The Church and Gays

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GayOrbit puts the new Pope’s policies toward homosexuals in the context of Sept. 11. He does it eloquently, in about 1,150 words — 150 of his and 1,000 in a picture.

Andrew Sullivan has been on about this, too:

The fundamental point is fairness. It is fair to place restrictions on the conduct of priests and seminarians; it is even fair to take special note of gay seminarians and their unique struggles and insist on the removal of any who violate their vows; it is fair to ensure that seminaries don’t become some kind of gay club, and that chastity is enforced and supported. It is not fair to discriminate against a whole group of people, regardless of their conduct. The latter is bigotry. Period.

I’m not a Catholic and I have no position to lecture the Church about its internal matters. But Sullivan’s position seems to me eminently sane and humane. Wherever it comes from, sexuality — the matrix of desires and carnal lusts in one person’s mind — is not a matter of choice. But sexual activity is a matter of choice. The first is the hand you’ve been dealt in the life, the other is how you play it. The first is nature, the second is character.

If the Church continues to justify a celibate priesthood, it must acknowledge that. As an outsider, it seems to me an intense and complicated sexuality is a high test from a god. I think a person who finds himself with, say, a sexual yearning to molest children — and who lives a long life without ever acting on it, is more of a saint than someone of casual and conventional sexuality who lives a normal married life without temptation. But probably that’s why I’d make a bad Christian.

David Morrison also has good observations.

[A]t its deepest roots the teaching of the Catholic Church on same sex attraction refuses to be reductionist or deterministic. The Church’s teaching steadfastly refuses to look at a person living with same sex attraction and see only the SSA and it refuses to state that someone living with same sex attraction cannot follow Christ, cannot be virtuous, cannot live chastely – until, perhaps, now. Now, if these stories are correct, it would appear that the Church is fine with deciding before hand that, based along on living with a degree of same sex attraction, that a man cannot be a good and faithful priest and cannot be considered for ordination. Sorry Mr. unnamed official, but if it is true this will be a very real and very shameful turning away from Catholic theology on this question.

UPDATE: Of course, in the interest of perspective, it should also be noted that gays do not stand much chance of advance in the religious hierarchies of the Islamic world, either. Unless the “advance” is up the steps of a wooden scaffold.

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