After a life of hardcore politics, a rise to the top of the heap in New Jersey politics, and a harsh comedown in which political scandal was overshadowed by a very public coming out, Jim McGreevey settled into a life in a beautiful house in Plainfield, a relationship with a man employed by his biggest contributor, jailbird Charles Kushner, and a very different life. After he resigned on Nov. 15, 2004, McGreevey’s image and life underwent a radical shift. He was seen, relaxed, at ease and besweatered, in the documentary Outrage, speaking as a battle-scarred proponent of gay politicians living openly so their political lives don’t make lies of their personal lives. That change, especially, is welcome. He left the Catholic Church he was brought up in after leaving office, and earned a Master’s degree in divinity from the General Theological Seminary in NYC a year ago. He began helping former inmates recover their own lives at Integrity House, a mental health and drug addiction center in Newark. McGreevey was steering his life toward becoming an Episcopal priest. The Episcopal Church calls for full civil equality of gay people, and most dioceses ordain openly gay men and women; being gay is not a stumbling block to leadership in that church.
But today, we learn from the New York Post McGreevey’s dream of becoming a priest has been dashed by church leaders uncomfortable with McGreevey’s behavior during his likewise very public, and very traumatic divorce. This quote is particularly rough:
“It was not being gay but for being a jackass — [McGreevey] didn’t come out of the whole divorce looking good,” said a source with the Episcopal Diocese of Newark.
Dina Matos McGreevey was the dazed-looking wife standing by her husband’s side during his “gay American” resignation speech. In a tell-all book, Silent Partner, Matos painted a picture of McGreevey as self-important, demanding and insulting, directing her that day to pull herself together for his speech and “act like Jackie Kennedy” and ordered her to move out of the Drumthwacket “so she wouldn’t look like white trash”. The McGreeveys argued very publicly about whether she knew he was gay, over custody of their daughter, and over alimony. And both of them accused the other of bad parenting. Dina Matos’ appearance on Oprah was an hour of revelation designed to sell books (which it did) and maintain some control over the picture McGreevey, consummate politician, painted of himself. She said, among other things, that McGreevey told her “his truth” in “cowardly installments”.
Frankly, I have trouble forgiving Jim McGreevey for the political corruption. But I’m glad to see him live more openly. As to the rehabilitation post-politics, I’m for redemption, whether it comes in paths to the priesthood or any other way. I’m glad to see McGreevey work with people rebuilding their lives. McGreevey may yet become a priest, there is a suggestion that further study may yet have that chance. I hope he does. He’d make an interesting priest.