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Can I Quote You On That? Talking to the Media About Homosexuality
and the Priesthood | Mark Brumley | November 23, 2005
The following piece is an artistic (but accurate) representation of a
real and very recent conversation with a reporter from a major media outlet.
"What are your thoughts about the Vaticans instruction on homosexuality
in the seminary?"
"I havent seen the document."
"You havent seen it?"
"No, I have seen only an unofficial translation of what purports to
be the document. But the official document I have not seen. Have you?"
"Well, the document is posted on the Internet."
"The official document?"
"No, but one that has been confirmed by a Vatican source to reflect
the official document."
"So you havent seen the official document yet, either."
"Well, no. Anyway, what are your thoughts about the unofficial version?"
"It seems sound to me. People who are actively homosexual should not
be in seminary and they should not be ordained. People with deep-seated
homosexual tendencies should not be in the seminary and should not be ordained.
People who support homosexual activism and the gay culture should not be
in the seminary and should not be ordained. Sounds like common sense and
pastoral prudence. We are, after all, talking about men who want to be Catholic
priests, who will be called upon to exemplify and teach the whole range
of Catholic doctrine, including its moral doctrine. They shouldnt
be expected to be perfect, but they also shouldnt be actively engaged
in things contrary to that teaching or have deep-seated tendencies to violate
that teaching. Again, that seems to be common sense."
"So you dont think someone with deep-seated homosexual tendencies
can be chaste or can be a good priest?"
"Did I say that? Its a question of a general policythere
may be exceptions to the rule, but in general, its not prudent to
ordain men with deep-seated homosexual tendencies. Priests have enough challenges
to their vocation; they dont need struggling with deep-seated homosexual
tendencies in the necessarily-male culture of the presbyterate to be added
to the list of challenges. And the Church doesnt need to add to her
list of problems priests who are so struggling. That doesnt mean that
those who are such priests should be booted out. But it does mean that they
should work hard to overcome the moral and pastoral problems resulting from
their struggle. And it means that we shouldnt open the Church up for
more difficulties by ordaining men who have significant struggles with their
"What about priests without such deep-seated tendencies?"
"Priests or candidates for the seminary?"
"Im sorry, candidates for the seminary."
"It seems that if theyre chaste and have been so for at least
three years they can be admitted to the seminary and be considered for ordination.
At least thats what the unofficial version of the document being circulated
on the Internet says. So whats youre question?"
"Does that mean that the Church thinks someone who is gay can become
"As far as I can tell, it means that that there are young men who manifest
homosexual tendencies as a result of, say, delayed adolescence. Apparently,
such young men can overcome the problem."
"Thats what the document says."
"But do you think what it says is true?"
"I can give up my laymans opinion that it seems so to me, but
Im not a psychologist or psychiatrist. Ignatius Press publishes a
book on the subject called The
Battle for Normality: A Guide for Self-Therapy for Homosexuality
by Dr. G.J.M.Van den Aardweg, a psychiatrist with years of practice who
says it can be done. There are other experts who claim as much as well.
And theyre talking about men with deeper problems than a young man
in a delayed adolescence."
"How do you think this document will affect the Churchs efforts
to recruit priests?"
"It can only help. There are heterosexual men who wont give the
priesthood much thought because they dont want to go into a profession
that they thinkrightly or wronglyis increasingly seen as a homosexual
profession. Of course, priestly ministry is more than a professionits
a vocation. But its a vocation with professional elements. So how
it is perceived as a profession is important. But beyond that, we need priests
who wholly accept the Churchs teaching on sexuality and priestly identity.
We dont want men whose personal problems are going to tempt them to
dilute that teaching."
"But it seems as if the Catholic Church is saying that gays arent
"No, the Catholic Church is saying that she wants heterosexual males
to be priests. Priests sacramentally represent the male Christ in relation
to his bride, the Church. Everyonehomosexually inclined people
includedis called to find truth, freedom and love in Jesus Christ
and in the community he founded. But people cant have their cake and
eat it, too. They cant find that truth, freedom and love in Jesus
Christ and at the same time choose to live contrary to the truth, to freedom,
and to genuine love, and expect the Church to accept it. Homosexually inclined
people are welcome in the same way the rest of us sin-inclined people arethrough
the doors of repentance from sin and loving faith in Christ."
"Only gay men cant be priests."
"People with certain severe problems cant be priests. Being homosexually
active, having deep-seated homosexual tendencies, and supporting the gay
culture are among them. Being unwilling or unable to remain heterosexually
chaste is, too. Which is why men with that problem shouldnt be ordained,
"But men with deep-seated heterosexual tendencies arent barred
from seminary and being ordained."
"No, but those whose deep-seated heterosexual tendencies make them
unwilling or unable to be chaste are."
"That seems inconsistent. It seems as if the Church thinks theres
a problem with homosexual tendencies as such and not a problem with heterosexual
"Yes. Thats the point. Homosexual tendencies are intrinsically
disorderedinclining people to the wrong goal, sexual union with
members of the same sex. Heterosexual tendencies arent intrinsically
disordered. In fact, theyre intrinsically good. Men should be
attracted to women. They should be inclined to sexual union with
members of the opposite sex. Men shouldnt be sexually attracted
to men. If they are, theres a problem. It may be that those men arent
to blame for their problem. It may be that there is a genetic predisposition
to same-sex attraction. Or that there are environmental factors behind same-sex
attraction. Or perhaps its both heredity and environment. But whatever
the cause, same-sex attraction is a problem. And if same-sex impulses are
acted on, with full knowledge that same-sex activity is contrary to true
human good, and its acted on with consent, then its a moral problem,
a sin. Furthermore, if same-sex attraction is deep-seated or
its regularly acted upon, or otherwise endorsed by a man, its
a problem that will keep him out of the seminary and the priesthood. At
least if the Vaticans Instruction is put into effect."
"Will it be?"
"That is the question, isnt it? Whether it will be remains
to be seen."
Brumley is President of Ignatius
An former staff apologist with Catholic Answers, Mark is the author of How
Not To Share Your Faith (Catholic Answers) and contributor to The
Five Issues That Matter Most. He is a regular contributor to the
InsightScoop web log.
He has written articles for numerous Catholic periodicals and has appeared
on FOX NEWS and other television and radio programs.
the Insight Scoop Blog and read the latest posts and comments by
IgnatiusInsight.com staff and readers about current events, controversies,
and news in the Church!
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