The pink elephant in the sacristy

The pink elephant in the sacristy

On the one hand, the US bishops conference is offering to spend thousands on a study of the causes of the Scandal. On the other hand, at their meeting this week they’ve avoided talking about homosexuality in the priesthood. Gee, more than 80 percent of the victims of clergy sex abuse were adolescent males. I wonder if there’s a connection.

Sounds like they’re doing all they can to avoid the big pink elephant in the sacristy. There’s general agreement from both liberals and conservatives that there are a lot of homosexuals in the priesthood, although there’s a wide variance in the estimate of proportions. Yet the bishops stick their collective head in the sand on the matter. In an 84-page document on priestly formation, there is one sentence on homosexuality that says the guidelines from the Vatican have to be followed.

Yet the only Vatican guideline is the 1961 document that says those inclined to homosexuality or pederasty should not be ordained. There is also dispute over whether that is a binding law or an optional recommendation.

  • Dom,

    I must say, with your many posts of criticism of the bishops conference, the review board, and certainly many bishops as well as diocesan officials, have been correct.  These people seek to cover up, distort, and lie about the very causes of evil that have taken hold of the Catholic Church in the US.  Anybody who seriously believed that the Bishops Conference (who has limited or non-existent canonical power) ACTUALLY would do something good has needed a wakeup call.  Too bad most people have their heads in the sand too. 

    I wish those few brave bishops who seek to do the will of God and protect the Church would abandon the conference completely.  Set up an alternate conference elsewhere – say at a monastery and then proceed to do business that would ACTUALLY help and provide for the good of their dioceses.  This would provide them an outlet of finding good in spending time away from their dioceses and avoid giving any money, effort, or time to a beast-monster called the USCCB.  Then they should complain to and lobby Rome vigorously to limit or eliminate the USCCB in its current form.  Next they should seek to avoid giving any funds towards the USCCB in any manner possible.

    That last bit is good advice to all Catholics, lay and clerical, who want real change.  Organize local protests, and start protesting and demanding that parishes and dioceses stop giving money to the USCCB for its “administrative needs.”  Let’s cut the blood line of this beast and destroy it with the “almighty” dollar. 

    Let’s save the money where we can and use it to shore up the good seminaries and dioceses that need our support, instead of a bureaucracy that needs to be destroyed.  I mean, how many good things have EVER come from the USCCB?  Has their many committees which produce pamphlets and leaflets on vocations brought the boatloads of people into the seminaries, and convents and monasteries???  Has their committee work which produce pamphlets and leaflets of “excellent” teaching won over the minds and hearts of believers?  Have “excellent” translations of the bible as well as the Missal filled the pews from ‘sea to shining sea’?

  • Perhaps its celibacy, not homosexuality, that the USCCB should consider.  One of the three main arguments that Rome presents regarding the ordination of women is that there is no evidence from Scripture that Jesus would have wanted women to be priests.  Well… did Jesus want priests to be celibate?  (Jesus cures Peter’s mother-in-law)  I think not.

  • If the bishops of the USCCB ever actually grasp the live wire and dealt effectively with this problem, there would be such an irruption of hatred and scandal – the men involved *know* lots of things – that is would mean the end of a number of episcopal careers.  That is why they are opting to let nature take its course and have the grim reaper solve the problem for them.  The only short cut here would be for the pope to replace the vulnerable bishops as the USCCB will NEVER have the moral courage to sacrifice some of its own for the good of the Church.

  • I wish I could share your optimism that time itself is taking care of this problem.  A generation of priests were excluded and continue to be excluded for being “pious, overly devotional” or “too conservative” and the scandal has already shown signs of perpetuating itself in the promotion of homosexual priests to chancery staff positions and to be bishops themselves.

  • Patrick,

    I was not trying to be optimistic.  I belive that that is what many of our bishops think a solution to this problem looks like.  As for myself, I don’t know.  I do know, however, that the Holy Spirit will not be thworted by a buch of Throttlebottom bishops forever.

  • “I think not,” says Angel Wing.  Yes, correct.  Where would the USCCB be without the sincerely ignorant (they who don’t know and don’t know they don’t know)?  As long as the Church’s catechetical machine keeps churning out confusion and misplaced concern, USCCB’s empty enterprise is safe from harm.

  • Angel, the fact that Peter had a mother-in-law is no argument for whether or not Jesus wanted celibacy.  What if he in fact stopped having marital relations with his wife (by mutual consent)?  In fact, many scholars have studied and written extensively on the “apostolic origins of priestly celibacy.”  There is a book published by Ignatius of exactly that name.  You might consider reading a little more on this subject.  The widely-held idea that celibacy was not mandatory until ca. 1100 is false.

  • In fact, Angel and Bryan, there’s a growing body of evidence (not yet conclusive, but persuasive) that it was either “continence or celibacy” early on…

    Although Nicea had one Bishop who did not like that arrangement (evidently it was not emplaced in all Dioceses consistently…)

    Eventually it was settled with “celibacy.”

  • Some quick thoughts on Angel Wing’s comment – first, quit trying to change the subject.  Celibacy is a discipline that these “priests” swore to uphold.  No one in the US, or the world for that matter, thinks about the priesthood without giving this at least passing consideration.  A parallel would be joining the army and then decding that you really didn’t want to fight afterall.  We’ve had a couple of people try that argument recently and the military response has generally been to court-martial these frauds and send them packing, usually after a term of making shoes at Leavenworth.  These Bishops, if they had any collective integrity, would do the same thing to these pink posers. 

    Secondly, since homosexuality IS the problem, ignoring the situation is just a continuation of what these “successors to the apostles” have been doing all along, supported by enablers who want to talk about everything except the root cause and that’s gay sex.  Look at what great results that strategy has given us: over a billion dollars in court ordered restitution.  There’s something to be proud of. 

    Finally, if sex is your issue (whether it’s hetero, homo, or with sheep) then there’s no end to the number of “churches” that will accomodate you.  Be an Anglican or Presbyterian.  Don’t like that particular franchise?  Then do what protestants have always done – make up your own faith and find people willing to give you their money to support it.  Quit defrauding the laity by pretending to be Catholic.

    These queers in cassocks are only here for the paycheck.  When the faithful stop paying for gay priests, they’ll get less of them.

  • Jeff –

    These are excellent citations – does anyone know if there is an email address for “letters to the Editor” for the Washington Times? 

    Given the Times overall liberal bent, any letter probably won’t see the light of day, but it’s worth a shot.

  • Patrick, scholars have studied and written extensively on numerous theological issues.  Does that mean that their findings are factual?  Again, I don’t think so.

    My intent wasnmment_date>2005-06-17 15:44:44
    2005-06-17 19:44:44
    Angel Wing:

    Part II
    To those who say that “regular instances” of priests breaking the vow of celibacy mean the rule should be abolished, one can reply that even more regular lapses by married men in keeping their vows should mean marriage should be abolished.

    The number of young men coming forward for the priesthood has been rising, not falling, since 1978, riding the wave of true renewal that began under John Paul the Great.  That year there were fewer than 70,000 seminarians worldwide.  Today there are about 110,000 – a massive increase. Recruitment to the priesthood and celibacy do not appear to be linked.  In the Church of Scotland, to take one example, where there is no celibacy rule, the number of applicants to the ministry dropped by 70% between 1992 and 1999.

    Read the Catechism of the Catholic Church 915, 1579, 1580, 1599, 2349. Celibacy is not a law laid down by Jesus. It’s an ideal.  And where it’s proposed with zeal and lived out with love, you see exploding vocations.

    *Why did so many priests become pedophiles?  We do know from research that not all pedophiles are homosexual and that not all homosexuals are pedophiles.  Soter (if I were king I’d make NCR change their name to “National “Used-To-Be-Catholic” Reporter) and Catholic World Report is my news monthly of choice!

    Everyone else is suspect!  wink

  • Cdl. Estevez did some good things while he was Prefect of CDW, but his statement about homosexuality wasn’t really clarifying.  He doesn’t say that ordaining a man with homosexual tendencies is forbidden under that 1961 rule, but that it is risky.  He’s talking about prudence and suitability, not law.

    My guess is that Rome didn’t want to make a clear pronouncement yet, so the Congregation for the Clergy ducked the issue by passing it to CDW—as if the selection of candidates for the priesthood were a liturgical question. 

  • Last time I checked CDF is still working on a new definitive document on homosexuals in the priesthood. Please God this document will bring some clarification.

    It does seem to me that some clarification needs to be made.  It seems like there is a real difference between:

    A) Men who have lived the homosexual lifestyle.

    Men who live out the homosexual life, have self identified with homosexuality.  If this becomes your preference then most definately the priesthood is out of the question.

    B) Men who have lived a promiscuous heterosexual life.

    Men who engage in a promiscuous heterosexual lifestyle are commiting a sin, but their preference is not intrinsically disorder.  Men in this situation who are not addicted to sex, i.e. pornography, mastrabation, or intercourse, could be ordained if they truely repented for their prior life.  I mean Augustine is a perfect example of this.

    C) Men who may have experienced same-sex attraction but have never acted on this appetite, i.e. they never characterize themselves as gay,

    D) and Men who have lived a chaste heterosexual life.

    Men who have always lived a chaste life, even if they experience same-sex attractions, seem to be living out the gospel. They have submitted to the commandments of God, there whole life and if they are intent on living continence for the rest of their lives shouldn’t be barred from the priesthood. 

    It seems to me that there is a real difference between the first two, that doesn’t exist between the second two.
    By this I mean acts are sinful but temptations that are sucessfully resisted might be counted as virtue.  The first two suggest sinful situations, however homosexual promiscuity is not just sinful but also objectively disordered.  Homosexual, or same sex, attraction may be objectively disordered, but as an unpursued temptation no culpablity would be imputed.

  • In my opinion, which I know others don’t hold to, same-sex attraction, whether acted upon or not, is not simply temptation, but a disorder. It is against the natural inclinations of the spiritual and psychological order. I don’t think it matters whether someone calls themselves gay or not.

    Let me be clear: I am not saying that someone who has same-sex attraction, but doesn’t act on it is sinning. But I am saying that it is a disorder that perhaps should disquaify one from the seminary depending on its severity.

    To use the example of another personality disorder, a man who is addicted to pornography, even if he resists the temptation regularly, should be seriously looked at before admitting him to the seminary. The same with a man who is tempted toward uncontrollable rage, even if he resists. Or alcoholism. Or any number of other personality issues.

    Why should homosexuality be any different?

  • Agreed, Dom.  Men who seek to be ordained need to have a certain amount of spiritual and psychological maturity and normal adjustment.  This includes freedom from grave disorders and compulsions.

    After all, one can’t give what they don’t have.

  • To get back to the original thread, I would wonder what you would wish that the USCCB document said.  It seems to be generally agreed here that there is no standing, binding ecclesiastical policy on the admission of men with same-sex attraction to seminaries.  The 1961 directive is ambiguous as to its force and the 2001 seems to steer clear of a binding policy decision; the statement currently in process, which will probably set the standing policy, is not yet promulgated.  Thus, for the USCCB to issue a policy would seem premature: Do we really want national bishops’ conferences ‘taking the lead’ in such profound and complex theological-juridical decisions?  Isn’t it wiser to simply defer to the lead of the Holy See, especially when the Holy See is on the verge of making a decision?  Especially given the distrust of the USCCB that seems to prevail on this thread.  Would you really prefer that the USCCB speak first on this issue, then Rome second?

  • I AM NOT SPECIFICALLY TALKING ABOUT JAMIE!  Just, sort of, musing out loud.

    It’s funny how, when your talking about orthodoxy, some people urge the USCCB to caution; when it’s the latest liturgical fad or politically correct policy paper – it’s now! Now! NOW!!

    For pete’s sake, it took them, what, 15 years to just admit that Ex Corde Ecclesia even existed? 

    Waiting for the USCCB to implement actual Catholic teaching is only slightly less excruciatingly pointless than waiting for the Vatican to move against CINO bishops and priests.

  • The USCCB has no juridical authority unless and until Rome gives it to them.  And at any rate, on this question they have no credibility—not even among non-catholics.  We all know what the score is and has been among them.  Who cares what they think as long as they just get the heck out of the way when Rome speaks?  We’re tired of their silly games at our expense.