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November 23, 2005

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» Cutting to the Root from All The Fulness
Sometimes what are made out to be quite complex problems are actually quite simple if one sees to the root of them. The problem of homosexuals in the clergy is one such. Amy Welborn has an outstanding post on this [Read More]

» Mandatory post on "the document" from The Curt Jester
Amazingly I have actually not commented on the new document from the Congregation for Catholic Education concerning seminary admissions up... [Read More]

» Mandatory post on "the document" from The Curt Jester
Amazingly I have actually not commented on the new document from the Congregation for Catholic Education concerning seminary admissions up until today. Nor have I blogged on all the rumors of what the document first said one day and then another. I was... [Read More]

» Vatican document on gay priests from Noli Irritare Leones
Well, it finally got leaked, a couple of days ago. Between Thanksgiving and a mysterious slowdown in our Internet connection for a couple of days, Im only just now able to see all the stories about it. I dont have any time to comment. ... [Read More]

Comments

Julie

Should we ordain ANY person whose underdeveloped emotional life or emotional woundedness is a stumbling block or a crutch that hinders their ability or desire to focus on Christ and on the care of the flock?

Amy

No, of course we shouldn't.

Mark Mossa, SJ

Thank you Amy for one of the more sane and measured things I've read on this topic in a long time. You get to the core of the issue that a lot of the rhetoric misses: faithfulness.

I think the fact that only a small percentage of seminarians these days could adequately be described as "liberal" or even left of center is witness that many men who are becoming priests these days--including myself--would agree with you.

I would hesitate to say that someone who identifies himself as homosexual is necessarily giving that priority over his relationship with Christ. That, for the most part, has not been my experience and, where it has been, those guys usually have left.

We could use a document which says what you are saying!

And BTW, in religious circles these days the word commonly used for "procreativity" is "generativity". :)

Thanks again.

Mark

Socius

Amen, Amy. Amen.

Clare Krishan

Bravo Amy!
You have quoted from my dear compatriot of blessed memory on your blog before - but my favorite quote of Elizabeth Anscombe is "..but the quarrel is far greater between Christianity and the present-day heathen, post Christian, morality that has sprung up as a result of contraception. In one word: Christianity taught that men ought to be as chaste as pagans thought honest women ought to be; the contraceptive morality teaches that women need to be as little chaste as pagans thought men need be." (the pagans she speaks of are of course those same ones St. Paul spoke of in his epistles - ephebophilia was 'de riguer' in polite society of Athens and Rome)

P.S. I couldn't find the document at the link I had saved (Prof Soble at University of New Orleans, need I say more? pray for them) but googled and found this copy of her 1977 essay at an Orthodox site http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles/AnscombeChastity.shtml

Her philosophy if I may imperfectly paraphrase it is this:
homosexual acts are grave sins, but not as grave as contraceptive heterosexual acts, since from natural law the former are not fecund, while the latter could be if the parties willed it. When married couples contracept their intent is a greater moral evil - they thwart God's will while persons with same sex attractions have a disordered wish to emulate God's will by marriage, adoption, etc. They are culpable of intending wishful thinking, while contraceptive acts are a willful rejection of divine providence).

God Bless
We need priests who recognize this fact, and are willing to suffer to defend it by preaching it from the pulpit. IMHO the focus on same-sex issues is a comforting distraction in Christian public life - since we'd be really uncomfortable focusing on our own sins - for they are graver still.

God Bless

c matt

Pretty solid take on the thing, Amy. Can't find anything with which I would disagree. Here's to hoping this get implemented appropriately.

Socius

Amen, Amy. Amen.

Donie

Amy: Oh, and word to the self-identified "gay priests" who are all over NPR today. To right off the bat self-identify as "gay" is to indicate, pretty clearly, that something else other than Christ is at the center of your life. If your priest got up in the pulpit and proclaimed "I am a heterosexual priest," wouldn't you go, uh...okay. Wouldn't it indicate to you that something besides devotion to Christ and His Church was the lodestar, the guiding and motivating force in that guy's life? This is not about denying and repressing our sexual natures, blah, blah, blah. Here's what celibacy is supposed to be: it's supposed to be a life of eschatological witness, an extreme sign of what, in the end, we are called to be, and will be in the fullness of the Kingdom: for God alone. To make the sex of one's preferred sexual partner, even if one is chaste, an integral part of one's identity as a priest dilutes, to say the least, this witness.

Spot on!!

Charming Billy

Amy,

I wish YOU had written this Vatican document.

Jeff

Amy, this is a powerful post and you are right about the central issue. Without facing the questions of faithfulness and formation, the problem will never be solved.

But, please, may I suggest that maybe, just maybe, this is an area where the Church has something to tell you that you are reluctant to hear? Maybe there is something WISE in the attitude that prevents the Church from saying that there is an equivalence between chaste heterosexuals and chaste homosexuals? To say, "I don't care," means, I think, "I don't want to hear it; I've already made up my mind." Perhaps there is a connection between the deep inclination and some of the behaviors which you note such that, while the inclination itself is not per se sinful, it is still inadvisable to treat it as utterly benign?

I also wonder if the people in the past whom you diagnose with "SSA" were really so. My wife often remarks that it seems to her that some people in the past never developed cravings and tendencies that they MIGHT have come to fruition in a modern social context. I don't know that it's fair to count them as having "SSA" or as being homosexuals. Which holy figures from the past actually had characteristic temptations toward men, as opposed to being caught up in general depravity? I can't think of any myself that don't involve disputable speculation.

vox climantis

Fr. Neuhaus has summed up the issue neatly: Fidelity. Fidelity. Fidelity.

Put another way, whether we're discussing SSA priests or contraception, Catholics should:

1) Know the Gospel and teachings of sacred Scripture and sacred Tradition--all perfectly in accord

2) Place our faith in those teachings

3) Live consistently with them

4) Seek reconciliation when we fall short (i.e., sin)

It's little shock that in our post-modern, eros-addled American culture, that we are failing pretty much across the board, particularly 2,3,4.

Old Zhou

Amen! Amen! Hallelujah!
Preach it, Amy!

In regard to the "why?" question, I think a first answer is that traditionally, although perhaps not so much in the future, holding a position of clergy in the Roman Catholic Church (priest or bishop, not permanent deacon) was a ticket to social status and power that, frankly, just doesn't come with being a social worker or psychologist. Everybody loves a priest, especially "their" priest. Priests and bishops get invited to lots of parties and social functionsp; people give them presents; police are hesitant to cite or arrest them; they frequently get housing and a cook and a car. You don't get these perks as a social worker or psychologist.

Remember the big wave of building and growing that took place in the Catholic church in the US after the Second World War, staffed, before Vatican II, by an endless army of young sisters and young priests.
Is it that hard to understand why, after the Council that bishops concerned about staffing levels for this growing enterprise welcomed (almost) anyone who seemed interested in joining the staff, especially those who would not rock the boat of the "Spirit of Vatican II" (i.e., don't have strong opinions on matters of doctrine or orthodoxy, inclined rather to social justice work and community building)?

It is easy to see both "why" and "how," and also who is responsible (the US Bishops in place during and since the Vatican II Council).

My own silly opinion is that we really do need a smaller Church; not smaller in terms of people, but definitely smaller in terms of (1) buildings; (2) schools; (3) real estate; (4) organizations; (5) committess; (6) teams; (7) conferences; (8) administrative offices. We need less "machinery," less infrastructure. This will require less staff, and give an opportunity to "raise the bar" a bit. And maybe we can even focus on our faith, living it, learning it, and teaching it.

Mike L

Amy said: "The problem is priests who don't believe what the Catholic Church teaches on sexuality, who don't preach it, who don't witness to it in the confessional, and who don't live it in their private lives."

I think the problem is a bit more difficult than that, Amy. From reading responses just on this blog alone, I find that many, if not most, people either do not really know what the Church teaches, or interprets it in their own way. And not just about sexuality. Perhpas the most stunning case is that of the Novus Ordo. The Church teaches that this is the proper way to perform the sacrifice of the mass. No question about it, the official Church has spoken, the last several popes have spoken, the teaching is clear! But it seems a large percentage of your readers are waiting for the Church to change its mind, to go back to the "true" mass.

So it seems with homosexuality, with female ordination, with celebacy, with ... You get the picture. We really are a Church of Caffeteria Catholics and it doesn't matter whether you look at the liberal end, or the conservative end. And if doesn't seem to matter whether you look at the laity or hiearchy, you find the same phenomena.

Nor is it just in America. We have cardinals saying you can use condoms to prevent HIV infection (in married couples) and cardinals saying no you can't. Now for a storm of comments, which is the real Church teaching? Or maybe both or just individual beliefs that are not binding?

The Church teaches that priests must be celebate, or does it? There are over 100 married priests that are active in their ministries here in the United States, I believe all of them converts from other faiths - with the approval of the pope. What is the teaching of the popes? Uh, don't answer that, someone whould say you are wrong :).

One thing that I think you are right on the mark with is that we speak in different languages that use the same words. I was a research physicist, and there is a scientific language in which words have very specific meanings. I also studied some phillosophy and find that discipline has words with very specific meanings (many defined in Latin) and they don't mean exactly the same thing. For example, I believe strongly in the "physical" presence of Christ in the Eucharist, He really is there, but not physically as the physicist knows the word. Worse, I can't really explain to you the difference. Perhaps the closest I can come it "I believe, Lord, help me in my unbelief."

May we all find the peace of Christ and love for our fellow men.

Tim Ferguson

God bless you Amy, for being you, for being clear and for getting it - spot on - bravissima!

Mike L

Old Zhou, there is something irritating about you, namely you come up with the same thoughts I do but express them much more clearly than I can! Except of course when I disagree with you, which is becoming less and less.

God bless!

Patrick Rothwell

How did I guess that the Novus Ordo vs. Tridentine issue would rear its ugly head in this context?

Rich Leonardi

Well done, Amy.

I think the appeal of the nugget of truth you identified -- that's it about formation and the identity which follows it -- cuts nicely across ideological lines.

Everyone comes to this discussion freighted with personal experiences. Many of us have never -- and I do mean never -- heard a person in a position of authority in our parishes or dioceses indicate that they take the Church's teaching on sexuality seriously. Instead we're fed glib secular pieties, examples of which generally fill your comment boxes.

Given how sex-saturated our culture is, can a person really be formed as a Catholic without embracing what the Church teaches about this subject?

You effectively answered that question.

Maureen

Re: physics and the Eucharist

What you mean is that the scientific "physical" aspect of the Eucharist is that of the measurable, tangible accidents of the Host.

Stephen

Thanks Amy. This is an excellent post.

Jimmy Huck

Amy - Your piece was great until the end, when you had to add your "Oh, and one more thing" comment.

You wrote: "Oh, and word to the self-identified 'gay priests' who are all over NPR today. To right off the bat self-identify as 'gay' is to indicate, pretty clearly, that something else other than Christ is at the center of your life."

I would take issue with your interpretation here and consider it a bit unfair. I would imagine that in many (not all) cases of priests "self-identifying" as gay does not inticate that something else other than Christ is at the center of his life. It is a reaction to the Church itself forcing this aspect of a person's identity to be at the center of their life. These priests are REACTING to an officially-Church-driven focus on one aspect of who they are. It would be like the Catholic Church coming out with a statement on why a priest's infertility should have disqualified him from becoming a priest, and then chastising a priest from addressing this document by indicating that he has something to say about this because he IS infertile.

The assault (if you want to call it that) is on a hidden aspect of immutable, God-created identity that the Church, itself, wants exposed. And your example about the "hetero" priest pronouncing his sexual orientation is typical of the whole "keep it in your bedroom" attitude which is so disingenous, too. When I walk around the park with my arm around my wife and my two daughters walking next to us, I am proclaiming by that very fact my heterosexuality.

The fact is that our whole culture is predicated upon hiding homosexuality, especially within the Catholic Church. And, then, when the Church itself shines light specifically on this issue, your first inclination is to think that when a priest shines the light on his own homosexuality he must somehow be guilty of making something other than Christ the center of his life. From where I sit, for a gay Catholic priest to identify what he believes is a created, immutable aspect of his being, made in the image of Christ, IS keeping his devotion to Christ and His Church who sees fit to proclaim on homosexuality the center of things.

Again, great post up until that point. Which is a shame, because it leaves me with a feeling that what preceded was all a bunch of perfectly-phrased hooey deflated by the unintentional, but truth-revealing, slip at the end.

Maureen

Whereas what the Church means is that, if an alien shapeshifter shifted his shape into that of a duck, he might be able to make himself just like a duck right down to having duck DNA. He would walk like a duck and quack like a duck, but those would only be the accidents of being a duck. Really and truly, in body, mind, and soul, he'd still be an alien shapeshifter.

Old Zhou

But Maureen, even I am an alien shapeshifter. The internet is a great enabler.

Marc

I digress:
Mike said: "But it seems a large percentage of your readers are waiting for the Church to change its mind, to go back to the "true" mass."

Mike, please update your understanding of VII.
The traditionalists I know are in full communion with Rome and VII.
We are one church
with two distinct ritual formations.
We Roman Catholics have a choice of rites -
Novus Ordo or Tridentine (Indult)-
both are valid.
May you find peace with your form.

Grant Gallicho

I agree with much of what Amy writes here, but the last graf is, I think, off point. It certainly isn't the case that the gay priests on NPR and elsewhere in the media are declaring their homosexuality from the pulpit. That's absurd. There is a major news story that's been developing for, well, forever it seems, and they are commenting on it because the document is *about them.* You can't sit a seminary candidate down and ask him, "Is Christ at the center of your life?", have that be the end of the interview, and expect to populate a seminary with good candidates for the priesthood. Of course one should not be reduced to his or her sexual orientation. The CDF's 1986 Letter to the World’s Bishops on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons states the matter quite plainly: "The human person, made in the image and likeness of God, can hardly be adequately described by a reductionist reference to his or her sexual orientation....Today the church provides a badly needed context for the care of the human person when she refuses to consider the person as a 'heterosexual' or a 'homosexual' and insists that every person has a fundamental identity: the creature of God and, by grace, his child and heir to eternal life." But do you ignore it? No. That's a recipe for creating priests with serious psychosexual issues. The eschatological dimension of Holy Orders doesn't abrogate the need to address one's sexuality, and this is why one hears heterosexual priests talking about the sacrificing marriage and the challanges of celibacy. Of course, someone whose sexuality is at the center of their life doesn't belong in the priesthood--straight or gay. But one who denies it?

Maureen

How is it "hiding sexuality" to say that, if you're going to vow celibacy, you're stating that sex and sexuality is not as important to you as Christ?

For any religious, his or her primary orientation should be towards Christ and his service, like a compass needle toward the North Pole. Everything else you think, everything else you feel, should become something you can take or leave as it serves the primary orientation.

If athletes can dedicate their lives to the Olympics, weighing every action and every piece of food in light of their purpose, I think it's not too much to ask that vowed religious do the same. Indeed, there's not much point in being vowed religious, if that's not your primary intent.

patrick

I think it is helpful to remember this is just a directive that is focused on a specific topic, concerning the admission of men with homosexual orientation. And it is a directive with the general norms for the universal church.

The issue and importance on formation has been given by the church in many beautiful documents in recent years, especially around the time of the Jubliee.

from reading these posts, it sounds like this is the only document on the prieshood that has come out in the past years. The church has been teaching about the need for deep personal and spiritual formation for seminarians and priests for the past 10 to 15 years.

As a directive this has the narrow focus of dealing with the question of admitting men with homosexual orientation into seminaries. it is unfair to make it an exapmple of how the church misses the point and need for deep formation.

Mary Jane

Thanks to Amy - and thanks for some of the thoughtful commenters. It is, as Fr. Neuhaus says, all about fidelity. And the root question is why the Church is so willing to tolerate infidelity in its ordained clergy - not just on matters of sexuality, but in doctrine, "unconverted lifestyle" (to use an old evangelical phrase), and just about anything else.

Amy

Grant and Jimmy:

I respectfully disagree. Obviously, since I wrote it. Daily, the "gay priest" in question had come "out" to great fanfare a few weeks ago, as have several others, in Canada and elsewhere. They weren't sought out by the media. They have orchestrated this themselves, and I maintain that I am thoroughly uninterested in their proclamations of their sexual interests and orientation, as I would be very suspicious of a priest who made a big deal of talking about his heterosexuality. I would think that neither were quite getting the point.

Jimmy Huck

Grant - Amen. I'm with you 100% in what you said. Thanks for putting it so eloquently.

Amy

Oh, and Grant...on the heterosexual priest who makes the sacrifice regarding marriage and children as the prime marker in his vocation or his life as a celibate - I would maintain that if a priest is fixated on that, and if that is his primary way of interpreting his celibate priesthood he has a problem as well. I have raised this question before.

If not being married and not having children is a huge, painful sacrifice for you...perhaps you are not called to celibacy.

Duh.

Maureen

If someone said, "I have occasional wild desires to steal stuff, but I never steal," that would probably be okay. If someone said, "I struggle constantly with kleptomania," that probably would be a good sign he wasn't called to be a priest.

And if somebody said, "I believe in thief pride and the glorification of cat burglar caper culture," I'm thinking he shouldn't put himself within ten feet of usherhood, taking the baskets up at offertory, or the parish finance committee. Anybody who kept him in a seminary while knowing he felt and acted this way would need his own head examined.

Old Zhou

Amy commented: If not being married and not having children is a huge, painful sacrifice for you...perhaps you are not called to celibacy.

Amen.

My priest friends who are in their 60's and yearning and longing to be married are just as pitiful a sight as my priest friends who are gay and yearning and longing.

Last Sunday we took an older priest friend out for lunch; he could not stop looking at and commenting on a young family with two boys (guessing ages about 9 and 6) at the next table. He was so fixated on the family that after lunch we took a walk, and he even spotted them again in another parking lot. Clearly, not having a wife and kids is a painful, unresolved issue deep in this man's soul. A non-trivial number of his friends have laicized and married.

But at his age, what can he do? His who "carerr," his social status, his professional status, is all tied up with his being a priest. He does not much care for doctrinal matters and orthodoxy; he nearly had a nervous breakdown upon the election of the Pope. He teaches at a seminary.

Marc

Jimmy said:
"From where I sit, for a gay Catholic priest to identify what he believes is a created, immutable aspect of his being, made in the image of Christ, IS keeping his devotion to Christ and His Church who sees fit to proclaim on homosexuality the center of things."

To be clear Jimmy, you are sitting in the chair of apostasy.

Patrick Rothwell

I have to chime in and agree with Grant and Jimmy Huck on the "oh by the way graf." I don't see how the tiny number of gay priests who have disclosed that fact to the press as (necessarily) grandstanders or narcissists. In fact, I know next to nothing about them. One of the arguments made by the Catholic World Report crowd was "please let us know just who are these (non-existent) gay priests who mendaciously claim to be faithful to the Church." When someone - perhaps foolishly in this environment - raised his hand, he then gets trashed for supposedly making his sexual orientation front and center of his life. The vicious circle that the homosexual priest falls into now is that if he is homosexual-oriented and keeps it a secret, then he is a subversive, but if he doesn't, then that makes him a self-centered and unworthy priest.

The rest of the post was quite good. The only problem is that doesn't really square with the what the policy says. If the policy were what you, Amy, would impose if you ran the zoo, then I think there would be less controversy and its detractors could be safely ignored. I think Damien Thompson's of the Catholic Herald take is the best I've read so far.

Jimmy Huck

Amy - If your beef is with one priest who is doing what you say, and professing his homosexual orientation with arrogance and defiance, then it would only be fair of you to say this. I wouldn't have any problem with that. But that is not what you wrote. And I believe it is clear also that you were extending your point to the larger, grander level.

Your posting led me to believe that you were addressing any and all "gay priests" who might have been interviewed on NPR and have self-identified as gay (and by implication any others who might do so in the future) to be NOT Christ and Church-centered. I just think this is a wrong generalization to make, especially since we expect our priests to instruct us not by denying their own beings but often times by relating to us as humans precisely because of who they are.

Priests often times talk about their own childhood poverty, or how they were teased because they were overweight or because they stutter in their speech, or any number of their own immutable personal characteristics when talking about any number of Church teachings. And frankly, these personal anecdotes are never necessary to make the overall point. So why do priests do this, and we don't have your attitude of dismissing these personal stories as irrelevant? Because such priests demonstrate to us their humanity in so doing. They reveal to us that they are like us in design, in frailty, and in the potential for redemption, all without being labeled because of who they are and admitting as much as somehow uncommitted to a Christ and Church-centered life. There is nothing inherently wrong in a priest admitting he is gay in the context of this issue, just like there is nothing wrong for an infertile couple to admit this fact when discussing the subject of infertility. It happens all the time. And to question, in blanket fashion, the Christ and Church centeredness of any priest who does so is simply unfair, especially when the Church itself thinks the subject worthy of specific, public comment.

Grant Gallicho

Amy,

Wait, so my 250-word dash-off didn't convince you to change your mind?! Sigh.

Well, I'm certainly not competent to make any claims about what you're interested in, but the phrasing in the last graf of your post makes it sounds as though there are many self-identified gay priests talking on NPR, and that their commenting on the document as gay priests is problematic in itself. Of course I have a problem with anyone who self-aggrandizes, priest or layperson. But are there a lot of priests like the one you mention? I don't think so, and the situation you describe with Daily isn't alluded to in your post.

Now, about the sacrifice trope. I admit some frustration in this exchange, because it seems to me that there's a healthy middle ground that's being ignored. If you look at what I wrote, you'll see that I said nothing favoring a priest--or a layperson!--who makes his sexuality the center of his life. My example was not of a priest who makes sacrificing marriage and children *the* primary marker of the celibate life. Obviously, people have been raising questions about that trope for years. But I think we're fooling ourselves if we think our priests don't struggle regularly with sexual desire. It's, well, complicated. A lot more complicated than "duh."

MT

NPR's "gay" priest, in a Boston Globe story:

''As I became more and more aware of the oppression of gay, lesbian, and transgendered people in general society and especially in the church," he said, ''I became more and more uncomfortable with staying almost totally in the closet. But for years I felt I didn't have an option, that to come out publicly would be the end of my ministry, and I really love being a priest."

If priests like Daley (Amy mispelled it) were coming out and saying, "This is a mysterious part of me, but I am fully committed to the teachigns of the Catholic Church on sexuality, one hundred percent.." that would be one thing.

BUT THEY'RE NOT. They are either silent or they go on about the Church's oppression of gays and transgendered.

Patrick, Grant and Jimmy: Do YOU believe and accept the church's teaching on sexuality?

Mary Alelxander

I think in our effort to be compassionate (in the false understanding of the word) we forget that homosexuality is an intrinsic disorder, a perversion. It is not a variation on normal. Do we really want someone who is intrinsically disordered and whose interests tend toward perversion to be a priest? Is this different than saying if a seminarian has a sexual attraction to children (but struggles ever so valiantly) and does not identify themselve w/ the NAMBLA culture, that he can be a priest?

Mary Alexander

Grant Gallicho

MT: That's adorable of you to ask, but this comment box is not the appropriate forum for a purity test, and you certainly aren't the arbiter. (Signing your name would be a step in the right direction, though.)

If you could find another priest who offends you in the same way as Daley, then perhaps your statement, or scream, "BUT THEY'RE NOT" would hold some water. As it stands, however, I have no reason to believe there's a host of gay priests who proclaim their homosexuality from the pulpit.

As a sidebar, there actually are gay priests who say just what you would have Daley say--not that we should assume he would disagree. Incidentally, the document in question, as leaked, has a line relevent to Daley's quote: "They [homosexual men and women] must be accepted with respect and sensitivity; every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."

amy

Grant:

Of course they do (struggle with sexual desires), as they do with the desire for power, for status, for their parishioners to just shut up and go away.

But, I maintain, that is a matter for spiritual direction and reconciliation.

Ultimately, a lot of this seems to come down to the Wounded Healer model of ministry. No, it is not fair to priests to expect them to be inhuman statues living on pedestals, which was a lot of what the Wounded Healer model was in reaction to. But it was an overreaction, positing that the "healthy" priest (or minister or teacher) must explicitly lay out his or her own struggles in order to minister effectively.

In some cases, such disclosure would not be necessary. It is perfectly obvious sometimes that a priest is bedeviled by the desire for status or an indifference to real ministry. But this idea that in order to effectively minister we must all be totally present and revelatory of our deepest selves to those we minister is problematic. Parenting doesn't call for that. It calls for honesty and authenticity, but not always complete revelation of one's inner struggles. At times, it may be appropriate and powerful, but as an MO, it doesn't work.

Priests have a difficult life for many reason, but mostly (I think) because of the expectations laid upon them - unrealistic expectations, basically, that confuse the fact that in a mysterious way the priest is an alter Christi with the fact that he is not Christ or God. It is probably the most exhausting and dispiriting aspects of being a priest, aside from dealing with one's bishop. The chasm between who one really is and who people think you are can be wide and difficult to understand and live with.

It can also be a great opportunity to hide.

But the deeper issue, I think, is that if someone really believes that what the Church says God has revealed about human sexuality is true, then one would, in conscience, not be seeking to muddle the issue by proclaiming one's gayness, which, in this culture and this time means a stance in opposition to the Church's teaching. Sorry, but it does.

I am not saying that a man with homosexual inclinations cannot be a priest, and a good one. I am saying that public statements in which a priest associates himself, first and foremost with the contemporary Western value of "gay" and either ignores or demeans the Church's teaching show me that this priest is not putting his service to Christ and the Church - as it is, not as it would be in a fantasy - at the heart of who he is.

Is that better than "duh?"

Grant Gallicho

Most definitely better than "duh." I agree that priests who associate themselves first and foremost with certain aspects of the ambient culture (not just the "gay" part) and ignore or demean church teaching are bad news. I just don't know how many of these gay priests who are "gay above all else" there really are. Now, with respect to priests' daily struggles with parishioners who won't shut up and go away, I'm going to shut up and go away.

derringdo

"If not being married and not having children is a huge, painful sacrifice for you...perhaps you are not called to celibacy.

Duh."

I seem to recall reading somewhere that St. Francis of Assisi, in agonizing about his vocation, said "I could still have children!" Admittedly, he was one the Almighty tended to drop huge anvil sized hints on...

derringdo

"If not being married and not having children is a huge, painful sacrifice for you...perhaps you are not called to celibacy.

Duh."

I seem to recall reading somewhere that St. Francis of Assisi, in agonizing about his vocation, said "I could still have children!" Admittedly, he was one the Almighty tended to drop huge anvil sized hints on...

derringdo

sorry for double post.

Paula

Thank you Amy. Your postof Nov 23, 11:54:02 AM is excellent. I have come to realize that lax theology directly connects of lax morality. We are all sinners but not all of us see the Church's declaration that certain actions are sinful as an attempt to oppress us. Rather it should be taken as a reminder that we are afforded many helps in our struggle against sin. And that we no longer need to be slaves of sin, but are called to true Freedom through the Grace of Christ.

Jimmy Huck

"But the deeper issue, I think, is that if someone really believes that what the Church says God has revealed about human sexuality is true, then one would, in conscience, not be seeking to muddle the issue by proclaiming one's gayness, which, in this culture and this time means a stance in opposition to the Church's teaching. Sorry, but it does."

Priests constantly remind us that even they are sinners, sometimes even identifying their particular sin to prove the point to us mere mortals -- pride, intolerance, etc. How is a gay priest who admits his gayness (the fact of which I believe the Church itself doesn't recognize as sinful) muddling the water any more that a priest who tells us that his tendencies towards the sin of pride muddles the water. It all depends, in my mind, in how the gay priest proclaims his gayness publicly, not the simple fact that he does. You would have a point if all gay priests who are "out" acted like Daley, but that is just not the case as far as I can tell. But you know where I stand, so no more beating the dead horse on my part.

al

This is a schizophrenic approach to the problem.

On the one hand, you have those who would extol the insight of JPII's Theology of the Body, even exacting a deference to it, or even a deference to a particular interpretation of it, with respect to understandings of the meaning of nuptual and gender "complimentarity", of "openness to life", of "grave reasons", even of the marital vocation, and the call to the priesthood and religious life.

Then on the other hand, this all goes out the window, and its really accidental which partners you choose for indulging concupiscence, its really fidelity, or whether you "agree" with Church doctrine, which is indicative of someone capable of fulfilling a "nuptual" relationship with the Church.

Moreover, talking about talking past each other, you still have in the midst of this, people saying there is a homosexual "orientation" which is not evil.

If there is an "orientation" to an intrinsic evil, then that "orientation" is evil. If there is a habituation, or susceptibility to a temptation, then that's not an "orientation" it is a temptation. And the document, if it says anything, says those who cannot distance themselves from the temptation, cannot be ordained.

But all this together constitutes an incoherency.

If the Theology of the Body means something, the issue here is about more than outwardly professing the truth about the Church, just as loving one's wife--or husband--means more than reciting the marital vows, and believing them--it means living them, consumating them, which is to fully understand them. It means a true unity of living, not just of professing, so that the self is gone, and the new union is realized.

To consummate a "marriage" to the Sacraficial Sacramental Church, it is a consummation of sacrifice of the self, which means sacrificing all those impedences to transmitting Christ. A particular "orientation" is just a element of the self that is allowed to persist.

Tom

It wasn't in agonizing over his vocation that St. Francis said, "I could still have children!" It was in response to those who hailed him as a saint.

Christ is not "physically" present in the Eucharist; He is substantially present.

I can't see how the level of attention paid to the subject of this document can be justified by the level of its importance to the reform of the priesthood.

Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP

"What interests and concerns me is what you believe, what you teach, and how you live."

This is it exactly, Amy. I know SSA priests whose orthodoxy and holiness would make Benedict XVI blush. And I know hetero priests who cast around looking for the next heresy to preach.

This is a question of how priests will live iconic lives as Christ the Head and not how they will struggle privately with their sexualities.

amy

Thank you Fr. Philip. You put it very succinctly.

Radactrice

When some folks were trying to tell St. Francis how holy he was, he commented, "Don't make me a saint yet. I could still father children."

anonymous seminarian

"From where I sit, for a gay Catholic priest to identify what he believes is a created, immutable aspect of his being, made in the image of Christ, IS keeping his devotion to Christ and His Church who sees fit to proclaim on homosexuality the center of things."

-Positing homosexuality as an immutable aspect of a persons being: I belive this is the crux of the disagreement here. Every aspect of our created being, insofar as it exists, is good. Sexual desire and longing is good. The origin of sin lies not in our created being and its concommitant powers, but in a disorder in the structure, configuration and orientation (so to speak) of that being and its powers. However our identity as Christians is no longer rooted in the effects of sin (which we continue to experience even as we are being transformed by grace), but in the humanity of Christ, in which human beings are re-configured and re-ordered to be childeren of God. Homosexuality, while it may be a significant and lasting part of a persons *expereince* of their fallen humanity, is not an immutable aspect of their being. Their sexuality is such an immutable aspect, but not their orientation.

thomas tucker

Excellent, Amy.
And anonymous seminarian,who just cut the knot, and many others.
SSA is not what God intended, is not an end or goal of human life, and is a defect that is the result of original and actual sin, much as are other defects, illnesses, injuries, etc.
So, for a priest to glory in it as something good and just misunderstood is one thing. WHereas for a priest to use it as an example of how things are broken and wrong in our lives, but which we can overcome thru grace, is another.

Fr. Liam

The 'Gay' priest problem is greater than a problem of priests 'acting out' whether with teenage boys or adult men and greater than preying on males who are in venerable positions. It is a cultural issue. There is the so called 'Gay lifestyle' that many of these priests buy into. As one prominent priest told me and some other clerical friends recently, if you want to pick out the gay seminarian or priest just check out how many sweaters he has. In other words if you want to know the 'Gay' priest from the 'straight' one don't look at how he lives celibacy/chastity but look at how he lives poverty. Many priests who identify themselves as 'gay' and live the lifestyle also have the same issue that many 'gay' men in the secular world have. That is that they are narcissistic. Look for the priest who puts himself at the center of attention when he celebrates the Liturgy. look for the priests with the 'following'. I was shocked yesterday when after celebrating Mass a parishioner came up to me and told me of a priest in a neighbouring church who had a 'following', I know this man to be a 'gay lifestyle' apologist. I know him to cultivate friendships with the wealthy parishioners who contribute to his education and other causes. I do not know if he 'acts out' or not, it doesn't matter, the chill that ran down my spine was all I needed. I know this man for longer than most, I knew him when he never went to mass or prayed, I also knew him when he decided to enter seminary, a great conversion or was it something else? Don't be surprised when some of these men turn up at seminaries or novitiates. The priesthood, secular or religious lends respectability and gives one a captive audience.

SiliconValleySteve

Amy,

Thank you for saying with more force and more generosity what I believe. There is a book in there that I think you would hate to write but could become your opus. Consider it please.

The one question that you raise that bothers me the most is this part:

I have never understood the appeal of the Catholic priesthood for the actively gay man who doesn't give a flip about Church teaching on this score. If you want to serve others, go into social work or psychology or something. But if you don't believe it, and don't live it...why are you here? Why do you thrive, it seems, on secrecy and subversion? Don't you want to live a life of integrity?

The only answer I can come up with is that these people are coming through the door with the intention to subvert the teachings of the church. If they will lie this much and work at subversion so clearly, what else are they capable of?

Now all this could be different for priests who were ordained in the past and were confused for various reasons but now things are pretty darn clear.

Joseph D'Hippolito

Amy, you say that the fundamental issue is "priests who don't believe what the Catholic Church teaches on sexuality, who don't preach it, who don't witness to it in the confessional, and who don't live it in their private lives."

That's only part of the issue. A far more significant one, I think, is the inability or unwillingness of bishops (or leaders of religious orders) to hold priests accountable, or for the Pope to hold bishops (especially in major sees) accountable. Until that happens with frequency and appropriate force, it won't matter whether teaching is orthodox or heterodox.

Just look at the clerical sex-abuse crisis. Just look at areas of Catholic life that have nothing to do with sexuality (for instance, the wholesale moral and theological revisionism concerning capital punishment, initiated by JPII and embraced by the USCCB). Just look at the mass confusion permeating RCIA programs.

Yes, knowledgeable, faithful Catholics exist but they seem to be more the exception than the rule.

I wouldn't expect the Church to ordain sexually active men, whether heterosexual or homosexual, given its stance on celibacy. Then again, how much credibility does that stance have when married Protestant clergy who convert retain their clerical responsibilities?

Most of the respondents seem to view this issue solely as a matter of individual holiness and responsibility. It certainly is that but it's not solely that. Unless the Church is willing to back its words with actions, nothing it says in formal documents will matter.

chris K

I'm confused.

Tom Kelty

Seriously, good people, we belong to a church that not too long ago as time is measured, condemned Galileo, embraced slavery and openly rejected the whole modern area especially anything democratic like universal sufferage. It has a right to require chastity of its ministers both married and celibate. It has a right to require honesty of all candidates for ordination. But it has left enough wiggle room here to cause more problems than it resolves. It does emphasize that the faith has benefitted much from the ministry and lives of celibate homosexuals. It does not account for the laxity that allowed some seminaries to become pink palaces. Then again when it comes to accountability the good Lord Bishops tend to lose focus don't they?

David Morrison

re: From where I sit, for a gay Catholic priest to identify what he believes is a created, immutable aspect of his being, made in the image of Christ, IS keeping his devotion to Christ and His Church who sees fit to proclaim on homosexuality the center of things.

Sorry, but if a seminarian believes that the same sex attraction he experiences is a created immutable aspect of his being he should not be ordained. The Church does not claim to know what causes SSA, but she surely does not claim that SSA is good in and of itself. She has stated that it is an objective disorder and since we don't believe God created anything that was not good before the Fall, how is a priest who sees his SSA in that way to avoid the supposition that either the Church's teaching is in error or that SSA is in and of itself a good thing?

Amy you are right on. I accept the SSA that I live with because I believe I live with it because God has allowed it in my life to His own purpose which He has not, yet, chosen to share with me. I don't believe it is a good unto itself.

I want and believe we desperately need priests who have hearts for Christ and for the Church's full teaching on human sexuality. I don't want a priest who sees the SSA he experiences as a immutable good any more than I want to see a priest who cannot assent to the Church's teaching on fornication, birth control or abortion.

Nick

That is that they are narcissistic. Look for the priest who puts himself at the center of attention when he celebrates the Liturgy. look for the priests with the 'following'.

If you don't know any narcissistic heterosexual individuals or any selfless gay ones, you can't have been getting out much.

Jacqueline Y.

To Clare Krishan:
Thank you for your post above re the wisdom of Elizabeth Anscombe. I tried the orthodoxytoday.org link to her essay "Contraception and Chastity", but it didn't work. A book edited by Janet E. Smith, _Why Humanae Vitae Was Right: A Reader_ has this essay in it (it's Chapter 5).

If only our bishops, priests & Marriage Prep folks would take to heart Anscombe, Janet E. Smith, the Torodes, Christopher West, & our beloved JP II! Let us pray...

Fr. Liam

Perhaps I don't get out very much, then again I should be so dedicated to my work that I shouldn't. Sure there are a few narcissistic heterosexual priests but no more than the population at large (the problem is that the gay ones have a much higher instance of this particular personality disorder) as for the selfless gay priest, lets just say that I am still waiting. Because even the so called selfless gay one does what he does for himself, the praise etc. The true selfless one will be recognised by humility a quality truly absent from the gay priest.

Tom Haessler

Amy,

Your take on this issue deserves to stand alongside George Weigel's in his book on the sex abuse crisis. Thanks for your service as a lay apostle who shares her wisdom in confusing times.

Tom Haessler

Marc

anonymous seminarian, I usually agree
with your posts but this one looses me:

>"Every aspect of our created being, insofar as it exists, is good ,,,"

In an existential sense, yes, but in case and point from necessity
of our fallen natures we are focusing on men with homosexual orientations entering the priesthood -
where the rubber hits the highway.
Our priests are called to be shepherds of the faithful, to lead by virtue and not by vice.
It's one thing to demand chastity of the priest
and debate the issue of chaste sexual orientation, but that which is more sublime
and extremely damaging is the human frailty of
subjecting ones objective will power onto the
innocent flock (i.e., children).
To project our will is to be alive. So, a male with SSA assuming the role as priest can
claim to be chaste but that says nothing to the potential power abuse he subjects his flock to.

Nick

...as for the selfless gay priest, lets just say that I am still waiting. Because even the so called selfless gay one does what he does for himself, the praise etc.

All of which suggests that:

(a) you have discovered some hitherto unknown means of divining which priests are gay and which are straight

(b) you have developed the remarkable ability of making windows into men's souls and judging motives that are usually not apparent to lesser mortals

john

Fr. Liam,
I’m not sure that the link between SSA and materialism/narcissism is ultimately relevant. Any priest who has bought into any one of the modern American lifestyles (gay or otherwise) is likely to be materialist and narcissistic. I’ve certainly met more than a few straight priests who had their followings – often a group of married women who were enamored by “Fr. Whatawaste”!

In the end, I keep coming back to the original point Amy made: if a priest has been correctly formed to live a holy, Christ-centered life, he’ll be a good priest. Narcissistic priests aren’t living up to their calling, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Rich Leonardi

MT asks: Patrick, Grant and Jimmy: Do YOU believe and accept the church's teaching on sexuality?

Grant responds: MT: That's adorable of you to ask, but this comment box is not the appropriate forum for a purity test, and you certainly aren't the arbiter.

Which means MT got his answer. And that answer is the root of the problem: no explanation of the Instruction is going to satisfy someone who believes it beneath his dignity simply to assent to doctrine via a direct question.

Fr. Liam

O boy, how much time do I have.
Nick, hate to say so but have I hit a nerve? Part of my original post was a paraphrase of a prominent priest who used to work in formation, he told us that if you want to know who the gay seminarian/priest look in the closet (no pun intended) and see how many sweaters they have. Yes we live in a narcissistic self indulgent culture and many of us will fall for that but could any of have ever imagined a TV series along the lines of 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy', this is what I, and many others have identified as being self indulgent and narcissistic in the 'Gay' sense. By the way when I speak of narcissist I do mean the clinical definition that a psychologist of psychiatrist would use.

Old Zhou

Excuse me if I ask my question from 1:19 again, briefly.

How does the current Instruction square with "Always Our Children: A Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children and Suggestions for Pastoral Ministers, A Statement of the Bishops Committee on Marriage and Family National Conference of Catholic Bishops" (1997):

More than twenty years ago we bishops stated that "Homosexuals...should have an active role in the Christian community" (National Conference of Catholic Bishops, To Live in Christ Jesus: A Pastoral Reflection on the Moral Life, 1976, p.19).
What does this mean in practice?
It means that all homosexual persons have a right to be welcomed into the community, to hear the word of God, and to receive pastoral care.
Homosexual persons who are living chaste lives should have opportunities to lead and serve the community.

Rich Leonardi

David Morrison: Thank you for your courage and your witness. You and a handful of others have taught more of us about this subject than you probably know. I salute you.

Nick

Nick, hate to say so but have I hit a nerve?

Yes.

Because there are rational arguments to be made in favour of the document under discussion, and it is certainly reasonable to suggest that no gay man should present himself for ordination imagining that he can break his vow of celibacy afterwards.

However, an argument based on jumpers in the wardrobe and a TV programme is an utterly lamentable one and actually damages the larger case you want to make.

Fr. Liam

Celibacy is only part of the issue. It is a whole lifestyle that is of concern, it is the culture, and when it comes to culture TV, language and clothes are an issue. We will always have priests who find celibacy a burden, who are tempted and fall. This is a fact, what we are fighting against is the kind of culture that makes that lifestyle acceptable. It seems as if many people want a prieshhood of the pure and only the pure. The people who contribute this kind of Jansenism are not at all helpfull. The Church in this country has never 'got it' it has always been insulated from the feelings and attitudes of the Church at large.

 Other Marc

Old Zhou,
I think the cited parts of the documents square with eachother, but only if you consider the parts which you cited, but didn't highlight.
"However, the Church has the right to deny public roles of service and leadership to persons, whether homosexual or heterosexual, whose public behavior openly violates its teachings."
Of course, the new document is discussing private behavior and inclinations, not just public behavior, but the idea is nearly the same. If you don't even try to live and think with the mind of the Church, then you shouldn't expect to have a leadership position in it.

Courage Man

Mr. Zhou:

I'm sorry, but I don't see where the conflict is. "Always Our Children" doesn't speak of ordination at all.

The Document doesn't talk about rights "to be welcomed into the community" or "to hear the word of God" or "to receive pastoral care" and it doesn't say anything about "opportunities to lead and serve the community." Indeed, The Document is quite explicit that ordination is not a right -- a longstanding church teaching.

Chris Sullivan

I accept the SSA that I live with because I believe I live with it because God has allowed it in my life to His own purpose which He has not, yet, chosen to share with me. I don't believe it is a good unto itself.

Thanks David, I think this puts it very well.

In some recent document (I forget which), the Holy Father said that our sexuality is something very deep seated and part of our nature as a person. I think this needs to be kept firmly in mind. What is a disorder can also be a very fundamental part of a person. So fundamental that some confuse the disorder with the person (on both sides of the argument).

Deal Hudson made the interesting, and I think very important observation, that the new document actually appears to mark a significant development of discipline over what Pope John XXIII said.

I think it's an important development in the right direction. I'm very pleased the document doesn't automatically and mechanically exclude those suffering from SSA from the priesthood, which I think would have been a tragedy.

God Bless

Chris Sullivan

Rich writes David Morrison: Thank you for your courage and your witness. You and a handful of others have taught more of us about this subject than you probably know. I salute you.

Amen to that.

I don't see God's plan for David Morrison as quite as hidden as David seems to think it is !

God Bless

Old Zhou

Dear Courage Man and Other Marc,

Apparently NACDLGM feels that the current Instrucdtion does contradict "Always Our Children" and earlier statements of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. See PDF press release.

I'm mostly asking because I'm going to be at Mass with these GTU folks on Sunday, and I don't want to speak ignorantly.

From the press release of September 19, which is technically about the Seminary Investigation, but still applies:

In light of this apparent contradiction between the Bishop's Vatican approved document [AOC] and [Archbishop O'Brien's statement that even homosexuals who have been celibate for 10 years or more should not be admitted to the seminaries] the Board of NACDLGM urges that hommosexual persons should not be held to a different standard from heterosexual persons in regard to clerical celibacy. Homosexual persons should not be judged to be morally deficient as persons or unequal to the responsibilities of ordained ministry.

Apparently some people, and I would assume Bishops are included as they have done the ordaining, feel that the sentence in "Always Our Children"

Homosexual persons who are living chaste lives should have opportunities to lead and serve the community
does indeed refer to ordained ministry as Catholic priests (and bishops).

Nick

Celibacy is only part of the issue...The Church in this country has never 'got it' it has always been insulated from the feelings and attitudes of the Church at large.

There's little here I could disagree with.

I can't really be bothered with a lot of the "poor me" and victim rhetoric that has emerged in relation to this document, but I think you should recognise the judgement you are making about the character and motivation of the many good and holy gay men and women, clergy and laity, who are struggling to live in accordance with the church's teaching. And all on the basis of a highly mannered and stereotypical TV programme and some anecdotal evidence about clothing habits.

If you generally form sweeping judgements about your fellow humans on the basis of such flimsy evidence, then I don't wonder that your acquaintance with gay people is a limited as it appears to be. Which of them would be foolhardy enough to confide in you?

anonymous seminarian

Marc,

Could you clarify your objection to my post? I suspect that you may be drawing an implication from it that I didn't intend. Moreover, I'm not entirely sure what you are saying in your reply. No offense intended. Now my turn for clarification: the basic point of my post was that while sexual desire is an "immutable aspect of our being", exactly how that desire is oriented is not. The qoutation of mine that you reiterate in your reply regarding the goodness of our created being is a fundamental metaphysical point that I have gleaned from St. Thomas Aquinas (For instance his treatise "On Evil") and Dionysius the Areopagite (Chapter 4 of the Divine Names).

I suspect that rather than disagreeing with eachother we are just misunderstanding eachother? Irregardless, please, if you could, try to clarify your disagreement with my original post.

David Hart

I think there are three problems with a homosexually oriented parish priest.

The first problem is that a homosexually oriented priest may chose to become a priest because he feels that he is "trapped" into doing so.

A good experiment is to think of two seminarians. The first (we'll call him Aaron) is homosexually oriented and the second (we'll call him Bob) is heterosexually oriented.

Both think of themselves as faithful Catholics. Both have not engaged in any relationships for several years before coming to the seminary. Both are products of are culture that says that the worse thing a person can be is to be alone for the rest of his life. Both are not sure that if God is calling them or the that they they are there because they are young faithful Catholic men. So they're situation is equal, right?

Wrong, because Bob can weigh that what may be the call to join the priesthood against a call to find a woman, marry her and start a family. Bob has to weigh these two things against each other and feel which way God is calling him to go.

Aaron has a problem. He can only hear the voice telling him to be a priest because if he hears a voice telling him to leave the seminary and shack up with some man, he knows that to be Satan, right?

You see in this case, Bob is really making a choice and Aaron is not. Bob may or may not become a priest (most committed Catholics know as many men who dropped out of seminary as though that became priests) but I believe it is very likely Aaron will.

Assuming both of them do get through seminary at some point Satan will tempt both Aaron and Bob. Bob will at least know that he made a choice a long time ago and has to stick with it. Aaron may feel that he was trapped into this decision, resent his situation and succumb to the temptation.

There also may be spiritual reason for the superiority of a heterosexual candidate. I listened to an EWTN homily from a priest who says that Mother Angelica would only accept any candidate for monastic life who said if he didn't make it as a monk he was planning on marrying and having a family. She felt that the Holy Spirit responded to that freely given choice of the celibate lifestyle for a heterosexual male with a corresponding gift of celibacy. She believes that a homosexual candidate, no matter how devout in his devotion to the Church would not get a corresponding gift from the Holy Spirit because the choice was not freely given. The homosexual oriented priest does not have a choice to live a celibate lifestyle.

The second problem with the homosexual oriented person joining the priesthood is that despite research we don't know much about it. Most research comes from the side that is trying to prove that homosexuality is OK. It tends to start from the presupposition and works forward. The science seems very weak. Is someone homosexual because of prior abuse? Are they homosexual because of a "homosexual" gene? Are they homosexual because of poor impulse control and addictive behavior problems has changed normal sexual orientation?

There does seem to be something different in the brain of homosexually oriented individuals but is that because the behavior has changed the brain. There is substantial evidence that you can change you own brain by your behavior. For instance drug addiction can cause substantial changes in brain chemistry. The hormones achieved through sexual orgasm are almost just as powerful.

What I'm saying is that we know very little that is truly scientific about homosexuality and yet we are being asked by many to equate homosexual and heterosexual candidates for the priesthood equally.

Finally, there is the question to whether it is a good idea to introduce the idea of mixed sexuality in the seminary. A homosexually oriented candidate may have avoided sexual situations before he choose not to go to gay bars and just convinced himself that other homosexual men were not "hitting" on him. Suddenly in a seminary which attracts both heterosexual and homosexual candidates he may be introduced to people very similar to himself. He may feel that he is "falling" in love with another seminarian and make take steps that out of step with a celibate lifestyle and might tempt another to break their vow of celibacy.

Also the heterosexual priest can find situations (with improper screening of candidates) where he feels that the seminary is a "gay" seminary. There have been many accounts of heterosexual seminarians who felt under severe pressure to approve of their homosexual seminarian's relationships. Since fewer and fewer heterosexual men choose to try a seminary on for size we may have a situation where that potential number of homosexual applicants remains the same whereas the heterosexual number keeps dropping. Hurting this is the fact that marriages have turned into trial marriages nowadays. Marriage doesn't seem as final as a seminary does and a heterosexual male want to endure abuse for his own sexuality rather than join with a woman who would love him for it?

Jack

Fr Liam is spot on, though diffuse.
What is wrong about homosexuality is that it is an inclination towards an act that is under no circumstances anything but immoral (unlike gluttony, say, or fornication, which are abuses of goods).
Homosexual men then have the moral equivalent of a serious mental disease; imagine people with an inclination to eat glass or walk on their heads. A homosexual inclination is a form of insanity.
BTW, homosexuals and insane persons are perfectly capable of being intelligent and charming...although to the common man there is always at least 'something queer' about both groups. this is what Fr Liam is getting at with the abundance of sweaters example. [Homosexuals of my acquaintance have confessed that a man with more than 3 pairs of shoes is one they would consider hitting on as a possible "gay guy".]
This is why, until it is cured in the specific individual (assuming that it is 'transitory', to use the document's word), homosexuality ought to be a bar to the ministry (and a host of other jobs engaging moral decisions, like teaching, medicine, the bench, etc.).
If it is, in an individual's case, not transitory (i.e. incurable), then it is just to bar him forever from such occupations.

Mark Mossa, SJ

When I told a friend of mine that I was becoming a Jesuit, she asked, "So, you don't want to get married?"

And I said, "No, I'd love to be married, but more so I want to do what God wants for me, and I think that means becoming a Jesuit priest."

That was nine years ago, and I'm more certain of that now than I was then.

That means that I'm called to be a Jesuit and a priest. And the only way that I can be those two things is by being celibate. Does that mean I'm "called to celibacy"? Maybe, in a certain sense. Yet, while I appreciate celibacy and practice it, I honestly have never experienced it as a separate call. And I'm not sure it's right to say that if someone doesn't feel "called to celibacy," one is not called to be a priest.
Wouldn't that, in a sense, be putting your sexuality before what God wants, which I understand you to be saying one shouldn't do?

T. Chan

^insanity no, a form of OCD perhaps

amy

But Mark, what you describe is different from yearning for marriage and seeing your life as somehow deficient because you have "sacrificed" marriage and children. My point is, if it is a sacrifice that causes pain, If one is torn, then I fail to see how that constitutes a sign that one should be celibate.

anonymous seminarian

Jack,

I suspect the faithful who struggle with SSA will find your stark and hopeless charactarization of their situation somewhat inaccurate. Perhaps you might want to back off the hyperbole a bit?

amy

Perhaps talking about women religious would clarify what I mean. I know many women who have no desire to be married and have no real desire to have children, either. They are not lesbians, but when it comes to marriage/singlehood, they could go either way. Sure, like anyone, if they are single, they may be lonely some times, or if they indeed end up married, even happily, they may yearn to just be alone sometimes. That's life.

But these women, whether they are married, single or vowed, are what I call "natural celibates." I remember talking witha woman - a former Presbyterian minister, Catholic convert, married with two children, talking about how she was blessed by her husband and children, could probably have been very content as a celibate as well.

Perhaps, because of the different make-ups of men and women, it is rarer to find that in men, but I think it is actually not uncommon among women. The irony to me is that I think in the past a lot of these women, some of whom might even had an antipathy to children, ended up in religious life and, more often than not...in the classroom.

Patrick Rothwell

"[Homosexuals of my acquaintance have confessed that a man with more than 3 pairs of shoes is one they would consider hitting on as a possible "gay guy".]"

Good Lord.

"This is why, until it is cured in the specific individual (assuming that it is 'transitory', to use the document's word), homosexuality ought to be a bar to the ministry (and a host of other jobs engaging moral decisions, like teaching, medicine, the bench, etc.).
If it is, in an individual's case, not transitory (i.e. incurable), then it is just to bar him forever from such occupations."

It would be interesting to know whether regular combox participants would agree that non-practicing SSAs should be banned from teaching, practicing medicine, or serving as judges. Methinks probably most would not agree, but I could be mistaken.

frank sales

Amy,

Your original post is truly inspired -- temperate, insightful and resonating with truth. Did you notice a flame dancing over your head while you typed?

Old Zhou

3 pairs of shoes indicates "gay"?

I have 3 pairs of identical style/size Birkenstocks. And I wear them all year round without socks. What does that make me?

(I also have 1 pair of athletic shoes, and one pair of Rockport dress shoes that have not been on my feet in years; and some plastic sandals for the garden.)

amy

Zhou:

"What does that make me?"

...a resident of the Bay Area?

I have four pairs of shoes, total. Not counting the tap shoes from the tap class I took in college,but I probably shouldn't have mentioned that.

Fr. Liam

My experience of Gay people is indeed limited, I never met a gay person until I entered seminary. Again I will say CELIBACY ALONE IS NOT THE ISSUE, there, was I loud enough, it is the whole culture that is MORE self indulgent and narcistic than the culture at large. We as priests have to learn to live POVERTY and OBEDIENCE just as much as celibacy. A priest who has a fling is condemned but one who has a brand new luxury car is not condemned (unless he stole the money), dont ou see the problem with that? The homosexual persen is a child of God, created in his image and likeness, not to be condemned.

SiliconValleySteve

When I was single so many years ago, I had several pairs of shoes and a very serious wardrobe. Was I gay?

Nah, probably just a metrosexual ahead of my time.

Old Zhou

Oh Amy, I can see you doing a little gleeful tap dance on your hardwood floor after your finish some writing task or another!

Old Zhou

Dear Fr. Liam, get yourself to the Sabbatical Program at the GTU School of Applied Theology. You can relax, refresh, and drink deep at America's premier well of gay theology. You will be Renewed and Transformed. And I will sing for you at Mass. Lots of dear old Sisters from Ireland around, too.

kathleen reilly

anonymous seminarian, excellent post, you have hit the nail on the head. Camille Paglia, who lives a lesbian lifestyle, has ridiculed the notion that certain people "have lavender blood running through their veins", i.e. that any given individual's HOMOsexuality is immutable (as opposed to just sexuality). It's a distinction that is often not made in today's society, but it's a true distinction. A man of the church who succumbs to such conventional distinctions with regard to his own identity is by definition too worldly to be an effective agent of a timeless Church. wish you weren't anonymous!

Nick

A priest who has a fling is condemned but one who has a brand new luxury car is not condemned (unless he stole the money), dont ou see the problem with that?

I certainly see the problem with that.

But the burden of your first post was that SSA priests were somehow intrinsically more prone to such shortcomings. Go back and have a look at what you said.

Jimmy Huck

David Morrison - I never said an immutable "good" part of his being. I said an immutable aspect of his being. You can call it the propensity towards sin, which we are all subject to and which, too, is an immutable aspect of our being. Given that, even in our sinfulness, we are all still created in the image of Christ and we can still be fully devoted to Christ and His Church, and make it the center of our lives. Recognizing publicly the fact of homosexuality as a part of one's being, the fact of sin's existence in our lives if you will, does NOT make a gay priest, or you, or anyone other Catholic with a same sex attraction subject to the charge that they are somehow less devoted to Christ and His Church because of that.

By Amy's very logic, the fact of your own SSA is irrelevant to this discussion (we don't need to know that little piece of information about you) and the simple fact that you brought it up here (as opposed to NPR) to make a point from your own personal struggle with this issue does not just make you unfit to be a priest as you believe, but it ALSO broadcasts to Amy that "something else other than Christ is at the center of your life." How does that sit with you?

David Morrison

A couple of things. First, I would not expect NACDLGM to support the instruction. I have had on and off interactions with the organization for years and have not found that they offer the fullness of the Church's teaching on same sex attraction or homosexual acts.

Second, David Hart's analysis stumbles on the supposition that all men who live with SSA must do so exclusively and to the lack of any heterosexuality at all. This is not the case and there are many men (and women) who live with SSA and who yet are good husbands and wives, fathers and mothers.

I have offered an unpacking of one of the attacks on the instruction at http://davidmorrison.typepad.com/sed_contra/2005/11/proving_the_doc.html
and I admit to being cheered at the attack. Any document that makes the supporters of a self-identified gay priesthood squirm and screech, it seems to me, has at least the possibility of doing some good.

It is this sort of man, the man who believes what the Church teaches and, though he might live with some degree of SSA, does not self-identify as gay and has never acted out who I believe may eventually be most empowered by the document to discern a call for priesthood.

Marc

anonymous seminarian,

your point was a St.Thomas quote: "sexual desire is an 'immutable aspect of our being', exactly how that desire is oriented is not."

The intention of my post was an attempt to ground the issue and not drift it into the ethers of philosophical argument.
That said, I'm a avid St.Thomas admirer and appreciate your perspective.

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