I bring this up after reading this morning's NY Times article carrying reactions from around the country related to the Catholic Church's leaked-enough-to-be-official statement regarding gays in the priesthood. (You can read the article here, or go to the Catholic News Service and read their take on it in more detail. Thanks to Damien for the hat-tip on the CNS link...)
If the Catholic Church was sticking to its standing dogma, then every gay man who has been ordained since 1961 has been irregularly ordained - since a 1961 Vatican document on religious-order priests said homosexuals should be excluded from religious vows and ordination. So "tradition" is not a supporting argument - because the church itself has been the greatest violator of that tradition.
In the NY Times article, there is a telling statement:
Most supporters of the directive said they believed there was a link between homosexuality and the sexual abuse by clergy members that has recently rocked the church, and they said the initiative would make such scandals less likely in the future.To get back to the Byrne Road analogy, the Catholic position would be like saying that since males between 16 and 30 tend to be hot-rodders, the solution to speeding problems would be to not license any young men under the age of 30. In this case, the Toledo Police Department made the right choice - when people were speeding, they arrested them. The Catholic Church's failure was in not enforcing the existing rules related to clergy sexual abuse, and punishing the offenders forthwith.
Preventing gay ordination will only hurt the church. Placing pressure of scrutiny (or worse) on already-ordained gay priests will only help drive them out of a church that they already believe doesn't want them. After all, if you are called to celibacy, obedience, and poverty - and then proclaimed as "objectively disordered" and placed under ever-increasing scrutiny - how long would it take you to find something else to do with your life?
Here's another sign of how much denial is involved with this issue:
...supporters of the Vatican's stance said that such a step was necessary to root out priests whom they considered dangerous.Just five percent, eh, Mr. Corcoran? It'll be interesting what you think when you see just how big your "acceptable losses" really are...
"If it is part of church doctrine, we'd be better off with 5 percent less priests, but who conform to church doctrine, rather than a few more," said Travis Corcoran, 34, the owner of an online DVD rental company, as he left an early Mass yesterday at St. Agnes Parish in Arlington, Mass., near Boston. "It's the same way if there's a shortage of school bus drivers. If you drug-test school bus drivers and the result is there are a few less school bus drivers, that's better."
And the other flaw, Mr. Corcoran, is that drug-use is directly related to impaired bus-driving. A homosexual orientation is not a direct cause of sexual abuse.
But unthinking comments like these underscore the massive two-pronged tragedy that exists not only in the Catholic Church but in the greater society: first, the idea that a homosexual orientation is a choice - something that can be un-chosen or somehow reversed; and second, that homosexuals are, by default, by their nature, considered dangerous. Both of those statements are fundamentally flawed - in the same way that saying that "all hunters are potential terrorists, because they all have guns" - and yet it seems these kinds of assumptions are the basis for church doctrine.
The actions (and, more importantly, inactions) of the Catholic Church have served to smear a significant portion of their priesthood with the sins of a few. And now, rather than admit their errors, I'm very much afraid that the Church has chosen the scapegoats for their own sins, and the righteous and the unrighteous will all be consumed in that fire.
You might well ask, "You're not Catholic - what does it matter to you?" And it would be a fair question - after all, I am not under the authority of Rome. But there are a lot of folks, both friends and persons I know or have contact with - all of whom are faithful, caring, committed, celibate servants of God - who may well be left dangling over the fire on this issue. And there are also a lot of people who will point to Rome's position and say, "See? See?" None of these decisions are being made in a vacuum.
I just have to believe that there is weeping in Heaven over this.