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Common Sense Catholicism - from a Jewish Columnist

by Christopher A. Ferrara

The June 3, 2002 issue of National Review contains a remarkable article by Stanley Kurtz, a conservative Jewish columnist with an acute sense of what has gone wrong in the Catholic Church since Vatican II. (Kurtz was among the group of intellectuals who publicly protested the mistreatment of Father Joseph Fessio by the corrupt Jesuit order.)

Writing on the sex-abuse scandal that is wracking the Catholic Church, Kurtz notes that "The sky, so to speak, is falling. An institution whose fundamental strength and continuity (whatever its many problems) could once be taken for granted is experiencing a genuine crisis."

Kurtz gets right to the point: "Yet, over and above its significance for the Catholic Church, the greatest lesson of this scandal has yet to be drawn…. The priesthood scandal is a stunningly clear case in which the opening of an institution to large numbers of homosexuals, far from strengthening norms of sexual restraint, has instead resulted in the conscious and successful subversion of the norms themselves."

How did this happen? Once again, Kurtz is incisive: "After Vatican II, and in conformity with the broader cultural changes of the Sixties, the U.S. Catholic Church allowed homosexuals to enter the priesthood in increasing numbers. The homosexual orientation itself, it was stressed, was not sinful. So as long as a homosexual adhered to the very same vow of celibacy taken by his heterosexual counterpart, there was no reason to deprive him of a priestly vocation."

This rationale, of course, was disastrously wrong - and a direct violation of the Vatican’s 1961 instruction forbidding the ordination of homosexuals. Homosexuality is a severe disorder, and the results of homosexual infiltration of the clergy were easy to predict. Kurtz makes the point in a most striking way:

    Yet imagine that an opponent of this new openness to homosexuals in the priesthood had uttered a warning cry. Imagine that someone had said, back in the 1970s, when homosexuals were flooding into Catholic seminaries all over the U.S., that substantial numbers of gay priests, far from accepting the rule of celibacy, would deliberately flout that rule, both in theory and in practice. Suppose that someone had argued that homosexual priests would gain control of many seminaries, that many would openly ‘date,’ that many would actively cultivate an ethos of gay solidarity and promote a homosexual culture that would drive away heterosexuals - especially theologically orthodox heterosexuals - from the priesthood. Suppose this person went on to argue that, at its extreme, the growing gay subculture of the priesthood would tolerate and protect not only flagrant violations of celibacy, but even the abuse of minors. Then suppose that this person predicted eventual public exposure of the whole sordid mess, an exposure that would precipitate a crisis within the Church itself. Naturally, anyone prescient - and foolish - enough to say all of these things in the wake of the Sixties would have been excoriated and ostracized as a hysterical gay-hater. Yet all of these things have happened.

The Catholic Church cannot be destroyed, for we have the promise of Christ that the gates of hell will not prevail against her, no matter how grave the crises she must endure. But let’s be honest: It is a sad day for the Church when the likes of Cardinals Mahony, Law and Egan will not speak the truth that Kurtz defends so courageously.