an unneeded headache?

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jul 08, 2005

John Allen's Word from Rome reports that the document on homosexual candidates for the priesthood is on the Pope's desk. The good news is that it's good news. The bad news is that it's bad news for a lot of men responsible for implementing it. Sound familiar?

Sources indicate that the long-awaited Vatican document on the admission of homosexuals to seminaries is now in the hands of Pope Benedict XVI. The document, which has been condensed from earlier versions, reasserts the response given by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in 2002, in response to a dubium submitted by a bishop on whether a homosexual could be ordained: "A homosexual person, or one with a homosexual tendency, is not fit to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders." ...

Several American bishops were in Rome last week for the June 29 pallium ceremony, and I spoke to some of them about the document. Privately, some hope Benedict will decide to put the document in a desk drawer for the time being, on the grounds that it will generate controversy and negative press without changing anything in terms of existing discipline.

What d'you mean, "generate" controversy, your Grace? The controversy has been raging for years. The point of this document is to put an end to it -- as indeed it would, were most bishops disposed to be guided by its instructions.

As one bishop put it to me, the policy against ordaining homosexuals is already clear -- the only interesting question is, what do you mean by a "homosexual"?
If you have to ask, you don't want to understand the answer.

At one end of the continuum, it could refer to anyone who once had a fleeting same-sex attraction; at another, it could be restricted to someone who is sexually active and openly part of a "gay pride" movement. Most people would exclude those extremes, but where is the line drawn in between?

Well lads, there's almost certainly a "continuum" of attraction manifested in necrophilia and bestiality too, but to date seminaries haven't shipwrecked on the problem. When the formatores are free of the disorder themselves, and have no qualms about eliminating it, they manage to identify it without great hand-wringing.

Vatican sources have made clear the document will not enter into these details, and hence this bishop believes it's an unneeded headache.

A headache for whom? For the long-suffering laity? For good-willed and healthy seminarians? Nope. It's a headache for the bishops -- especially those bishops who are conflict averse or who have important personal PASTORAL reasons for keeping this particular issue -- and the Holy See's directives thereon -- far from the glare of the spotlight. In short, it looks like business as usual.

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  • Posted by: - Jul. 11, 2005 5:48 PM ET USA

    Speaking as someone for whom same sex attraction has been a lifetime struggle, I think that any homosexual man who considers entering the priesthood at this point in time is insane. The temptations are far too grave and too ubiquitous. I was "active" for twenty years, and I met more priests in the bars than I ever did in the parishes. No matter how good his intentions, for a homosexual to enter the priesthood now is like an alcoholic applying for a job at a brewery.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 11, 2005 9:31 AM ET USA

    Am I wrong in thinking that an order by Pope John XXIII prohibited ordaining homosexuals? We have already seen what happens without the necessary discipline for enforcement. If the first time failed, what do you think of the chances that it will work a second time without a return to discipline at the bishops level to enforce it?

  • Posted by: - Jul. 09, 2005 3:28 AM ET USA

    IMO, men who struggle with same-sex orientation and consider homosexual activity sinful should be allowed to discern a vocation to the priesthood (if they are otherwise suited to discern that vocation). Same-sex attraction is not the fault of the person who has it, and it shouldn't be a barrier to whatever good things the person wants to do. However, sexual activity for seminarians and clergy is sinful — unless one is a married Eastern Catholic seminarian, deacon or priest (of course).

  • Posted by: - Jul. 08, 2005 9:19 PM ET USA

    There is an unofficial policy in our diocese: if a priest's personal life doesn't create a public scandal the bishop will not interfer, regardless of sexual orientation or sexual activity. There is another unofficial policy in our diocese: do not raise the issue of homosexuality unless you are prepared for episcopal retribution. Needless to say, the heterosexual clergy in our diocese have become a threatened minority: as long as we have this bishop we see no light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 08, 2005 4:13 PM ET USA

    Bishops get headaches when they do too many headfakes. No pain. No gain. Raise Cain. Skip the Rogaine.

  • Posted by: Fr. William - Jul. 08, 2005 3:40 PM ET USA

    Great essay, Diogenes. Please consider sending a copy to every bishop in the USA... Granted, a few bishops actually know what you are referring to, but the majority actually need this type of insightful essay, & it would do them some good to read it -- especially if they're serious in answering God's call to them to be Successors of the Apostles, to have the Heart of the Shepherd. Saint Josemaria Escriva, pray for us, & help the bishops to live Christ's call to them in Holy Boldness.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 08, 2005 2:47 PM ET USA

    Awesome commentary, Diogenes!!!