Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Gays Banned, Seminarians With SSA Accepted

David Morrison (a Courage member and very solid blogger) shares some additional analysis on the details about the document on seminarians with same sex attractions reported by John Allen:

Also, to some extent I recognize this is a no-win document. By opting for nuance over blanket bans, the Church will have tailored an administrative policy which squares a good deal more easily with what she teaches about same sex attraction and men and women living with SSA. But also by opting for nuance the Church has left the door open for seminary rectors and others not committed to the Church's teaching to simply ignore it and continue to allow homosexual activity in the seminaries and to recommend for ordination men who should not be ordained.

In short, any policy is only as good as the men who enforce it and we have plenty of indications that the men who have been in charge of seminaries and seminary formation for some time have not been the sorts of men we needed in those positions.

Now, this is the difficult thing about having accurate (and thus complex) teachings on difficult topics and not going the lower road of making simplistic disciplinary pronouncements: it becomes very easy for people to take nuance for weakness and simply ignor the teaching.

Indeed, I've already read a number of 'progressive' Catholic bloggers opining that this is a huge step forward because "now the Church is admitting that gay men make good priests". Well, no.

The Church teaches, as it always has, that sexual intercourse with someone of your own sex (or anyone else you are not married to) is a mortal sin. However, the Church also teaches that we are not defined by our temptations. We are all children of God, made in His Image, no matter what trials and temptations we may face. God expects each one of His children to live according to His moral laws. He expects all of us to remain celibate until marriage (and if we are not called to marriage, then permanently) and He expects married people to follow the Church's teachings about marital chastity.

That is what makes the quote reported by John Allen 'smell right'. The Church does not see people as 'gay' or 'straight' and so it would seem out of character for the Church to issue a document directing that all men with any degree of same sex attraction be rejected from seminaries. However, the Church does expect her priests to teach Catholic moral doctrine and to live celibately. Thus there are three things mentioned in the document (at least as reported) that should give seminary directors caution:

1) If the applicant has not been living a celibate lifestyle up to this point.
2) If the applicant identifies with the 'gay culture', thus embracing a vision of the human person and sexuality which the Church rejects.
3) If the appicant suffers from temptations so strong that he or his vocation director doubt his ability to follow his vow of celibacy.

Reportedly the document is some sixteen pages long, it's certainly not limitted to three bullet points. But if the current reporting is accurate, it seems likely that the proper reading will be: "Gay" candidates excluded from priesthood, while men with same sex attractions committed to chastity are accepted.

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