Alarming News

November 29, 2005

How gay are you?

The Vatican has published a document intended to clarify its position on homosexuals in the clergy. And, well, it’s still rather murky. Apparently, someone who is absolutely, positively, 100% gay can not be ordained. But someone who is sort of, almost, kinda gay can be. If someone has already been ordained, but realizes they are the definitely gay type, that can be worked out. About the latter type:

The cardinal said such a priest “has to try to live in chastity … maybe he will need more spirtual (sic) support than others, but I think he should be a priest in the best way possible.”

Try to live in chastity? Are the straight priests merely trying to live in chastity? Isn’t chastity a pre-requisite (and one of the big ones) for priesthood?

I’m not sure how these new rules will benefit the Catholic Church. Won’t would-be priests just pretend to be only kind of gay when they are actually completely so? Furthermore, as I’ve written previously, if priests are supposed to be celibate, what actually makes them gay? If the idea is that all priests, gay or straight, must suppress their sexual urges, what difference does it really make what their sexual urges are, or whom they are directed toward, provided these urges are never acted upon? As far as I understand, and Catholics can correct me if I’m wrong, it isn’t the homosexual thoughts among priests that are the problem here, but the homosexual acts. The Vatican is making a move on this because of the high AIDS rate among priests and in reaction to the child-abuse scandals which almost entirely consisted of abuse of young boys and not young girls.

It gets even stranger when you get into degrees of gayness. The document notes that ‘men with “deep-seated” homosexual tendencies should not be ordained but those with a “transitory problem” could be if they had overcome them for three years.’ It just seems to arbitrary. Why this strange three year mark? And how will they decide what ‘deep-seated’ means?

As I’ve written before, in response to Andrew Sullivan calling for priests to ‘come out’ but it applies here as well ‘If you’re gay or straight and can’t control your urges for the lifetime that your position demands, perhaps being a priest is not for you. It certainly isn’t for everyone. But to have priests come out as ‘gay’ while not acting on it is beyond absurd. Its really stating your sexual preferences in a setting that isn’t conducive to have sexual thoughts at all. It’s not about being gay, either, it’s just as weird as Father McGrady telling the press he fantasizes about ole’ Mrs. Margaret who sits in the third pew on Sundays. It’s just not appropriate in the context of their chosen life. Priesthood is about devoting yourself to G-d and not allowing earthly pleasures, like sex, to get in your way of that.’ This new policy isn’t very different from what Sullivan is advocating. It is inserting sexuality in a realm where it just does not belong.

Posted by Karol at 12:03 PM |
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On “trying” to live chastely, I point out that Chastity is much more all-encompasing that celibacy, and is defined by what it is, rather than what it is not.
Chastity encompases self control even among one’s thoughts and even the absense of a serious impulse to commit sins against purity. A chaste person is one who has, by the grace of God, not only mastered his impulses, but also sees and naturally grasps the evil in sin and the value of persons that motivates properly ordered affection.
So when Rome speaks of chastity it is setting out a perfection standard for all to strive for, and for only some to ever attain in a full way.

Posted by: Samwise at November 29, 2005 at 1:09 pm

But priests are allowed to have sexual urges; they simply aren’t supposed to act on those urges. Being a priest requires sacrifice, but it does not require that a man abdicate his humanity, and his basic human desires.

Posted by: Dorian Davis at November 29, 2005 at 1:12 pm

Indeed, the model is not that a priest suppresses his humanity, but that he directs all of his human passions to empower his ministry. He endures celibacy as all unmarried men should, but if he denies or supresses his sexuality, he has lost the path of holiness the Church endorses, and he is missing out on the way his manhood should be energizing his role as priest and father, and spouse of the Church.

Posted by: Samwise at November 29, 2005 at 1:20 pm

Yeah Karol, I think you slightly missed the point or maybe the subtext on this one. This is aimed more at the seminaries that have given a wink and a nod to a gay subculture that had permeated some areas of the Priesthood.
Good By Good Men is a book I would highly recommend on the subject. I am just waiting for the ACLU to sue the Church over discrimination and the fun that case will be. ACLU v. The Catholic Church. Are you ready to rumble?

Posted by: Mark Harris at November 29, 2005 at 2:15 pm

For decades if not centuries, parents who have found their children exhibiting “different” behavior, often gay behavior, have pushed that child into the priesthood. Following the Catholic mores there would be no problem. But, who does? The vatican has as much cultural foresight and understanding as a dandilion, and a not so dandy one at that. Just the other day it repeated it’s cry to its ranks in third world countries that condoms are a sin.

Posted by: toby at November 29, 2005 at 2:30 pm

Karol you are right.
Samwise: Excellent description of chastity.
Me: If they have been and still are chaste, they stay. If not they go.

Posted by: Jake at November 29, 2005 at 2:33 pm

Read Sullivan on why this is counterproductive as an anti-abuse measure. It only discourages those men who are in fact genuinely secure in their homosexuality, and choose to remain celibate, the kind of men the church should want in the Priesthood. It encourages the men who supress their sexuality out of deep shame, and end up being so emotionally warped/disturbed that they end up raping young boys. Furthermore, many gay men are driven to the priesthood because they are homosexual and believe that to act on it would be a sin, so in places like New York this will only worsen the recruiting crisis.

Posted by: Sam L. at November 29, 2005 at 3:40 pm

What persons with a secular mindset need to understand about the Vatican’s position is that a homosexual man who is “genuinely secure” in his orientation is a de facto dissenter from Catholic Theology, and on those grounds alone he is not suitable for the priesthood. The Church’s teaching is clear, that homosexuality is a disorder. Healing from this disorder is part of redemption for those who suffer from it. Granted this is a process, and a person can’t be blamed for meger progress so long as they are sincerely on the road, but a man who thinks that he is gay and that is just fine is in manifest disagreement with the Church.

Posted by: Samwise at November 30, 2005 at 9:48 am

So, as you are not too gay, we’re inviting you to put on a dress, hang around with choirboys and wave perfume around. Hmmm.

Posted by: bryan at December 2, 2005 at 7:25 am

So….I’m not catholic and don’t understand those who are. But shouldn’t it mean that if a Priest can be gay, that your god accepts it and so should you? If your god doesn’t accept it, why not just destroy those who you people say are unfit to be in your religion. Why would your god allow what you describe as an abomination. That just doesn’t make sense. Perhaps you should look again at what you teach/preach and re-evaluate your position.

Posted by: Dave at November 8, 2009 at 2:18 pm
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