sung, O Little Town of Bethlehem, and his visit to a military-occupied Bethlehem in which he had a submachine gun pointed at him. He has a good singing voice and sang the verses of the hymn as he commented on them. His point was that Shalom transcends earthly notions of peace.
But he, like many men, has problems with the virtue of chastity, and is totally lacking in the minor virtue of discretion. Pornography, a temptation to many men, including priests and pastors, is available on-line, and it is difficult to understand why he had to go to a “bookstore” to see it. Perhaps he was seeking the thrill of danger, of being caught. Perhaps, as the police seem to suspect, the “bookstore” was a front for other activities.
I am familiar through literature and through my former career as an investigator how sexual passion can distort a man’s judgment and cause him to do things out of character. Whether Bullock can be rehabilitated I do not know. The Archdiocese is short of priests, and apart from this personal vice he seemed to function as a good priest. The question is whether Bullock is a sinner, who can repent, or has such deep psychological compulsions that he cannot be trusted in a pastoral role. I suspect that the Archdiocese, having been badly burned by its mishandling of pedophilia (which this case is not), will permanently suspend Bullock.
A few more pieces of information about Father Bullock:
He was a life long member of St. Clare’s in Essex, a working class area of Baltimore County. He studied at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore. He is now 47, and was ordained in 2006. Before entering the seminary, he was a floral designer.
St. Mary’s is known internationally as the Pink Palace. The Archdiocese says it has ended the homosexual subculture as St Mary’s, which culture the Archdiocese it also insists never existed in the first place. Of course it did. I know people who went to St Mary’s, and many of the students there were actively gay in the 1960s and 970s.
When I went to hear a lecture by Raymond Brown in the seminary chapel I sat in front of a women Presbyterian minister and some St. Mary’s faculty. He told them that she wanted to take a course in Celtic Spirituality that Father X had give. They informed her that Father X was not teaching at the moment. He had been sleeping with the seminary students and insisted upon flaunting it too openly. His bishop had sent him to rural Pennsylvania to cool off.
Local opinion is that gay seminarians are sent to St. Mary’s in Baltimore and straight students to St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg.
Bullock was also conservative liturgically. He said a beautiful and reverent mass, and if I remember correctly, chanted the eucharistic prayer on several occasions. Older liberals claim that the new crop of priests are both more conservative and more homosexual than the older liberal generation. There is some evidence to support that claim. There is High Anglican precedent for the phenomenon.
BTW, a long as a homosexual priest is 1. chaste 2.not effeminate, I think few people would ever care.