October 07, 2005

There's an alternative for gay men wanting to be priests

The Morning Call

When I was 18, the vocation director for the Roman Catholic archdiocese in which I lived took me to our parish cemetery. He sat me on a tombstone. And he told me that because I was gay I was not fit to be a priest. The moment is burned into my mind. ''I like you,'' he said, ''but I have to think of the Church.'' I had not asked to be ordained or even to go to seminary. I had asked only to join a group of college men who might be interested in seminary after graduation.

He knew I was gay only because, when a colleague of his had asked me about my sexual orientation during an interview earlier that month, I had told the truth. Thirty years later, I find it incredible that I did not foresee that the truth would do me in. All I knew was that the Church had been a home to me and a solace when, as a child, home and solace were hard to find. When the Church told me it loved me because God loved me, I believed it.

I know the rhetoric that claims that the Church did love me but could not dignify my propensity for what it considers to be evil. The official jargon is that we gay people are ''intrinsically disordered.'' The fact that we are affectively oriented toward others of our own sex is a character defect, even if we never act on it. I cannot describe the emotional and spiritual damage it does to a person, especially a young person, to be told that the most tender, most altruistic, most joyful stirrings of their hearts are evil.

Posted by kshaw at October 7, 2005 07:52 AM