9.15.2005

how does this make sense ... a short rant

Scary article in the New York Times - "Vatican to Check U.S. Seminaries on Gay Presence." Not that I didn't know this was coming. Some thoughts though ….

Celibate is celibate is celibate. If a man feels called to serve God and also feels called (or willing to live) a celibate lifestyle, who are we to decide whether that's "ok" based on the gender of the hypothetical people he's NOT having sex with?

As to the argument that it's not "fair" to a gay man to put him in a seminary with other men and expect him to be celibate. Is it "fair" to a straight man to put him alone in a parish with many many women and expect him to be celibate? Let's see ... 4 years in a seminary versus 50+ years of ministry alone in a rectory. Come on ....

As to the argument that gay men are responsible for molesting boys …. pedophilia and homosexuality ARE NOT THE SAME THING! By all means, screen out the pedophiles. PLEASE! Let's focus on the actual problem (like a church hierarchy that spent decades ignoring the issue and transferring pedophile priests rather than sending them to treatment or out of situations where they minister to children) rather than deflecting attention to a non-issue to deal with an alternate agenda.

And lastly, I'm not naming any names but I have known many priests over the years. And some of the most wonderful, most pastoral, most friendly, best able to relate chastely with men and women, have been gay men. It saddens me to think that not only are they not valued merely because of the gender of who they are NOT having sex with, but that they seem to be unwanted. I want them. The church needs them.

Vocation crisis anyone? Does someone honestly think a witch hunt of this sort is going to increase vocations?

Ok, rant over.

Have a good day everyone.

And pray for some more sanity and love in our church. She needs it.

PS - If you didn't read it at the time there was a great article on Busted Halo earlier this year - an interview with an anonymous gay priest. Worth the read...

PPS - Since I'm leaving the blog unattended for a few days, I'm turning comments off on this post. Everyone has behaved, but you never know. Feel free to write about the topic on your own blog though! And sadly, I don't think we're through with this topic so you'll have plenty of time to comment here another day.

6 comments:

Lorem ipsum said...

I remember reading 'And the Band Played On' and one of the American doctors being told by a Japanese doctor, 'You have AIDS in your country because we have homosexuals. In Japan we don't have homosexuals.'

Such is similar logic. The molestation/homosexuality connection is not a connection at all. Molestation is about power and humiliation. Homosexuality is about attraction - to an adult, just as is heterosexuality.

And yet the Church feels that if you eliminate the homosexuals, you'll eliminate the peodphiles. 'In your institution you have molestation because you have homosexuals. In our institution we don't have homosexuals.'

As you said, celibate is celibate. Would it raise fewer eyebrows if an ordained, celibate priest were to be close to a female parishioner of any age? It seems as though the Vatican etc. is looking out for the 'deviant' element, believing that where there's one kind of smoke, you'll find a fire. Which is not always the case.

The priesthood has been an acceptable career choice of thousands of homosexual or sexually confused men throughout the years. There's no pressure to marry, but you are free to be a leader and serve God and the community - even be looked up to. So sad now that if a straight man wants to become a priest, people assume he's queer. Whatever happened to wanting to pursue a vocation?

Does such an attitude exist in the female vocation ministry? I think not! But you're better informed about that. I'm curious.

sheila said...

To me it seems like there's an important difference between what this official document is saying and what Edwin O'Brien is saying. I am hoping this is true -- that O'Brien is taking this opportunity to spread his own close-minded views, but isn't at all a reliable indicator of what the outcome of the whole Vatican investigation will be. Based on the limited details I've read, though, here is what I understand: O'Brien is saying, "Homosexuals should not be allowed to be priests." Which, as you so correctly point out, Susan, is nonsense, for a multitude of reasons. The Vatican document, though, seems to be addressing the problem of the rumored gay underground in the priesthood -- saying, not "no [celibate] gays in the seminary," but rather "no priests having sex with each other." Which is still dodging the issue of preventing child abuse and addressing the corrupt system that allowed it, of course. But if it is true that, as I have heard, priests having sexual relationships with each other (or at all) is yet another abuse that the Church hierarchy has been covering up, I am a little bit encouraged that the Vatican might actually be taking note. It's not the reform we most need right now, but it is a reform; one that might be good for the many faithful, celibate gay priests out there. I shudder to think what would happen to the Church in this country if all her gay priests were forced out (or left in protest, as I might in their position). We would be screwed. Surely Benedict knows that.

"Omis" said...

Sheila, I hope you're right about the actual document. If that's the case, I have no argument with it. Where have you read this information? Everything I've seen seems to indicate that it's more like what +O'Brien is saying.

But even if the document did say that, it would only bar new vocations from gay men, not invalidate or laicize already ordained priests.

It's still unacceptable to me if that happens, and will still result in a deepening of the vocation crisis, but it won't be as if hundreds of priests would be defrocked.

Sheila said...

omis, I'm just going with what it says in the NYT article Susan linked to:

"Investigators appointed by the Vatican have been instructed to review each of the 229 Roman Catholic seminaries in the United States for 'evidence of homosexuality' and for faculty members who dissent from church teaching."

Which is very different from what O'Brien is saying. if they're looking for 'evidence of homosexuality,' they're presumably not looking to find out whether gays are seeking to enter the priesthood -- everyone knows they are, and God bless them. They're more likely trying to find out whether what Donald Cozzens and others have said is actually true -- are seminaries hotbeds of clandestine sexual activity? The Cozzens quote tells me the Times thinks this is the case, too. And then the Times give this as background:

"Church officials in the United States and Rome agreed that they wanted to take a closer look at how seminary candidates were screened for admission, and whether they were being prepared for lives of chastity and celibacy."

Which I think we all agree is good and necessary. Too many gay men, wanting to be good Catholics and wanting to behave as the Church is telling them they must, have seen the priesthood as a way to do that, as lorem ipsum suggests. But that doesn't mean they're necessarily prepared for celibate life. Vowing celibacy shouldn't be a way to avoid confronting sexuality, or sexual confusion, and the Church is only just beginning to appreciate that. And that *is* connected to the whole sexual abuse scandal, which is why this gets so muddy in some people's minds. Though one would hope the Pope would bother to get it all straight.

But anyway, even if such a ridiculous policy were enforced, and it allowed already-ordained gay priests to remain in the ministry, would they want to? This is a complicated hypothetical, but: I don't think I would want to be ministered to by any priest who didn't feel obligated to object to such a ruling, particularly if he himself was gay. If gays were banned from becoming priests, I would expect many people -- gay and straight, lay and ordained -- to leave the ministry (and the Church) in protest, and the priests left standing would be the bigots, the hypocrites, the ones afraid to stand up to the bishops, the ones most committed to keeping the clerical code of silence and secrecy. What kind of body of Christ would we have then?

Susan Rose, CSJP said...

I think we need to wait and see what the document says. It's not out yet.

Thanks everyone for humoring my rant!

Steph said...

I knew I had said something about this basic idea somewhere ....

And I thought we were supposed to only take issue with homosexual behaviors, NOT the homosexual him/herself. So, if they're celibate (as they SHOULD be) .... then we shouldn't have any problems with them. Right?