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November 07, 2008

Comments

Stefan

I think after this clarifications of the cardinal the interpretation of John Heard is untenable. Same Sex attracted people (I would call them homosexuals) are not qualified for the priesthood according to the weird idea of the "nature of the priesthood, in which a spiritual paternity is carried out...." Capiat qui capere possit! The preference of heterosexual intercourse qualifies for spiritual paternity?? - Its all very sad especially for those who find themselves in this institution as priests who are told now that they are not qualified and should have been rejected from the beginning. The damage for the church if this concept is implemented will be immense. Anyway Superiors and seminarians have to carry the burden of dishonesty - even more heavy now than before.

Christopher

Can I add that this is a rather creepy understanding of the priesthood? What of the desert Ammas who spiritually fathered many?

Also, looking at real-life heterosexuals and homosexuals these descriptions fall short all the way around as there are mature, capable-of-relationship persons in both as well as immature, incapable-of-relationships in both.

Iosephus

Father, thank you for the link to my blog, even though it was to an very angry post which I produced just after reading the Cardinal's comments. You are quite right: what we need are not angry or sarcastic denunciations, but a patient and humble attitude working towards (as you say) the building of a solid corpus of wisdom.

While I may have sounded extremely pessimistic, I truly believe that the Church will one day change its position on her gay sons and lesbian daughters. A position so ridiculous and contradictory cannot stand forever. But it will take time, decades or even centuries. The Church moves slowly and carefully, and with good reason. Until then, her gay faithful and their friends will continue to struggle and suffer in faith, hope, and charity.

Spirit of Vatican II

I did not mean to criticize "angry reaction" -- but only to urge that we build beyond this, if possible.

The Vatican thinks that there is no corpus of wisdom to be built up from gay people's experience (which includes not only the testimonies of gay Catholics and clergy but also the rich phenomenology available in modern literature in all languages). It is this preemptive dismissal that has stymied the possibility of a real open discussion and dialogue.

One would have thought that the testimony of celibate gays would be appreciated -- but the rather phobic reaction to discussions of Newman's homosexuality suggests that this is not the case either.

Curiously, all the authors listed by the Pope as his favorites in a Vanity Fair (German edition) interview had a gay side or were predominantly or exclusively gay -- Goethe, Hesse, Mann, Annette Kolb, Kafka. Theodor Storm may be an exception, but it is interesting to note that he fell in love with a 10 year old girl whom he proposed to, unsuccessfully, when she was 20; he fell in love with his wife when she was 13. Little of the human sensibility that such literary taste reveals comes across in the language of Vatican documents penned since 1986 (except to some extent in the encyclical Deus Caritas Est and in papal references elsewhere to Plato's Phaedrus). In general, there is a disconnect between what churchmen know about human nature and what the taboos allow them to write. This gap could be closed if they set their teaching in a context of frank discussion with the faithful.

Spirit of Vatican II

Iosephus, I think there is some confusion between Card. Grocholewski's 2005 interview on the Instruction on gay seminarians and his 2008 press conference on the new document on psychological testing, which only refers to homosexuality fleetingly.

I'd like to reprint here what you say on your weblog:

"I think what's needed is a dispassionate, charitable response based on truth, the truth that the current hierarchy and bureaucracy are fighting tooth and nail not to see.

"Upon further reflection, I'm not sure that I really have all that much to worry about. I really can't see how the Vatican's 2005 guidelines can really be enforced against normal, non-paedophile, celibate gay men – short of hooking their genitals up to some sort of ghastly machine and forcing them to watch gay porn!

"The fact of the matter is that gay men will continue to be ordained, just as they have been for many, many centuries. And they will become part of a priesthood that everybody knows is overwhelmingly gay. Some of them will be bad apples, as always (whether gay or straight), but many of them will be dedicated men who just want to please God and bring his grace and mercy to the faithful.

"Personally, I am determined not to give into despair or self-loathing. I am pressing forward, trusting in the mercy of God. If God wants me to be a priest, I have no doubt that he will allow that to happen."

Spirit of Vatican II

I wonder if either Vatican document is based on wide consultation of those most directly affected -- seminary rectors and their staff? The Vatican is understandably troubled about the huge gay presence in the priesthood at a time of an upsurge in gay self-affirmation. If a lot of gay priests are sexually active or aspire to permanent gay relationships, as seems to be the case, the whole topic of celibacy is skewed. The Vatican should consult more with those who have been dealing with these issues for years and see what can be learned from their experience. Of course the basic question is whether obligatory celibacy for priests makes any sense today. We seem to be seeing its death throes.

Iosephus

Thanks, Father – I didn't see your latest responses until now. I just can't worry about this any more – frankly, it's making me crazy. All I can do is continue on. I may not make it to my goal, but at least I tried to respond to a perceived call from God. I'd appreciate your prayers in the coming months as I make inquiries with various orders.

Spirit of Vatican II

Looking again at Iosephus's letter I wonder how many thousands of candidates for religious or priestly life all over the world are going through such angst. Homosexual orientation is a major component in the human mix and particularly among the more religious, who are likely to think of such vocations. The cruelty of the Vatican Instruction lies in its abusive effect on these generous young people, put though a gruelling grilling for no good reason.

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