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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Unofficial Translation of Vatican Document on Homosexuals in the Priesthood

CWnews has posted an unofficial translation of the long-awaited document on the admission of Homosexuals to the priesthood. Here's the money-quote:


From Vatican II until today, several documents of the Magisterium—and especially the Catechism of the Catholic Church— have confirmed the teaching of the Church on homosexuality. The Catechism differentiates between homosexual acts and homosexual tendencies.

Regarding acts, it teaches that, in Sacred Scripture, these are presented as grave sins. Tradition has constantly considered them to be intrinsically immoral and contrary to natural law. These, consequently, may not be approved in any case.

Concerning profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies, that one discovers in a certain number of men and women, these are also objectively disordered and often constitute a trial, even for these men and women. These people must be received with respect and delicacy; one will avoid every mark of unjust discrimination with respect to them. These are called to realize the will of God in their lives and to unite to the Sacrifice of the Lord the difficulties that they may encounter.

In light of this teaching, this department, in agreement with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, holds it necessary clearly to affirm that the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, may not admit to the seminary and Holy Orders those who practice homosexuality, show profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called gay culture.

The above persons find themselves, in fact, in a situation that gravely obstructs a right way of relating with men and women. The negative consequences that may derive from the Ordination of persons with profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies are by no means to by ignored.

If, however, one is dealing with homosexual tendencies that may be simply the expression of a transitory problem, such as for example an adolescence not yet complete, such tendencies must be overcome at least three years before ordination to the diaconate.

[emphasis added.]


Overall, I like the document. Even the oft-discussed "three-year period" seems to take a pretty firm approach because it requires not just a three-year abstention from homosexual acts, but the overcoming even of homosexual tendencies.

The one thing I don't like, however, is that the three year period is the three years prior to ordination to the diaconate. Minor seminary lasts four years and then seminarians go on to major seminary for four years. That means that seminaries are permitted to admit to minor seminary those with homosexual tendencies. I think it would be better to keep all men with homosexual tendencies out of both major and minor seminary.

Lastly, the whole document will remain purely academic unless it is enforced. After all, aren't Catholic seminaries (and colleges) currently supposed to be teaching orthodox Catholicism? I am skeptical that that is currently happening and am similarly skeptical that this document will have any meaningful impact.


UPDATE: From the L.A. Times:

Tod Tamberg, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, said that seminary candidates in Los Angeles already are required to be celibate for at least two years before they can be admitted.

"The challenge, I think, for the media is to make sure it is not sort of taken out of context," Tamberg said. "There will be some people who from what they hear in the media will think: 'Oh my God, this means no gay will ever be ordained in the priesthood again or anybody with a homosexual orientation will never be ordained again.' That's simply not true."

Though the specific instructions pertain to homosexuality, they should be seen as part of many efforts to address spiritual challenges for men considering the priesthood, Tamberg added. More important than sexual orientation is an ability to lead others to Christ, he said.

"Any impediment that would prevent a priest from fulfilling that duty is cause for examination or disqualification," Tamberg said. "That could be one's sexuality that, one way or the other, gets in the way; it could be alcoholism; it could be that that person is incredibly selfish and not willing to give of themselves in the measure that is required of a priest."

Me: I know I shouldn't be surprised that this is L.A.'s approach, but it still makes me ill.