CHICAGO, Nov. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Organizations for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Catholics worldwide have reacted angrily to the leaked text of the Vatican's "Instruction Concerning the Criteria of Vocational Discernment Regarding Persons With Homosexual Tendencies in View of Their Admission to Seminaries and Holy Orders." New Ways Ministry USA, the US Rainbow Sash Movement, and the Roman Catholic Caucus of the Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement, based in London, UK have issued a joint reaction claiming that the document says everything and nothing, raising more questions than answers. What is now assumed to be the definitive text appeared two days ago on the website of Adista, a progressive Catholic news agency in Rome, with a headline, "Ethical Cleansing." The "Instruction" was signed by the Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education (CCE), Polish Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, and its Secretary, Canadian Archbishop Michael Miller, on November 4. The document received approval from Pope Benedict XVI on August 31, then ordering its publication. The text has been prepared jointly by the CCE and the Congregation for Divine Worship & the Discipline of the Sacraments. Significantly, the Vatican's department dealing with religious communities, as well as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, do not appear to have had prime roles in its formulation. "Given the length of time this document has been in production, some say 8 years, and the numerous leaks of previous drafts, there's no great shock about its content," said Martin Pendergast, a spokesperson for the RC Caucus -- LGCM. He continued, "With all its comings and goings, it's surprising just how flawed it is, even in some pretty basic areas, in spite of all the consultation-rounds there have been. It's sure evidence of what happens when the Catholic hierarchy assumes to speak about, and not with the people most affected by such statements." The Instruction's presupposition is that "deep-seated homosexual tendencies which are present in a certain number of men and women, these also are objectively disordered and are often a trial for such people. They must be accepted with respect and sensitivity; every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter." Pendergast said, "The Vatican seems only able to engage with LGBT Catholics at the level of pathology. This speaks volumes more about the internalized homophobia of so many Catholic institutions, in Rome and elsewhere, than it does about the healthy and mature ways in which people joyously seek to integrate their faith and sexuality. The same goes for our gay priests." The groups, recording their profound thanks for the ministry exercised by self-accepting gay priests and candidates for diaconate, not just within LGBT communities, but in the wider Church, raise the following questions: -- What is the urgency of "the current situation" to which the Instruction refers but does not spell out? -- Given the document requires effective maturity in candidates, how does it understand that of a 22 year old and the different effective maturity of a 33/44/55-year-old? -- Is the document attempting to develop the Church's teaching in stating that "homosexual tendencies" are themselves objectively disordered and not only, as hitherto, same-gender sexual activity? -- Is it saying that anyone who has a homosexual orientation cannot be ordained, or is it saying that people who cannot live out their celibate commitment cannot be ordained? If the former, it excludes from ordained ministry anyone who is genuinely homosexual -- on the grounds of inability to relate adequately to men and women -- which is clearly ridiculous in the face both of the demographic facts and of the faulty psychology of the relationship underlying this assertion. If the latter -- the sense of a real inability to live a celibate pattern of life -- then it is not saying anything specific to gay men. The key-clause running throughout the Instruction, "those who have deep- seated homosexual tendencies," will be open to use and abuse by those who have deep-seated homophobic tendencies. But since it leaves the responsibility both with the individual candidate and with the Bishop/Religious Superior as ordinaries, then wise ordinaries can exercise wisdom. The Church should not be ordaining those who cannot relate appropriately to others, regardless of their sexual preferences, but if the criterion is actually that appropriate ability to relate healthily (i.e. as a professed celibate living with integrity), then sexual orientation, or "deep-seated tendencies" has nothing directly to do with it.
SOURCE Rainbow Sash Movement