Papal Infallibility: No More Homosexuals, No More Pedophiles? genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis


The Vatican, through its Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, has confirmed that homosexuals must not be granted admission into a seminary. The letter restates the instruction previously offered in 2005. I suspect the inference is that a ban on homosexuals will serve to halt the molestation of children. I think the issue is far more complex and I'll elaborate below.

In a brief letter to the world's bishops, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, underlined that a November 2005 policy statement from the Congregation for Catholic Education is "valid for all formation houses for the priesthood," including those administered by religious orders, the Eastern Catholic churches, and missionary territories.

Cardinal Bertone's letter -- which, he noted, was specifically approved by Pope Benedict XVI -- refers to the Instruction released by the Congregation for Catholic Education in November 2005, saying that neither active homosexuals nor celibate men with "profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies" should be ordained to the priesthood or allowed to begin seminary training.

That Vatican document, which has now been reinforced, instructed bishops and religious superiors to use "painstaking discernment" in appraising the candidates for priestly training. Candidates who are identifiably homosexual are not qualified for ordination, the Vatican said. "In the case of a serious doubt in this respect, they must not admit him to ordination," the document added.

Since the release of the Instruction in November 2005, some bishops and religious superiors had questioned whether the policy was to be applied universally throughout the Church. Cardinal Bertone's letter, which he wrote to all the world's bishops and religious superiors in response "to numerous requests for clarification," answers those questions in the affirmative.

The letter removes a number of uncertainties that resulted from the prior instruction. Many felt the instruction didn't specifically prohibit homosexuals from entering the seminary or the priesthood so long as they didn't act upon their inclinations and remained celibate. The letter makes it clear that the determining factor is the simple existence of homosexual tendencies.

When the instruction was first issued, it drew both praise and criticism in light of the church's long history of hiding and harboring those who had engaged in numerous instances of child molestation. At the time, many who criticized the instruction suspected that homosexuals were apt to bear the brunt of the Vatican's response to the scandal. Regardless, the decision to single out homosexuals was anticipated despite the fact that a number of the molestation's involved children of the opposite sex. In fact, this action is being carried out despite the fact that pedophilia is not an adjunct to homosexuality any more than it is to heterosexuality.

Rather than explore the fact that a system of celibacy may be an innately flawed construct, the church has chosen to place the blame and the responsibility on homosexuals. It's not that simple. I've long contended that the construct of celibacy is apt to appeal to those who feel their sexual desires are inappropriate. The concept of remaining celibate as an act of religious devotion may well lead these individuals to assume that it can be a viable means to suppress the desires they fear.

Choosing religious service may also appear to present a reasonable method to compensate for the guilt that would result from an awareness of the unacceptable nature of desires directed towards children. While this is clearly flawed logic, entering the seminary may appear to be their only palatable means to address the problem.

The fact that many of these individuals engaged in multiple instances of child molestation is evidence that they were in deep denial about their capacity to control their inappropriate desires. At the same time, it is difficult to ignore the flaws in a system that promotes celibacy and then participates in covering up the criminal acts of its own members for forty years without ever exploring the degree to which its own structure contributed to the problem by attracting and enabling perpetrators.

Logic tells us that well-adjusted homosexuals have the same capacity to commit to celibacy as their heterosexual counterparts. The fact that the Church has chosen to address the scandal by concluding that the mere presence of homosexuality should disqualifying candidates from consideration is absurd. Rejecting or removing homosexuals will not put an end to pedophilia any more than it will insure celibacy.

My own experience with the Catholic Church includes numerous instances of priests and nuns engaging in affairs with opposite sex partners and subsequently leaving their positions in the church. Many of these individuals subsequently married and lived normal, productive lives. For years, I've argued that this exodus merely represented the departure of those individuals who were well-adjusted. When this happened, the sexual escapades of countless heterosexual priests and nuns didn't result in an instruction to ban any individual deemed to possess "profoundly deep-rooted" heterosexual tendencies...tendencies they might be prone to act upon. When this occurred, it left behind numerous other clergymen who couldn't come to terms with their sexual orientation and/or sought and needed the cover of the church to enable their criminal actions (pedophilia).

Look, the bottom line is that the Church has always had an obligation to protect children from predators...whether the perpetrators be heterosexually or homosexually inclined. Presumably, they also have a compelling interest in insuring that their members honor their vows of celibacy. Exclusively intertwining homosexuality with the former without any consideration for one's adherence to the latter is clearly an inconsistent application of responsibility and blame. It also ignores reality.

Creating a policy to ban homosexuals is simply the means by which inequitable treatment is being codified. I suspect it is also intended to infer that the Church's forty years of complicity in failing to halt the molestation of children can and should be attributed to the homosexuals they allowed to serve...insinuating that homosexuals are inherently flawed and unfit to serve...regardless of their ability and willingness to remain celibate.

Let me be clear. The Catholic Church isn't bound by the same standards of equality found in civil society. Hence, it is their prerogative to apply church doctrine as they deem appropriate. The position of the church has long been that simply being oriented towards homosexuality isn't wrong in and of itself. At the same time, the Church states that it is always morally wrong to act upon that inclination. Hence salvation is available to gays so long as they never act upon it.

The Church's new position prohibiting homosexuals from entering a seminary is a further step towards negatively distinguishing gays apart from their heterosexual counterparts. In effect, this instruction concludes that gays are unsuitable to serve in the clergy. In doing so, the Church has clearly altered its position. Unfortunately, the assumption that doing so sufficiently addresses the issue of pedophilia cannot be sustained. It also allows the Church to ignore any meaningful discussion of the merits of celibacy or an exploration of whether it was a contributing factor in the child molestation scandal.

Parents taking comfort that this ruling will resolve the long standing child molestation scandal may want to reconsider...especially if their motivation is to insure the safety of their children. The fact that the Church has elected to throw gays under the bus won't insure that the same bus isn't the means by which one's children are being delivered to those who would do them harm.


1 On May 20, 2008 at 5:32 PM, Ben in Oakland wrote —

As always, Daniel, an excellent analysis. I think the church may be shooting itself in in prada-clad foot, unwittingly, as always.

If they exclude healthy gay men from the priesthood, all they will have left is the unhealthy ones, who see in the church a way to aovid their sexuality. A friend of mine 30 years ago told me that is why he entered seminary. to his shock, he found more sex going on in the seminary than outside. He eventually left.

Moreover, when the molestations continue--as they will-- they will not have gay men to kick aorund any more, to paraphrase Nixon. Another unintended consequence.

This is, by the way, NOT a new problem.I recommend a book called Fallen Order, by Karen Liebreich. You can also check Chaucer, who mentions it specifically in the Canterbury Tales. the problem is an old one.

There is a theological issue as well, one I described in anarticle a few years ago. quoting myself:

'According to the article, "hundreds of Roman Catholic priests across the country are dying from AIDS related illnesses, and the cause is often concealed on their death certificates. (This) has forced to acknowledge that a significant number of its clergy are gay...(They) cited the case of Bishop Moore, (who) died in a hospice of an AIDS-related illness. His death certificate attributed the death to unknown natural causes and listed his occupation as laborer in the manufacturing industry... Some priests believe that the Church has scared priests into silence by treating homosexuality as an abomination and the breaking of celibacy vows as shameful."

Let us examine first the moral, and then the theological implications, of this story.

1) The priests who have gotten HIV from sex, whether from women or from men, have broken solemn vows regarding chastity and celibacy which they made, if not to God, at least in God's name. In that they didn't stop this behavior, but hid it until AIDS made it impossible to hide any longer, they have lied about it to the church and to the people. Those priests having sex with men are demonstrating that they have within them what the Pope has been pleased to call "intrinsic moral evil." And they knew it. Liars and hypocrites.

I realize that they are only human, but to see the church's capacity to forgive it's own for being "only human", especially when it's to the advantage of the church to do so, but to condemn gay people, especially the secular and non-Christian, continually for the same offense, is sickening. The example of the former Archbishop of Santa Rosa, who had a consensual (his word!) affair with a priest, is a very clear example of this. But that is only the beginning.

2) The Church is aware that a significant portion of its clergy is gay, and has hidden this fact. (Father John McNeill stated it publicly some 20 years ago, and I remember articles in the local papers on that subject). What staggering hypocrisy! And of course, someone had to collude with the authorities to falsify a death certificate, which I believe is a criminal offense. It's also a lie, and hypocrisy.

3) Of course priests are not speaking out about it, but it probably has more to do with fear of losing their jobs and the place they have in the community than it does with the church's official attitude. That's called being in the closet, something that many gay people have to suffer every day, courtesy of the Church. I'm sure that one could find 500 gay priests. And what if they were to stand up and say to the Pope: "You've got 500 ordained queers standing here". We might start having a really serious, honest discussion about homosexuality in religion and in our society. But they won't. They'll just go along with the program, like good Germans. What enormous hypocrisy, monumental dishonesty, and a total lack of integrity. Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." Indeed!

Those are just the moral implications of this. The theological implications are truly momentous. Per the article, the Church knows that a significant number of its priesthood is homosexual, a condition it no longer considers morally neutral, and that a significant percentage of those priests are sexually active. The Pope calls homosexuality an intrinsic moral evil, something mostly immutable and inherent. This is not filching pennies from the collection basket.

1) These people who have intrinsic moral evil-- and I don't believe any other sin has ever achieved that status, flying as it does in the face of everything I have ever read about the nature of sin and free will-- are handling the Blood and Body of Jesus with the Church's knowledge and blessing. They are also dispensing the other sacraments, especially the sacrament of marriage, which the Church feels is not a gift from God to all of his children, but only the ones the church has decided are worthy of it.

2) One does not become a priest by seeing the Holy Recruiter down at the mall, thinking that it looks like a good job, and filling out an application. To become a priest one must have a vocation, literally a calling to God, which is a charisma, a gift from God. Without this, one CANNOT be a priest. The church goes through a lengthy process to ascertain that candidates do have a genuine vocation, because many do not. The candidate must go through a tremendous amount of religious and psychological evaluation. And only after that may they be ordained.

We must conclude then that God is calling gay men to the priesthood, that they must have a favored place in church and society. Apparently, God does not share the church's view on homosexuality, as the Church itself is certifying that these people have the gift from God. To then condemn gay people as intrinsically, morally disordered, and not worthy to receive the sacrament of marriage to another of God's children, is either rank hypocrisy or stupefying blindness. Their certification process, which leads to ordination, is clearly meaningless, because either it cannot recognize God's clear message, or it is completely bogus. To claim any authority, let alone a place as the sole interpreter of what God wants for humans, especially gay people, is ludicrous.

3) Ordination is a sacrament. I believe that a priest can only be ordained by a bishop. A bishop is further up in the Church hierarchy, and is thus closer to the Fount. (The Pope is officially God's Viceroy on Earth, about as high as you can go). So, a gay bishop, who can only be ordained by another bishop? What is God saying here? A bishop, acting on God's will, is conferring a sacrament, a sign of God's love, on someone who is intrinsically, morally, evil and disordered, according to the church. And let's not get into this stuff about momentary lapses and fallible human beings. A gift from God is not a fallibility. Being gay has not ever been a momentary lapse, which even the Church admits. Either the Church's process is unable to distinguish God's clear will, or the Church hasn't a clue of what God's will is. Or maybe the Church really doesn't have much to do with God at all, but just represents itself.

To grant this authority to either the monumentally clueless or the monumentally hypocritical makes no sense.

2 On May 20, 2008 at 6:24 PM, daniel wrote —


It's always good to hear from you. Thanks for sharing your thoughtful observations.

Sadly, when it comes to the Catholic Church, the prevailing trait is frequently blatant hypocrisy born of flagrant inconsistencies. Having attended Catholic schools for 12 years and listening to the many stories told by my elders provided me with a firsthand view of many of these inconsistencies.

Even more disquieting is the Church's willingness to twist and turn when caught in their selective applications of doctrine. Frankly, I've always felt I could respect the Church more if it upheld doctrines I disagreed with so long as they did so on a consistent basis.

Unfortunately, the fact that this doesn't happen makes it virtually impossible to respect the Church. When self-serving expediency trumps established ideology on a regular basis, one must question the goals and the sincerity of the Church.

During my high school years, I knew of a number of clergy that were temporarily sent away when caught with underage students. These orchestrated cooling off periods were not accidental and any assertion to the contrary is an attempt to reconstruct reality. They simply elected to brush it under the rug regardless of sexual orientation.

Now that the depth and breadth of the transgressions has been exposed, they are once again willing to make self-serving decisions while seeking to justify them by twisting and tweaking the very doctrine they allege to be constant. Sadly, this has become an established pattern of obfuscation.

Take care,


3 On May 20, 2008 at 6:27 PM, Heathen Dan wrote —

The local bishops here in the Philippines says that homosexuals are ok as long as they don't "act" on their impulses, just as hetero priests shouldn't act on theirs. Maybe this clarification from the Vatican supercedes their position?

4 On May 20, 2008 at 6:51 PM, daniel wrote —

Heathen Dan,

I had read this a short while back and I think it may have been the unspoken view prior to the 2005 instruction. I believe this latest letter was intended to dispel any misconceptions and make clear the "official" position of the Vatican.

It's hard to say if the letter will be enforced or if it was put out to blunt the intense criticism of the Church with regard to their part in the child molestation scandal. At the very least, I suspect they believe the letter demonstrates that they have taken actions to address the issue. We'll have to wait and see how it actually unfolds.

It appears to me that the letter doesn't actually address the many existing clergy who are gay...which seems to leave the issue unresolved...especially if the goal is to actually prohibit gays from serving. Who knows...after all, we mustn't forget that we're talking about the Catholic Church.



5 On May 21, 2008 at 6:50 AM, gibsy wrote —

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