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Cardinal-elect to Homosexual Priests: Keep Quiet About It!

by Christopher A. Ferrara

A report by Catholic News Agency on March 2, 2006 suggests that the Vatican’s new head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal-elect William Levada, is subtly "spinning" the recent Vatican instruction on admission of homosexuals to the priesthood away from an outright ban to a limited ban on the admission of public homosexuals.

CNA reports that during an installation ceremony of the new rector of the North American Pontifical College in Rome, Levada said to the assembled seminarians that "A priest with open manifestations of homosexuality makes it difficult for the faithful to see him as a representative of Christ."

Then the Cardinal-elect said "the public recognition of homosexuality places the priest at odds with the spousal character of love as revealed by God and imaged in humanity…"

Then Levada asked: "Does [a priest who makes his homosexuality public] recognize how this act places an obstacle to his ability to represent Christ the bridegroom to his bride, the people of God? Does he not see how his declaration places him at odds with the spousal character of love as revealed by God and imaged in humanity?"

This is very curious: Why did the Cardinal-elect cast his discussion of the unfitness of homosexuals for the priesthood entirely in terms of open, public and declared homosexuality? Are we expected to believe that the secretive, private and undeclared homosexual is not "at odds with the spousal character of love as revealed by God and imaged in humanity"? Is the Cardinal-elect saying that the problem with homosexuals in the priesthood is merely that "open manifestations [but not private ones] of homosexuality make it difficult for the faithful to see" homosexual priests as representatives of Christ? (Difficult? How about absolutely impossible?) Why the repeated emphasis on the visibility of homosexuality to the public rather than on the perversion itself  —  visible or hidden  —  which is the real impediment to the priesthood?

The message Levada was sending to his audience of seminarians seems to be this: If you are seen to be homosexual, there is a problem. But if you are not seen to be homosexual, then you can go on as you are without fear of exclusion from the priesthood. Thus the Vatican instruction on homosexuals in the priesthood, already rendered next-to-worthless by its ambiguous, loophole-laden language, has been reduced to the suggestion that homosexuals can be ordained if only they are willing to stay in the closet.

That seems to me a reasonable interpretation of comments by a prelate who, after all, has a track record of hiding homosexual predation by priests in his charge while he was the Bishop of Portland, Oregon  —  on account of which the Cardinal-elect was subjected to the indignity of being ordered to attend a civil court deposition in litigation stemming from the criminal acts of the priests for whom he covered up.

And this is the man who has been placed in charge of cleaning up the homosexual mess in the Catholic priesthood. God help us.