Bishop Robert Baker of Charleston has issued a letter responding to the Vatican Instruction on gays in the seminary and it’s a good one. (The letter is available online in PDF.)
He is simply excellent when he breaks down what is already a short and forthright document and spells it out for everyone. To wit, the necessity that a candidate for priesthood be capable of entering into a healthy relationship with a woman in order to be a good priest:
The complementarity of women and men, physically and spiritually, is an important element in a person’s being truly human. The gift of self in nuptial love, whether that be through the lifelong gift of marriage or through the commitment of consecrated celibacy, is a creative dynamic which reflects the inner life of the Trinity itself. All human beings are meant to be spouses – to live in relationship with others, committed to their good, whether this is in marriage, or being married to Christ and His Church; and all are meant to be parents, whether physical or spiritual. Parenting, the living of maternity and paternity, is a part of each adult human life.
He then lists the basic requirements for a man who would be priest.
A candidate for priestly ordination, therefore, must display an affective maturity in his dealings with men, women and children. He must be free from unhealthy addictions and attractions and be willing to lay down his life for his flock. He must hold and profess as true all divinely-revealed truths, especially in our day those related to sexuality.
He draws the conclusion that the reference to “transitory” same-sex attraction means that men with same-sex attraction must move beyond it in order to be considered for ordination.
This is consistent with numerous research studies indicating that same-sex attraction is a matter of nurture and not of nature.
Finally, and not incidentally, Bishop Baker draws that conclusion that all people who don’t have their eyes closed to reality have come to.
The results of the John Jay Study, the largest and most comprehensive study ever commissioned into the causes of sexual abuse, showed that 85% of the cases of priestly sexual abuse were acts of homosexual abuse, not of pedophilia. This data may not be simply swept aside.
So, does it mean that men with same-sex attraction or homosexual tendencies may never be ordained? No, the bishop says. Not if they seek healing first.
It is my profound hope that this Instruction and the screening and formation processes that flow from it will be an impetus and an aid for those men to respond to the gift of grace available from Jesus Christ to overcome this behavioral issue and come to serve him faithfully and fully as a Catholic priest.
Bravo, Bishop Baker.