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September 15, 2005


B Knotts

There's also no place in seminary for those who are obviously overcompensating - the Daughters of Trent, as they were called, who are tightly wound and ready to spring under their cassocks.

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by that, but it is precisely such a bias against piety that lead us to the current situation.


B. Knotts:

"Daughters of Trent" is a phrase used in seminaries, by seminarians, and among priests, to refer to those who are extravagently "traditionalist" and who are quite homosexual under the cassock. It happens.


Amy's discussion is very sound. I've long felt that a man who makes a big deal out of being "gay" is telling us something about his values. I'm remembering a priest friend who couldn't stop talking about it, until I said, with some exasperation, "I thought you swore off sex. Given that, who cares who you would have sex with if you hadn't sworn off??"

Rich Leonardi

But should the man who struggles with same-sex attraction and seeks to live chastely, who buys the whole package of Catholic moral teaching, be put into that category? Absolutely not. To me, that's insane, and truth be told, it's not that difficult to tell the difference.

I'll surprise half of my St. Blog's sparring partners by stating this, but I'm largely in agreement. However, I do think that it's appropriate given what the Church just went through for the Vatican to issue a "time-out" and impose stricter disciplines around this subject than they ordinarily would. No one has a right to be a priest, so the Vatican is free to tighten or relax such rules.

Many of us grew up surrounded by priests with clear homosexual orientations that they didn't seem a bit concerned about hiding. I remember one such visiting seminarian at my high school twenty years ago who was obviously and expressively "gay." He was the butt of half my classmate's jokes and I've got to think there was an inverse proportion between time spent in his French class and vocational discernment.

Has that much changed in 15-20 years? Are there still an unhealthy number of seminarians out there who resemble my visiting French professor? I don't know, but I'm willing to stop giving the benefit of the doubt until we find out.

Christopher Fotos

That's Amy alright. All against piety.

Thanks for your calm reflection, Amy. I'm following this closely, since one of my biggest stumbling blocks is what I perceive to be the mismatch between what the Church says about homosexuals, particularly gay and lesbian couples, and what I've witnessed in the lives of my gay and lesbian friends. Without getting into all that (because yes, that's been discussed here before) I'm just waiting for the details.

As I mentioned over at Mark Shea's revived blog, I particularly have in mind how what the Church does affects the thousands of gay/homosexual/SSA priests who are already, you know, priests.


Having lived through two-and-a-half years of seminary formation at the Saint Paul Seminary (1994-1997), I have a lot of thoughts about what the visitation should include... I began writing a letter to Archbishop Flynn about this back in 1996, in which I compared the Program for Priestly Formation (paragraph by paragraph) to what I experienced in the seminary. The contrasts between the then-current version 4 of the PPF and seminary practice was widespread and serious.

I never finished my letter to Flynn, and nine years have passed in the meantime. There is now a new version of the PPF. I'm going to get a copy of that, as well as the questions for the seminary review process, and begin blogging about this in October.

Nguoi Dang Chay

>>I particularly have in mind how what the Church does affects the thousands of gay/homosexual/SSA priests who are already, you know, priests.

Should be similar to what they have for seminarians, with credit for proven self-control. Active homosexual, you're history. "Strong homosexual inclinations", looking at ***es during Masses, gone. Been a priest for 10 or 20 celibate years and struggled with it spiritually sometimes? They've already proven they can handle the 'trial'.

bruce cole

Great post, and I thank God for the umpteenth time I never was for a moment deluded into thinking I had a "vocation." Which is by the by. You are right about the Daughters of Trent, and it can and does reach pretty high up. I know of a certain set of circumstances (I'll keep this pretty general, because this isn't a gossip forum and I'm using this to illustrate an aspect of the on-going Situation): there ia a Catholic institution of highter education here in these United States where active gays (gays who are priests)occupy at least a couple very high administrative positions and do a good job of posing as real orthodox, JPII kinda guys. You don't think they're not part of the mutual-protection society by the clerical Gay Mafia? I have a hard time believing this is "rare." Let alone about to be rooted out easily.
Three more quick points. 1. Being old enough to have observed, a common denominator among ALL the various kinds and waves of priests we've been getting for decades (in America) is a pretty general disinterest in church history. 2. I don't think you woulda been a nun 60 years ago. 3. Oh, I won't mention the woman in the sari this time...oops, I did! Too late!

Paul Pfaffenberger


Perfect analysis. I hope it gets widespread distribution.

Men who have accepted sinful behavior as OK and given themselves permission to continue continually - not welcome as seminarians

Men who struggle with temptation and strive to be chaste, regardless of orientation - welcome.

On a side note - my experience with the Paulist community in the early 80's was slightly different. I was discerning a vocation and visiting a friend there. A few weeks after I left, he brought a female study partner from TC over for dinner. Told by the rector that was scandalous, my friend explained it was plutonic - no matter. Don't bring her here. But what about (he asks) Johnny and Bill, who have a non-plutonic relationship and dine together breakfast, lunch and dinner? That's OK, he was told, since its all "in the family" and they are discreet. He left the next dayt after 5 years in the order.

Anyway - thanks again Amy. You hit this one dead-on.



I just decided she likes funky, sort of flowing clothes. She hasn't actually worn a sari since the first week. Ever since, she's been wearing, long flowy batik skirts.

Patrick Rothwell

"Andrew Sullivan, for example, is complaining long and loud about this, but the truth is that, judging from his previous writings, Sullivan doesn't have any problem with, for example, sexual promiscuity, obsessions and fetishes as lived out in the gay subculture, sees all of that beyond the pale of possible judgment, and for all of his hopes for the positive impact of gay families (which I believe is sincere), has absolutely no connection with the ways that Catholic tradition has conceptualized and thought about sexuality."

That all may be (is) true, but Andrew Sullivan's point, in the last few days, has been that the proposed policy of denying all homosexual/same-sex oriented/gay/whatever men entrance into the seminary or priesthood does not square with the Church's past official teachings on the subject. That's a different (and important) argument, and responding with "Who cares what Bareback Andy says" as some have done at St. Blog's the last few days, does not respond to the argument he posed.

bruce cole


Thank you for the update. It is like water to a man who's been wandering, parched for ages, in the desert....(Brother, how do I come up with this stuff??)

- Bruce ("I'm not obsessed, I just play one on a blog")


Amy: thanks for the very balanced and thoughtful comments. I've not been following this blog long enough to be familiar with the conversation on this issue in the past. As a man living with SSA who's applying to enter religious life, this is obviously something that affects me (and others) directly. In my case, however, I've been honest about my struggle in the application process, and I fear that this honesty will be detrimental [In my experience, it already has: in conversation with one place (obviously, I'm not going to be too specific), I was told that they didn't think I was ready because of the SSA issue; a good friend, also homosexual, was accepted, and, apparently, was quite active sexually in seminary. He didn't mention anything about homosexuality, and wasn't asked. He's since left]. I really feel that one of the main consequences of a move in this direction (any kind of a ban on SSA/homosexual seminarians) will simply push this all further underground, when, really, that is exactly what isn't needed.

I too am quite familiar with the "Daughters of Trent" kind of subculture -- orthodox and traditional to the hilt (to the fiddleback?), but actively homosexual behind the scenes. This seems to be a horrible kind of hypocrisy.

What of those who've identified as "gay" in the past, but have since moved away from that? Is there no room for repentance? Should, say, someone like David Morrison, be welcome as a seminarian? Or do we continue to treat SSA as a stigma, this thing that sticks to one's skin and marks one out as unclean, in a sense? Yes, you're ok, but, you know, we don't really trust you?

PS: This moniker was given by Dreadnought (http://johnheard.blogspot.com), where this issue was recently debated as well.


Excellent post, thanks for the common sense (as usual!).

I agree with it wholeheartedly although I think that you have to be careful where you put the priests who are "same-sex attract[ed]ion and seek[s] to live chastely, who buys the whole package of Catholic moral teaching" in service. For instance, one of those lovely, kind and pious priests is the chaplain at the local Catholic HS. The girls love him but the boys are wary of him... they don't really make fun of him because they do see holiness in him but his mannerisms are rather effeminate and that throws the teenaged boys. I would think it might affect them seriously considering a vocation. OTOH, this priest lines them up for Confession and is vocally pro-life and pro-Magisterium, he's a good priest.

John Farrell

Beautifully written, Amy.


Amy, your analysis is spot-on. I have priest friends that identify themselves as homosexually-oriented. They are chaste and understand that their genitality is not their primary defining factor. These men are good, devoted and holy priests.

On the other hand, I've experienced unhealthy homosexually-inclined religious. I once thought that I had a vocation to a mendicant Order. During my discernment period, I had to deal with numerous sexual entendres and was actually "hit-on" by a novice. This was the proof, for me, that God was not calling me to that Order.

Over the last few years, I've seen that it's most likely that I'm not intended to be a religous. I wonder how many good men, that do have a vocation, this group scared away?

Again, good reflection Amy: well-thought and very Catholic.



I would tend to agree with the judgement that that it would be unjust to keep someone who was successfully leading a chaste life with SSA out of the seminary.

That said, were it done it seems the argument pro would be: It's hard enough to lead a chaste lif in the first place, and being a priest will put you in the position of living in close surrounds with an exclusive male community. Especially after you become a priest, you will often be under instense emotional and spiritual pressure. And if you find yourself strongly attracted to your brother priests or your young male parishioners that will only make things hard for you.

Essentially, it would be the same thing you might tell a seminarian who said he struggled with strong temptations toward heavy drinking: Look if you find it hard not to reach for a drink now when you've had a hard day, I'm here to tell you that you will be having much, much harder days if you are a priest.

Now, the fact is, everyone has temptations that they're more likely to cave to under pressure. Some of those tempations are more available to priests than others. Not being one, I can't pretend I have as much of an idea what's an acceptible level of weakness that you're not sending a new priest out to the wolves. Hopefully the Holy Father and the bishops, however, do.


Having been "hit on" by several heterosexual priests, I personally am more comfortable with gay priests, and count many of them to be friends. There is no doubt that some of the rhetoric about gay priests coming out of the Vatican has been hurtful to these men, including very much those who have been chaste. I'm wondering whether we can't focus more on behavior rather than orientation.

After all, we are none of us responsible for the nature of our temptations. I know that for myself I certainly wouldn't want to answer for them.


It's interesting that Darwin mentions alcohol. In fact priests (like lawyers, among others) have roughly twice the rate of alcoholism as the general population.

Does that mean we shouldn't ordain (admit to the bar) people with such inclinations? Probably not, but there is cause for extra alertness there.


I think Colleen has hit on one of the problems with the "faithful and celibate exception." Would you really trust him with your sons? Do they trust him? Is the whole "women and gay men get along so well" thing a healthy relationship? It would probably be better for women and society as a whole to have healthy hetero men. I mean, is it good for girls to be raised by effeminate men, or even when normal social roles are reversed? Not in my limited experience.

But two other problems are more damning?

1) Is homosexuality a psychological illness, and if so, should it be one that prevents men from entering the priesthood?

2)There is a danger of falling into the notion that the priesthood is somehow a reward and approval, and that rejection from the priesthood means you're a bad Catholic. This is the mistake that those who support female ordination make.


I left out my last point.

The Catholic Church can forgive sins, but it cannot change the other consequences of sin, such as a continued and increased desire, a habit of sin, and a weakened moral sense overall. This goes all the same for psychological conditions not dependant on any sin of the individual. We have to look at the entirety of God's action in a person, which includes nature as well as grace.


Those of you who want to drum out even the chaste SSA, should remember one Orthodox Catholicism's hero's John Henry Newman

But the last of the known monuments is of far greater interest, because it is a simple stone cross in the burial ground of the fathers of the Oratory of St Philip Neri on the Lickey Hills south of Birmingham. In the upper part is the name, still clearly legible, of the first of the two friends who were laid there together: Ambrose St John, who died on 24 May 1875. The friend whose remains were laid in his grave in 1890 was none other than John Henry Cardinal Newman.

Their burial in the same tomb was Newman’s emphatic wish. In a note written on 23 July 1876, the year following the death of Ambrose St John, he declared: "I wish, with all my heart, to be buried in Fr Ambrose St John’s grave - and I give this as my last, my imperative will."

Newman seems to have first met Ambrose St John in the spring of 1841. "From the first he loved me with an intensity of love, which was unaccountable", Newman later wrote. "As far as this world was concerned I was his first and last." After that first meeting in 1841, they would be received into the Catholic Church at almost the same time: St John on 2 October 1845, Newman only a week later on 9 October. Newman’s loss of countless Anglican friends as a result of his being received by Rome created an enduring bond between Newman and St John, which would never be broken. St John’s death devastated Newman; he called the loss the "greatest affliction I have had in my life". "I have ever thought no bereavement was equal to that of a husband’s or a wife’s", he wrote, "but I feel it difficult to believe that any can be greater, or any one’s sorrow greater, than mine."

If evidence were needed that the bond between them was an entirely spiritual one, Newman provided it in the days following St John’s death, recounting a conversation between them before St John lost his speech in those final days. He "expressed his hope", Newman wrote, "that during his whole priestly life he had not committed one mortal sin." For men of their time and culture that statement is definitive: but they were not afraid to touch and draw close. Remembering their last moments together, Newman wrote: "Then he put his arm tenderly round my neck, and drew me close to him, and so kept me a considerable time." "I little dreamed", he later wrote, "he meant to say that he was going." "When I rose to go. . . it was our parting." Their love was no less intense for being spiritual; perhaps more so.

Newman’s burial with Ambrose St John cannot be detached from his understanding of the place of friendship in Christian belief or its long history. In a letter that Pope John Paul II sent to Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham in January 2001 to mark the second centenary of Newman’s birth, Pope John Paul asked for prayers that the time could soon come when the Church "can officially and publicly proclaim the exemplary holiness of Cardinal John Henry Newman". It is likely that his relics will then be brought into the Oratory Church in Birmingham to lie by the altar, and the inheritors of Newman’s faith should not separate them now from his final gesture. That gesture was Newman’s last, imperative command: his last wish as a man, but also something more. It was his last sermon.

Is that off-putting? Probably. Would you want him around your teen boys? Who knows? But there he is - Venerable John Newman, with his intense friendship with another man that would probably make most heterosexual men today extremely uncomfortable.

Sean Gallagher

...should the man who struggles with same-sex attraction and seeks to live chastely, who buys the whole package of Catholic moral teaching, be put into that category? Absolutely not. ...

One thing that I would add here is the suggestion that such men may need a bit more active support from his formators in his human and spiritual formation than the average seminarian.

Given the pressure both within the prevailing culture at large and within the homosexual subculture in particular for those with SSAs to conform to what Amy has described as the "political gay position" and to the lifestyle it defends, such men who have SSAs but who also desire to live as the Church asks them to need extra help throughout their formation and afterwards.

Otherwise, the temptation to turn away from the earlier desires to be with the Church on this issue could be very easy to give in to.


I think Colleen has hit on one of the problems with the "faithful and celibate exception." Would you really trust him with your sons? Do they trust him?

On the other hand, if he's faithful and celibate and heterosexual, would you really trust him with your daughters?

Certainly not. But we've always known that. Priests have historically had little access to female children because parents have been realistic. My 15 year old daughter does not spend unsupervised time with an adult male, I don't care who he is. We're just beginning to realize that sons aren't necessarily safe either.


I am not sure what to think anymore. I think it is a good idea for a seminary vistiation. There was one in the 80's but I am not sure what came out of that. I see this as a response to the sex abuse scandal and now the bishops are going after everyone but themselves. The priests got the short end of the stick with the zero tolerance and all. Now they are supposedly going to get rid of the gays in the seminaries. Maybe we should be getting rid of bishops like Law, Mahony, Imesch, Hubbard, O'Brien, Egan. I think this whole thing could easily backfire on the Church. I can see the MSM having a field day with this and start to out gay priests. It could be a real mess.

John L

Shouldn't something be done, in the form of theological and spiritual formation, for the priests, heterosexual or homosexual, who had a rotten seminary formation in the 70s and 80s and 90s? This seems to be owed to them as well as to their parishioners.


Is the whole "women and gay men get along so well" thing a healthy relationship?

Excuse me? My friendships with certain gay men are by definition unhealthy? And that woould be why again?

Sator Arepo

There was such confusion, and it wasn't just simple licentiousness or (as the meme goes) being told that celibacy wasn't going to be mandatory for very long anyway (I don't know if that was really articulated after JPII's election..I doubt it).

That meme was still being used as late as 1985 -- to a group of men on their pre-diaconate retreat at TC. Some of the faculty from that era are still saying it, albeit more circumspectly. Look at all the foofraw before Benedict's election: "He'll have to make celibacy optional now, he'll just HAVE to!"


(Sorry for the frequent typos. I broke my arm, and hence only have one typing hand. Grrr!)


Mark, if your point is that intense love is somehow tied to sexual attraction, save it. I remember Augustine writing of the unbearable sorrow of losing a friend. And he was clearly on the hetero end.






it's unhealthy because they are unhealthy. And very often, it is exactly what is wrong with those men that becomes the point of friendship. It's like hitting happy hour with an alcoholic.

Sator Arepo

Rats! Nancy has sussed me out!

B Knotts


OK...I understand what you're saying, and such men should indeed be excluded.

I do think there has been a tendency among formation directors to select out normal men who display traditional piety.

And, I know from first-hand accounts that even now, seminarians in some dioceses must "run the gauntlet" theologically speaking, being beaten down day after day with heterodox material.

kenjiro shoda

The breakdown of USA seminaries and other countries began immediatly after Vatican II (no surprise there).
The breakdown of spiritual life in the seminaries began with the discarding of the Tridentine Latin Mass and all the religious disiplines (monastic and otherwise) which had been traditions in the Catholic Church for almost 1,000 years. (Again, no surprise there).
The breakdown of seminary admission standards, and the welcoming of gays into the seminary and priesthood was begun immediatly after Vatican II (no surprise).
The transformation of the American priesthood in large measure into a club controlled by gays/gay supporters began immediatly after Vatican II, under the leadership of the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, and a large clique of like minded liberal/dissident/pro-homosexual priests,priest seminary administrators, Catholic newspaper editors, and diosecean Bishops (most of which are now like Bernardin either deceased or retired). (No surprise there either).
The new Vatican sponsored seminary investigation of all 229 seminaries in the USA will more than likely produce little or no change, and be a cover-up/whitewash like the 1980 investigation was. (No surprise there either).
If Pope Benedict XVI takes His job seriously, He will scrutinize the final reports from the investigation very seriously to see that it was not a whitewash. If He doesn't get much involved (Like John Paul II didn't), then nothing will improve.
Sadly, no surprise there.


We are a hierarchial church, and folks at the top set the example. What about that 40 year
'special friendship' between JPII and his secretary?

It's shameful arrogance to model something beginners to the religious life are cautioned to avoid.

The appearance of impropriety, as well as impropriety, must be avoided.

B Knotts

Also, this issue is a difficult one, but I think one must ask if it is really fair to someone suffering with homosexuality to place them in a situation where they will be in close quarters with other men? And is it fair to the other men?



As far as I've heard, the inability to form close relationships with men is not and never has been something to look for in candidates for the priesthood. If that is being considered a sign of homosexuality so as to exclude men from ordination, it would be one of the strangest things I ever heard of.

There is love and intimacy outside of sexual attraction. The inability to see this shows a moral blindness.

B Knotts


I misunderstood what Amy was saying, OK?

Anon-Proto Seminarian

Philip: Mark's mention of the Venerable Newman didn't seem to be about sexual attraction at all. He said that this kind of expression of intimacy would make [modern, Western] heterosexual men uncomfortable, and, it seems to me, such displays of affection would tend to be interpreted as a sign of homosexual attraction. I didn' see his point being at all that intense love is tied to sexual attraction; rather, that in today's Western culture, such love expressed between men tends to be interepreted as that. Do you think that in such a culture a David expressing his love for Jonathan by kissing him would not make heterosexual men uncomfortable in the least? Cultures have different ways of dealing with male-male affection/love/bonding. Ours tends to be very suspicious of lurking homosexuality in such relationships.

Nor do I think it is entirely correct to equate homosexuality/SSA with effeminacy (as some have on here). They often overlap, but definitely not all the time.

As to your later remark in response to Nancy: I would presume that you feel that homosexual men are themselves unhealthy, because they are homosexual/have SSA? (As also implied by your previous question as to whether homosexuality is a psychological illness). Obviously, many, including faithful Catholics, disagree that this is always a sign of mental illness, though a lot of issues surrounding SSA can lead to a variety of issues (pace the Catholic Medical Association).


kenjiro, Do you accept Vatican II?

James Kabala

I find it difficult to believe that a seminary should refuse admission to anyone who can truthfully say that he is a virgin, even if struggles with SSA. This would be especially true if he has lived in all-male environments before. If our hypothetical candidate went to a strict Catholic college where all the dorms are single-sex, yet in four years of living exclusively with men (and perhaps even with male roommates), he kept his chastity, hasn't he proved himself up to the challenge?
I think men and women should be judged by the sins they commit, not the temptations they face. I know there have to be limits to this; if a potential seminarian said he had the frequent temptation to commit murder or rape, "He hasn't actually done it" wouldn't be much of an excuse to let him into the seminary. On the whole, however, this is my position.


And the gravamen of Sully's particular criticism is that a ban based on orientation rather than proven behavior contradicts the Church's supposed pastoral theology, thus casting doubt on its tenability or even bona fides.


Don / Darwin

In close quarters with other men?! What like fathers and brothers etc? Come on, homosexuals aren’t created in some Kinseian test tube and shipped over from the planet Homotron and exposed to the sight of men for the first time. I’m not sure how it would be harder to live a chase life for a same-sex attracted man in an all male environment…especially if it’s one with some oversight and discipline than it would be living in the culture of the day with a 50-50 sex ratio. According to the Courage model, healthy heterosexual male bonding is ESSENTIAL for same-sex attracted men.

Colleen / Philip

You’re right that middle and high school boys will find a barrier relating to a femme priest, but the truth is that a SSA man is as likely to be excessively butch as he is to be excessively femme as he is to relentlessly “normal” in manner. Let’s not perpetuate misunderstanding here.

That said, a man (any man) who struggles with chastity had better make that his spiritual priority rather than entering a seminary or monastery. I guess this is where discernment and judgment come into the picture instead of one size fits all (and still easily circumvented) policies.

Rich Leonardi

What about that 40 year 'special friendship' between JPII and his secretary?

This is the kind of stuff that makes cautious but charitable people run for the hills. Once there is broad, yet imprecise acceptance that someone with a controlled SSA is a suitable seminarian, suddenly everyone from the Holy Father to Charles Nelson Riley to Scoop Jackson to St. Paul is homosexual. (O.K., Charles Nelson Riley is/was probably homosexual.) Is this speculation really necessary?


Nancy, do you accept Humanae Vitae, Casti Connubii, and Cantate Domino ?


We are a hierarchial church, and folks at the top set the example. What about that 40 year 'special friendship' between JPII and his secretary?

It's shameful arrogance to model something beginners to the religious life are cautioned to avoid.

The appearance of impropriety, as well as impropriety, must be avoided.

What exactly would constitute propriety? Are you also shocked by Benedict XVI's decades long friendship with Ingrid Stampa? Are you shocked that before Ingrid became Benedict's housekeeper, soundingboard and confidant his sister was?

In re the extremely close male/male friendship such as Newman's described above: These are hardly without precident in western culture. Indeed, modern America is strange in that such friendships _aren't_ often found outside of a sexual context. The modern American male (counting myself in this) doesn't tend to have any close friendships period, except perhaps his wife.


Gosh, I donno Philip. Your argument seems to be:

1. homosexual men, since they are attracted to other men rather than to women, are per se "unhealthy."

2. Therefore friendships with women, to whom they are not sexually attracted, it is "exactly what is wrong with those men that becomes the point of friendship." (HUH?? This means what? That any relationship between a man and a woman which isn't based on sexual attraction is unhealthy? And this means what for friendships between heterosexual women??)

I must admit that you lost me there.





chester, I'm hoping that you aren't suggesting that there is any irreconcilable conflict between Cantate Domino and Lumen Gentium.

Christopher Fotos

Should be similar to what they have for seminarians, with credit for proven self-control. Active homosexual, you're history. ... Been a priest for 10 or 20 celibate years and struggled with it spiritually sometimes? They've already proven they can handle the 'trial'.

Sounds good to me, but doesn't necessarily sound like what the Church has in mind:

Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien, head of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services. Archbishop O'Brien, who is coordinating the visits to more than 220 U.S. seminaries and houses of formation, said even homosexuals who have been celibate for 10 or more years should not be admitted to seminaries. "The Holy See should be coming out with a document about this," Archbishop O'Brien said in an interview with the National Catholic Register newspaper

And B Knotts: Please accept my apologies for being snippy.


In close quarters with other men?! What like fathers and brothers etc? Come on, homosexuals aren’t created in some Kinseian test tube and shipped over from the planet Homotron and exposed to the sight of men for the first time.

Well, I'm saying that would be the argument. I don't think that there should be a ban on SSA men in the seminary, actually. What I would hope the Vatican would have the subltely to do if they issue a guiding document is to draw a distinction between temptation and identification/action. Essentially saying that there's difference between someone who struggles chastely with SSA and someone who identifies with the gay movement, even if he is currently chaste, and that yet again is different from someone who has repeatedly acted upon his temptations.

Just as, to use the same example I originally did, I don't think someone who needs a good drink after a stressful day should be banned from the priesthood just because it's a problem if a priest becomes an out-and-out alcoholic.

However (and I think this is the danger when we're talking about the American hierarchy as a group) there's the danger that instead of taking a disciplinary approach and trying hard to weed out people who are not successfully living a chaste life (whatever their temptations are) while in seminary or who are having an unusually hard hard living a chaste lift -- they may instead try to implement or ask for some ruling while will allow them to show the flag by filtering out a large group of people from the process in the beginning and then continue to exercise no discipline with people who have already entered the process.

Different people deal with temptation differently. I raised a lot of eyebrows my senior year at a very conservative college by leasing a house and bringing in a coed group of house mates, including my fiance. Now, I actually found that living situation less of an occasion of sin than single sex dorm life, because it elliminated the "it's visiting hours, what should we do" atmosphere. My fiance and I found it easier to wait chastely till marriage that way. However, a number of my male friends insisted that they could never have lived in a situation like that because it would have been too much of a temptation. Different things tempt different people.



Is anyone familiar with " Diocesan Seminary in the U. S.: A History fron the 1780s to the Present," by Joseph M. White, ND Press, 1989? It is out of print.

From what I can tell, he outlines five basic periods of diocesan seminary:

Trent to 1780's: the development of the diocesan seminary system in Europe;
1780's to 1884: "missionary" period trying to quickly crank out local priests for immigrant communities
1884 to 1910: "Americanist" period, trying to accommodate and integrate into American (largely Protestant) culture, thought and institutions
1910 to 1964: "Roman period" with increasing control of the Vatican over all aspects of American Cahtolic life, including seminaries (source of the "powder kegs" that Amy mentioned"); this is where most of our current bishops received their formation
1964 to present: "Vatican II period," with much adrift and everything very, very open.

Perhaps it is time to once again re-invent the American diocesan seminary. But I think that rather than just focusing on "who is a suitable candidate," much more thought should be directed to the question, "What do we want from our diocesan priests over the next 50 years?"

Do we want social and psychological counselors?
Do we want sacramental minister?
Do we want administrators and businessmen?
Do we want Bible scholars?
Do we want men of deep Christian spirituality?
Do we want teachers of the Catholic faith?
Do we want communicators and mediators who can bring communities together?
Do we want ambassadors to other religions?
Do we want social activists?
Do we want men who can live alone in a rectory, comfortable with solitude, running a large parish single-handed?
Do we want men who thrive on community and socializing with parishioners?
Do we want political activists, working to mold society?
Do we want priests who can meet all of our needs, but never intrude on our personal lives?

What do we want?


Maybe I'm not getting a grip here?

Does Archbishop O'Brien's argument add up to the idea that a man tempted to homosexual misbehavior is more likely to offend sexually than a man tempted to heterosexual misbehavior? And if so, is there evidence for this? Surely not the numerous children engendered by priests!

Or, is it that a heterosexual sin, perhaps bringing an innocent third party into the situation, is less grave, maybe OK even, than homosexual sin? That molesting my daughter is better than molesting my son?


Zhou makes an excellent point. Our expectations of our priests are huge, and perhaps impossible.

We should take more responsibility ourselves maybe? Or, at a minimum, be clear about what we want?



with all due respect, I believe the quote from Newman was preceded by a comparison to SSA. Therefore, what you say Mark was pointing out, different cultures, I say he was being ignorant of. As for the illness bit, perhaps many do disagree with this view.

I didn't mean to equate homosexuality with a sort of feminine manner. I just imagine the acceptance of ssa inclined men into the priesthood to end up like a comedy skit.
-Are they innocent?
-Would you want to be alone with your sons? -Hell no! What are you, crazy?


Philip, don't imagine that I haven't noticed that you've ducked my questions.

I will draw the expected conclusions.

bruce cole

Rich: Scoop Jackson was gay? I thought that before his (admittedly late) marriage he was was one the big US Senate "stickmen" like George Smathers and JFK and "Sperm" Thurmond and Estes Kefauver. Clarification, please, for this (happily) displaced Pacific Nortwesterner...Funny being reminded about Charles Nelson Riley, too.

Chris Burd

I've heard it suggested that quasi-romantic friendships between heterosexual men were more possible before homosexuality became such a strong cultural theme (i.e., sometime after 1890). In Tolkien (born 1893), you have Frodo and Sam kissing each other and sleeping in each other's arms, but this doesn't reflect an underlying homoerotic theme: rather, it's made possible by the *absence* of an underlying homoerotic theme. (Also, of course, a reflection of Tolkien's experiences on the Western Front, where quasi-romantic relationship were driven not (so much) by sexual desire as by the elemental fact of death.)

However, if you want an example of a good priest who apparently struggled with a homosexual orientation, a lot of people would point to Gerard Manley Hopkins.

B Knotts

Please accept my apologies for being snippy.


No problem. Some might have thought my initial comment snippy, although it was not intended in that way.


"You’re right that middle and high school boys will find a barrier relating to a femme priest, but the truth is that a SSA man is as likely to be excessively butch as he is to be excessively femme as he is to relentlessly “normal” in manner. Let’s not perpetuate misunderstanding here."

I dunno about 'as likely to be excessively butch as he is to be excessively femme as he is to relentlessly “normal” in manner' - I guess there's probably no official scientific studies around but I disagree with your assessment. You can generally tell if someone is ssa or not although sometimes the 'metrosexuals' throw the gaydar off. ;-)

Rich Leonardi

Scoop Jackson was gay?

No, no, no! That's my point -- that some use any crack in the door on this subject to suggest that countless heroes weren't what they seemed.

Boniface McInnes


I must admit I am bothered to no end by your implications, but certainly not by the quotes themselves.

For background, I am a heterosexual bachelor who enjoyed his heterosexual bachelorism to the hilt throughout my adulthood (that is to say I have committed numerous and egregious sins of the flesh in my time, of which I am most heartily ashamed), until returning to Holy Mother Church some years ago.

But the only person outside of my own flesh and blood I have ever loved, with an intensity and passion approaching Newman and St. Ambrose, is another man, and that affection and love has been very much reciprocated, even as he raised 4 children and buried a loving and devoted wife. We are inseperable, especially since I became chaste and he became a widower, and known throughout our little midwestern town as inseperable. And no one here thinks it queer that we are.

So no, I don't find your story about Newman off-putting, but very much inspiring. Inspiring in a way that small minds caught up in an oversexualised culture could never appreciate.

David Kubiak

Truth to tell I'd rather have a robust well-controlled gay-leaning priest than a simpering hetero-leaning one. But my emphasis is on the "leaning". Much as I see the value in what the Vatican is trying to do human sexuality is so infinitely complicated that once you get past drag queens marching in gay pride parades I cannot imagine how you would begin to define the parameters of sexual attraction as related to seminary admittance in any consistent way. At the very least there is the fact that virtuous aspirants will consider lying a sin if asked about these things, and the not so virtuous won't. The Holy Ghost is going to have to solve this problem, since I think it is beyond human efforts.

bruce cole

Rich: Thanks, it would have seriously revised a lot of childhood political memories. (And remember, the senior senator from Washington's nickname was "Maggie").


Nancy I mistimed my post.

No ducking, love.

You got part 1 right. The follow through is this. It is impossible for someone with an unhealthy psyche to have a healthy friendship.

Also, I nowhere said that men and women can only get along through sexual attraction. Nonetheless, I don't see how friendship between gay men and women (particularly close ones) can avoid exacerbating the problem. A man's relation with a woman is tinged by sex roles, even within a family. Gay men and women generally use each other in their friendships. For the men, they either try to identify with the woman or ease one of the worse consequences of gay life - no truly strong relationship with a woman. As for the women, they are just on a power trip.


Someone asks, "a man tempted to homosexual misbehavior is more likely to offend sexually than a man tempted to heterosexual misbehavior?" Although generalization by nature can be disproven, I'' sugggest that homosexual priests are far more likely to give in to their temptations than their hetero counterparts.

It is a tough situation, but the last thing the Church needs right now are more priests with big sexual issues. And among the first things it needs in relation to seminary formation is a whole lot of good, healthy teaching on sexuality and celibacy.


"I agree that those who embrace a "gay" identity as defined by American culture should not be admitted to seminary, because most of the time, that self-definition is formed more by American culture than by Church teaching."

Everyone overlooks the dilemna of *parishioners* who are living with the same challenges and who constantly are faced with priests who are not equal to the challenge. These priests let you know they think you are foolish, childish and backward for eschewing the "lifestyle" in every way and look down on you. Imagine how you might feel when the model of Catholic life is such an obvious and defiant failure at it. I went to a pentitential rite and looked at the sorry assemblage waiting to hear our confessions and give us spiritaul guidance: the ones who hadn't swished down the aisle to assume a prissy superior attitude were sitting there looking like presently sober drunks with beer guts and bored visages. If the Church is serious about a Catholic moral life, the priests - and paid parish staff - must model it. Is this too much to expect?


"At the very least there is the fact that virtuous aspirants will consider lying a sin if asked about these things, and the not so virtuous won't."

Bingo. Add to that the fact that there are any number of men deeply, deeply clueless about themselves (in denial, if you prefer) -- without being overly sexist, it would seem men are culturally encouraged to be clueless, or least not terribly curious about their internal psychein many respects for much of their maturing process -- and no amount of testing and labelling is going to force them to self-identify. Women who've been frustrated by such men may be able to add describers to this pattern ad nauseam....

All in all, the proposed approach strikes me as very naive in its preference for categories over subtance, and as a result I think it will end up producing results that were far from intended. As they say, be careful what you pray for, you may get it.


Colleen, you’re right, I have no scientific evidence…just over a decade of empirical observation in the heart of the beast. Butch is the new black…subverting stereotypes and all.

RTC, I think I know what you mean. The former pastor of my parish (a “regular man” type) frequently (subtly) tried to talk me out of my sins in the confessional…especially any sexual ones. Now he’s chaplain of a prestigious Catholic boy’s high school.

Loudon is a Fool

Right on, Amy. Everybody has their cross to bear. And it's just down-right silly to try to drawn distinctions between sinful desires. Some struggle with pride, some struggle with committing acts sodomitical on members of the parish youth group, and some struggle with killing and eating hitchhikers. It's all good.

David B


"That's my point -- that some use any crack in the door on this subject to suggest that countless heroes weren't what they seemed."

Charles Nelson Riley was a hero? ;-)


"Butch is the new black…subverting stereotypes and all."

Maybe it's different around where I live (Massachusetts) and among those in my at-large community as I don't see that at all.

But your statement is problematic in that it would seem then that the adoption of a counter personality/demeanor for social acceptance is easily achieved? That would be being dishonest with not only the individual adopting a false persona, but it would also be dishonest with the theoretical (for this thread) seminary admissions office. I don't know if you can trust a person who subverts his own personality for entrance or gain.



I enjoyed reading this post. The subject of marriage and folks "dropping out" to marry is one close to me; my mom was a dropout.

One thing I can also attest to is that the 70s dropouts (a) didn't seem to have particularly good formation and (b) once they dropped out they were shunned by the church - persone non grate. All of my mom's friends - men and women - who dropped out are either non-Catholic now or CINO liberals.

So I think the matter of formation is much older than a 40 year old culture shift. Maybe we can take a page or two from St. Charles Borromeo?



Adoption of a counterpersonality/demeanor for social acceptance (or less gracious purpose) is a way of life for many people. It's not that hard, and people are more easily fooled than they think (especially those who think they are not easy marks).


The bottom line is simple. ALL preists struggle with sexual attractions, gay or straight. For all, the goal is to overcome them and remain celibate.

The church should spend more time policing its ranks for those that break these rules, and especially those that break or cover up crimes. That's a standard. Singling out gay priests that do not practice and do not WANT to practice gay sex is just wrong.

Tim Ferguson

I've found it to be dangerous ground to enter into a thread dominated (20% of the posts thus far!) by one particular person, but it is a good discussion.
I think mcmlxix makes a great point at 12:16:48 PM, in that a ready-made, one size fits all policy is less likely to be effective than solid discernment and good judgement grounded in the principles of the faith and our Catholic understanding of sexuality. I also think that Zhou is right in stating that we need, more than a simple fixit, an overhauling of the whole seminary system (though I would word Zhou's questions more along the line of "what does Christ want" than "what do we want", but I understand the thrust and meaning behind what Zhou's asking).
Perhaps, to accomplish both these things, and to assist our bishops to lead lives of greater humility, we should work towards returning to an earlier model of priestly formation, (very much in line with what Vatican II taught as well) and have potential priests live in the same household as their bishop, rather then sending them away to seminaries. There, under the bishop's watchful eyes, they could develop an understanding for him as their spiritual father - not just some far-off CEO they get to see once or twice a year. Their educational formation would be accomplished more informally (the younger ones could work on their college degrees at local colleges - I can't think of a diocesan seat without a college in it) by either using priests/religious/lay theologians in the diocese, or, for those more rural dioceses, long-distance education. Even watching videotapes produced by EWTN of noted theologians would suffice. A priest no longer needs to be the most educated man in the village (although many priests still think they are) to be an effective pastor.
The closer supervision by the bishop would make the bishop more responsible for their moral character as well. If the bishop doesn't want to live with Mr. X because he's nuts or flaming or rigid or deviant, why should he inflict Fr. X on a parish?
Granted, not many of our bishops would cotton to such an idea, and some of our bishops would probably be very poor formators. I think the long-term result would be more wholistically trained priests.

And just one thing Nancy, I don't think Archbishop O'Brien's statement says anything about homosexuals being more likely to offend than heterosexuals (even though that seems to be the case). You're constructing a straw man by pointing to "those inclined to homosexual misbehavior" and "those inclined to heterosexual misbehavior". The fact is, those with same-sex tendencies are "inclined toward misbehavior," since homosexuality is a disordered inclination (there's no such thing as healthy, moral homosexual activity). Not all those heterosexually inclined are inclined toward misbehavior.

Chris Sullivan

Thanks Amy for that very balanced original post.

I think it would be a disaster to blanket ban men with homosexual orientations from the priesthood, although those who reject Church teaching and reject chastity have already ruled themselves out of the priesthood.

I can't think of any surer way to torpedo our campaign against Gay Marriage than banning people from the priesthood merely because of an orientation.

The Church needs this crazy idea like we need a hole in the head.

God Bless


"If the Church is serious about a Catholic moral life, the priests - and paid parish staff - must model it. Is this too much to expect?"
This is vital, whether your struggle is with greed, womanizing, pornography, contraceptives, cutting corners in business, ignoring your family, etc. We turn to daily Mass, devotions to saints, the rosary, sacred readings to help us through (and it can help) but we are discouraged and demoralized when we see priests who should be leading the way - and who have all these holy methods at their disposal - openly choosing sin. Their attitude says "not only are you a jerk for coming to 'Holy Hour' but I know there is no God who is going to help you. Just give in." We need priests who lead the Rosary, who show up at devotions, who lead processions, who give out medals and holy cards, who make full use of all the ancient means at the disposal of the Church to lead us towards sanctity. That is, priests who deeply believe and/or accept everything in the Catechism.

Nguoi Dang Chay

>>Sounds good to me, but doesn't necessarily sound like what the Church has in mind: -- Christopher Fotos

That is where I would differentiate between those who are ALREADY priests (if they've shown they can be a priest and resist temptation, I wouldn't kick them out) and those who are under consideration for the priesthood (even if they've been celibate, they should not be considered.)

Even though the situations are similar in some respects, it's a much harsher consequence would to boot an active priest than to deny a seminary application.

My insight in such matters is neither God-like, infallible, or Solomonic, but that seems to me a just and reasonable approach to take.


Geoff: I agree with you 100% but I'd say that aside of providing the structure to support all priests in remaining true to their vows (celibacy/chastity) there must be some criteria for determining whether the priest is a 'lone ranger' or a 'team player' regarding the Magisterium. There are more than a few priests out there ssa and not who undermine the faith in all sorts of ways. Plus you have the ones who are very vocal doing that (priests here in Ma lobbying for same sex marriage, etc).

I'll also reiterate that a celibate and chaste priest who exhibits feminine qualities should probably not be assigned to be the chaplain of a high school or put on a seminary vocation squad. Common sense stuff.

All in all, I think fidelity to one's vows and to the Church they profess to believe in is more important than whether the guy is ssa or not, although maybe ssa guys might have a harder time staying celibate - I just don't know (going by evidence that is out there, active ssa's do seem to have many more sex partners than non ssa's - don't know why). I have yet to see a hetero 'Sebastian's Angels' thing, but who knows.


Let me say something shocking:

Seminaries are a Protestant idea, and Catholics adopted them after Trent as a way to "keep up" with the Protestants, and they have outlived their usefulness in Europe and America, often becoming places where young men "go to seed" rather than having "good seed sewn into them."

So there.

See, for example, Greig's very brief points on history of seminary education.

If you read Pope Paul VI's apostolic letter Summi Dei Verbum on seminaries from 1963, you will get a sense of how far we have strayed in the past 42 years.

I like Tim Ferguson's idea of formation of priests-to-be by living in community with their bishop, in their diocese, rather than off in a remote, isolated seminary.

In the Coptic Church, preists-to-be are ordained first and then formed by living in monasteries, again in community with their fellow preists and their people.


Andrew Sullivan has commented on Amy's remarks:

""INSANE": That's how Catholic conservative Amy Wellborn describes the apparent new policy of the Catholic church to ban even celibate homosexual priests committed to the magisterium. I should say that her characterization of me is off-base. I do indeed dissent from Humanae Vitae and do not believe that all sex should be procreative in intent or potential. But I'm not a priest; and I've never said or argued that gay priests shouldn't live by exactly the same standards as straight ones, i.e. celibacy; and I've never argued, for that matter, that my own beliefs about sexuality as a whole are compatible with the Church's (I am joined in that by the vast majority of contraceptive-using heterosexual Catholics). The issue of celibacy itself - for gay and straight priests alike - is a separate matter to be discussed on another occasion. But I'm heartened by Amy's view that the policy of "not-even-celibate-gays" is so extreme and so confused in its theology that it cannot be pursued. But we'll see. Where I differ from Wellborn is her support for banning priests who self-identify as gay, rather than those merely privately tormented by same-sex desire. I think part of the problem that led to the hideous "acting out" of some emotionally stunted priests has been exactly the deep gay self-hatred among some gay priests, inculcated by the Church. So let's be consistent here: If being gay is no sin, then there's no sin in being open about it. In fact, if the Church is serious about urging gay men and women to be celibate even in their lay lives, shouldn't celibate openly gay priests be key leaders of this effort? If more were open about both their sexual orientation and their commitment to celibacy, it seems to me it would be healthier for them and the church. And priests also emerge from the society they live in. The next generation will not grow up with the same prejudices about homosexuality that my generation did; and "gay culture," if it exists as such, will change into something far more complex as well. Self-identifying as gay in a generation's time will be no more dispositive about someone than saying you're Latino or black; it's a standard that won't last five years, let alone five decades. The church should concentrate on forbidding sexual abuse, not stigmatizing sexual orientation. It's an actual response to an actual problem - not scapegoating; and it's the Catholic thing to do."



One correction, Andy. It's Welborn, not Wellborn.

Nguoi Dang Chay

I don't care what Bareback Andy (is that the homo-nom du jour?) says.


I much prefer Amy's way of disagreeing with Mr. Sullivan to yours, Mr. Chay.

M.Z. Forrest

I think we are treating the priesthood as a profession. Asking whether a man can perform the duties is the wrong question. Asking if a man can be edifying to the Church puts it in its proper context. Certainly homosexual men can perform priestly duties; they have been for countless years. But, does a homosexual (active or otherwise) invigorate a parish? Trying to be fair, I do not believe so.

Very rarely have I heard men say they were afraid of what father would say if they found out they did this or that. The few I've heard say this end up describing very masculine priests. I think this is healthy for the Church. Before accusing me of stereotyping, there is a reason gay priests are identified with feminine qualities.

Nguoi Dang Chay

I was riffing off and dismissing Patrick Rothwell's post at 10:36, Davey.


Although generalization by nature can be disproven, I'' sugggest that homosexual priests are far more likely to give in to their temptations than their hetero co"unterparts."

Which suggestion is supported in Andrew Greeley's latest sociological book on the priesthood. His surveys of priests revealed that priests who identified themselves as homosexual in orientation were more likely to have difficulties with chastity; however, he also rejects any Vatican ban on homosexual priests.


In case you wonder how this is being played in the gay press, here is a sample:

Vatican Hunts Down Gay Priest Subjects

VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican has sent investigators to check for homosexuals at seminaries in the United States. According to a Vatican document, special investigators have been instructed to review each of the 229 Roman Catholic seminaries in the U.S. for "evidence of homosexuality."

The agents also are to look for faculty members who dissent from church teaching, The New York Times said Thursday.

The Vatican document spelling out the investigative mission surfaced at a time when Pope Benedict XVI has spoken of the need to "purify" the church. Catholics are currently waiting for a ruling from the Vatican on whether homosexuals should be totally barred from the priesthood.

Edwin O'Brien, archbishop for the U.S. military who is supervising the review, told The National Catholic Register last week that "anyone who has engaged in homosexual activity or has strong homosexual inclinations" should not be admitted to a seminary.

Rev. Thomas J. Reese, who was pressured to resign as editor of the Jesuit magazine America by the Vatican, told The New York Times that with the shortage of priests, the church can hardly afford to dismiss gay seminarians.

"You could have somebody who's been in the seminary for five or six years and is planning to be ordained and the rector knows they're a homosexual," said Father Reese. "What are they going to do, throw them out?”

The issue of gay seminarians and priests has been in the spotlight after the many sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church in the recent years. Last year, a study commissioned by the church found that 80 percent of the young people victimized by priests were boys.

Bishops, hide your seminarians!


For the record, I want to clarify that I don't think anyone who is deep into "struggles" about anything should be admitted into seminary. Sure, people will grow and change and face crises their whole lives, but if a person's temptation to whatever is overwhelming and dominates their identity...they shouldn't be in seminary. They should be told to go work it out somewhere else, and then, in a few years, return, if you still think this is where it's at. That goes for heterosexual men, too. We've had this argument before on this blog, but I remain adament that if a man is truly torn and conflicted and filled with pain about having to sacrifice marriage and family life...that's a dominating motif that is incompatible with freely given service to the entire people of God and the witness that the figure of a priest is supposed to be.


Gay men and women generally use each other in their friendships. For the men, they either try to identify with the woman or ease one of the worse consequences of gay life - no truly strong relationship with a woman. As for the women, they are just on a power trip.

Well, that's certainly a cheery reflection. I'm interested to learn that I am "just on a power trip" with my gay priest friends.

Grow up and stop generalizing.


amen amy!


I think men with SSA have a lot on their plates to deal with, and in fairness to them, their struggles are of a unique and profound nature. Making condescending comparisons to the struggles of chaste heterosexuals misses the point.

SSA represents a psychological disorder that is present whether or not it is acted upon, and it is a disorder that is different from and not *necessarily* present in heterosexual attractions.

The Church will need to determine if a man struggling with SSA is a good bet for the priesthood. I don't know what the right answer is, but I'm confident the Church will make the right decision, whatever it turns out to be. But those of you who think the Church would be "insane" to consider banning men with SSA from entering the seminary I would suggest you not dig yourself in too deep when defending that position.

Kenjiro Shoda


I accept Vatican II only because for now unfortunatly we're stuck with it, and I never had the desire to become a schismatic even though I 100% support the agenda and views of the SSPX and Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

However, I find it unbelievable that a Pope (JP II), could be in office 26 1/2 years and do absolutely nothing to correct the disaster in the Church, and to go about as if everything is fine.
I heard it said that He was indeed "The Pope for all People".....that's nice and good and commendable and everyone applauds...but what did He do for the Church? Look around and the Church is in far worse shape than in 1978 when He was elected.
If we had had a Pope like a St. Pius X, or a Venerable Pope Pius XII, I doubt that the wreck that the Church is in now would have been allowed to continue.

I very reluctantly accept the Church as it is today because I don't want to be a schismatic. I do not accept alot of Vatican II's teaching in that I see the damage it caused and in that it was not a DOGMATIC council so the Faithful are not bound to accept everything that came from the Council.
I accept Vatican II as a disasterous historical fact in the life of the Church...but that's about all I accept of it.


Thanks for the smart reflection, Amy. A few issues, if I may.

Not to bring up the obvious point, but why on earth should seminarians attracted to men have to "struggle" with this? Hate to break it to you, but same-sex attraction does not equal a political stance, and assuming that it does is discrimination, plain and simple.

If the Church rules are that chastity should be enforced, that's fine, but focussing on a gay witch-hunt is just another example of the Vatican's inability to deal directly with this issue. That is, a celibate homosexual is no less able to celebrate the sacrament than a celibate heterosexual. Thusly, I'm not sure what the point is than of trying to ferret out the gays. How about trying to weed out child molesters instead?

Thanks for the "Daughters of Trent" reference, wasn't familiar with that one -- let's just say I know a priest or two who would fall far too easily into that category.


I was at TC from the 1987 through 1989 school years, which was around the time of the last visitation. I attest to the prevalence of homosexuality among the seminarians and the coddling of same by the TC faculty, and that the environment was conducive to orthodox men hiding their orthodoxy to try to make it through. Touched me and my friends there substantially, some of whom gave up or were drummed out. I remember us hoping that the visitation would expose the problems and lead to changes, but they seem to have done so only marginally, because it does not seeem they were aggressive or direct enough in confronting both heterodoxy and homosexuality, the twin heads of the serpent.

I am cheering like crazy for Pope Benedict's visitation to accomplish what has not been accomplished so far. I have high hopes, which I fear may be frustrated by those who implement the visitation and those who would see it be again ineffectual.

Amy's position sounds eminently reasonable and balanced, but I find myself sympathetic to those who would ban even those who are chaste men with same sex attractions, based on their being exposed to temptation and the fact that SSA is a psychological disorder that perhaps should exclude them from ordained ministry. My own experience colors my sympathies, I'm sure. I like to think that Pope John XXIII had it right when he said that homosexuals should be excluded from priesthood back in 1961 or so--don't have the link handy.

The priesthood needs more manly men, yes, but more so it needs godly men. I'm thinking it's a good idea to restrict the priesthood to the cream of virtuous men, and that such restriction should exclude a man with as serious a personality/psychological disorder as same sex attraction manifests.


IIRC, the 1961 instruction came from the congregation for religious and was limited to formation of priests in religious orders, presumably because of heightened concern for the many orders where religious take vows of stability and thus will be confined with others for the rest of their lives, so particular friendships become even more of a risk.

In any event, the canonical status of that instruction has been subject of sufficient question and debate that it has not been treated by the Vatican as clearly binding over these many years, else it could have readily said so, among many other things.


"I'm thinking it's a good idea to restrict the priesthood to the cream of virtuous men,"

Yeah, tell the girly men to hit the road. We only want the best and the brightest. But that's also a big problem as Amy pointed out. How many top notch virtuous men want to live as celibates. This is such a small subgroup of a small subgroup. Just think: Men who are manly AND holy AND willing to give up sex in this culture. And don't forget, Catholic.

I agree with the gay ban, but there's lots of trouble ahead.

Christopher Fotos

Nguoi Dang Chay, I don't think your view makes sense. If it has already been proven by SSA priests that they can control temptation and be faithful to celibacy, what sense does it make to ban others from achieving the same goal? Or do I misunderstand you?

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