THINKING ANGLICANS

Roman Catholic statement

Earlier this week, the Roman Catholic Church issued somebody in Rome leaked a long-expected document about homosexuality and the RC clergy, or to give it its official title:

Instruction from the Congregation for Catholic Education Concerning the Criteria of Vocational Discernment Regarding Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in View of their Admission to Seminaries and Orders

Original PDF in Italian released by the Italian news agency Adista
full web page copy of text in Italian

Unofficial translation from Italian into English by Robert Mickens of The Tablet

Update Official translation into English in PDF file as released by UCCB (hat tip to the Loggia again)

Article about it in The Tablet by Timothy Radcliffe Can gays be priests?

Article about it by John Allen in the National Catholic Reporter Vatican document bans most gays from priesthood and also this here.

Ruth Gledhill comments, Vatican bans gays from seminaries.

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stevenMerseymikeJ. C. FishercbsGöran Koch-Swahne Recent comment authors
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Augustus Meriwether
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I think the issue of the ordination of gay priests is overshadowed here by a couple of things said in the Instruction about gay people in general: “…those who are actively homosexual, have deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called gay culture. Such people, in fact, find themselves in a situation that seriously obstructs them from properly relating to men and women.” and “[the spiritual director] has the obligation to evaluate all the qualities of the personality and assure that the candidate does not have sexual disorders… [ie shows] deep-seated homosexual tendencies” Whilst it is known that the Vatican line… Read more »

k1eranc
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k1eranc

Well, the document MUST be good if Timothy Radcliffe can give it such an illuminating exegesis. However, my reading of the directive on seminaries is that it is yet another over-detailed document, and therefore liable to be interpreted too legalistically.

Kurt
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Kurt

“…those who are actively homosexual, have deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called gay culture. Such people, in fact, find themselves in a situation that seriously obstructs them from properly relating to men and women.” –Roman Church statement on gays and lesbians What arrogant Roman rubbish! “seriously obstructs them from properly relating to men and women,” indeed! My friends, both gay and straight, male and female, would find this statement pure bigotry. There is an element within the clergy of the Roman Church which sexually takes advantage of vulnerable boys and girls, men and women. (Much of the negative heterosexual… Read more »

Prior Aelred
Guest

While I agree with the tenor of the comments from Augustus, k1eranc & Kurt, I believe that the document in question was issued without the pope’s signature (although, obviously with his approval) — by such oracular signs do our Roman brothers & sisters live to guess at the degree of their unofficial acceptance.

I too, am happy to be an Episcopalian!

Augustus Meriwether
Guest

That’s a fascinating thought, Prior Aelred. Talk about crumbs under the table!

Sean Doherty
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Sean Doherty

Radcliffe’s article is a hopelessly optimistic attempt to interpret this document in his own image. His whole major premise is that homosexual orientation cannot be meant here because there *currently exist* good priests with such an orientation. But why should this follow since the document is discussing what its authors reckon ought to happen from now, not what has been taking place up until now. Radcliffe is trying to make himself the final arbiter by claiming that “there are many excellent priests who are gay and who clearly have a vocation from God” (an argument from experience). Doubtless he is… Read more »

steven
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steven

Well, the long wait is over and the division is well underway. On one side are the ancient orthodox catholic churches–Roman and Eastern. Joining them are the evangelistic children of protestantism. On the other side are most of the dying liberal protestant denominations. And, in the middle–the ol’ via media thing I suppose–the Anglican Communion, which is being slowly and painfully ripped into pieces. It had to come sometime, the chasm has become too wide and deep–it was impossible to try and keep one foot on either side of the divide indefinitely. So, why fume? It was inevitable that Christianity… Read more »

RMF
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RMF

Steven,

The rate of population growth for the British Isles is much lower than that of China or India or Kenya or Nigeria, any one of whose population overall dwarfs the UK.

But wait it gets worse!! By 2060ish there is a projected decline in population growth in the UK.

Those poor people in the UK better just throw in the towel now on everything, don’t you think? Why bother with anything?!! It’s only a matter of time before they are even MORE grossly and irreversibly outnumbered by the Chinese or some such.

(All this according to the logic of your post, naturally.)

J. C. Fisher
Guest

Gee Steven, that’s a pretty sorry-sounding post from someone who imagines himself on the *winning* side of this divide.

Our all-merciful, all-saving *God* reigns: everything else is distraction.(*)

Alleluia! 😀

(*) The God too many “Christians” have yet to meet, apparently (e.g., of the “ancient orthodox catholic churches–Roman and Eastern. Joining them are the evangelistic children of protestantism”?). Yet he still stands at the door and knocks! 🙂

Counterlight
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Counterlight

Poor old dying liberalism! Small loss, right? What did it ever give us? other than constitutional democracy and religious pluralism (and that endangered American separation of things religious and secular; our owners and rulers are trying to bring us all the dubious benefits of a state church). And by contrast what did the ancient and orthodox “Church Catholic” bring us? absolute monarchy and religious warfare. As for why we have a thoroughly secular Europe now, I think that the answers can be found in things like the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, Oliver Cromwell’s Irish campaign, and the Spanish Inquisition. I… Read more »

steven
Guest
steven

All: You’re right in criticizing me for a fairly nasty post. I apologize–bad day, bad week, bad month. This does not mean that my underlying conclusions are any different, but I regret voicing them in such a hostile way. In any case, my criticism is not one of “liberalism” in some sort of absolute sense, but of what is currently labeled as liberalism. To me liberalism in an absolute sense is merely a direction. And, it is a direction in which one can go too far, just as one can go too far in other directions (i.e., conservativism/ traditionalism). I… Read more »

cbs
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cbs

In the good old days of Pope Leo XIII Vatican dicasteria were required to issue their teaching in Ciceronian Latin. If an attempt had been made to render the Italian neologism ‘omosessualita”in language comprehensible to a Cicero or a Tertullian, a century of Freudians hopelessly slipping between adjective and noun, between feelings and acts, might have been helped towards the exit. If, as it appears, the Holy Father has not given his full weight to this document, this possibility remains open.

badman
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badman

cbs wrote: “In the good old days of Pope Leo XIII Vatican dicasteria were required to issue their teaching in Ciceronian Latin.” Are you sure? I always thought Church Latin was a byword for awfulness! “If an attempt had been made to render the Italian neologism ‘omosessualita”in language comprehensible to a Cicero or a Tertullian, a century of Freudians hopelessly slipping between adjective and noun, between feelings and acts, might have been helped towards the exit. If, as it appears, the Holy Father has not given his full weight to this document, this possibility remains open.” Isn’t that rather wishful… Read more »

Justin Lewis-Anthony
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Justin Lewis-Anthony

Whilst agreeing completely with your second paragraph, Counterlight (and admiring the way in which you express yourself), I’m afraid the first paragraph is pretty poor history.

The sociologist of religion, Rodney Stark does an impressive demolition job of such “received history” in his two books “One True God : Historical Consequences of Monotheism” and “For the Glory of God : How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery”. I heartily recommend both of them (and would even give an Amazon link if I could work out how TA allowed href html!)

RMF
Guest
RMF

This RC declaration seems centuries too late to be terribly useful. Haven’t there for just forever been gay men in laity, seminaries, orders, the priesthood, the papacy–all levels of the church, with a range of contributions, but as with other identities in it, most serving the Lord well? What is perhaps more surprising than this statement by Rome, is the dedication and faith to it, exhibited by those that this sort of paper targets. I suppose it is somewhat difficult for a person’s reason to reconcile to being in a church where reason must so often dispense with church pronouncements… Read more »

J. C. Fisher
Guest

Apology accepted, Steven, and kudos to your self-awareness in offering it. (I still kinda think your Lewis-ian “sinking ship” analogy misses the point that “to live is CHRIST and to die is gain” though—to “sink” is just to sink deeper into the Saving God :-D)

Back on-topic: re the “at least 3 years without” requirement. In various priestly tales (esp. over on EWTN), the reminiscence of “I kissed my girlfriend/ex-fiance good-bye as I entered the seminary” is one guaranteed to provoke misty-eyes. Could a postulant similarly kiss his boyfriend good-bye (or would that mean one kisses his *vocation* good-bye)? :-/

J. C. Fisher
Guest

Oh, one more thing: in light of the “gay culture” condemnation, could the new instruction actually ban some who AREN’T gay?

[“Metrosexual” sorts—also, all those who’ve been members of PFLAG, for example? There are—THANKFULLY!—*many* heterosexuals who are entirely supportive “gay culture” (to the extent that neologism means anything *g*). Would cheering on a Pride March get you the Vatican heave-ho?]

Annie
Guest
Annie

Lord? How did you forgive them? “It survived Arians and Muslims, why should it succumb to the Johnny-come-lately challenge of liberal dogma?” Liberal dogma? Where in Christendom is there any truth? Where in the world? The Catholic church has banned homosexuals, and those questioning, and those supportive of homosexuals from the priesthood– this has nothing to do with an act! Or whether or not it is a sin. The priesthood requires celibacy! It would be like banishing all who have green eyes or brown hair–because it is a potential way to sin. Ach! We are all born to sin! Is… Read more »

Augustus Meriwether
Guest

Thank you, badman, for the Slate link. Extremely informative. Confirms my belief it’s a bunch of old nazi nonsense, eg: “In 1992, Ratzinger upped the ante. In an analysis of Legislative Proposals on the Non-discrimination of Homosexual Persons, the CDF repeated that “the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder” and extended this principle to civil law. ” ‘Sexual orientation’ does not constitute a quality comparable to race, ethnic background, etc. in respect to non-discrimination,” said the document. “There are areas in which it is not unjust discrimination to take sexual orientation into account.” The obvious areas were… Read more »

steven
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steven

Isn’t everyone kind of missing the practical side of this? The structure of priestly training and priestly life revolves in large part around the idea of keeping males away from females (and vice versa) in private situations. Much about priestly training (and often priestly life) involves putting males together with other males in close, private and/or maybe even intimate circumstances. Hmmm. Could we effectively train (and encourage) young males and females to maintain celibacy by putting them together in such circumstances? Wouldn’t the same pressure exist for homosexuals placed in such a situation? What about the affect on a pastorate?… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

I think all this talk of “safeguards“ is nonsense. Surely, the problem lies with the Mandatory Celibacy introduced from Lateran II in 1139, onwards. Resistance to it was fierce and it took many centuries in the making. Some church provinces actually never had it. Sweden and Finland never had it, nor did Iceland. Consequently, we have never had the predatory problems rife in the Roman church. The problem with a mandatory celibacy seems to me to be coercion. Celibacy itself is a particular calling from the Holy Spirit. Priests don’t get that calling more often than do other people –… Read more »

Counterlight
Guest
Counterlight

RE: the practical problems of accomodating gay seminarians and clergy;
I remember listening to a conversation on the radio some years ago among some American soldiers very anxious over the prospect of gay men being admitted into the military. They spoke about the dreaded shower situation and how uncomfortable they felt at the prospect of being sexual objects. At this point, a female recruit interupted and said, “Get used to it! I have.”

IT
Guest
IT

No, Steven that won’t fly as a concern simply because we KNOW there are already MANY homosexual priests, who live up to their vows appropriately, despite having been through a male-oriented seminary. Your concern might work if they weren’t already there, but they are. Given that there are many gay priests serving well, it’s wrong of the Vatican to try to prevent any more gays from joining. Given that there are many gay priests serving well, it’s also cruel of the Vatican to suddenly change its view and consider even the ORIENTATION is wrong. And by the way, it’s also… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Frankly, Steven, if the procedures you detail have to be carried out, it says far more about the Catholic church and their celibacy rule – if peopole need that much ‘protection’ from reality, then it is their rule which needs to change.

steven
Guest
steven

Goran: Miracle of miracles! We are in almost complete agreement. (At least, . . . I think we may be close to complete agreement). Merseymike: See, above. IT: Hmmm. There are also **many** gay priests who have NOT been serving well–consequently, the RC will be paying through the nose for years to come. To a certain extent the RC are probably trying to cut their losses in future years, but they’ve had a big problem for a long time–not enough vocations. Hence, until they got whacked with a lot of lawsuits there doesn’t seem to have been a lot of… Read more »

IT
Guest
IT

Steven,
“*many*”? What does that come from?

There are also Catholic priests who have abused women, who have slept with women, who have fathered children with women. Hmmm, not banning straight priests, are they.

There are straight and gay priests. And, sadly, pedophile priests, who may be straight OR gay. But to conflate the “gay” with the “pedophile” is an acknowledged error (by psychiatric professionals). This is scapegoating, all and all.

First they came for the gays…..?

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

But surely Steven, if Mandatory Celibacy is oppression and the oppressed learns to oppress in their turn, this applies equally to heteros and homos?

So your “safeguards” are off.

Oppressors opt for the vulnerable or so percieved, not for a gender or an age group.

So the problem is much bigger, much more general than you think.

steven
Guest
steven

IT: You seem to totally miss the point of my posts. Mandatory celibacy puts a lot of pressure on most people, hetero or homo. Some, hetero and homo, can’t keep the standard. However, there are much better and well developed external systems and safeguards for preventing hetero priests from violating the celibacy rules than for preventing homo priests from doing so. Notice, I am saying “external”–not “internal”–indicating that I am not making a judgment at this point about the innate abilities of either group to remain celibate–its gonna be hard on almost everybody (at least without some special dose of… Read more »

J. C. Fisher
Guest

“However, there are much better and well developed external systems and safeguards for preventing hetero priests from violating the celibacy rules than for preventing homo priests from doing so.”

Oh please, Steven: RC priests have had “housekeepers” for years—and the collar is just as easily removed from a straight priest on the prowl as a gay one. You’re going to have to do better than that.

cbs
Guest
cbs

The Outreau case in France is interesting. On the basis of informed psychological expert witness evidence 13 accused (including one priest) were reasonably incarcerated and condemned. Now it appears that most of them were nowhere in the neighbourhood at the time and their innocence has been resoundingly proclaimed by the highest judicial authorities. It causes me concern that immature youths who may well in due course- through favourable circumstances, their own efforts and the grace of the sacraments – develop into saintly pastors may be excluded from the ministry by similar psychological evidence, rather than on the basis of specific… Read more »

steven
Guest
steven

JC: I agree collars come off rather easily. However, the problems in the RC did not have to do with priests hanging around in singles bars (that I recall), but with priests taking advantage of young people in their own churches (i.e., in places where their collar was normally worn). This is one of the primary zones where safeguards are in place for heteros that don’t exist for homos. Also, as to the housekeeper issue–hmm, that obviously blows me out of the water. Everybody knows what total babes they use for housekeepers in the RC. Seems like there was a… Read more »

J. C. Fisher
Guest

In the same way all straight men have total babes for their *wives*, steven? (That’s all I’m gonna say about that. Generally speaking, I’m more likely to have the Joe Jackson response: “Is she really going out w/ *him*?” ;-/) “the problems in the RC did not have to do with priests hanging around in singles bars (that I recall), but with priests taking advantage of young people in their own churches (i.e., in places where their collar was normally worn).” Well, in the most recent sensationalized cases, anyway. Knowing the commonly-measurable reticence of women to speak about such things,… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

The problem is quite simply, that the current rules act as an encouragement for those who have not sorted out their sexuality, no matter what that happens to be.

steven
Guest
steven

JC:

I remain unconvinced on both points, but–oh well, can’t have everything. Besides, its time to move on. If there’s one thing I’ve learned here, it’s that you can’t afford to hang around on any topic for too long–lest you be caught (after making a long detailed and fabulous post) by the archiving of the topic you’re addressing. There’s probably some deep life lesson there somewhere. Anyhow, adios for this thread.

Steven