October 16, 2005

Michael S. Rose: Are gay priests the problem?

The Dallas Morning News

06:00 AM CDT on Sunday, October 16, 2005

In recent weeks much ink has been spilt over the ramifications of two significant developments in the Roman Catholic Church. Both the announcement of a new wave of seminary evaluations and a forthcoming Vatican document reportedly barring gays from the priesthood have been met with a torrent of criticism, much of it shrill.

Aside from the fact that both items have been grossly overblown, much of the criticism is written in ignorance of facts that would suggest these bold moves in the early days of the Ratzinger papacy might just be the proper formula for initiating a modern day reformation of the Catholic priesthood.

It is not enough to point to the recent John Jay College study that found most of the victims of clergy abuse since 1950 were adolescent boys. Revelations concerning seminary life in recent decades have given sufficient impetus to pursue an extensive evaluation of the institutions that train and educate future priests, especially when it comes to the issue of homosexuality.

Several years ago, Father Donald Cozzens, then rector of a Cleveland seminary, wrote that many seminary faculties included a disproportionate number of homosexuals. In his book, The Changing Face of the Priesthood, he commented that "straight men in a predominantly or significantly gay environment commonly experience self doubt."

In my own study of seminary life over the past three decades, I have found that many heterosexual men give up their seminary studies precisely for this reason, leaving behind a student body gradually swollen with homosexuals. I'm not talking about the presence of a few gay-oriented men who want to live chastely, but rather the institutionalization of a gay subculture that has earned some seminaries nicknames such as the Pink Palace, Notre Flame, and Theological Closet.

Posted by kshaw at October 16, 2005 03:40 PM