Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

experts agree: trust the experts

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Dec 05, 2005

Who's been screening the screeners? No nation, in the admission and formation of its clergy, has relied so extensively and supinely on secular professional psychology as the United States. Hence the reactions to the Instruction -- and especially the over-reactions -- are a testament to the brilliant success story known as the U.S. Catholic presbyterate:

American psychologist Tom Plante, who interviews applicants for seminaries, said up to half of the 42,000 priests in the US should resign now.

Timely, balanced, judicious, sober. Just what we expect from a Church-employed psychologist in a gatekeeping position.

To his knowledge, he said, no applicant had been rejected because he was gay. He said he checked applicants for psychiatric or personality disorders and risk factors for sex offenders, and homosexuality was none of these.

Congratulations, Tom. The results speak for themselves. There are tort lawyers across the nation whose daughters will be driving spanking-new Jaguar convertibles this Christmas thanks to this kind of thinking in operation. True, it involves the occasional church closing, diocesan bankruptcy, etc., but the important thing is that we all understand that men's attraction to men is not a disorder and that priests should feel free to jump ship when their tantrums so incite them. We are an Easter People.

Update & clarification: Greg Popcak at HMS has communicated with Prof. Plante and Plante writes he was mortified by what he read in the article quoted. From Plante via Popcak:

I wanted you to be aware that I was misquoted in Barney Zwartz's Dec 4, 2005 article entitled, "Celibate priests not affected by Vatican gay ban." I am unsure how to contact Mr. Zwartz directly and hoped that you might forward this message to him and see if the misquote can be fixed or altered. Since it is a rather serious misquote I am hoping that you might be able to do something to fix it. ...I certainly did not say or believe that 1/2 of US priests should resign. I think what I said was that if the Catholic Church wanted to rid the priesthood of gays, then they would lose 1/3 to 1/2 of their priests (both applicants to the priesthood as well as current priests). I certainly do NOT feel that homosexual priests should resign. In fact, I have stated in numerous press interviews that homosexual men can be fabulous priests as long as they live a vowed life with integrity just like heterosexual men.

I believe Prof. Plante is mistaken in his judgment, but that judgment is distinct from the call to abandon ship that Zwartz attributed to him, and I'm happy to record his repudiation. Plante does not contest the quote that has him saying homosexuality isn't a psychiatric or personality disorder. Given the Church's teaching that the homosexual orientation is objectively disordered, it's far from clear where Prof. Plante would locate the disorder -- if, that is, he concurs with the teaching. Zwartz also quotes Plante as saying that the recent Instruction is "a recipe for a major crisis." I'd welcome further assurances that this statement too is misquoted (or tendentiously framed), and that Prof. Plante aligns himself with the document and with the theology that undergirds it.

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