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"Springtime of Vatican II" Update

Vatican Backing Away from Ban on Homosexual Priests?

by Christopher A. Ferrara

In my column of November 15, 2002 ("Banning Homosexuals  —  Again"), I wondered whether the rumored document on the banning of homosexuals from seminaries and ordination would "ever see the light of day." I doubted it, because the same Vatican apparatus that has allowed the entire Church to collapse into liturgical and general disciplinary disorder seems incapable of taking a vigorous stand against anything  —  except, of course, the Fatima apostolate of Fr. Nicholas Gruner.

It seems my skepticism was warranted. On May 23, 2003 the liberal National Catholic Reporter ran a story by John Allen which observed that a "behind-closed-doors symposium for Vatican officials on sexual abuse… with eight leading scientific experts had been important in shaping Vatican attitudes on two questions: homosexuality, and zero-tolerance policies for abuser priests." Uh oh.

The "experts" who attended this closed door session in April 2003  —  not one of them was a Catholic!  —  apparently "told Vatican officials that homosexuality is a risk factor, but not a cause of sexual abuse, and that most homosexuals are not abusers. They also argued that zero tolerance policies fail to respect the complexity of individual cases, and also may increase the risk of repeat offenses by creating stress and ‘turning loose’ an offender on the community."

In short, it seems the eight non-Catholic "experts" recommended no ban whatever against the ordination of homosexuals, despite the Vatican’s own pronouncement in 1961 that "Advancement to religious vows and ordination should be barred to those who are afflicted with evil tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty, since for them the common life and the priestly ministry would constitute serious dangers."

Allen says that this "expert" advice "had an impact" on the Vatican, and that "Sources tell NCR that a long-awaited Vatican document on the admission of homosexuals to seminaries, originally anticipated this spring, now may not appear at all. One American bishop said he suspects the text may be ‘dead in the water.’ If it does see the light of day, sources say, it is unlikely to take the quasi-absolute line against the admission of homosexuals that had originally been anticipated."

So, according to Allen, the Vatican seems prepared to endorse the principle that men afflicted by the perverse inclination of a sexual attraction to other men  —  first and foremost their fellow seminarians, with whom they would live  —  should not only be admitted to seminary but ordained and then surrounded by fellow priests they also might find attractive. So, a new bumper crop of effeminate priests, who are sex-crimes waiting to happen, would be assured. Simply unbelievable.

The only thing the Vatican now seems to be prepared to do, reports Allen, is to insist on some meaningless assurance of "a mature commitment to celibacy… Is he [the homosexual seminarian] capable of integrating his sexuality into his identity, or does it overwhelm everything else? At a practical level, can he stay out of gay bars, is he willing to avoid public protests on behalf of gay causes, and is he interested in pastoral work beyond AIDS ministry?" Assuming the answers are yes, say Allen, "many Vatican officials seem increasingly convinced that a homosexual orientation, in itself, should not disqualify a man from the priesthood."

In other words, the homosexual infiltration of the Church seems to pose no problem for the current Vatican apparatus, as long as the infiltrators promise that they will not allow their mental disorder to get out of hand. Have these men in the Vatican lost their reason? Or must we now conclude that not a few of them are afflicted by the same condition they seem strangely unwilling to expunge from the priesthood?

The crisis in the Church continues to deepen. God help us.