Today's Columbus Dispatch (my hometown paper) had a little blurb article from AP about the highly-awaited Vatican document on homosexuals and the priesthood, which is due out Nov. 29. Once again, it amazes me how the press never quite seems to "get" the idea that the Vatican isn't here to make sure that the Church is "tolerant", but to make sure that the Church sticks to Church teachings, which were given to us by Jesus, the Bible, and Tradition. (I would say these are all better authorities than the local P.C. trends...)
The article says that the document will proclaim that " practicing gays, those with 'deeply rooted' homosexual tendencies or those who support gay culture cannot be admitted to the priesthood." (from an Italian daily) Um, not to be a bit flippant, but OK...this isn't new. If you want to be a priest, methinks you should be "in line" (as we say in politics) with the party line. You know, support the Vatican, the Pope, the Catechism, all that good stuff that makes us Catholic. And if you're openly gay, then you're openly flouting all those things, and you're essentially telling your congregation, "hey, I don't have to follow the rules, so you don't either!" Not the kind of example we want to be setting. The Church says that homosexual actions are gravely sinful. Now, OK, all of us are sinners. That's a fact. But I don't think priests should be openly committing gravely sinful actions and be priests. That just strikes me as wrong. There's also the ancient Catholic idea that "stuff" (that is, physical matter) matters. A priest is acting in persona Christi--in the place of Christ, as Christ--when he celebrates Mass. The relationship between Christ and his Church is nuptial in nature; the Church is the spouse, Christ the groom. This Catholic understanding of male and female isn't going to work too well in a homosexual setting. (For more on this, read George Weigel's incomparable Letters To A Young Catholic) We are who God created us to be, and we can't change that. We also cannot change what God has ordained to be so--that is, that practicing homosexuals cannot be priests. (Heck, practicing anythings can't be priests....we've got that whole celibacy thing going on, for heterosexuals, too!)
The document also says that Bishops, spiritiual directors of seminaries and superiors of religious orders must "verify that the candidate practices celibacy and has no 'sexual disturbances that are incompatible with the priesthood.'" Yeah. I think we can all get on board with that, right? I hope so. If you've read Michael Rose's Goodbye, Good Men (if you haven't, get it!), you know that this is a long time coming, with all the crazy things seminaries did in the 1960s and 1970s to get priests who were not, as we said above, "toting the party line" into the priesthood, and heavily discouraging or outrightly discriminating against priests who were actually faithful to the Pope and Magesterium and didn't buy into the P.C. Catholicism stuff.
I think that this new policy will change the priesthood for the better. We Catholics need to know that our priests are actually teaching--and living--Catholic doctrine. I don't expect my priests to be perfect (none of us are). But I do expect them to teach me what the Church really teaches, and not what they wish the Church teaches. This was vividly seen during the 2004 Election; I know of priests who would preach in their homilies that abortion is not "the only issue" in an election, that we must consider other things. While this may be true, it was also a veiled reference to the, um, CINO (Catholic-In-Name-Only) candidate (whom we all remember with such fondness). This flies in the face of Vatican statements, as well as statements from U.S. Bishops. Sure, it's not the "only" issue in an election, but it's a darn important one. Life issues always are. And yet we have priests who are advocating for the other side. There are priests who believe women should be ordained, and tie that theme into their homily on the Immaculate Conception! (Yes, this actually happened in a parish in my neighborhood) Now, the Blessed Mother was many things, but I'm sure she wouldn't've been the one leading the charge for women's ordination. But that's another column.
Yes, the howls will emerge, once this document is released, that the Church is "out of fashion" and "medieval" and "discriminatory" and all that stuff we're used to hearing (imagine if the press called anything that any other religion did these things....hm...). But the Church has endured now for over 2,000 years. The Gates of Hell will not prevail against it. I think we can handle a little bit of press mudslinging. And God bless B XVI for having the guts to release this document. The Church needs solid guidance, and he's just the man to give it to us.