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

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Will the real Bishop Skylstad please stand up

Yesterday, the President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Catholic Bishops, Bishop William Sklystad, reiterated the position of the Vatican's recent Instruction on the ordination of homosexuals. He stated:

"However, if homosexual tendencies are indicative of a passing problem in the candidate's life, he can be considered for Holy Orders if he has demonstrated that these tendencies have been overcome at least three years prior to ordination to the deaconate, which is the point at which a man becomes a cleric."

After reading Sklystad's entire statement, I have to so that I was surprised and impressed. That was yesterday, however.

Today, Bishop Skylstad offers a more "nuanced" interpretation. OK, actually there's nothing nuanced about it. Today's interpretation is in direct contradiction to yesterday's and to the Vatican's Instruction. Here's what Skylstad said in an interview with the Washington Post:

"I think one of the telling sentences in the document is the phrase that the candidate's entire life of sacred ministry must be 'animated by a gift of his whole person to the church and by an authentic pastoral charity,' [i]f that becomes paramount in his ministry, even though he might have a homosexual orientation, then he can minister and he can minister celibately and chastely."


What part of "[homosexual] tendencies must be clearly overcome" do you not understand? What part of your own statement do you not understand?

Bishop D'Arcy of South Bend said as much, calling Skystad's interpretation "simply wrong."

"I would say yes, absolutely, it does bar anyone whose sexual orientation is towards one's own sex and it's permanent," D'Arcy said in an interview with the Washington Post. "I don't think there's any doubt about it. . . . I don't think we can fuss around with this."

I think that Bishop's Skylstad's differing interpretations from yesterday and today shows what happens when a President of the U.S.C.C.B. does not prepare his own written statements. Unfortunately, today's Bishop Skylstad is more likely the real one. Yesterday's Skylstad, was likely just a U.S.C.C.B. staffer.


UPDATE: Bishop Skylstad also offers this gem (also from the Washington Post):

Skylstad took a similar approach. He said the barring of men with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" refers to those who are "principally defined by" or whose "primary identification" is their sexual orientation. Although the document does not say so, he said, the same implicitly applies to men who have deep-seated heterosexual impulses.

"Absolutely, it cuts both ways. . . . I think if the orientation dominates one's personality, whether that be homosexual or heterosexual," then the candidate is not suitable for ordination, Skylstad said. "You know, a heterosexual person who cannot live the celibate life in fidelity to his mission, in fidelity to appropriate boundaries, is not going to be called by the church to priesthood, either."

Pop quiz for Bishop Skylstad: Are hetersexual tendencies (whether "deep-seated" or not) disordered? (And no cheating, Bishop Skylstad. You are not permitted to look up the answer. Additionally, the answer must be given in a "yes" or "no" format.)