IN which we look at various and sundry responses to the document.
First, mine. Hah. Well, it's actually just more reflection on the coverage and reactions. The stories are following a clear template: This instruction is a response to the sexual abuse crisis; BUT pedophilia does not equal homosexuality; BUT most victimes were pre-teen and teen males; BUT that's a sign of sexual and affective immaturity, not simply homosexuality: BUT plenty of girls and women have been abused by priests, as well.
Cut to seminarian, saddened that his gifts aren't appreciated by the homophobes.
Here's what's missing: a complete explanation of the motivation for this Instruction: a closer look at the landscape of Catholic priesthood and religious life. Yes, the abuse crisis brought this to the fore, but the concerns have been there for a while, as well as the knowledge, but, for fear of a failure to be pastoral, lack of will, sympathy in the episcopal ranks, typical Catholic bureaucratic creep, as well as a simple desperation for male bodies to ordain have all worked to silence concerned voices. I guess that's over.
The bigger problem is that there seems to be a consistent connection between sympathy for the secular gay agenda and ethos and a disinterest or even antipathy to traditional Catholic teaching on sexuality and family, period. And we're not talking about little points of minutiae here: we're talking about the big picture, that big picture in which the relationship between male and female is an anaology for the relationship between God and humanity, and even a template for understanding creation, period. Disconnect from that, and you are slowly, but surely, disconnecting from Catholic Christianity as you depend on your own personal revelation, rather than the public revelation of Scripture and so on, to define your faith, and the faith which you are teaching, preaching, and being guided by in your pastoral ministry.
The Catholic Church believes in a complementarity of women and men, both physically and spiritually, that is essential to being truly human. We
believe that the giving of oneself in nuptial love reflects the inner life of the Trinity. This truly human giving of oneself in intimate sexual union is at once free, total, and permanent, excluding gratification as a mere self-centered, sterile, and ultimately depersonalized act. This self-giving, which is the product of the divine Love of the One in whose image both male and female are created, engenders a fidelity that is spousal in nature and scope. So great is this gift that celibacy is a fitting way of life that truly mirrors the dignity and beauty of the heterosexual married state. Therefore, in a sense, all human beings are meant to be spouses - either in a lifelong chaste relationship with another, committed to his/her good as husband and wife, or in celibate dignity. Parenting, the living of maternity and paternity, is a part of each adult human life, whether physically or spiritually.
Consequently, it is precisely this complete gift of self and spiritual fatherhood that is required of a priest to serve the Church. The celibate priest expresses his sexuality, not through denial, but through spiritual paternity, living his life as a committed father of his flock, and as one 'married' to the Church. He is called to relate in an emotionally mature way to his flock as father and to his bride, the Church, as his spouse with generosity, compassion, and fidelity. He is called to live and unequivocally teach the truths which God has entrusted to His Church. That commitment necessarily excludes living or promoting a way of life that by its very nature opposes the gift of chastity.
The Instruction recognizes the reality of these demands on a faithful priest. A candidate for priestly ordination must be capable of displaying affective maturity in his dealings with all people - men, women, and children. The commitment to chastity becomes the vehicle that provides freedom for that self-giving. That self-giving is provocative of spiritual paternity. A man who acts upon or suffers from deeply rooted same-sex attractions or supports the "gay" subculture is simply not in a position to fulfill these requirements, even though he may be able to perform other priestly functions well. Chastity is at the heart of the Christian understanding of humanity.
By the way, here is a link to Bishop Baker's recent pastoral letter, "The Redemption of Our Bodies" (pdf file)
I am not a big fan of the "complementary" line because I see it used most frequently to tell women why they shouldn't try to do things that their "natures" don't suit them for. (Remember, too that "nature-based" gender identification isn't confined only to traditional Catholics. Lotsa secular feminists have made plenty of hay off of women's "unique voice" "way of listening" "learning styles" and so on over the past few decades.) But that caveat is not about the fundamental point, an observation about humanity that is not unique, by any means, to Christianity - yin and yang, call your office.
And note, too, that the priest or other leader who buys into the secularist gay ethos is not the only problem. We're all problems, of course, and I have heard the faith mangled by all sorts of folks working out of all sorts of motivations, obsessions and obfuscations. Including me. But, while this is not the only problem, it is a pressing problem at the moment, so here's your Instruction.
It falls to every bishop — supported by seminary rectors and formation teams — to examine and discern the suitability of every candidate for priesthood on a case-by-case basis that respects the dignity of the individual. 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. This is simply common sense.
All of that said, I'm still thinking that the "deep-seated tendencies" thing, contrasted with the fleeting interest or whatever, was a mistake. I'm still trying to sort this out, because something about even my own "concentrate on the teaching" meme does seem inadequate. But this other path completely neglects the complex point that men with homosexual tendencies, same-sex attraction, whatever can be good priests, and have put spiritual orientation before sexual orientation, and have put on Christ, becoming new creatures in Him. There's the rub.