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November 29, 2005

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» Discernment of Vocations from inedibleink.com
The long awaited Instruction Document has been released (pdf here at USCCB). Its been discussed very competently at open book (twice) and its been the subject of a well done article at The Cornell Society for a Good Time. So I won’... [Read More]

Comments

Patti

I think upwards of 75 percent of self-described Catholics have problems with the Church's teaching on sexuality, with that number creeping higher every day as the older generation leaves us. I think that majority is wrong, but it makes it that much more difficult to deal with this issue.

CV

In our culture today it's hypocrisy that's often cited as one of the worst "sins" someone can be guilty of.

Why is that so rarely brought up when it comes to this issue? It's not too much to expect that a man who professes vows to uphold the teachings of the Catholic church on sexuality and everything else actually do so. It's about being who you say you are.

Why aren't "openly gay" priests who fail to do this considered hypocrites of the highest order?

al

I think this has to be a learning moment, not only for those overt dissenters on the issue, but also for those who have substituted their own "nuanced" understanding of the issue for the Church's.

First of all, what this Document betokens, as Amy rightly observes, is the consistency of the of the Church's teaching on the matter. As the footnotes indicate (in particular, Footnote 10, the CDW notice of 2002) the Church has been teaching the same thing in and out of season on this issue.

And that teaching is that the Objective Disorder is not some accident of prediliction, but is a "situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women."

It is one that hinders from a "relating" to men and women as "affective[ly] matur[e]" "Such maturity will allow him to relate correctly to both men and women, developing in him a true sense of spiritual fatherhood towards the Church community that will be entrusted to him."

In fact, this relationship is one that "configures the candidate to Jesus Christ in a new and specific way: the priest, in fact, sacramentally represents Christ, the head, shepherd and spouse of the Church." Thus the priest is instancing or standing in for the Bridegroom, and this is the standard for Maturity, and Masculinity that is required.

And homosexuality, as an "affective" "immaturity", depending upon its level of representation in the subject, is more or less directly opposed to this role. As would another pathology, such as sociopathy, stand against the "authentic pastoral charity" which would configure the life of the priest.

Henry Dieterich

If the document said, "Sacred Scripture tells us that drunkenness is a serious sin, and therefore someone who is an active alcoholic should not be admitted to seminary, and anyone who has been an alcoholic should give evidence of having overcome the problem at least three years before ordination to the diaconate," I don't think anyone would argue with it. Of course there are differences between alcoholism and homosexuality, but the point here is that someone who has a serious difficulty avoiding some habitual mortal sin should be at least discouraged from seeking the honor of the priesthood. This problem is, as our hostess points out, with those who simply reject the Church's teaching on sexuality.

The document very wisely focuses on the issue of maturity in dealing with sexuality. One who embraces a celibate vocation (indeed a married vocation) should be mature in his approach to sexuality, which in the case of the celibate is to say that it should not be an aspect of his life that directs his actions. This requires a fundamental conversion of heart, discipline, and above all the grace of God. But for one who is to be a custodian of the sacred Mysteries, a dispenser of the Word of God, a shepherd of souls, a guardian of consciences, it is absolutely essential. Not that he must not have struggled, but that he has come to a point of confidence in his victory. I once heard a priest whom I respect give a talk (to an audience exclusively of men--it would not have been appropriate in a mixed audience) about his struggle to overcome habitual masturbation, which he was able to do before he was ordained a priest. I would think that that problem as well could be considered a sign of a disqualification to the priestly life until it was overcome. But then I don't know of any active pro-masturbation movement, any more than there are movements to promote alcoholism or habitual drunkenness.

Fr Ephraem Chifley OP

The interesting bit of information is that the Filipine bishops have pledged themselves to implement this document..... Yeah!!!! That makes it alright then! Them and their twenty children. Do you red neck Americans not understand that this doco is just Latin Catholics poking fun at you?

al

Henry,
Note the document doesn't not talk about "sexual" maturity, but rather "affective" maturity.

This is a more encompassing concept then merely sexuality considered in abstraction. True, they are intrinisically related, but the document is not dealing with the sexual issue in abstraction (thereby rendering Saletan's analysis all the more invalid), but in the context of the requisite maturity as related to the role itself--in particular as instancing, or re-presenting "fatherhood"

Richard

Hello Amy,

Well said.

It's all about the teaching. Does the priest support it, preach it, teach it, live it?

If not, they're in the wrong place. This is a simple principle which you can apply to any minister on any issue in any church or denomination.

Saletan vastly overstates the development of Church teaching on this - and strangely assumes that refusing to admit openly identifying gays into the priesthood means giving up on hopes and efforts at their salvation.

Saletan's real problem is that he doesn't agree with the Church teaching from start to finish. He apparently would like nothing better than for the Church to adopt the ECUSA's position on homosexuality.

Minn-Ray

I don't know how many times I have to say this, but this document is nothing new. What the Church is trying to preserve is its social and financial health from violent attacks by child abusers and rapists.

Should the Church stand by and let them have their evil fun?

These sick, immature men (mostly) belong in a hospital or prison, not in a sanctuary!

And one finds it diffult to sympathize with the whiners who proclaim that they have been chaste so why can't they be a priest. Well, if they have been chaste, there is no issue. Are they planning on not being chaste and they want to preserve their pension? Or are they waiting to be assigned to a parish with lots of fatherless children to take care of?

Dubh

I think Patti and CV have hit the two major points on this debate. Combine them, and you have the root. How many parishoners and even those who are nominally Catholic, are having pre-marital sex? Lots. How many of them would think themselves hypocrites for denouncing gays/lesbians for having sex? Motes and beams. Sure gay sex is banned but so is extra-marital sex and "it's not like I'm hurting anyone so who am I to judge?"

I do not support this line of reasoning but I hear it quite often.

David

While Amy is right about the issue of Church teaching, it is not just because it is Church teaching that this issue is coming to a head right now. It is because homosexual attraction is a disorder and as we all know, or should, disorder left unresolved, leads to further disorder. The John Jay report showed this in that 80% of the sexual clerical perpetrators over the last 50 years or so were homosexuals engaging in ephebophilia. We have to be careful not to conflate sinful acts of priests succumbing to natural inclinations with sinful actions of priests succumbing to unnatural inclinations. This is a completely different situation and must be treated as such.

The document's emphasis on the priesthood as spiritual fatherhood should highlight the discordant situation of priests who are attracted to other men as unsuitable for the vocation of spiritual fatherhood. I suppose though the difficulty is that our culture has sold so many a bill of goods that their sexuality is their identity and so any statements to the affect that one's sexual attractions can be disordered is taken as an attack on one's very person. This mistaken notion of the human person must be corrected for those priests with same sex attraction to be able to embrace and teach the truths found in this document.

Henry Dieterich

Sorry, Al, I was trying not to be sloppy, but I guess I failed. You're right that the document says "affective" and you're right that that is the important thing. I was being a bit more narrow, focusing on the place of sexuality in the life of the celibate. But it is true that the whole affective life of a priest is important. A priest must not, for example, be prone to develop emotionally dependent relationships or require them of others; since at the same time it is essential for survival that priests have strong and supportive relationships with their brother priests, it is essential that they be free from a tendency to unhealthy attachments, both for their own sake and that of their brothers. It appears to be difficult, based on what one reads in both popular and academic writing, for modern persons to believe that there can be any strong personal relationship that is not sexual. The damage that this assumption has wrought in every area of life has been incalculable.

Drake Tungsten

A local (suburban Phoenix) homosexual priest has resigned from his post as a pastor, blaming this document, Pope Benedict and Bishop Olmsted. Reference: here and here.

thomas tucker

Well, if a priest can't support basic Church teaching, then he should go. Maybe someday he'll have a conversion of heart and mind.
As Amy said so memorably not too long ago, what's important is your spiritual orientation, not your sexual orientation. And the right spiritual orientation means living and breathing Christ's teaching as given through the Church, the "pillar of truth." Otherwise, you are simply the blind leading the blind.

Paul Pfaffenberger

David's statistics are not correct.

True that the report shows that 80% of the victims were male.

However ... 60% of all victims, male or female, were 13 or younger. That is the age range listed in the DSM IV as pedophilia.

40% of all minor victims were 14 - 17 years old.

Not to excuse or condone any of the illegal & immoral behavior researched in the study, just want to make sure the facts are presented accurately.

thomas tucker

It's interesting how the priest in that link said that the Church had always had "a position" against homosexuality.
A position? As opposed to a constant Church teaching handed down from Scripture and Sacred Tradition?

Dale Price

I'm not a particularly big fan of Bp. Skylstad, but I thought his statement was very solid.

Drake Tungsten

For the record and to avoid arguements about the reported facts, per the John Jay Report executive summary, the age breakdown of all accusers (male and female) was as follows:

0- 7, 6.0%
8-10, 16.0%
11-14, 50.9%
15-17, 27.3%

The same paragraph notes that over 40% of the victims were males between 11 and 14.

Michael

I still want to know what the instruction means by "deep-seated homosexual tendencies."

adifferentAmy

It is important to point out that for the majority of people in this culture, homosexuality is considered 'the third gender'.
This document does state that homosexuality is considered a disorder.
We refuse to call an unborn baby a fetus; we need to refuse to call a man with a SSA a homosexual.
There is no gene nor reputable study to support the American Psychiatricts back track on this. Why do we accept their terms?

Steve

hand-wringing.

Christopher Fotos

And that teaching is that the Objective Disorder is not some accident of prediliction, but is a "situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women."

Really? What I'm getting so far is that the teaching is the Objective Disorder actually is some accident of prediliction that gravely hinders one from relating correctly. That is interesting.

Separately, however, I'm wondering if the document does leave us where we've been all along, since as others have said, it all comes down to cases. (And since I'm in favor of ordaining properly disposed SSA priests, partly because the Church would be gutted absent the service of current SSA priests and bishops, that's fine with me).

I notice that the following from Bishop Skylstad has been passed over in this thread:

Since news of this document was first discussed in the media, the question has been asked whether a homosexually-inclined man can be a good priest. The answer lies in the lives of those men who, with God’s grace, have truly been dedicated priests, seeking each day not to be served but to serve their people, faithfully representing in word and example the teaching of the Church in its fullness, including God’s revelation that sexual expression is intended only to take place between a husband and a wife in a loving, faithful, and life-giving marriage.

I agree with Amy that something is amiss if a priest puts something other than the Gospel and Christ at the center of his identity. (So, Saletan, when you mock the rejection of "gay culture" with "whatever that is," that's what it is). And those who want to say the ground has shifted decisively against SSA ordinations can reasonably cite this document to the extent it conceives of SSA as a passing lark.

But if we're left with decisions about how deeply rooted a deeply rooted tendency is, and a statement by the bishop affirming that a homosexually inclined man can be a good priest... well, there you are.

Fortiterinre

"I'm not a particularly big fan of Bp. Skylstad, but I thought his statement was very solid." I agree, his statemet was a pleasant surprise that certainly is more explicit.

Craig Martin

The National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People issued “A Report on the Crisis in the Catholic Church in the United States” (February 27, 2004) as part of its mandate from the USCCB as to the “causes and context” of the sexual abuse crisis within the Catholic Church. The Report specifically states that “Any evaluation of the causes and context of the current crisis must be cognizant of the fact that more than 80% of the abuse at issue was of a homosexual nature.”

That is a fact.

Lawrence King

Michael wrote:

I still want to know what the instruction means by "deep-seated homosexual tendencies."

I think the clue is that this term appears in the document twice. At the beginning of section 2, this documentit cites the Catechism's distinction between acts and inclinations. The Catechism uses the term "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" as either a synonym for, or as an example of, homosexual attractions. Then in the next paragraph, "deep seated homosexual tendencies" is listed as one of the three disqualifiers.

The obvious reading of this is that DSHT refers to either (1) homosexual orientation, or (2) a particularly strong version of homosexual orientation.

So there are two interpretations that are semantically justified, and one that is not:

1. Any man who has same-sex attractions over an extended period of his adulthood has DSHT. This interpretation matches the way the Catechism is usually interpreted as referring to the act / orientation distinction.

2. DSHT refers to same-sex attractions of a particularly strong nature, such that living in a same-sex environment would be a near occasion of sin. This was John Allen's original interpretation. If I were a bishop this would be my preferred interpretation unless the Vatican clarifies this further.

3. This simply says that a man must remain chaste for three years, regardless of the strength of his homosexual inclinations. This is not defensible given the phrasing of the document.

Happy liberals and unhappy conservatives seem to read this in sense # 3; happy conservatives and unhappy liberals seem to read this in sense # 1. John Allen is one of the few who proposed sense # 2.

Old Zhou

Dear Lawrence King,

Can you use a different acronym for "deep-seated homosexual tendencies"?
Whenever I read your acronym DSHT, I parse it as Deep SH.T.

Joe

What about those heterosexual clerics who do not agree with the Church's teaching that homosexuality is a disordered condition?

A lot of us progressives see God's handwork in sexuality, period.

I'd like to think the Holy Spirit, through time, is moving the People of God forward in their views of what constitutes healthy sexuality --- even if the pope and his minions haven't yet caught up.

Priest preaching and teaching that homosexuality is disordered? And, if he does, what credibility will he have when some poor soul, struggling with issues of sexual identity, seeks spiritual counsel?

Notwithstanding the above, perhaps this latest Vatican rag will spur people to begin talking about sexuality and having second thoughts about "traditional" Church teaching about homosexuality. If this happens, all for the better. If not, just more of the same old crap.

al

. . . And so we have the two examples demonstrated above.

"Joe", for example, clearly doesn't believe what the Church teaches on sexuality, and so therefore, would fall under Amy's "spiritual disorientation" disqualifier on the priesthood.

But "Christopher Fotos" seems to be amenable to the Church's teaching on sexuality pretty much in general, but not able to countenance the plain meaning of the document: that the "affective disorder" if "deeply seated" (ie. "experienced" as an "orientation") then that person is disqualified as well, for not being "affectively mature"

Old Zhou

The global media have picked up on, and are beginning to disseminate in English, the commentary published along with the document in today's Italian L'Osservatore Romano by Monsignor Tony Anatrella, SJ.

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican newspaper said on Tuesday that homosexuality risked "destabilizing people and society", had no social or moral value and could never match the importance of the relationship between a man and a woman.

The remarks were contained in a long commentary published to accompany the official release of a long-awaited document that restricted the access of homosexual men to the Roman Catholic priesthood.

The article by Monsignor Tony Anatrella, a French Jesuit and psychologist, said homosexuality could not be considered an acceptable moral alternative to heterosexuality.

"During these past years, homosexuality has become a phenomenon that is always increasingly worrying and in many countries is considered a quality that is normal," the article in L'Osservatore Romano said.

The article was specifically approved by the Vatican's secretariat of state.

"It (homosexuality) does not represent a social value and even less so a moral virtue that could add to the civilization of sexuality," Anatrella said. "It could even be seen as a destabilizing reality for people and for society."

The Catholic Church, the article said, had a duty to reaffirm its position that homosexuality is "against conjugal life, the life of the family, and priestly life".

"In no case is this form of sexuality a sexual alternative, or even less, a reality that is equivalent to that which is shared by a man and a woman engaged in matrimonial life," the Italian-language article said.

"It (homosexuality) cannot be encouraged or even less so, supported with pastoral initiatives," it said in an apparent reference to Catholic priests who administer to homosexuals without reminding them of the Church's position against gay sex.

It said homosexuality was "a sexual tendency and not an identity" and repeated the Church's stand against allowing gays to marry or to adopt children. It also called homosexuality "an incomplete and immature part of human sexuality".
...

Regardless of the "nuance" of the document itself, this appears to be the first semi-offical "commentary" on the Instruction from the Vatican.

Msgr. Antarella has a number of relevant books available in French.

Marie

"True that the report shows that 80% of the victims were male.

However ... 60% of all victims, male or female, were 13 or younger. That is the age range listed in the DSM IV as pedophilia."

Not sure of your point here. That some of the abusers were pedophiles and, therefore, not homosexual, even though all of their victims were boys? Isn't it possible to conclude instead that the disorder of a homosexual orientation tends to be clustered along with other disorders, such as pedophilia, substance abuse, depression, etc.?

Joe

Marie, I believe jury is still out on the question you raise.

However, just for sake of argument, if gay priests tend to molest little boys, and if straight priests tend to molest little girls, then perhaps we need rigorous screening of hetero candidates, as well?

I'd be curious to know what percentage of homosexual priests leave active ministry in order to "partner" with a gay lover as well as what percentage of heterosexual priests leave active ministry in order to "partner" with a woman. I personally know of a parish pastor, well thought of for good sermons and parish involvement, who found time to impregnate one of his married parishioners. (If I recall, he had also seen another woman during a previous relationship.) I also know of two former asst. pastors at a single parish who left active ministry within a very short timespan: one married the parish secretary; the other just left.

What's good for the (homo) should also be good for the (hetero), would you not agree?

I gather there's much we do not yet know about sexuality and lust for kids.

In any event, the Vatican rag is nothing more than an attempt to steer attention away from our bishops' terrible record of covering up sexual abuse of children for decades.

I don't care what "spin" the Vatican curialistas put on the release of this document. It will ultimately be ignored by most bishops. This is a PR fiasco for now.

John Henry

What about those heterosexual clerics who do not agree with the Church's teaching that homosexuality is a disordered condition?

What about them? They should no more be priests than homosexual dissenters.

A lot of us progressives see God's handwork in sexuality, period.

Newsflash. Us "conservatives" call it a sacrament. If that isn't God's handiwork...

I'd like to think the Holy Spirit, through time, is moving the People of God forward in their views of what constitutes healthy sexuality --- even if the pope and his minions haven't yet caught up.

There is no progress where the standard keeps changing. You can only "progress" to a fixed goal. Once you change the goal, you have mere change.

Priest preaching and teaching that homosexuality is disordered? And, if he does, what credibility will he have when some poor soul, struggling with issues of sexual identity, seeks spiritual counsel?

The credibility of an honest, straightfoward, non-hypocritical priest of Jesus Christ, sharing the truth in love. Or, by spiritual counsel, did you mean affirming him in his okayness?

Notwithstanding the above, perhaps this latest Vatican rag will spur people to begin talking about sexuality and having second thoughts about "traditional" Church teaching about homosexuality.

Would that people would give it a second thought. Maybe they'd get it the second time around.

Chris Sullivan

I think this is an excellent instruction although I'm also wondering exactly what "presents deep-seated homosexual tendencies" means.

The document document doesn't define "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" and my problem with that formulation is that a tendency could in some cases be deep seated but mild and well controlled so as not to present a problem.

I'm also wondering what "presents" means. Should this be interpreted in a medical sense, that of a person suffering a condition? Or in publicly observable sense, that of a person who publicly presents to others a tendency (eg "acting out", a "gay lifestyle" or overt effeminacy) ?

Given the amount of time spent on the instruction, all the "leaks" and feedback obtained for it, one can't help but wonder if the documents vagueness on this is actually intentional.

God Bless

Joseph R. Wilson

This document may be put up on the shelf by many bishops right next to Humanae Vitae.

However, in the present age of internet and blogging, it should prove very useful to the laity. It is time to participate in the work.

Christopher Fotos

But "Christopher Fotos" seems to be amenable to the Church's teaching on sexuality pretty much in general, but not able to countenance the plain meaning of the document: that the "affective disorder" if "deeply seated" (ie. "experienced" as an "orientation") then that person is disqualified as well, for not being "affectively mature"

Hi al. No need to put the name in quotes, it's my real name, as noted at my blog; you'd have been more apt to put my old pseudonym Christopher Rake in quotes.

As for what I believe, I guess it's clear enough. But I think I have made a reasonable observation that Bishop Skylstad, at least, believes that homosexually inclined men can be good priests.

David Morrison's blog, as always, has much to recommend it.

thomas tucker

Joe's post above reminds me of the old joke about how little my parents knew when I was young, and how much they had learned by the time I hit 30.
Joe- if you don't accept the constant teaching of the Church on this matter, why do you stay in the Catholic Church? Why not go to a Church that believes as you do?

Courage Man

This document may be put up on the shelf by many bishops right next to Humanae Vitae.

Or perhaps more exactly analogous -- next to Ex Corde Ecclesiae. After all, nobody can force lay obedience, but Catholic universities (or at least each one's presence in a diocese) are as subject to church discipline as are the seminaries and their rules.

Marie

"I gather there's much we do not yet know about sexuality and lust for kids."

We know that 80% of the cases of sexual abuse by priests involved homosexual acts. So, unless 80% of all priests are homosexual, we also know that homosexual priests were far more likely than their heterosexual brothers to be credibly accused of sexually abusing young people.
We also know that homosexual men are far more likely than heterosexual men to suffer from substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, depression, and other mental health problems.
Actually, we know a lot.

Boethius

I believe the dispute over the phrase "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" is unnecessary. The strength of the Instruction is that even those without deep-seated homosexual tendencies are not to be admitted unless any homosexual tendencies (whether deep-seated or not) are "clearly overcome at least three years before ordination to the diaconate."

The Instruction is crystal clear: no one with homosexual tendencies should be admitted to the priesthood.

Old Zhou

Let me fall through the ice here.

So the instruction is saying, more or less,

The Sacrament of Orders is not available to homosexuals.

And given the Church's teaching on marriage, it is also true that The Sacrament of Matrimony is not available to homosexuals.

These two sacraments are often considered those in service to the Church.

What about the other five?

Is a homosexual in a long-standing, monogamous relationship any different, really, from a divorced-remarried Catholic without annulment?

Should not homosexuals also be kept away from the Sacraments of Eucharist and Confession while they live their private life public scandal, just like a divorced-remarried Catholic without annulment?

Does it really make sense to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation to an adult or teenage homosexual? How can this be cone while they are publicly manifesting a way of life which is contrary to Church teaching? Should not RCIA be closed to any adult homosexual, just like any adult divorced and remarried without annulment?

What about the Sacrament of Confession/Reconciliation?

What about Baptism?

If divorced-remarried without annulment Christians are kept from the sacraments, either in RCIA or as Catholics, should not this also extend to homosexuals, given the current "clarifications"?

Is this where we are going, based on the current theological perspectives of human sexuality and the "disorder" of homosexuality and immorality of all homosexual action and lifestyle?

JP

Prehaps it is time for the gay priests to come out of the closet. If they truely beleive thier "lifestyle" is special, and is in fact not sinful, then prehaps they should let us in the laity know.

I know of no Bishop who would tolerate a hetro preist who regularly practices fornication and adultery; yet, we must make special exceptions for gays. Like earlier post have stated, it is rare for men who have deep seated patholigies to be ordained. These pathologies include alcohol and drug addictions, selfishness and narcisstic personalities. To ordain men who have an unatural sexual orientation is only asking for trouble.

chris

I was just reading CNNs write-up about this, and was amazed to see this admission:

"That scandal, which broke out in 2002, involved abuse of teenage boys by priests."

Maybe this will at least raise awareness about what the majority of abuse cases really involved. Read it here:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/europe/11/29/vatican.gays/index.html

Lee Podles

Some priests who abused teenage boys were motivated by sexual desire for males; but others were motivated by something else: by a desire for control, but also by an anger at society, at the Church, at God. These abusers were not homosexual in the ordinary sense of the word; they simply sought to do something perverse, and having sex with boys was more perverse than having sex with girls. This type of sexual abuse often involved cruelty and a sacrilegious misuse of the sacraments. Boys were sometimes chosen because the abusive priest could more easily pretend they were Christ while the priest was abusing them.

I’ve read hundreds of cases, and this second type of abuse seems to characterize many of them, although it would be difficulty to give any breakdown without reading many more cases.

In other words, severely restricting the number of homosexuals in the priesthood would end some of the abuse, but not all of it, and especially not the worst abuse that verges on diabolism.

Lawrence King

Joe wrote:

In any event, the Vatican rag is nothing more than an attempt to steer attention away from our bishops' terrible record of covering up sexual abuse of children for decades.

How many times must this be said: this document has nothing to do with the child-abuse scandals? The child abuse scandals only represented 4% of the priests ordained in the USA since 1950 and these folks would be considered "abnormal" by conservatives nnd progressives alike.

This document has to do with the much greater than 4% of priests who are sexually active with other men. Remember the Kansas City Star's article that showed that the AIDS rate among priests is double that of the male American population as a whole? These priests are not catching AIDS from children.

This document has to do with Austrian seminarians who have sex-laden holiday parties.

This document has to do with the priests and bishops who turned a blind eye to child-abusers because they themselves were compromised by their liasons with adults.

This document has to do with the former Archbishop of Milwaukee who had a love affair with a man in his 20's and finally, after soul searching, decided he wanted to remain a bishop and then became celibate.

The American media doesn't consider adult sexual relationships to be a scandal, but in the Catholic church it is.

You may feel that The Document is the right way to respond to this problem, or the wrong way. But please don't think it's an attempt to respond to that Other Problem.

Lawrence King

Old Zhou,

Sorry, but you've got it all wrong. For better or worse, the church has always attempted to set a high bar for candidates to the priesthood. If you think that's a bad idea, you don't disagree just with Benedict XVI -- you disagree with the Council of Niceae's canons on the priesthood and almost every council since then.

The church has never set a high bar for baptism and the eucharist. Those who did so, like the Donatists and the Jansenists, were anathematized.

You also wrote:

If divorced-remarried without annulment Christians are kept from the sacraments, either in RCIA or as Catholics, should not this also extend to homosexuals, given the current "clarifications"?

I've never heard of an RCIA course that forbids remarried people from attending. Of course they would have to regularize their situation before joining the church, but you sign up for RCIA before making any decision about whether you want to join the church!

Lawrence King

I should clarify: By "high bar", I am referring to the individuals, not their actions.

Of course, one must be cleansed of mortal sin before receiving the Eucharist. But anyone can attain this cleansing.

On the other hand, men whose hands have been cut off, men who are seriously mentally disabled, men who have acute alcoholism, and women are barred from ordination, and this ban is not going to change.

The Document makes a prudential decision that ordaining certain categories of homosexually-inclined men is a bad idea. Note that there is no attempt to laicize gay priests or even to take their facilities away, so being gay isn't treated as anywhere near as serious an impediment as serious retardation (which would result in a complete suspension of faculties).

Again, you may disapprove, but your argument by analogy with the other sacraments is off-base.

Old Zhou

Hi Lawrence,

I don't "disapprove" of the instruction at all. My own pesonal opinion, having been formed in a Chinese, indigenous, evangelical Protestant Church with very high standards of morality, is that the current Catholic clergy (priests and bishops) in my area (San Francisco) is one of the most pitiful group of fleshly, unspiritual, immoral, ignorant of Christianity, men I have ever seen, and it would be nice to see some reform. I would not approve of most of these guys being Sunday school teachers, let alone pastors and bishops. But that is my own personal opinion.

But I still go to Church with these folks, I still have friendly chats with the GTU community, and many people in the San Francisco area. They are irate. They are afraid. They are wondering what happened to the Church they were part of since the 1970's. They really do think this signals a fundamental shift in the position of the Church toward homosexuals, themselves, their children, their friends.

Lawrence King

Old Zhou wrote:

But I still go to Church with these folks, I still have friendly chats with the GTU community, and many people in the San Francisco area. They are irate. They are afraid.

Well, the world is wider than we realize. I'm a GTU student myself, and almost everyone I have talked to think this document is a good idea.

You and I probably have different circles of friends among the GTU students, since there are a lot of people here. Of the ones I know, I would estimate that around 75% were cheering when Ratzinger was elected pope, and 25% were glum. Is your sample similarly situated?

Old Zhou

Dear Lawrence, would it be safe to guess that you are at DSPT?

SiliconValleySteve

Lawrence,

Your sample of opinion is not what most of us in the bay area would expect from GTU. I sure hope it is representative.

Lee Penn

I saw this item on Rocco's blog just now:

http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/

under the heading of "Am I Missing Something Here." The following quote is Rocco's translation of a Vatican Radio interview given today by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education.

The Cardinal said this:

"Evidently, when we speak of 'profoundly (deeply) rooted tendencies,' this means that there are times when these can be transitory tendencies or transitory cases which do not constitute an obstacle [to the sustenance of the vocation and the man's remaining in the seminary]. For example, an uncompleted adolescence, some kind of curiosity; or perhaps accidental circumstances, a drunken state, maybe particular circumstances like a person who was imprisoned for many years. In these cases, homosexual acts do not come from a rooted tendency, but are determined according to the circumstances. Or, these acts are done because one wants to obtain some sort of advantage... these acts, in those cases, do not provide for a 'profound tendency' but are given of other transitory circumstances, and these cases do not constitute an obstacle to seminary admission or to holy orders. However, where these cases exist, they must cease at least three years prior to one's ordination to the diaconate."

Rocco followed with this comment, which I believe to be an accurate summary:

"OK, so there we have:
1. Jail
2. Sexual favors
3. Drunkenness
4. "Accidental circumstances" (Some accident that is.)
5. Curiosity
6. Momentary Immaturity

In the eyes of the man responsible for implementing this Instruction, the above-mentioned circumstances do not inhibit a man's vocation. In other words, this dog won't hunt.

I don't know about you, but for me that screams two words: WIGGLE. ROOM."

The Cardinal's statements are fascinating to me. Someone might have engaged in gay sex acts "because one wants to obtain some sort of advantage" ... and as long as they stop doing so three years before becoming a deacon, they will be allowed to progress. I would call this the "former rent-boy" or "Midnight Cowboy" loophole. More generally, someone who tumbles into bed with another man because of the circumstances listed by the Cardinal gets a pass ... while someone who pairs off with a steady partner is out, out, out.

I've heard other Catholics say that the Latin approach to law is different from the Anglo-Saxon approach. The Latin idea is, apparently, to set a high standard and then to work with the fact that few will meet the standard ... while the Anglo approach is to assume that once the law is set, everyone is to obey it, to the letter.

It seems that many who are happy to see this document released expect it to be enforced in an Anglo fashion ... but what if the enforcers take the Latin approach instead? In that case, the Doomsday Document becomes rather porous.

Lee

Old Zhou

Dear Lawrence, even if you don't want to divulge your affiliation, let me just add that most of my friends are at JSTB and FST, and at CDSP (Episcopal) and PLTS (Lutheran) and SKSM (Unitarian). Most everybody is unhappy with B16.

I did attend some campus liturgies at DSPT a few years ago, and except of one friend who is no longer their, I found the general atmosphere rather snobbish and superior, and "we are better than the (wacky) Franciscans and (dissenting) Jesuits." Maybe that is different under the new president.

That's why I was guessing that you were at DSPT.

Old Zhou

Never mind, Lawrence, I already found your photo and bio based on other comments here on Amy's blog.

Yes, the DSPT community is much more orthodox and conservative than the rest of GTU. I believe your stats about the reaction to the election of the Pope are correct. In fact, I'm surprised that even 25% of the DSPT community would be upset. Must have been the lay rabble that you allow in the doors. (I considered applying back in 1998, but was kindly told "beat it," because I was not interested in ordination...being a married man.)

No, where I am in the parishes of the wealthier parts of Contra Costa County, and in Berkeley, there is no excess of love for our Pope. My wife and I cheered, privately in our car, upon hearing the live news of B16's election (and I could even understand the live Latin that NPR could not translate), but those Catholics around us were, and continue to be, angry, disappointed and wondering about their Church.

Patrick Rothwell

"It seems that many who are happy to see this document released expect it to be enforced in an Anglo fashion ... but what if the enforcers take the Latin approach instead? In that case, the Doomsday Document becomes rather porous."

If one reads the statements of Bishop Skylstad and Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor (linked below), it looks like some bishops will take what Lee calls the Latin approach and not the Anglo approach favored by many St. Blog's denizens.

http://www.indcatholicnews.com/vatsins.html

Stillanon

I don't see any wiggle room in the document. It isn't talking about a one time experiment back in Junior High. If a seminarian is asked "are you gay" or asks himself that question and he responds "yes" then he is out. If he is unsure then he is out. You can't be "unsure" of this kind of thing and be suitable for ordination. The document and attending explanation are clear. I remember when Ordinatio Sacerdotalis came out and many tried to say it didn't mean what it said. Please, let's not fall into that trap again. If we don't bite the bullet on reform now we are going to pay and pay in the future. We are better off with fewer, but healthier, priests. If the gay priests don't like it then the Episcopalian church is right down the street.

Patrick Rothwell

N.B. Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor's categorical statement that "[t]he Instruction is not saying than men of homosexual orientation are not welcome in the priesthood." This is a clear rejection of the Diogenes-Al Gunn line.

Christopher Fotos

N.B. Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor's categorical statement that "[t]he Instruction is not saying than men of homosexual orientation are not welcome in the priesthood." This is a clear rejection of the Diogenes-Al Gunn line.

And, again I say, Bishop Skylstad states in his "explanation" that a man with a homosexual inclination can make a good priest. Other than being told by "al" that I do not countenance the plain meaning of the document, it is only recently in this thread that anyone has begun to recognize some of these cross-currents, as Patrick Rothwell does above.

What does the bishop mean? Does he mean that current homosexually inclined priests (and, er, bishops) may continue to serve, but that no more will be ordained? Perhaps, but I do not see him saying that. What else can it mean?

In practice I think it's going to mean, as I guessed above, that it will come down to cases and discussions about how deeply rooted a deeply rooted tendency is.

Old Zhou

Well, Bishop D'Arcy in Indiana commented this afternoon:

D'Arcy says the policy is geared towards the future generation of priests. He said if it came to light that a priest, who has already been ordained, is a homosexual, D'Arcy would encourage him to lead a chaste and honorable life.

He does not seem to think that homosexuality is an impediment to priesthood.

There is also the very real fact that a zealous young man who really wants to be a priest may be able to repress his homosexuality and convince himself and others that anything gay was "transitory" and he is o.k. But ten years out of seminary...the volcano erupts.

Loudon is a Fool

Patrick, while Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor's comments are interesting, they cannot be squared with the plain language of the document to the extent they would allow men of homosexual orientation into the priesthood. The instruction contrasts "deep-seated" with "transitory." If you think you're gay, then you're experiencing objectively disordered inclinations and the priesthood is an inappropriate place for you. If you thought you were gay once, then you need to decide you're not gay and wait three years to make sure it sticks. I don't know how common transitory gayness is, but that seems to be the only exception and it doesn't strike me as a particularly significant one. And it's certainly a different exception than one for men who are only sort-of-kind-of-gay. Sort-of-kind-of-gay is apparently treated as "deep seated" homosexuality for purposes of the instruction.

Patrick Rothwell

Loudon,

I think Christopher Fotos has explained how differing definitions of "deeply-seated" will result in differing application of the Instruction. And, given the fact that restrictions are typically construed strictly, the Cardinal's interpretation is a viable one, i.e. not just deeply-seated, but REALLY REALLY deeply-seated - whatever that means.

Curiously, the Cardinal's statement is not on the Westminster Diocese's website or the websitesite of the Catholic Bishop of England and Wales.

Chris Sullivan

Zenit reported Cardinal Grocholewski, the prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, the very man who was responsible for writing the Instruction, saying much the same as Bishop D'Arcy in Indiana above :-

Regarding priests with homosexual tendencies, Cardinal Grocholewski clarified that "these priestly ordinations are valid, because we do not affirm their invalidity."

"A person that discovers their homosexuality after priestly ordination, must obviously live the priesthood itself, must live chastity," he observed. "Perhaps he will have greater need of spiritual help than others, but I think he must carry out the priesthood itself in the best way possible."

In other words, the man who wrote the instruction himself confirms that that homosexuality is not an impediment to priesthood per se.

God Bless

Old Zhou

I think we are going to just end up with an ensemble of pink and blue seminaries, depending on the preferences of local ordinaries and superiors regarding interpretation and implementation of the Instruction.

But isn't that what we have today?

Loudon is a Fool

There's no question the instruction will be misinterpreted and misapplied by Bishops. Acccording to the instruction even "transitory . . . tendencies" must be "clearly overcome" for a period of 3 years. Mr. Fotos' read cannot be supported by the text. Which is why he cites the statements of bishops rather than the instruction.

Chris Sullivan

Timothy Radcliffe OP, former Master of the Dominicans, in a very good article in the Tablet, gives his view of what "deep seated" means :-

What is it that is meant by a “deep-seated homosexual tendency”? The counter-example given by the document is of someone who goes through a temporary phase of homosexual attraction, and asserts that the seminarian should have overcome this at least three years before ordination to the diaconate. That would not cover all the cases of seminarians who are reflecting on their vocation in the light of this document.

It could also be interpreted as having a permanent homosexual orientation. But this cannot be correct since, as I have said, there are many excellent priests who are gay and who clearly have a vocation from God. Perhaps it is best understood as meaning that someone whose sexual orientation is so central to his self-perception as to be obsessive, dominating his imagination. This would indeed pose questions as to whether he would be able to live happily as a celibate priest. But any heterosexual who was so focused on his sexuality would have problems too. What matters is sexual maturity rather than orientation.

Thanks to David Morrison at Sed Contra.

God Bless

tmatt

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles said the instructions would have little, if any, effect on how seminaries in the Los Angeles area admit candidates.

****

I think that pretty much says it all.

Old Zhou

I think that tmatt might have been referring to the LA Times quotation from a professor at LMU, rather than an spokesman for the Archdiocese:

Father Thomas Rausch, professor of theology at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, said the three-year rule keeps the door ajar for gay seminary candidates.

"It still leaves up to the local bishop the important role of admitting candidates to the seminary. So, in that sense I don't think it's going to have a major impact," he said.

If it ordered that no gay candidates be accepted at seminaries, he added, "it clearly would be discriminating against gay candidates, and that would clearly be unjust."

The spokesman said the following:

Tod Tamberg, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, said that seminary candidates in Los Angeles already are required to be celibate for at least two years before they can be admitted.

"The challenge, I think, for the media is to make sure it is not sort of taken out of context," Tamberg said. "There will be some people who from what they hear in the media will think: 'Oh my God, this means no gay will ever be ordained in the priesthood again or anybody with a homosexual orientation will never be ordained again.' That's simply not true."

Though the specific instructions pertain to homosexuality, they should be seen as part of many efforts to address spiritual challenges for men considering the priesthood, Tamberg added. More important than sexual orientation is an ability to lead others to Christ, he said.

"Any impediment that would prevent a priest from fulfilling that duty is cause for examination or disqualification," Tamberg said. "That could be one's sexuality that, one way or the other, gets in the way; it could be alcoholism; it could be that that person is incredibly selfish and not willing to give of themselves in the measure that is required of a priest."

What will or will not happen is totally up to the decision of the local ordinary. As the document says,

The call to orders is the personal responsibility of the bishop (17) or the major superior.

Little will change until the bishops change.

Michael in Denver

As usual, Abp. Chaput has a sensible response.
http://www.archden.org/dcr/news.php?e=256&s=2&a=5638

A sample: "The Church seeks to ordain only those men who can joyfully accept both the theology and personal practice of Catholic teaching on human sexuality. Those who cannot do so should not be burdened with demands they cannot honestly bear. "

Sorry, I don't know how tocode the link...

Old Zhou

If we could take a break from the hand-wringing, I think Amy asked a good question regarding "what the Church teaches," and our response and position toward it.

But I have to ask, if you say, quoting Amy, "This is what the Catholic Church teaches about sexuality," what, exactly, is the antecedent of the emphatic relative pronoun?

Is it what the current Pope teaches?
Is it what past Pope's teach?
Is it what "the Vatican" teaches?
Is it what "the Vatican" taught in the past?
Is it what my bishop teaches?
Is it what your bishop teaches?
Is it what my pastor teaches?
Is it what my spiritual advisor advises?
Is it what is found in encyclicals?
Is it what is found in theological texts?
Is it what is found in Scripture?
Is it what is found in the Fathers?
Is it what is found in the Catechism?

And if my bishop says, "The Pope means A"
and your bishop says, "The Pope means B"
and A and B are clearly different,
then what?
Then my pastor says, "When the Bishop says that the Pope means A, that is A'." But another preist in the diocese say, "WHen the Bishop says that the Pope means A, that is A''."

A, B, A', A'', ad infinitem.

This is one thing my wife dislikes about the Catholic Church--so many people saying so many different things all claiming that "this is what the Church teaches."

What does the Church teach?

chris K

Fr. Radcliffe, OP, goes on to ramble about not comprehending just what "spiritual fatherhood" means. He says that if this is such a model for all Catholics, then it leaves out a model for half of the faithful...women! He usually leaves me in a fog and trying to pin him down...perhaps a well-meaning fog, but a fog just the same. And that, I think, is because he wishes to please everyone and never sound too harsh, but also, because the doors for other liberal causes then can remain open and undecided.

sally

zhou:
"What does the Church teach?"
Of your list, the first four and the last five. If those in between differ, they are incorrect and can be pointed towards the first four and the last five.

Donna

Andrew Sullivan is having kittens over this. I'll bet that news really comes as a surprise.

I find it a well-reasoned, nuanced document. Of course, it will be presented in the media very subtly, I'm sure: "The Catholic Church hates gays!"

Well, a mere year ago, I would have accepted the media spin on this. I'm finding, though, that the more I read and think deeply about the Church's teachings on sexuality, the more they make sense to me. Honestly, though, I must admit, I am a woman in my mid-40's. Lower hormone levels are undoubtably aiding me in seeing the truth in Catholic doctrine.

Stillanon

It is NOT an issue of "maturity" rather then orientation. Orientation is the issue. Sure if someone has slipped through and has problems that doesn't invalidate their ordination. For example alcoholics. Some may serve well, but that doesn't mean we should just ordain alcoholics and pay it no mind. The document is clear despite the obfuscation of some church leaders. I have no doubt it will be ignored by some of them. Obedience is rather selective these days. They will pay later when the next crop of cases arise. Rather we will pay again and again until finally they get the point. Which is: don't ordain men who have sexual disorders (and YES homosexuality is a disorder)!

New Orleanian

"It's Church teaching" is ultimately the Nuremburg defense. Just what sort of priests do you want? Just what sort of people do you want to be?

Kevin Murray

This is an article I had published in The Tampa Tribune back in 2002. I think with some updates, it still stands the test of time.


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Debunking The Myths Of The Catholic Crisis In America
March 31, 2002
Section: COMMENTARY
Page: 1

KEVIN DEVINNY MURRAY
Memo: Kevin DeVinny Murray is a practicing Catholic who served as a priest for the Diocese of St. Petersburg from 1980 until 1995, when he received a papal dispensation to leave the active ministry and return to lay status.


Myth No. 1: It's a pedophile priest problem.

Truth: Only a relatively small number of true pedophiles in the priesthood have been exposed. The overwhelming majority of problem priests have been identified as ephebophiles - men who are attracted to older boys who have just reached puberty or are in their teenage years.


Myth No. 2: These are only isolated incidents.


Truth: Some of the latest reports indicate the number of priests accused of sexual abuse nationwide is between a thousand and 1,500. And it seems likely that the number will grow, as the cases coming to light involve priests presently engaged in the ministry as well as priests who have either retired or died. The problem is not restricted to just one locality, but has surfaced in many parishes and dioceses and in virtually all 50 states.


Myth No. 3: It's a priest problem.


Truth: Although the vast majority of cases involve priests, there have been at least three bishops in the United States in the last five years who have resigned their positions in the wake of accusations of criminal sexual abuse. And another significant aspect of the problem is the active concealment of criminal sexual abuse by a growing number of diocesan and archdiocesan bishops.


Myth No. 4: The pope is responsible.


Truth: The bishop is the sole responsible Catholic authority and decision-making agent in his own diocese. Since the Second Vatican Council, the bishops in America have established for themselves power independent of the pope and have actively fortified the National Conference of Catholic Bishops as an authority that parallels and sometimes opposes papal teaching and policy. Practically speaking, diocesan bishops have no superiors.


Myth No. 5: The pope personally appoints the bishops.


Truth: In only a very few cases does the pope actually appoint a bishop. Most bishops are appointed after a process of scrutiny and recommendation by the bishops in their home country. The names of those judged suitable are then passed on to bishops in Rome, who in turn make the final selections. In the majority of cases, the pope's only role in the process is to make the appointment official. And there is no reason to doubt that aspiring candidates for bishop concealed from the pope aspects of their character that might otherwise have disqualified them.


Myth No. 6: The pope knew and never acted.


Truth: It is not reasonable to expect that the same bishops who concealed this information from their own flocks would be forthcoming with the pope,

upon whose signature and seal they depend for future advancement.


Myth No. 7: But there are other ways to let the pope know.


Truth: If a Catholic - or anyone, for that matter - attempts to send a letter to the pope in complaint about an abusing priest or bishop, it will almost never reach the pope or his immediate circle of trusted advisers. The letter will be received at lower levels of the Vatican bureaucracy and then sent to the papal nuncio in Washington, who will in turn send the letter to the bishop in the diocese of the parishioner who wrote and sent the letter in the first place. It is highly probable that the pope learned about the present problem in the same way that laypeople learned about it: through the news media.


Myth No. 8: The press is Catholic-bashing.


Truth: The news media are just doing what the news media are responsible for doing: reporting the news. The present problem with priests in America came to light because a judge in Massachusetts ruled that bishops cannot use the principle of "sub sigellum" (under the seal of confidentiality) to conceal information about criminal behavior on the part of ordained clergy. Most real bashing has come in the form of attacks on the teaching of the church from disgruntled and dissident Catholics who wish to see the teaching on sexual morality overturned.


Myth No. 9: Celibacy is the cause of the problem.


Truth: The vow of celibacy is freely undertaken by anyone who goes on to ordination. Celibacy is a religious vow that lacks any power whatsoever to change a man's sexual orientation or inclinations. The vow of celibacy presumes that the man to be ordained has forsaken marriage to and sexual intercourse with a woman. Most of the present problems are more precisely and accurately described as sins against chastity and crimes against children and minors below the age of consent.


Myth No. 10: The bishops realized only lately the nature of the problem.


Truth: The bishops have been dealing with the problem for nearly four decades, only they have been doing so in secret. It was the judge's ruling in Massachusetts that legally compelled the bishops to deal openly with the problem, which involves not only pedophilia, but abuse of boys up to the age of consent.


Myth No. 11: The bishops did not realize the evil nature of the problem.


Truth: Bishops are, in fact, ordained priests charged with the religious duty of dealing with sin and evil in all areas of life. Even Catholic laypeople with little or no theological training are quite capable of comprehending the unspeakable depth of evil associated with the sexual abuse of minors.


Myth No. 12: The current Catholic crisis and coverage of it are destroying the church.


Truth: Although it may be upsetting to some Catholics now - and although many Catholics are in support of the bishops - it seems reasonable to conclude that the publicity surrounding current events in the priesthood and among the bishops will eventually have the effect of making the church stronger. A clearer understanding of the way things are should produce future bishops and priests and laypeople who are more honest and faithful to their calling and the true mission of the church. The Catholic children of today will be the primary and future beneficiaries of the present agonizing process of the purification, rejuvenation and rebirth of the church.


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Kevin Murray

In regard to my post of my Tampa Tribune article of 2002, for that, I was not compensated and therefore believe that the piece is still my own intellectual property. I look forward to my forthcoming Christmas addition to afore-posted article and hope to post a Christmas update. Cannot promise that future article will be any more upliftling,but rest in the hope that it might be more informing and edifying in the Faith.Laus Deos.

Christopher Fotos

The document is clear despite the obfuscation of some church leaders.

I am not in principle opposed to the possibility that a president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops could also be an obfuscating church leader. But in this case I will let you take it up with Bishop Skylstad.

As noted in this thread, neither he nor Cardinal Grocholewski, the author of the instruction and prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, believe a man with homosexual inclinations is incapable of performing his duty as a priest. I wonder if there's an ever-widening net of obfuscating church leaders.

There is something else going on here, though, and the cardinal and others in the hierarchy may not have squarely faced it: You can argue that with this instruction, The Church (sorry, wife of Zhou) wants to declare gay men unsuited for ordination while simultaneously insisting that all the current gay priests can do their jobs just fine. Those two pieces don't fit together very well--not the least for the already ordained-as-damaged-goods SSA priests.

Which is why, broken record alert, in practice any decisions about new ordinations will come down to opinions about how deeply-seated that deep-seated tendency is.

Kevin Murray

It has to do with the comments of the now Archbishop of Atlanta (former Prez of the USCCB), who threw down the gauntlet (rather dramatically) in the midst of the so-called pedophilia crisis and forced the Vatican to do something that has brought this issue to a head. You are right to suspect ecclesiatical subterfuge. With the election of Ben 16. Those who disagree with the new Pontiff, figured it was better to go along than to move forward in a spirit of Orthdoxy and Renewal. Many of the comments that came out of Dallas back in 2002 were meant more for public consumption and PR purposes than for building up the faith. Sorry to say it. But stated as a believer. Kevin in Tampa.

al

The document is clear. "Deep seated homosexual inclinations" which are defined as "those which are not transitory" are evidence of the "affective immaturity" which is a disqualification for the priesthood.

Christopher Fotos and Patrick Rockwell, along with apparently Bishop Skylstad, attempt to obfuscate this, but since this is merely a reiteration of an old policy, already clear since 1961, clear again in 2002, it is that tradition, rather than the musings of others, which comprise the normative interpretive framework.

I'd also like to point to another sophistry which calls Patrick Rockwell's contention into question: either the document doesn't says homosexual inclinations are an impediment, in which case all the other objections he raises, and caveats regarding "latin" implementations are irrelevant, or the document does say what is claimed, in which case he is welcome to claim till the cows come home that its a bad idea, and won't be enforced and yadda yadda yadda.

But claiming both sets of objections at the same time is argumentative evidence of the throwing spaghetti at the wall trick.

Generally when something is wrong, its wrong for a reason, which is all you have to point out. If some feels obligated to attack a claim from 10 different directions(its not what it says, AND its animus, AND they'll be no priests left. . . ) thats generally pretty good evidence that they lack the 1 reason that makes it wrong in the first place.

Elizabeth McClintic

The Church has skirted around the issues involving sexuality to it's own detrement. If the beauty of conjugal sex were related to the Gospel message and creation as intended, would not more Catholics have the ammunition and informed consciences needed to give of self in their marriages and be better equipped to hold their families together?

How can someone who is non-celibate SSA preach the love between a man and woman? Preach self-giving? Preach sacrifice to the point of pain for another self? Even in marriage there are myriads of seasons when the sexuality aspect of the relationship has to be postponed or remain latent for the good of the other.

What we need to hear is "for the good of souls"

Patrick Rothwell

"I'd also like to point to another sophistry which calls Patrick Rockwell's contention into question: either the document doesn't says homosexual inclinations are an impediment, in which case all the other objections he raises, and caveats regarding "latin" implementations are irrelevant, or the document does say what is claimed, in which case he is welcome to claim till the cows come home that its a bad idea, and won't be enforced and yadda yadda yadda."

First, as a technical matter homosexual inclinations - much less "deep-seated" ones, are not a canonical impediment to ordination.

Second, the issue at stake is what "deep-seated homosexual inclinations" means. It is not only undefined, but it is vague. Al Gunn's reading is a natural one - and it may even be the one read that the Prefect of the Congregation wanted - but it is not the only viable one. When an instruction imposes a restriction in vague terms, the restriction is traditionally read strictly, i.e. narrowly. A strict interpretation, therefore, of a "deep-seated homosexual inclination" is one that is so deep-seated that one cannot reasonably be expected to carry out the responsibilites of the clergy. This is the interpretation used by Father Radcliffe, Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, Bishop Skylstad, and presumably my own bishop Cardinal McCarrick.

The Congregation had the opportunity to express the restriction in less vague terms, some of which have been bandied about in the Catholic press for some time. For whatever reason, it chose not to use the more precise language. If the Congregation wants to foreclose the strict interpretation offered by Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor and others, then it obviously can do so at a later date. Until that time, the stricter interpretation may prevail.

That said, the document as drafted was a bad idea in the first place for several reasons, outlined best in an article by Damian Thompson published in the Spectator, which is unfortunately now accessible only to subscribers.

Al may deride this is as a "spaghetti on the wall" approach, but something can be unsatisfactory for several reasons, not just one.

Tripp

I think this may be my first trip to your blog even though I read others in orbit.

What I am wondering is this: In an issue of a local Chicago paper the word "anthropology" was used in defense of the "new" stance. It seems that the Catholic understanding of human anthropology has no room for homosexuality. It appears to have room for homosexual actions (understood by the Vatican as sinful), but not the homosexual.

Am I understanding this rightly? Are they saying that there is no such thing as the homosexual? I am out of the loop with this, so feel free to educate me. Does the Roman church understand homosexuality to be a choice and not an "orientation?"

Sam Schmitt

Patrick,

If your interpretation is correct, that "a "deep-seated homosexual inclination" is one that is so deep-seated that one cannot reasonably be expected to carry out the responsibilites of the clergy" - then why issue a special document about it? One would think that the Vatican would not have to mandate that bishops should not be ordaining men who "cannot reasonably be expected to carry out the responsibilites of the clergy" - isn't that already in Canon Law?

Marc

New Orleanian
> "It's Church teaching" is ultimately the Nuremburg defense. Just what sort of priests do you want? Just what sort of people do you want to be?"

We want to protect the Holy Family and Church
from further homosexual destruction.
Clear enough?

michigancatholic

But Sam, it obviously hasn't worked. After all, we're swamped with them.

In case nobody's told you, we have a lavender network in the US, mutually put up by gays and dissidents in order to change the teachings of the church. There's good reason to believe it stretches up high in the US.

Maybe they should include bishops, archbishops and cardinals in the "you can't get ordained if" descriptions.

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