Catholic Culture Liturgical Living
Catholic Culture Liturgical Living

an unneeded headache?

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Jul 08, 2005

Vision Book Cover Prints

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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