November 25, 2005

Can gays be priests?

The Tablet

Timothy Radcliffe

The long-awaited Vatican document on homosexuality in the priesthood, due to be published next week, has been substantially leaked. Here the former Master of the Dominicans assesses what it has to say about gay men and their suitability for holy orders

TWO WEEKS AGO I was in Nova Scotia, giving a retreat for the bishops and priests of eastern Canada. A priest sent up a piece of paper with a question that he was too shy to ask publicly: “Will this document on the admission of gays to the priesthood mean that I am not welcome anymore? Does it mean that people like me are second-class priests?” I have heard this same question, in one form or another, from priests all over the world. The forthcoming Vatican document on homosexuality and the priesthood (see page 40) is the focus of intense anxiety, which is why we must attend to exactly what it says.

There are two principles to bear in mind: first, we must give it as positive an interpretation as possible. This is not a matter of putting a positive spin on documents but of trying to discern what are the true intentions of the authors. Our media are filled with accusation and this document will be denounced as another attack on gay people. This denunciation also occurs within the Church. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has often given tendentious interpretations of the writings of theologians. Theologians, in turn, give the most negative possible interpretation to Vatican documents. Nothing good can come from Rome! As a Church we must find another way of listening to each other, which really attends to what is said. Justice and truthfulness demand this.

Posted by kshaw at November 25, 2005 06:42 AM