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