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The 1961 Instruction – Part II

by Christopher A. Ferrara

In my last column I mentioned the Washington Times (June 6, 2002) report on how the "draft" of the bishops’ "policy" for dealing with predatory homosexual priests says nothing about homosexuality, and how the bishops clearly have no intention of obeying the Vatican’s 1961 instruction barring the ordination of homosexuals. Well, the bishops are not going to have such an easy time in their disobedience if the intrepid Stephen Brady, head of the Roman Catholic Faithful (RCF), has anything to say about it.

The Washington Times notes that "Mr. Brady's group and other Catholic conservatives say that what they call ‘the homosexual-priest scandal’ is not about pedophilia - persistent sexual attraction toward children who have not reached puberty - but about homosexuality." At a press conference to be held during the bishops meeting in Dallas on June 11, "RCF plans to draw attention to a 1961 provision in the Code of Canon Law [actually the Canon Law Digest] that specifically calls for barring from the priesthood those with ‘tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty,’ the latter term meaning sex between men and boys."

Brady is, as always, forthright and concise: "These bishops should be made to follow the 1961 Vatican document. It’s either infallibly binding or it’s hogwash." The Washington Times quotes Mr. Brady to the effect that he "expects resistance by bishops to having public attention focused on a priesthood that some say is 30 percent to 50 percent homosexual. He said he thinks some bishops ‘brought in their own kind’ by recruiting homosexual priests." With at least four American bishops having had to resign due to homosexual misconduct, Brady certainly has grounds for his belief. And the explosive book by Michael Rose, Goodbye Good Men, meticulously documents that there is indeed a veritable bumper crop of homosexual seminarians ready for ordination in the North American seminaries.

Brady rightly ridicules all the sudden talk about "zero tolerance" for the very conduct the bishops have been tolerating infinitely for decades. "Zero tolerance is a moot point. Who needs to go to Rome to find out that pedophiliacs shouldn't be in the ministry or that if you just murdered one person, it's OK?" Brady notes that this scandal won’t be resolved "until we see some heads roll."

I was surprised, and very disappointed to read in the same Washington Times article that "William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, says he believes the problem of sexual abuse of minors ‘is disproportionately sectored in the homosexual aspect of the priesthood.’ But unlike Mr. Brady, he does not endorse a blanket ban on homosexual clergy." In other words, the head of the Catholic League does not endorse obedience to the Vatican’s 1961 instruction.

Sorry, Mr. Donahue, but you are wrong and Steve Brady is right. And if the Catholic League is going to take the position that homosexuals can be ordained as priests, thus guaranteeing more scandal for the Church, I wonder what has happened to the militancy of that organization.