As the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops gathered in Chicago Thursday
for a meeting to review their sexual abuse policy, Cardinal Francis George
said homosexual men should not be admitted into seminaries.
George, who is archbishop of Chicago and vice president of the U.S. Conference
of Catholic Bishops, said in light of the sexual abuse crisis, bishops are
paying closer attention to the sexual backgrounds of men interested in entering
the priesthood. Part of the commitment is that a man is celibate when he enters
"Also, anyone who has been part of a gay subculture or who
has lived promiscuously as a heterosexual would not be admitted … no matter
years in his background that might have occurred," George said.
I don’t think a policy that would have excluded St. Augustine
from the priesthood would be a good policy. This is the problem with a broad
policy or zero tolerance ideas that seek to be seen as fair over being discerning
and prudent. That seem to make a strait line moral equivalency between homosexual
activity and sinful heterosexual activity. Both are gravely sinful, though
homosexual activity is also gravely disordered. This is what happens though
when those accepting men to the seminaries have not been prudent in their judgments
in the past forcing some fit-all-policy to be forced into place.
The 1961 Document, “Careful Selection and Training of Candidates
for the States of Perfection and Sacred Orders” was promulgated by the
Vatican’s Sacred Congregation for Religious on February 2, 1961.
“Advancement to religious vows and ordination should be
barred to those who are afflicted with evil tendencies to homosexuality or
pederasty, since for them the common life and the priestly ministry would constitute
There is also suppose to be in the works a Vatican document
to again address this topic and reports of the draft document say that it
reiterates what the 1961 documents said.
The role, if any, of sexuality in the sexual abuse scandal is
being debated. Critics have charged there is no evidence that gays are more
likely to engage in abuse than heterosexuals. Others have said placing attention
on homosexuality is a way of deflecting attention from bishops who allowed
the scandal to unfold.
I always enjoy the unnamed "critics have charged" boilerplate
that so often ends up in articles. Unnamed critics with unmentioned research
or evidence is thrown in to "balance" an article. The fact that the overwhelming
instances of abuse was in fact predominately homosexual ephebophilia is ignored
which is why so many articles on abuse work overtime to ignore or not mention
the gender of abuse victims. They never seem to get around mentioning why the
introduction of altar girls did not create a spike in the amount of girls being
Bishops are expected to approve a broader definition of sexual
abuse that covers priests who buy or disseminate child pornography, and they
will be asked to approve spending $1 million in reserve funds for an in-depth
study of the "causes and contexts" of the abuse crisis. The study
is expected to focus on whether abuse might be related to homosexuality, celibacy
and other issues. [Source]
The bishop’s conference seems to be more and more a studyarchy.
Go forth among all nations and initiate studies. Bishops don’t have to lead
or make decisions, they just inaugurate one more study to put off actually
using their common sense and acting on it.
consider celibacy to be a factor in sexual abuse is to buy in to the culture.
To ignore that the discipline of priestly celibacy has not created this amount
of sexual abuse in the past. To ignore that these abuses started to spike
in the sixties and seventies which is definitely not when priestly celibacy
The last line kills me. “The study is expected to focus on whether abuse might be related to homosexuality, CELIBACY, or other issues.” (Emphasis mine, of course.)
I’m getting sick of the implication (and sometimes outright statement) that celibacy leads to sexual abuse and other deviant behavior.
I was happy to read Cardinal George’s comments that stated” homosexuals should not be admitted into seminaries.” I wish he had gone one step farther and said, homosexuals who lie to get into the seminaries, once this is determined, should be removed. ~ Priests shouldn’t have a sexual preferece, at least not one they act on. And yes it is the Church’s business to know who is in bed with a priest,because they have made a vow of celibacy, and a promise to the Church. What part of that don’t they get?
To err is human, but to molest little boys is sick and wrong.
Gagh. It sounds positively … Episcopalian.
And I mean that in the nicest possible way.
“Studyarchy” is right — I am persuaded that “study groups” have precisely two purposes:
Mitchell�s law of committees: Any problem can be rendered insoluble if enough meetings are held to discuss it.
So much for the power of the Holy Spirit in conversion. The problem was not just the sexual orientation of the priests, but their lack of commitment to God, Church, and celibacy. It seems that we are placing all of the blame on the individual sinners and not enough on the ambiance and theology or lack thereof of the seminaries themselves.
It is part and parcel with the scandal causing all of the laity to undergo Virtus training, yet not dealing with the bishops who fostered an ungodly culture within their respective dioceses.
I thank God for the Spirit that is blowing through the Church today and always. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Send us more laborers in the vineyard, and may they be filled with Your Spirit!
I agree with Jeff that any policy which would have excluded St. Augustine, an ex-libertine who had fathered an illegitimate child, is too strict. It’s interesting that he was made priest and bishop virtually by acclamation at the time. But the US bishops today don’t have what it takes to even try to exclude homosexuals from the priesthood without also excluding heteorsexuals whose history is less than exemplary.
Part of the problem is that it’s almost impossible for many US bishops to be objective about this. For reasons of both personal moral compromise and political correctness, they just can’t take due account of the relevant factors. Consider: over the past several years, at least a dozen US bishops have faced some sort of personal legal or financial trouble for their homosexual activities. As Diogenes points out over at CWN, that’s not a roster of homosexually inclined bishops or even of sexually active gay bishops; that’s just a roster of those who got into publicized trouble for homosexual activity. That may not be the tip of an iceberg, but there’s gotta be a lot more homosexuality in the episcopate than has so far met the public eye. Given as much, how can we expect the bishops to take collective action that is both effective and fair to everybody?
Though there are many individually good men among them, the US bishops as a whole have shown themselves incapable of getting to the root of the problem without decisive Roman intervention. I have high hopes that Benedict XVI will ensure that effective action is taken. But let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water. If straights with a history of sexual misbehavior are excluded from seminaries, even if they are now repentant and celibate, there won’t even be any more Fr. John Corapis. That can’t be right.
I wish they’d just say what they mean:
“We don’t want Priests.”
“We don’t want Churches (unless they look like polebarns or spaceships).”
“We don’t want Catholicism.”
Fah. I shall keep praying that the few good Bishops we have in this country will sever their ties with the USCCB (Useless Synod of Confused Communist Bishops)
I know a priest who was married, his wife died, then he became a priest. He was even a father before he became a father, if you know what I mean. He is on my top ten list of my favorite priests.
I wonder if the bishops think he should have been excluded from the priesthood because of the intimate relations he had with his wife.
Also, what about the married priests in the Eastern Churches and the converted protestant ministers who became priests?
The role, if any, of sexuality in the sexual abuse scandal is being debated. Critics have charged there is no evidence that gays are more likely to engage in abuse than heterosexuals. Others have said placing attention on homosexuality is a way of deflecting attention from bishops who allowed the scandal to unfold.
I don’t know what the role is, but the facts speak for themselves. 90% of the instances of abuse thathave come to light have been against post-pubescent young men.
Those who are attracted to post pubescent young men are generally not pedophiles, but are obviously homosexual.
To ignore this is to ingore the elephant in the room.
We’re fooling ourselves if we think that this abuse “began” in the 60s and 70s. Clerical homosexuality has always been a problem, and it will be even after Modernism is dead. It comes with being Catholic, I guess.
As with boy scout leaders, the priesthood offers a good beard for those inclined to sexually abuse pubescent boys. I don’t want those men as my son’s coach, boy scout leader or priest. There has to be a better way to screen them.
Regarding the priesthood, it seems to me that a man needs to thoroughly understand the role of fatherhood, and what it means to serve and sacrifice — as all good fathers do. A good priest understands that he is not a physical father, but a spiritual father to his flock. The Church teaches that homosexuality is disordered. For one thing it inclines a person inward. It would seem this is a big obstacle — but not impossible — to overcome when discerning a call to priesthood.
Is it the job of seminaries to help them overcome those obstacles and are they equipped?
I think Teresa has a good question at the end of her post, to which my answer would be yes, it is the job of seminaries to assist otherwise solid candidates in overcomming any disorders that would inhibit their priestly service and no they are not equiped to do this. The problem is that too many seminary officials view same-sex attraction disorder as akin to left-handedness: something that just happens and is not in itself disordered. What is needed is not a policy of saying any particular background or disorder in and of itself makes a man unfit for the seminary, but rather a commitment to helping candidates for the priesthood (and indeed all Christians) to achieve wholeness in their lives under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Simply banning all men with SSA from seminary formation would essentially be saying the same thing that the “gay” activists say: that men with SSA are incapable of achieving authentic, peaceful, and joyful inner chastity. If this were true, then we would have to say that active homosexuals are not sinning from a subjective viewpoint because they act under insurmountable duress, which is absurd. If we affirm the sinfulness of homosexual acts, then we must affirm that those who commit them act freely, and therefore must conclude that they can freely correct their behaviors and therefore, through the compassionate ministry of Holy Mother Church, become fit candidates for any vocation to which God might call them.
It is a worldly mindset that seeks simply to ban this or that, institute a zero-tolerance policy and be done with it. Let us rather seek to teach those sick with sinful tendancies how to turn to the Physician of the soul who offers His Body and Blood as the medicine of everlasting life. Jesus, lover of mankind, have mercy on us!
Dear Teresa and Daniel,
It seems both of you are hitting on the same nail. In Persona humana para. 8, the CDF addresses homosexuality as in its permanence. OF course, the Church believes that in some cases it may be permanent, whereas in others it may be transitory (i.e., just a phase).
Good point. I also need to point out that Augustine was elected Bishop by the people of Hippo – a process that the bishops would now resist. The bishops would also have refused to ordain St. Paulinus of Nola.
I think it would be preferable to have a repentant formerly promiscuous man enter the priesthood than one who was still living under the impression that there was something intrinsically good in his previous exclusive live-in committed (heterosexual) love relationships…i.e. your basic sensitive modern we’re living together until we can pull together a wedding man. I think repentance is the key…