Homosexuality and the Clergy
Why the Priesthood Will Continue
To Become a "Gay" Profession
Published in February 2006 - New Oxford Review
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We've been waiting nine long years for this document on homosexuals in the seminary. It has a long-winded title: "Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations With Regard to Persons With Homosexual Tendencies in View of Their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders" (hereafter "Concerning").
The document was obviously written by a committee - or many committees - and it intended to satisfy as many people as possible. But we are not satisfied, not in the least.
Bear in mind that this document is about "discipline" (or shall we say ill-discipline).
The most egregious sentence is that those "who practice homosexuality" (italics added) are "profoundly respected." So we should have profound respect for those who commit homosexual acts, which are mortal sins. By that logic, we should have profound respect for fornicators, adulterers, and child molesters.
On February 2, 1961, the Holy See promulgated a document called "Careful Selection and Training of Candidates for the States of Perfection and Sacred Orders," signed by Pope John XXIII. The relevant section had one sentence on homosexuality: "Advancement to religious vows and ordination should be barred to those who are afflicted with the evil tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty, since for them the common life and the priestly ministry would constitute serious danger" (#30; italics added). That's all that the new document, "Concerning," needed to say.
So how do we go from "evil tendencies" (i.e., orientation only) to having "profound respect" for homosexual acts in "Concerning"?
Up until "Concerning," the 1961 document was never abrogated and was still in force. Indeed, on May 16, 2002, the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments reiterated the policy: "Ordination to the diaconate and the priesthood of homosexual men or men with homosexual tendencies is absolutely inadvisable and imprudent and, from the pastoral point of view, very risky. A homosexual person, or one with a homosexual tendency is not, therefore, fit to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders." It was published in the November-December issue of Notitiae, which means it is the position of the Holy See. Of course, this policy had been and continued to be violated by many bishops, major superiors, seminary rectors, and vocations directors.
Earlier in 1997 the Congregation for Divine Worship issued a letter to the world's bishops giving guidelines for candidates for the seminary. One stipulation was "sufficient affective maturity and a clearly masculine sexual identity." In the recently released document, "Concerning," the candidate "must reach affective maturity," but there is no mention of having a clearly masculine sexual identity.
And "Concerning" does repeal the previous policy. "Concerning" refers to "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" that supposedly would bar one from the seminary. Much consternation has been expressed about what "deep-seated" homosexual tendencies are. But "Concerning" does offer a contrast to deep-seated homosexual tendencies; it is "homosexual tendencies that were only the expression of a transitory problem - for example, that of an adolescence not yet superseded" (italics added). In these cases, a homosexual whose homosexuality is "not yet superseded" can be admitted to the seminary. The contrast between "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" and "a transitory problem...not yet superseded" is pretty murky.
By signing Concerning... Pope Benedict loses his conservative credentials
The Catechism (#2357-2359) makes a clear distinction between homosexual "acts" and "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" (also referred to as an "inclination" or a "condition," which in the U.S. is often called an "orientation"). But the Catechism does not speak of a "transitory problem." So, what is a "transitory problem"?
It turns out that a "transitory problem" includes homosexual acts. Zenon Cardinal Grocholewski, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, which issued "Concerning" and is responsible for its implementation, gave an interview to Vatican Radio on November 29, 2005. Speaking of "transitory problems," he said: "For example, an uncompleted adolescence, some kind of curiosity; or perhaps accidental circumstances, a drunken state, maybe particular circumstances like a person who was imprisoned for many years. In these cases, homosexual acts do not come from a [deeply] rooted tendency.... These acts are done because one wants to obtain some sort of advantage.... These acts...do not constitute an obstacle to seminary admission or to holy orders" (italics added; translation from the Italian provided by Rocco Palmo).
The National Catholic Register had an interview with Cardinal Grocholewski (Dec. 11-17, 2005), where he explained what "transitory problems" are. He said basically the same things he said in the Vatican Radio interview, but added: "It may have been about pleasing a superior or someone he knows, or to earn money." And in a Register news story (same issue), transitory problems might involve "experiences that occurred under the influence of alcohol, drugs or coercion, Cardinal Grochelewski [sic] said" (italics added). The neocon Register registered no objection to any of this, not even in its Editorial in the same issue.
This certainly opens up a can of worms. So you can be in jail for "many years" and commit homosexual acts, and still you can be admitted to the seminary. You can commit homosexual acts in a "drunken state" or under the influence of illegal "drugs," and that's O.K. You can commit homosexual acts "to obtain some sort of advantage," and that's O.K. You can "please" a superior or someone else, and that's O.K. You can commit homosexual acts to earn money -- which would include being a "gay" male prostitute -- and that's O.K. Good golly, Miss Molly, it's a free-for-all!
Never mind homosexual acts; do we want priests who have been "imprisoned for many years," who are druggies, who sell their bodies (and their souls) for money? This is hideous in and of itself.
Moreover, any candidate for the seminary could say his problem with homosexuality is not "deep-seated" and is only a "transitory problem." Nothing will change with regard to admitting homosexuals into the seminary.
Even if a seminarian's homosexuality isn't "deep-seated," it will likely become deep-seated when he is placed in an all-male environment for five to eight years, and sleeping in bedrooms with men. Putting homosexuals in an all-male environment is what's called "an occasion of sin," that is, it leads to deep-seated temptations. You might as well put heterosexual men in the convent or a nunnery for five to eight years, and let them sleep in bedrooms with girls and women, and see how long they remain chaste.
Even homosexual tendencies (without committing the act) are considered by the Church to be "objectively disordered" (Catechism, #2358). What is objectively disordered inclines one to commit an intrinsic moral evil, in the case of homosexuality, a mortal sin. Just one lapse by a seminarian or priest, and he's blackmailable forever. Just as many bishops and cardinals are now, which goes a long way to explain why we have this ridiculous document, "Concerning." At least nine bishops have had to retire because of homosexual acts, and it wasn't because their brother bishops exposed them.
Under a "transitory problem," the new document, "Concerning," says the problem "must be clearly overcome at least three years before ordination to the diaconate [which precedes being a priest by about one year]." And Cardinal Grocholewski reiterated this. So how does a seminary make sure about that? Put seminarians under house arrest - and in solitary confinement - for three years? Of course not. This three-year rule would be so easy to fake.
The 1961 document was signed by the "liberal" Pope John XXIII. "Concerning" was signed by Pope Benedict XVI, supposedly a "conservative." With his new policy, Benedict has forfeited his conservative credentials. Benedict has given away the store.
Moreover, "Concerning" says, "The call to orders is the personal responsibility of the Bishop or the major superior." It is obvious that nothing will change, for many bishops and many major superiors (along with their rectors and vocations directors) are the problem in the first place. They are the ones who have been admitting homosexuals into the seminary. Homosexuals represent about two percent of the male population and it is estimated that 25-50 percent of seminarians are homosexual, and in certain pink-palace seminaries the percentage is well beyond that.
In response to "Concerning," numerous bishops (including Bishop George Niederauer - more about him later) and numerous major superiors and seminary rectors have stated that they will continue to do what they've been doing - i.e., admitting homosexuals. And who can blame them? For "Concerning" has no teeth. As Mao said, it's a "paper tiger."
According to a news story in The New York Times (Sept. 15, 2005), Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J., the former Editor-in-Chief of America, said that "with the shortage of priests, the church can hardly afford to dismiss gay seminarians." And that is exactly what happened. Fr. Donald Cozzens, a former seminary rector, said in The Changing Face of the Priesthood that "the priesthood is or is becoming a gay profession." And it will continue to be or become a "gay" profession, thanks to "Concerning."
The Vatican forgot - or maybe it didn't care - that with so many homosexual seminarians (even in some conservative orders), many heterosexual, manly men will not apply for the seminary. And those who do enter often drop out, or, if they don't keep quiet about the "gay" culture in the seminary, they are kicked out.
Bad appointments ... Above, Archbishop Levada, a past of cover-ups for homosexual and pedophile priests. Below, homosexual-friendly Niederauer named Archbishop of San Francisco
Moreover, a celibate and chaste heterosexual priest gives up marriage and family, which is a huge sacrifice, while a celibate and chaste homosexual priest gives up what is "objectively disordered," which inclines one to commit a mortal sin.
Then there is the question of pedophilia. According to the John Jay Report, 81 percent of priest sex-abuse victims were boys. As of June 2005, the known settlements for pedophilia (the large majority of cases being pederasty) total $1.06 billion. Church property has been sold to pay the settlements. Dioceses have declared bankruptcy. And victims have committed suicide and otherwise have had their lives ruined.
Brian W. Clowes and David L. Sonnier did a comprehensive study called "Child Molestation by Homosexuals and Heterosexuals" (Homiletic & Pastoral Review, May 2005). Among other things, they report that: (1) "Homosexual activists Karla Jay and Allen Young revealed in their 1979 Gay Report [Simon and Schuster] that 73% of all homosexuals...preyed on adolescent or younger boys," and (2) while homosexuals represent about two percent of the male population, according to the Archives of Sexual Behavior (vol. 29, no. 5, 2000), "around 25-40% of men [who are] attracted to children prefer boys." If you want pedophilia, notably pederasty, to continue in the priesthood, keep ordaining homosexuals.
According to the Washington Post (Nov. 23, 2005), neocon Brian Saint-Paul, the new Editor of Crisis, greeted the new document, "Concerning," with "satisfaction." The Post quoted him: "The Vatican has made a wise decision to come down in the middle of the road on this dispute." Really now?
William Donohue of the Catholic League, also a neocon, greeted "Concerning" with satisfaction. According to John L. Allen Jr.'s online "The Word From Rome" (Nov. 25, 2005), Donohue "welcomed the document's nuance." Said Donohue: "The Vatican is prudent not to have an absolute ban on admission of homosexuals to the priesthood...." (This is not unexpected, for Donohue appears to be soft on homosexuality. See the articles by Michael S. Rose in our Dec. 2005 issue and by Maria Briggs in our May 2005 issue. Donohue has also defended Fr. Marcial Maciel of the Legionaries of Christ from charges of pederasty.)
This document, "Concerning," is Pope Benedict's defining moment, and he flubbed it. Likewise, his appointment of William Levada to be Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was the most important appointment Benedict would make, and he flubbed that too. Then there was Benedict's cordial, high-profile, four-hour-long meeting with dissident theologian Hans Küng. Editorials in the National Catholic Reporter (Oct. 14, 2005) hailed this meeting as "refreshing indeed," "the importance of [this] symbol can't be far from anyone's imagination," and it "sets a positive example about how leaders can emphasize things that unite us...." An Editorial in Our Sunday Visitor (Nov. 20, 2005) chimed in saying: "Pope Benedict has shown himself to be a uniter rather than a divider." But how do you reconcile the irreconcilable? We prefer what Jesus said: "Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division" (Lk. 12:51).
Colleen Carroll Campbell of the neocon Ethics and Public Policy Center praised Benedict's soft image in Our Sunday Visitor (Oct. 23, 2005). She said it was predicted that there would be "theological crackdowns" under Benedict. However, she is pleased to say: "His pastoral side has come to the fore as he swiftly reached out to Protestant, Orthodox, Jewish and Muslim clergy...and hosted his archrival Father Küng at Castel Gandolfo for a friendly chat in September.... Through his spokesman, Pope Benedict praised Father Küng's efforts to promote dialogue with other religions...."
In the NOR's June 2005 editorial, we gave "Three Cheers" for Benedict. So far, that Editorial has turned out to be an embarrassment. If the Pope can dialogue with arch-dissenter Küng, then it would seem that dissent is legitimate.
The latest outrage is Benedict's appointment of Bishop George Niederauer to be Archbishop of San Francisco. Niederauer is clearly "gay"-friendly. He pastored a parish in West Hollywood with a large "gay" congregation, where he said that homosexuals are "wonderful." As Bishop of Salt Lake City, he opposed a constitutional ban on same-sex "marriage." He denies that there is a link between homosexual priests and the molestation and rape of boys. He helped found the Coalition of Concerned Religious Leaders in Utah, which supports "tolerance" for homosexuals. Topping it off, he has been praised by Sam Sinnett, head of Dignity-USA, and Francis DeBernardo, head of New Ways Ministry - both groups being comprised of proud "gay" and lesbian Catholics.
At this rate, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's investigation of Fr. Maciel for multiple acts of pederasty on his seminarians will likely vanish into thin air. With "cover-up" Levada at the helm of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and with Benedict failing to uphold the 1961 document and basically endorsing the status quo regarding homosexuals in the priesthood, we cannot expect that the Vatican will do anything about the Maciel case.
The cover-up for Legionary founder Fr. Maciel continues
In Karl Keating's E-Letter (March 8, 2005), he noted that for 26 years of the John Paul papacy, of which Ratzinger was the doctrinal watchdog for 24 years, only 24 people were disciplined. Keating comments: "That is fewer than one per year!... The Catholic Church boasts 1.1 billion members. This means that, on average, over the last quarter century, the Vatican has disciplined only one out of a billion members per year. This is about as close to zero as you can get. Is there any social, commercial, or governmental organization that disciplines such a small percentage of its people?... If the Church had the kind of inquisitorial bureaucracy that its critics imagine, the Vatican would be disciplining 24 people each week.... However you look at it, 24 cases in 26 years is...laughable." It appears that Ratzinger (now Benedict) is not the Panzerkardinal after all, not God's Rottweiler.
When Ratzinger became Pope, we orthodox Catholics were ecstatic. But it's likely that Benedict's papacy will be very unpleasant - even bitter, since we had such high hopes.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Lavender Mafia in the Church, and it goes all the way to the Vatican, and Pope Benedict will do nothing about it.
Dale Vree is Editor of the
New Oxford Review.
Related Topics of Interest
Homosexuality and the Clergy
Paul VI's Homosexuality: Rumor or Reality?
Should Chaste Homosexual Seminarians Become Priests?
The Statistics on Homosexuality and its Effects
Married Priests and Homosexual Seminarians?
What about 'Chaste' Homosexual Priests?
The True Colors of Benedict XVI
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