November 03, 2005

Choosing Her shepherds wisely

The Cowl

By: Michael Rubin
Issue date: 11/3/05 Section: Commentary

Three weeks ago, Joe McCormack '07 questioned the justice of the upcoming Vatican document that is expected to bar homosexuals from the priesthood. After all, asked Joe, if these men promise to be chaste, what's the problem? He reasoned that to exclude such men from the priesthood is "profoundly un-Catholic."

He goes too far. The Church has both a right and a duty to be exacting in the selection of Her priests, especially when failure to do so could lead to scandal-as it plainly has with regard to the ordination of homosexuals in recent decades.

In any case, it seems that the anticipated "ban" will not be absolute. According toAbuse Tracker columnist John Allen, the document will call for restricting homosexuals who 1. have not lived celibately for three years, 2. are part of a "gay culture" (i.e. participating in gay pride rallies), or 3. have a homosexual orientation that is "strong, permanent, and univocal" enough to make a common life in a rectory with other men a risk. What's so unreasonable-or "un-Catholic"-about that?

The need for a policy that limits homosexuality within the priesthood is well demonstrated, especially in America. Investigative reporter Michael S. Rose, author of Goodbye, Good Men, has amply documented what he calls "the institutionalization of a gay subculture that has earned some seminaries nicknames such as the Pink Palace, Notre Flame, and Theological Closet." Upholding this culture is a homosexual network dubbed the "Lavender Mafia" which favors gays in admissions, ordinations and promotions and which covers up the frequent harassment-even sexual molestation- of straight, celibate men. It also retaliates against seminarians who complain by diagnosing them as "disintegrated personalities" and forcing them into psychological counseling, resulting in many lost vocations.

As I suggested earlier, the Church's sex abuse scandals clearly result from the presence of active homosexuals with blatant hostility toward priestly celibacy. Media claims to the contrary, the problem isn't pedophilia (adults having sex with children) but pederasty (homosexual sex with boys): Peter and Paul Catholic Ministries reports 95% of the victims since 1950 have been boys, not girls. For this reason alone, the Vatican is right to screen out openly gay seminary applicants.

Moreover, far from being "un-Catholic," such a policy is of long pedigree within the Church, and is based not so much on doctrine as on the practical wisdom She has gained over the centuries. On Feb. 2, 1961, for instance, the Sacred Congregation for Religious issued a document reiterating long-standing policy that "advancement to religious vows and ordination should be barred to those who are afflicted with evil tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty, since for them the common life and the priestly ministry would constitute serious dangers." This is common sense: having a homosexual man share a rectory with other men would be as taxing to his chastity as living in a house full of women would be to a heterosexual.

Posted by kshaw at November 3, 2005 05:02 PM