Friday, September 23, 2005

A Disaster for the Church?

An American priest in active ministry, writing under a pseudonym, contributes to this week's edition of The Tablet about the much-publicized "impending" gay ban.
This is the worst kind of prejudice, and should be seen as an embarrassment for the Church, rather than the basis for its selection of candidates for the sacrament of orders.

If a Vatican directive barring homosexuals from the priesthood appears, it will be a disaster for the Catholic Church. First, it would mean setting aside the example of countless hardworking and faithful gay men who have served as priests, and who have lived their promises of celibacy with integrity. Many American Catholics accept their gay pastors, trusting that they lead celibate lives and valuing their ministry in their parishes. Others go further in praising the contribution of gay priests. In an article in the conservative journal First Things, Father Richard John Neuhaus wrote, “It would seem more than likely that, in centuries past, some priests who have been canonised as saints would meet today’s criteria as having a homosexual orientation.”

Second, such a ban would unjustly place blame for the abuse crisis on all gay priests, even the celibate ones, not just those few psychologically sick men who preyed on young boys. It wrongly conflates homosexuality with paedophilia, which is not only bad science, it is an affront to gays and lesbians, as well as an indication of just how little the Vatican seems to understand about human sexuality.

Third, during a crisis of plummeting vocations, any ban would drastically diminish the pool of applicants to seminaries and religious orders. And a number of gay men already in the process of training for the priesthood – in novitiates and seminaries around the country – have confided to me that if they were no longer officially permitted to advance to ordination, they would have to leave. It’s hard not to feel special sorrow for these men, who, after many years of discernment and prayer, will be faced with a terrible choice: either lie and be ordained, or leave and deny your vocation.

The reduction in the pool of applicants would not result simply from fewer gay vocations. Some heterosexual men have told me that they would be less likely to enter a religious order or seminary that evinces such an attitude to some of their fellow human beings.

Finally, a document like the one Archbishop O’Brien predicts would in effect say to gay priests: you should never have been ordained.
And there's no worse demoralizer than that.



Blogger Jon said...

"Third, during a crisis of plummeting vocations, any ban would drastically diminish the pool of applicants to seminaries and religious orders."

Fourth, as a remedial measure, the 2,000 year-old ban on women serving at the altar is restored forthwith, altar service being, in the words of John Paul II, "the garden of vocations."

Who's demoralized now?

23/9/05 15:36  
Blogger patrick said...

It is a little known fact that women in fact served at altar during the Elizabethan recusant-era. Of course, that was a true emergency situation, but it simply is not true that the ban on women serving at the altar is a constant 2,000 year old tradition.

That said, I would not mind it too much if women were banned from serving as servers, eme's, lay readers, etc. However, the existence of altar servers, a development which I vociferously opposed at my prior parish and still believe was a mistake in part for the reason Jon states, is not the outrage and disaster often believed. That parish has had a number of vocations since the advent of female altar servers.

23/9/05 15:54  
Blogger George Collie said...

If this turns out not to be a disaster, it will because it becomes "don't ask, don't tell."

It will be a disaster if it reduces the number of seminarians and causes homosexual priests to leave.

And it will hit the "orthodox" seminaries as much or more than the others. I know of no homosexual seminarians who are Church or political liberals. I know several who are apolitical or ultramontanists.

If enforced, this will hit hard. If is not enforced, it is just another cross to bear for the English-speaking Church.

Why are only seminaries in the U.S. being visited? Does the ban only apply to English-speaking men with a homosexual orientation?

Put another way--why does the Vatican hate America?

23/9/05 16:48  
Blogger Jimmy Mac said...

Do you know what about the article being quoted from will get the neocon juices flowing the most?

The fact that this priest spoke out after being ordered by his (very, very) Ordinary not to.

Obedience is ALWAYS more valuable than the truth. How else can Catholicism keep its good little Pew Potato Sheep in order?

That silliness reminds me of the Vietnam era mantra: "My country, right or wrong."

23/9/05 17:11  
Blogger Jeff said...

Any faithful "gay" Catholic priest(I still won't use this absurd word without quotation marks) will already know that he or she has a particular weakness or tendency to sin and will not be insisting that it be celebrated and accepted. They will at least have some understanding of why the Church thinks it's a bad idea to have a policy of ordaining people with their weakness.

If all they can think about is how sorry they feel for themselves and how everybody should understand them, etc., etc., then the Catholic priesthood is probably not the place for them.

The last commenter who said, "Why does the Vatican hate America" should read John Allen's piece today and reflect on how other parts of the Church feel about the Western secular notion of trying to water down the seriousness of sexual sins and "baptize" perversions.

23/9/05 17:18  
Blogger Jeff said...

And here's what that Hateful Bigot Diogenes has to say. Does he want people thrown out right and left?

"I think the Instruction should be viewed in the same way: as an educative and hortatory measure."

If even Diogenes isn't pushing for a "witch hunt," imagine lack of enforcment that will come from our Church authorities! Enough whining. If we can't get people actually putting the Faith into practice, at LEAST we can get a little hypocrisy!

23/9/05 17:27  
Blogger Fr. John said...

When this Instruction is issued, it will comes down to real men in real situations. It will affect the men who have been honest with themselves and their formators. It will affect the men who gladly gave up the idea of a secular career and who have spent 5, 6, 7 even 8 years preparing for the priesthood. It will affect the men who made final vows in a religious institute, with the understanding that they were headed for Holy Orders. It will affect the thousands of faithful priests, who now have one more large cross to carry, knowing that the Church does not want "their kind."

And yes, it may, in its broad brush, sweep out some who would offend in the future. But it will not sweep out those who lie, who are sneaks, who dissemble, or who cannot face the truth about themselves. And it is these who are most likely to become offenders. The honest, the upright, the forthright, and the insightful will sell insurance, or become teachers, or whatever.

23/9/05 20:24  
Blogger bosun3rd said...

Rome has a choice of a Type I error or a Type II error. Rome has decided that the risk of Type II error is too great and has embraced the Type I error.

23/9/05 20:29  
Blogger Todd said...

Fr John, more than that, it will raise the excitement level for those who harbor secret lives as sexual predators. Never underestimate the thrill involved in circumventing power to express it for oneself against another.

24/9/05 00:06  

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