Amazingly I have actually not commented on the new document from the Congregation for Catholic Education concerning seminary admissions up until today. Nor have I blogged on all the rumors of what the document first said one day and then another. I was going to try the novel approach in St. Blogs and write about it when it actually came out. Being though that it appears that the leaked text this time is the real thing I will give my take.
This document will solve all the problems in the seminary. The Church especially in recent times has been real faithful to documents published by the Vatican. Remember how after Ex Cordia Ecclesia was published and the Catholic universities fired the theologians who didn’t sign the mandatum? Remember how liturgical abuses stopped after Redemptionis Sacramentum was published? Remember here in the U.S. how pro-abortion speakers stopped being invited at Catholic institutions after Catholics in Political Life was issued?
The document though does seem to go along what I would consider prudent guidelines. I am not a big fan of zero tolerance programs for the most part. They seem to be in effect zero-prudence programs where every situation is considered the same and injustices can easily result in this approach. Though I can understand how sometimes a zero tolerance approach might be prudent to correct situations that have totally run amok. If the document had been a zero tolerance statement for those who have had some level of Same Sex Attraction in the past I think that would have been a mistake since it would really only bind those who were faithful to the Church in the first place. Those involved in seminary admission who might actually be able to discern and to prudently determine if a candidate to the priesthood who was had previously has some level of SSA was now a good candidate would be barred from making that decision. Those involved in seminary admission who were mushy in the first placed on the Church’s teaching on homosexuality probably wont give a darn about this new document anyway.
Does anybody actually believe that if this document had been issued over a year ago that Cardinal Mahony would then not have ordained the openly homosexual Eric Stolz to the deaconate? The new document affects not only seminary admission but those being admitted into Holy Orders. Just as after Redemptionis Sacramentum was published Cardinal Mahony surveyed the liturgical landscape and determined there were no liturgical abuses to correct in his diocese. With the new document it appears the Cardinal has taken the same approach as Captain Renault in Casablanca: "I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!"
Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles, "has said over and over that he chooses potential priests by focusing on their ability to lead a holy, chaste life and the ability to lead other people closer to Jesus," archdiocese spokesman Tod Tamberg says.
"The seminary application process should treat all people and their gifts distinctly, with no variation based on orientation," he said.
When a diocese has no problems using some homosexual activist charged words such as "orientation" you just know that a new document isn’t going to change things much. Too many in Church leadership seem to have no problem using the terms as defined by homosexual activism. For example the president of the USCSB Bishop Skylstad recently wrote about "gay orientation", "witch hunts" and "gay bashing." Respect for persons who have SSA does not flow from the usage of terms that primarily identify them by their disordered sexual desires. True respect for these persons is not to diminish that fact that active homosexual acts are gravely disordered. The document of course makes the correct distinctions.
As regards to deep-seated homosexual tendencies, which are present in a certain number of men and women, these also are objectively disordered and are often a trial for such people. They must be accepted with respect and sensitivity; every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfil God’s will in their lives and to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter.
The new document will give new emphasis on admissions criteria and will have some positive effect for those less recalcitrant and more faithful to Church teaching. I think it is a sad statement that such a document even needed to be issued. To me it seems to be the theological equivalent of telling someone not to cross the street into traffic. To have to mention the fact that those candidates with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" should not be admitted should not even be necessary.
Of course homosexual activists will not be pleased in any way. They especially won’t like the part about not displaying homosexual tendencies for three years prior to dioconal Ordination. Especially since the party line is that there are born with it and that nothing can change it. If they were honest with their position they would see this as a total bar. Those who believe that anybody that has ever had some level of SSA should be prohibited will also not be pleased. Though by doing this they would seem to agree in principle with what homosexual activists says about the permanence of homosexual identification. I believe through groups such as Courage that some of those those suffering with SSA can have their level of SSA reduced or totally overcome. Some percent might not ever totally overcome this, but can still live chaste and holy lives. The Church does call this a disorder and disorders can be overcome.
How effectively seminary rectors and others can discern "deep seated homosexual tendencies" in candidates is of course up to question. Psychological tests can only go so far. The document also mentions the real problem of candidates lying their way through.
It would be gravely dishonest for a candidate to hide his own homosexuality, regardless of everything, to arrive at ordination. Such an inauthentic attitude does not correspond to the spirit of truth, loyalty, and availability that must characterise the personality of one who considers himself called to serve Christ and his Church in the ministerial priesthood.
In our culture where pro-homosexual apologetics is surrounding us 24/7 it is so much harder for those with SSA to admit that homosexual acts are gravely disordered. So much easier to see themselves as being unfairly persecuted by the Church and coming up with excuses why it would be alright to lie to get into the priesthood.
I seems that this document has been coming out for the last two years and the repeated rounds of news stories has really been tiring. It will only get worse. If only other documents issued by the Church would get this type of attention. Our previous Pope’s encyclical s deserved this level of attention and not a document issued by the Congregation for Catholic Education. Where will be the news stories about our Holy Father’s first encyclical due on December 8th? Sure it will get a little blip, but will be largely ignored if "controversial topics" are not covered.
Amy Welborn has a great post on the subject today that covers various points.
…Oh, and word to the self-identified "gay priests" who are all over NPR today. To right off the bat self-identify as "gay" is to indicate, pretty clearly, that something else other than Christ is at the center of your life. If your priest got up in the pulpit and proclaimed "I am a heterosexual priest," wouldn’t you go, uh…okay. Wouldn’t it indicate to you that something besides devotion to Christ and His Church was the lodestar, the guiding and motivating force in that guy’s life? This is not about denying and repressing our sexual natures, blah, blah, blah. Here’s what celibacy is supposed to be: it’s supposed to be a life of eschatological witness, an extreme sign of what, in the end, we are called to be, and will be in the fullness of the Kingdom: for God alone…
As David Morrison noted before these self-identified "gay priests" are only proving the point of the problem. He also posted some other thoughts about self-identified "gay priests" here.