Non serviam?

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Nov 07, 2005

In a Letter to the Editor published Tuesday by the London Times, the former worldwide head of the Dominican order comments on the likelihood that a new Vatican document will ban homosexuals from seminaries:

If it were to contain such a ban, which is highly unlikely, most Catholics, at least in the West, would find it unacceptable.

Any deep-rooted prejudice against others, such as homophobia or misogyny, would be grounds for rejecting a candidate for the priesthood, but not their sexual orientation.

• Since 1961, the official stance of the Vatican has been that homosexuals should not be "advanced to religious vows or ordination." Perhaps we can now make an intelligent guess as to how faithfully that policy was applied during the decade (1992- 2001) when Father Timothy Radcliffe was Master General of the Dominican order.

• Ah! But "homophobia" would be grounds for exclusion from the priesthood. And you can almost see the logic unfold: A document banning gays would be homophobic. Therefore the authors of such a document could not be priests. So there's the real likelihood of a Mexican standoff: the Vatican saying that homosexuals can't be priests, the Dominicans saying that people who think homosexuals can't be priests, can't themselves be priests. All that's missing is the mutual excommunications, and the schism would be complete.

• Suppose that the Vatican did issue a doctrinal pronouncement which you and I found "unacceptable." What should we then say? Non serviam?

The Very Rev. Timothy Radcliffe, O.P.

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