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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  • Posted by: zonner - Nov. 09, 2005 10:00 AM ET USA

    How did this guy get elected? He was the Master General who stopped the use of the English Indult in a Dominican parish and banned discussion about a return of the Dominican rite.He was always odd, Is the present one any better?

  • Posted by: - Nov. 08, 2005 2:05 PM ET USA

    I don't mean to be crass, but is it considered impolitic to point out that the Very Rev Fr Radcliffe does not strike me as being as much of a stickler for "taking the discipline" as Saint Dominic was? Just a hunch.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 08, 2005 1:49 PM ET USA

    Di, you bring up an excellent point. What if the Vatican did issue a doctrinal pronouncement that was "unacceptable," such as saying that it is perfectly natural for people to be gay, and we look for priests such as these? First, I would have to find out whether or not it came from an individual, or if this is officially something the Church is teaching. If it is the latter (Can't possibly happen) I would be the first to denounce my faith and call myself anti-Catholic. As far as I can tell, the Catholic Church is the only Christian religion that has kept the same beliefs since the beginning of its existence. She cannot err when it comes to matters of Faith and Morals. If something that used to be taught as a sin, were suddenly to change into something that isn't a sin, She could no longer be called infallible and all of the merit that was given to her by God 2000 years ago would vanish overnight. If she is the True Church, this can't possibly happen.Have Faith

  • Posted by: Sir William - Nov. 08, 2005 12:28 PM ET USA

    "If it were to contain such a ban, which is highly unlikely, most Catholics, at least in the West, would find it unacceptable." Unacceptable only to those with no sons, do you think? I should, perhaps, admit that I do have a 'deep rooted prejudice' against anyone who promises obedience and celibacy and then abuses boys & young men for fun and solicits strange men in the park as certain persuasions of sexual orientation seem wont to do. Call me old-fashioned, if you will.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 08, 2005 8:41 AM ET USA

    We may make a very important observation here: that is, that a religious order leans toward decadence when the number of the tepid begins to equal that of the fervent. Father Lallemant, S.J, The Spiritual Doctrine

  • Posted by: - Nov. 08, 2005 8:39 AM ET USA

    This statement is borne out by St. Bernard, who says: "You will more easily see a great number of seculars renounce vice and embrace virtue than a single religious pass from tepidity to fervor." Fr Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, OP

  • Posted by: Venerable Aussie - Nov. 08, 2005 6:51 AM ET USA

    Radcliffe has expressed concern over the emergence of a "sexual orientation"-based sub-culture among OPs (google his 1998 "Promise of Life" document). You'll see that he also addresses at length what it means to live chastely. But it doesn't answer the question of the test for "homophobia". If a prospective friar said that he, like the CCC, understood that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered" would Radcliffe give him a TICK or a very big CROSS to bear as he's shown the door?

  • Posted by: Vincit omnia amor - Nov. 08, 2005 1:08 AM ET USA

    don't know the date of this quote but here goes: Timothy Radcliffe...commented on the emergence of a homosexual sub-culture within a seminary or religious order: "It can threaten the unity of the community; it can make it harder for the brethren to practice the chastity which we have vowed. It can put pressure on brethren to think of themselves in a way that is not central to their vocation as preachers of the Kingdom..." Guess he's had a conversion experience since?

  • Posted by: - Nov. 07, 2005 10:59 PM ET USA

    So, I step over the body of a Beaver, schmucked by a tree (dam it anyway) back in a previous post. I then wander over here and see some impostor -- Pseudo-Athanasius (nice try mom) stealing my thunder, waxing all syllogistic and then I cast my eyes upward and what do I find? Mr. Rogers and Gene Wilder fused into some type of Thomas Pynchon cybperpunk sweater vest mamby Dominican. Is that an inquisition document in your left hand Fr Radcliffe or are you unhappy to see us? Peace out.

  • Posted by: Vincit omnia amor - Nov. 07, 2005 9:04 PM ET USA

    what twisted logic from a brother of Dominic & Thomas. following his logic, a candidate for the Priesthood should be excluded if they believed in the 10 Commandments...don't need those who are "phobic" about atheists, those who honor their Mother & Father, adulterers, murderers, etc. This guy is about as far out as Matthew Fox!

  • Posted by: - Nov. 07, 2005 8:54 PM ET USA

    Woah, hang on there... let's not go from individual to universal so quickly. "[T]he Dominicans saying that people who think homosexuals can't be priests, can't themselves be priests." Many Dominicans would disagree. It's a little rash to slam the entire order based upon the statements of the former Master General.