January 04, 2006

Stating the Obvious

Arlington Catholic Herald

By Russell Shaw
Herald Columnist
(From the issue of 1/5/06)

The Church asks of homosexuals who wish to be priests what it also asks of heterosexuals along with much else, that is, the willingness and demonstrated ability to live chaste, celibate lives. As will become clear once the current shouting dies down, that is the basic message of the new Vatican document on admitting homosexuals to the seminary which stirred up so much noisy comment when it was released late last month.

Naturally the media weren't much help. Two headlines in The Washington Post and The Washington Times on the same day (Nov. 30) illustrate that. Here's the Post: "Bishop Says Edict Allows Some Gay Priests." And the Times: "Vatican Bars All Gays as Priests." Take your pick. If media covered the weather like that, people would be understandably upset. But this so it sometimes seems is only religion, so what difference does it make?

The key passage in the document from the Congregation for Catholic Education says this: "The Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called 'gay culture.'" ...

This is not to deny what was said last year by the all-layAbuse Tracker Review Board created by the bishops to monitor their response to the sex abuse crisis: As the numbers show, the vast majority of abuse cases involved homosexual behavior. Moreover, in the 1970s and 1980s a "gay subculture" had come to exist in some seminaries, and it's important to find out whether that problem has been corrected. But the notion that this is only an investigative process aimed at rooting out gay seminarians and faculty is simplistic at best. In many ways, it should be understood on the model of a secular academic accreditation process.

Posted by kshaw at January 4, 2006 11:55 AM