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help is not on the way

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jan 14, 2005

John Allen's Word from Rome is up, with the usual spread of interesting items, including the following:

The long-awaited document from the Congregation for Catholic Education on the admission of homosexuals to Catholic seminaries may be nearing publication. In mid-January, word was that the document could be released in a Vatican press conference as early as February. On the other hand, sources advised caution -- desk drawers in Vatican offices are full of documents that once reached the brink of publication, but for one reason or another never saw the light of day.

If released in something like its present form, the document is expected to say that "homosexuals" should not be admitted to seminaries, and hence should not be ordained as priests.

Sources told NCR that it is unlikely, however, that the document will go into detail in terms of defining "homosexuality" -- whether it refers to a transitory impulse, an enduring orientation, or something in between -- which means that in practice some discretion would be left in the hands of bishops and seminary rectors to determine whether a given case amounts to "homosexuality" in the sense intended by the policy.

Allen's prediction, as I read it, is almost the opposite of that made by Bishop Nienstedt a month ago in a CNS story:

"So the whole question has to be nuanced considerably: 'What is homosexuality?' 'What are the homosexual attractions?' and that sort of thing. I think this document will be helpful because it is going to address those questions," he said.

In sum, it looks as if we're going to lose either way. If we get a document with "nuance" installed -- bingo! -- they do a head fake with the sexuality workshop and give the green light to gays. If we get a document left deliberately vague -- bingo! -- the right heads plant themselves in the sand and we arrive at the same destination. Heads they win; tails we lose.

On the whole, I'd prefer the defeat envisioned by Allen to the defeat envisioned by Nienstedt, since it would be easier (say, a century from now) to view as a re-affirmation of the Congregation for Religious's 1961 ban:

Advancement to religious vows and ordination should be barred to those who are afflicted with evil tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty, since for them the common life and the priestly ministry would constitute serious dangers.

Whatever form the final document takes, we can confidently predict that it will instantly be pounced upon and hailed as a "significant Vatican re-thinking of homosexual clergy" by the benders. That's the way the game is played today. The actual words won't matter; any change in phrasing from 1961 will be construed as "evidence of a new openness." We could write the inevitable America article ourselves.

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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Ignacio177 - Jan. 19, 2005 6:44 AM ET USA

    would it not be better to talk about vices and virtues. A vice is a bad habit. One that has a habit of homosexual acts is a homosexual. Remember that acts may be external or internal. External: sexual relations, pornography and other outward expressions. Internal: The mental consent to a temptation, planing to do someting if the opportunity arrises. That seems to be much clearer than talking about orientation.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 18, 2005 9:27 AM ET USA

    Nuanced religion a la USCCB is indeed a bane on the Catholic Church in America.

  • Posted by: opraem - Jan. 15, 2005 10:24 AM ET USA

    you are making a big assumption, that the us bishops will pay any heed to a vatican document. they haven't in the past (ex corde, lay ministers, etal) and the pope can't or won't take any enforcement actions. it's the good priests and faithful laity that suffer (again).

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