October 21, 2005

An unholy purge?

Philadelphia Inquirer

Kenneth R. Briggs
is an adjunct professor at Lafayette College

Picture a journeyman priest called Father Cronin who has served the church faithfully and well for decades. He is gay - a matter he shares only with God - and has heard that the Vatican intends to stop homosexuals at the seminary door and root out gays who had made it inside. He wonders, "Will they come for me next?"


Pope Benedict XVI has decided to bar gay men from the priesthood as an apparent strategy to prevent the rash of child-sexual abuse that has wracked the Catholic Church. To help blunt criticism, a loophole was inserted. It would allegedly allow gays who had refrained from sex for three years to enter.

Even if this elusive standard could be honestly applied, other new trap doors loomed ahead. Anyone charged showing interest in a gay lifestyle - a subjective judgment to say the least - could get bounced from the priesthood. The message: To get ordained, you must renounce your sexual identity.

This policy means that, except for the few who might pass official muster, an entire category of Catholics faces a scapegoating crusade. The targets include many of the church's most loyal servants. Although the assault is pinpointed against gay seminarians, its premise is a disdain for homosexuality that places an onus on all gays. Ostracism becomes contagious.

What the crusade amounts to is an effort to sacrifice gay Catholics to the cause of restoring the church's reputation.

Posted by kshaw at October 21, 2005 08:34 AM