Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Katolik Shinja reports news from the Vatican

Joshua Andrew Snyder ofKatolik Shinja reports that the Vatican document that forbids homosexuals from the priesthood sits on Pope Benedict XVI's desk. He links to this story from Lifesite News;
The former Church documents make it clear that not only men who have been sexually active as homosexuals but also those inclined to homosexual sex would be barred from the priesthood. A 1961 document produced by the Sacred Congregation for Religious states: "Those affected by the perverse inclination to homosexuality or pederasty should be excluded from religious vows and ordination," because priestly ministry would place such persons in "grave danger"...

In a 2002 statement, Cardinal Estevez of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments stated in answer to a question by a bishop: "Ordination to the deaconate and the priesthood of homosexual men or men with homosexual tendencies is absolutely inadvisable and imprudent and, from the pastoral point of view, very risky. A homosexual person, or one with a homosexual tendency is not, therefore, fit to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders."
Lifesite notes that Word from Rome columnist John Allen reports on the document:
...it will come with a higher level of authority than a response to a dubium published in the bulletin of a curial agency. This document will come with the clear authorization of the pope, perhaps in forma specifica, meaning that it draws on his personal authority. In that sense, the bishop said, it's like the relationship of John Paul's 1994 document Ordinatio sacerdotalis, on women priests, to the 1976 document Inter Insigniores from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the same subject. The teaching didn't change, but the level of authority and clarity did.
I'm ambivalent about this document. Of course, I assent to the Magisterium. I'm not about to get all Foolable or Reasonable on you all. Here's what I mean.

On the one hand, a man that has same sex attraction must live chastely in order to live morally. However, a man like this in ministry will find himself in situations where his will is tested, particularly if he works in a parish. There, he may meet young teenage boys, who themselves may be confused about their sexuality, and experience tragic temptations. Should he succumb to them and elicit relations from one of these teenagers, he will destroy that child's life plus his own.

An analogy may serve well to demonstrate my point further. In the movie New Jack City, Ice-T's hard-boiled NYC detective busts a young street dealer that's also hooked on the cocaine that he sells. The dealer pleas guilty, undergoes treatment as part of his sentence, and soon becomes clean and sober. He wants to help the detective that busted him shut down the drug trade in his neighborhood. Against that detective's better judgement, the reformed dealer goes undercover at a cocaine mill in one of the neighborhood projects. Tragically, he falls prey to his addiction once more, and he winds up using while at the mill. He's shot dead by his employers right in the mill.

On the other hand, a man's same sex attraction is a disorder, not a sin. There's no ontological reason why such a man must not be ordained. If a person is divorced, and not anulled, they are incapable of receiving the sacrament of matrimony with another person. This is not the case with a SSA man being ordained to the priesthood. No, the document forbids such ordinations on prudential grounds, based on the risk that such a man, as a priest, would commit grave sin that would cause scandal. What if such a man with SSA prudently tends to his chastity. What if he is a model of holiness in every other way other than a disorder that he honestly does not desire? What if such a man so loves the Eucharist that his greatest joy would be in serving the Lord by offering his body and blood on the altar at mass? If such a man has a vocation, does the Church act prudently to deny him Holy Orders?

Like I said, I'm ambivalent. Fire away, Fools! Show me the error of my ways!