Gay and Lesbian Catholics: Everything & Nothing -- More Questions Than Answers!

Nov 23, 2005, 00:00 ET from Rainbow Sash Movement

    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