The Catholic Church doesn’t bar all gay men from priesthood, Vatican newspaper suggests

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When a Vatican office released a new document about the formation of new priests earlier this month, it reiterated a 2005 policy that has been interpreted as barring gay men from the priesthood, despite the not insignificant number of priests who identify as gay.

But a priest in Chicago, who has advised two cardinals on theological issues and who has written extensively about the church’s teaching on homosexuality, published a column in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano on Dec. 18 in which he argues that the document’s nuance has been overlooked.

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RELATED: Vatican Reaffirms Ban on Gay Priests

The Rev. Louis J. Cameli, author of Catholic Teaching on Homosexuality: New Paths to Understanding, wrote that the church’s instructions on candidates for the priesthood do not explicitly prohibit gay men and warrant a closer reading. The teachings in the document, he wrote, “avoid moving from the existence of homosexual feelings to a blanket prohibition of admission to the seminary or Holy Orders.”

“Very wisely and very prudently,” he said, “these documents cite the essential task of discernment, that spiritual movement and gift of the Holy Spirit that enables us to identify what leads to God and what leads away from God.”

Father Cameli, a theological advisor to Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago who also held a similar role to the late Cardinal Francis George, noted that the Vatican document says there are three different criteria that can prohibit homosexual men from pursuing the priesthood. But he said one of them is not as clear cut as both supporters and detractors of gay priests have suggested.

In an interview with America, Father Cameli noted that “when the Holy Father wants to take a position against something, it’s quite clear.”

He pointed to Pope John Paul II’s 1994 prohibition on ordaining women to the priesthood as an example, saying the pope did not mince words there. The title of that document includes the phrase, “reserving priestly ordination to men alone” whereas the teaching on homosexual priests is left intentionally vague.

“You have to take the words at their value,” he told America.

According to the 2016 document, entitled “The Gift of the Priestly Vocation,” men who are sexually active are out of contention for the priesthood as are those who support gay rights.

In his column, posted in full below, Father Cameli wrote, “A person who supports the ‘gay culture,’ understood as an environment and a movement that advocates moral stances at variance with Church teaching, cannot at the same time be entrusted with teaching and leading the community of faith.”

But a third criterion, which prohibits men with “deep seated homosexual tendencies,” is murkier, he argued, offering a few possible interpretations of the phrase.

An individual may be disqualified from seminary because he views his world primarily through the lens of “being gay” and seeks out experiences that foster this worldview, he suggested. He also wrote that men who place their sexuality at the center of their lives may “create a blockage in one’s relational capacities,” especially when relating to women or heterosexual men.

Finally, he wrote that a man who feels that acting out on his sexuality may be inevitable may also not be a good candidate for the priesthood. Ultimately, he said discernment of individual cases remains an important element in considering who would make good pastors.

“Discernment is a pivotal task and responsibility in the seminary not only in matters of admission but in the whole course of forming men to be good shepherds in the pattern of Jesus Christ,” he wrote.

Michael O’Loughlin is the national correspondent for America and author ofThe Tweetable Pope: A Spiritual Revolution in 140 Characters. Follow him on Twitter at@mikeoloughlin.

 

 

How to Understand The Gift of the Priestly Vocation

(Ratio fundamentalis institutionis sacerdotalis, 2016)

On the Question of Homosexuality

Rev. Louis J. Cameli

Almost as soon as the Congregation for Clergy published the new Ratio fundamentalis institutionis sacerdotalis on December 8. 2016, media reports in the United States characterized it as a new prohibition of “gay priests.” In fact, in its more than ninety pages of text, the Ratio offers a coherent and integrated vision of priestly formation largely based on Pope Saint John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation Pastores dabo vobis and the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. Three paragraphs of the Ratio take up the theme “Persons with Homosexual Tendencies” (nos. 199-201). And these paragraphs repeat the salient points of a 2005 document from the Congregation for Catholic Education: Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with Regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in View of Their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders.

The key statement of the 2005 Instruction which is repeated by the newly published Ratio fundamentalis is this: “…the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question [i.e. those with homosexual tendencies]. Cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture.’” (n. 2 in the Instruction and n. 199 in the Ratio fundamentalis) In a book published in 2012 (Catholic Teaching on Homosexuality: New Paths to Understanding, Ave Maria Press), I sought to explain the meaning of this important statement. In my estimation, its true sense may not be immediately evident to a casual reader or to reporters who want to relay information to a largely secularized public about the highly charged question of homosexuality.

Although media identify the enactment of a prohibition, the text of the 2005 Instruction speaks much differently about “criteria for discernment.” Permit me to draw from my book to explain more precisely what is in play for the Instruction and for the Ratio fundamentalis.

Three categories of persons are to be excluded from admission to the seminary and Holy Orders: those who practice homosexuality, those who have present deep-seated homosexual tendencies, and those who support the so-called “gay culture.” The first and third categories are quite clear. A sexually active person, whether homosexual or heterosexual, is excluded because he is not living celibately. A person who supports the “gay culture,” understood as an environment and a movement that advocates moral stances at variance with Church teaching, cannot at the same time be entrusted with teaching and leading the community of faith. The second category, however, is not so clear: those who present deep-seated homosexual tendencies. This category needs further reflection and clarification.

“Deep-seated tendencies” (or, in what seems to be a more precise phrasing in the Italian version, tendenze omosessuali profondamente radicate, “deeply rooted homosexual tendencies”) stand in contrast, according to the Instruction, to something that manifests a transitory issue or a developmental state that needs to be passed through and beyond, something that belongs essentially to adolescent development. In others, homosexual feelings or tendencies may belong to the individual, but they only manifest a transitory phenomenon or unfinished development, not a fixed pattern of personality or a fixed pattern of relating.

Feelings are feelings, and they can range for all of us in a multitude of directions whatever those feelings might be. But when do we encounter homosexual feelings that reveal “deep-seated” tendencies that indicate that a candidate ought not to be admitted to the seminary or to Holy Orders? Let me suggest four instances in which this is true:

●       When homosexual inclinations lead to the formation of a central organizing identity, there is evidence of deep-seated tendencies. That central organizing identity becomes the commanding center of life. On the basis of that identity, a person makes significant life decisions, relates to others, invests time, energy, and other resources, and—in general—perceives himself and the world through the lens of “being gay.”

●       When homosexual inclinations become an overriding center of attention and even preoccupation, there is evidence of deep-seated tendencies. What we pay attention to largely defines the directions that we will take in life. There may be some overlap with the concept of central organizing identity, but the emphasis here is on a continuous awareness of what seems to matter most and a preoccupation.

●       When homosexual inclinations create a blockage in one’s relational capacities, there is evidence of deep-seated tendencies. Sexual desire may be such that it intrudes and shapes interpersonal life in unhealthy ways, and there is a lack of psycho-affective equilibrium. It may then mean a diminished capacity to connect with women in a mature fashion. Or, it may mean an erotically charged and distorted connection with certain men. In other words, sexual inclinations shape and even distort the possibility of basic and authentic human relating.

●       When, internally, there is a sense of inevitability about acting on homosexual inclinations and that sense of inevitability is pervasive, there is evidence of deep-seated tendencies. In this instance, the sense of inevitability bespeaks a lack of freedom and an inability to master and control one’s behavior.

There are many different kinds of feelings that pass through our lives, some very positive and some quite negative and destructive. And this is true for all of us. Both the Instruction and the Ratio fundamentalis avoid moving from the existence of homosexual feelings to a blanket prohibition of admission to the seminary or Holy Orders. Very wisely and very prudently, these documents cite the essential task of discernment, that spiritual movement and gift of the Holy Spirit that enables us to identify what leads to God and what leads away from God. Discernment is a pivotal task and responsibility in the seminary not only in matters of admission but in the whole course of forming men to be good shepherds in the pattern of Jesus Christ. Discernment enables seminary authorities and individuals themselves to identify what is good and right for the individual and for the Church.

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Ray Temmerman
1 year 4 months ago
When I first read the specific part of the document, I thought to myself "One could as easily replace the word 'homosexual' and 'gay' with 'heterosexual' and end up with the same judgment. We never think about it, because heterosexuality is seen as the norm. Yet persons (male or female) “who practice heterosexuality, present deep-seated heterosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘hetero culture’” should similarly be barred from the priesthood. If they are practicing heterosexual activity, they are not living the vowed celibate life. If their heterosexual tendencies are so deep-seated that they cannot keep their hands off people of the opposite sex, or if they support a culture of indiscriminate heterosexual relationships, they have also not grown sufficiently to be entrusted with pastoral responsibility. Unfortunately, we'll likely never see that in print from the Vatican, at least not in those words. I'm glad to see Cameli present the nuances. Sadly, I doubt many will recognize that there is a segment of society which should equally be barred from priesthood, with most holding fast only to the "no gays in the priesthood" mantra, and all the negative consequences that come from that.
Derrick Weiller
1 year 4 months ago
Thank you, Ray.
Tim O'Leary
1 year 4 months ago
I think the above interpretation has it about right. As long as someone seeking the priesthood puts their fidelity to the Church and what the Church teaches over their own desires (not only sexual) and secular ideologies (including the gay lobby, etc.), they could make good priests. I would note that candidates for the priesthood have been rejected for being "too traditional," and some have been unjustly excluded because they are seen as not progressive enough. It is stated above that "not insignificant number of priests who identify as gay." Well, some only find out that they have those feelings well into middle-age. They probably suffer a lot in their attempts to stay faithful (these are the people the Holy Father sympathized with). The problem arises when they succumb to their desires and let them redefine them. As always, the Gospel mission and fidelity to the teaching as handed on down through the Church must be paramount, or one becomes an agent of the other side in this spiritual warfare.
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 4 months ago
It seems to me that discerning priestly vocations should take into account the entire person as a body-soul, not just sex and gender. The ordained priest is an icon of a divine person who became human, not just an icon of a divine person who became a human male, rather than a human female. This is, I think, the doctrinal gap that Fr Orobator is concerned about, and I share his concern. In his Theology of the Body, St John Paul II wrote: "The body, in fact, and only the body, is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine." (St John Paul II, TOB 19:4; cf. 96:5) Indeed, but then I have some questions: 1. How can the patriarchal (exclusively masculine) priesthood make visible the divine "feminine genius" in Christ as head of the Church? 2. If the Virgin Mary brought us the Incarnate Word in her own body, as flesh of her flesh, why is it that the redeemed body of a baptized woman, of the same flesh, is not "proper matter" for priestly ordination? 3. Isn't canon 1024 an artificial contraceptive (perhaps even an abortifacient) of feminine priestly vocations that keeps making Christ partially invisible as a divine personal subject? Hope the Church will explore the linkage between the Virgin Mary, the Eucharist, and the sacramental priesthood of the New Law, because I think that there are obvious contradictions between Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (OS) and the theological anthropology of the Theology of the Body (TOB). Could it be that OS was written for the short term and the TOB for the long term? The long term is now!
Crystal Watson
1 year 4 months ago
It's a sad state of affairs when the best that can be said about this document that the pope has signed off on is that it isn't as totally awful as it could have been. And to try to make the pope's endorsement of the document seem not so bad by comparing that to his definite refusal to let women ever be priests is just creepy. As a final treat, we get to hear from Cardinal Cupich as a defender of the possibility of gay men being priests, the guy who when marriage equality came to his state of Washington, wrote that it could lead to incest and polygamy. And we wonder why people are leaving the church in droves.
James Addison
1 year 4 months ago
Crystal, please accept my thanks and appreciation for your continuing contributions to and engagement with this platform and community. Yes, I do often find myself agreeing with your positions, as I do with the one stated above. But the gratitude is for your frankness, civility and common sense. Thank you.
Jeff Johnson
1 year 4 months ago
Translation: The Vatican says "x". But on this issue we are vehemently "anti-x". Fortunately, a fellow traveler says "x" can mean what we want it to mean. Ergo, what the Vatican says is immaterial. (The tragic inanity of all this, of course, is American Jesuits refusing even to support a Jesuit pope.)
alan macdonald
1 year 4 months ago
The American Jesuits reveal themselves with every issue of "America" that they promote female ordination and same sex marriage. It should not surprise when they support homosexuals entering the priesthood.
Kevin Sharpe
1 year 4 months ago
The last line in Rev. Louis J. Cameli’s article seems to be one of the most encouraging: “Discernment enables seminary authorities and individuals themselves to identify what is good and right for the individual and for the Church.” However, as it is presented within the context of a discussion that focuses exclusively on homosexuals, it feels as if it is coming from a place of fear, leading to much potential for discrimination rather than honest and authentic discernment. The Vatican in its “The Gift of the Priestly Vocation” chooses to call out, label, and dissect homosexuals. This choice points to its overarching and archaic view of homosexuals in the life of the Church (either as ordained or lay) — a view that sees homosexual people much like foxes in a henhouse. With all due respect, this document does not come close to its desire of “profoundly respecting the persons in question.” The part of the Vatican’s document that focuses on homosexuals seems to be born of thinly veiled fear and exemplifies scapegoating. While it is clear that it is concerned about potential alienation and marginalization of heterosexuals, it seems to lose sight of how the practices outlined for application exclusively to homosexuals perpetuates homosexual people’s continued alienation and marginalization. It’s a dangerous and cruel hypocrisy that does much harm to the spiritual and emotional fabric of many homosexual people. In the midst of this, it bears recalling that no matter how much some want to make homosexual people disappear or, perhaps even more heinously, disavow or compartmentalize what was never created to be disavowed or compartmentalized, these beloved children of God still enrich the very Church that condemns them. There is a sad and very poignant irony to this fact. If we truly have faith in our God then we must remain hopeful — which does not equate to remaining complacent — that the enlivening of the Holy Spirit will break open the heart of the Church so it truly can see and embrace homosexuals as they are — fully beloved children of God who are not marred by an intrinsically disordered nature. When this takes place, documents like “The Gift of the Priestly Vocation” will be transformed into tools for discernment and not tools for discrimination.
Tim O'Leary
1 year 4 months ago
Comments from Kevin, Crystal, Luis & Ray below show how futile the efforts of outreach from Pope Francis are with respect to the "LGBT" adherents (or LGBTQ as Georgetown University uses, or LGBTQQIAA as Providence College diversity supports, or the new SOGI that the Obama administration is now trying to popularize). Like the acronym, the sexual belief system is forever unstable and only a fool would try to tie eternal truths to these chaotic winds. The revolt is not just about a specific sin, but about chastity in general, which might be grudgingly accepted (with a wink) for actions, but never accepted in thoughts. Some bishops particularly enamored with the mollifying power of anodyne politically correct phraseology might think replacing the "intrinsically disordered" or "contrary to the natural law" or "close the sexual act to the gift of life" in the Catechism (#2357) might lead to a conversion of LGBT activists to Christ, but that is not what they want at all. They want to convert the Church to their beliefs, a reverse evangelization that has no end. For example, this document mentions only homosexual inclinations, but what about the LBTQ... that will be the next shrill demand. The gap between the two sides seems unbridgeable. I think the un-PC word heresy has to be discussed at some point. Surely, there is much greater doctrinal distance between the LGBTQ belief system and Catholicism than with many of the Protestant reformers of the sixteenth century.
David Whitewolf
1 year 3 months ago
LGBT people don't need to be converted to Christ -- many are already in Christ, and all belong to Christ. To commit to such presumptuous and divisive lies is a denial of Christ. Merry Christmas
Tim O'Leary
1 year 3 months ago
David - Jesus said that to even desire lust in one's heart is already to commit adultery (Mt 5:28). And he included fornication and adultery in a list of evil things (Mt 15:19). So, to take a mental desire and solidify it with an active sexual relationship outside marriage (defined by Jesus in Mt 19 as between a man and a woman), especially for many years, is to make the sin a way of life. So, isn't it even more presumptuous that you can be in an active sexual relationship outside marriage and still be in Christ? Surely, a denial of Jesus's words is more a denial of Christ than anything else.
David Whitewolf
1 year 3 months ago
First, we are married. Secondly, lust does not hold a loving adult relationship together for 30 years or more. Time to start thinking like an adult.
Kevin Sharpe
1 year 4 months ago
Tim, it's not about a "sexual belief system", as you claim. It is about love. That is what it truly comes down to. Of course one facet of love can be sexual expression, and it can be beautiful. However one still must remember that sexual expression (regardless of one's self-identification) in the context of which I'm writing has its genesis in love. I know for some this is particularly difficult to understand or even conceive. It is important to realize and to remember that sexual expression, is not the sole expression of love, nor is it the sole focus in the life of a homosexual person (again I understand this can be difficult for some to comprehend). More to your point, I suppose that if one takes love out of the equation, one ends up with the kind of misunderstanding that leads to a myopic focus on the development of a belief system built around sex, i.e., a sexual belief system. This, unfortunately, generalizes, demonizes, and scapegoats. Using the phrase "sexual belief system" is as divisive as it is judgmental. Love isn't about belief. It is about something much deeper and more profound; it also flows through the body and soul of every person -- homosexual or heterosexual or anywhere in between. And it is beautiful.
Tim O'Leary
1 year 4 months ago
Kevin - it is easy to use the word love to justify many forms of mutual desire or satisfaction or "connection." A man can justify leaving his wife of many years because she no longer loves him or because he has found true or "more authentic" love. A couple can think saying yes to each other can justify fornication outside marriage, or contraceptive love within marriage. And a bisexual or polygamist can say they justify their love of a variety of people for a more complete love (the more love the better). Christian love is very different: to want the very best for another person, according to the truth as revealed by Jesus Christ. That love is primarily sacrificial - for the sake of another. To be Christian, it must never depart from the truth, for the greatest love is to want the salvation of another, even to give one's life for another person's salvation. There are many false loves. ISIS thinks it loves God & truth while it justifies the most terrible slaughter. A racist claims he just loves his own people most. Even the acronym NAMBLA justifies its abuse by claiming love. Here again is the Catechism - 2396 "Among the sins gravely contrary to chastity are masturbation, fornication, pornography, and homosexual practices". Of course, the first 3 sins against chastity refer to everyone. This teaching is either the truth or it is a lie, and if it is a lie (as the Episcopalians & the Unitarians & the secularists say it is), the Catholic Church is a false Church. Or, it is the holy truth. My belief is that only the Truth as revealed by God through Jesus through His Church can save. If that is false, then I am already lost.
James Addison
1 year 4 months ago
I would like to build on the first comment from Ray below and suggest simply that Fr. Camelis post would be strengthened indeed if he were to replace the word "homosexual" with "sexual". Is there any reason why any of these four instances should not apply, and therefore be subject to equal discernment, to both heterosexual and homosexual applicants to seminary?
Tim O'Leary
1 year 4 months ago
James - heterosexual and homosexual desires are not in any way equivalent, as the Catechism (#2357) makes clear. Similarly, there is no mention of bisexuality (the B in LGBT). How does that fit in for those who demand some equivalence of desire? A heterosexual desire is of fundamental necessity for the survival of humanity and the procreation of the next generation. It is how Jesus described it when he said "male and female He created them" (Mt 19:4). But, even this great good (procreation, human survival, fathers and mothers, according to God's plan) does not justify all heterosexual desire, only that which is open to procreation, the natural end of heterosexual love. There are many abuses of heterosexual desire. But, homosexual desire fails at the very beginning. It is by its nature closed to procreation. So, it must be treated differently. To treat them as somehow morally indifferent leads to a host of further errors. Humanae Vitae predicted that the separation of the unitive from the procreative (as contraception does) would lead to errors like this.
James McParland
1 year 4 months ago
There are differences between heterosexuality and homosexuality that go beyond analyses of metaphysical abstractions such as "purpose," "nature," or "good." There are significant psychological and behavioral differences that have concrete effects. One cannot merely substitute a "male" for a "female" as the object of one's sexual desire, and then say that the two kinds of feelings and relationships are the same. They are not the same. This might be difficult for heterosexual men and women to understand about homosexual men. Homosexual men tend to be more self-absorbed, sexually selfish and far more promiscuous than heterosexual men. It is not unusual for gay men to seek out and have sex anonymously, with complete strangers, with groups, and with many partners (having hundreds or thousands of encounters over a lifetime is not rare). For many, the sex itself is deeply depersonalized, Sexual attraction is often literally based on particular body types or body parts. The sex itself involves (or at least until HIV/AIDS ) few consequences or concerns. Divorced from biological reproduction, gay sex carries little or no meaning for the participants other than their own physical satisfaction. Since our Supreme Court ruled that homosexuals can "marry" each other, one can now visit homosexual dating apps and find large numbers of men, advertising for sex or "hook-ups" with strangers, who say that they are "married but in an open relationship."; because, for such men, the quaint institution of marriage has nothing to do with monogamy,sexual continence, family, or faithfulness. Now, please don't get me wrong-- these comments are not universally true for all gay men. Of course there are exceptions. But these characteristics are very commonly true. Committed, monogamous gay men are the exception, not the rule. It is also true that, while gay men are estimated to constitute only about 3-4% of the U.S. population, at least a third of all sexual molestation cases involve male on male abuse. Homosexuality is, in fact, a kind of social, psychological and biological deviancy, which our society and body politic have now decided to tolerate and normalize. Possibly, this will overall be a good thing But, after the tremendous scandals and damage that the Church experienced from sexual abuse claims over the last three decades, it is no wonder that the Church must now exercise extreme caution dealing with homosexuals in the priesthood. Some of the biggest legal settlements, by the way, have been paid by the Jesuits.
David Whitewolf
1 year 3 months ago
"Homosexual men tend to be more self-absorbed, sexually selfish and far more promiscuous than heterosexual men." "...at least a third of all sexual molestation cases involve male on male abuse." "Homosexuality is, in fact, a kind of social, psychological and biological deviancy" There is no research to support such prejudicial claims. Although it is true that the great majority of perpetrators of sexual abuse are male, the number of female victims far exceeds the number of male victims. According to The National Center For Victims of Crime, 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse. https://victimsofcrime.org/media/reporting-on-child-sexual-abuse/child-sexual-abuse-statistics
James Addison
1 year 4 months ago
Tim, thank you for considering my comment and taking some time to reply. I regret that in my original post I did not make clear enough that I did not intend to equate homo- and hetero-sexual inclinations. I am aware of the Church's teachings here, as you note above. What I wanted to suggest -- and still believe to be an appropriate consideration -- is that sexuality of either nature could prove to be an obstacle for a seminarian IF AND WHEN it proves to be a defining identity, a preoccupation, a cause, or otherwise a focus of ones being that would likely distract from the right calling of service to God and his people.
Michael Barberi
1 year 4 months ago
Unfortunately, this article makes clear the Church's historical fixation and exaggerated fear of human sexuality especially as it pertains to the issue of homosexuality and the priesthood. A man identifies himself by his natural innate sexual desires. Heterosexual men behave and respond to their natural innate sexual desires towards members of the opposite sex. Most heterosexual men who want to become priests do so because of their love of God and their willingness to serve Him and neighbor in the ordained priesthood. This love of God overcomes their natural deep seated sexual tendencies. Clearly, some heterosexuals who become priests stray from their faith and vows, but the overwhelming percent of them do not. Heterosexual priests and those who want to become priests do not promote premarital sex such as is part of the so-called hook-up culture.These heterosexual men only believe in marital sexual intercourse in a permanent, faithful and loving relationship. However, the hierarchy must honestly recognize that about 40% of priests in the U.S. disagree with many moral teachings of the Church and believe that they are seldom of never a sin. These priests remain largely silent about such things except in private counseling sessions. Most heterosexual priests are good priests and are doing a good job carrying out the Lord's work. Likewise, most homosexual men who want to become priests are born with a natural, innate sexual orientation-tendency to members of the same sex. Like heterosexual men, they overcome their natural deep seated sexual desires because of the love of God and a stronger drive to love and serve Him and neighbor by doing the Lord's work. Like heterosexual priests, most homosexual priests do not promote premarital sex, the hook-up culture nor do they publicly march for gay rights. Many homosexual priests also disagree with many moral teachings of the Church...like heterosexual priests... but they remain largely silent...like heterosexual priests. Most homosexual priests are good priests and are doing a good job doing the Lord's work. The overriding criteria for heterosexual or homosexual men who want to become priests should be their strong deep seated desire to serve and love God and do the Lord's work, and their strong determination and belief that their love of God will overcome their natural sexual desires. If heterosexual or homosexual men have a deep seated sexual desire that they cannot be overcome, they should not be accepted into the priesthood. When men want to do the Lord's work and become priests, it does not matter if they are homosexual or heterosexual.
Derrick Weiller
1 year 4 months ago
Michael Barberi. What a beautiful statement. Thank you.
Michael Barberi
1 year 4 months ago
Derrick, Thank you for your kind words. Le't pray that all of us, including the hierarchy, become more enlightened by the Holy Spirit, especially about the issue of homosexuality and those born with this natural inclination.
Kevin Sharpe
1 year 4 months ago
Tim, briefly in reply and as you’ve rightly pointed out, the use of the word “love” in today’s conversations to justify behavior or judgment is rampant. I’ll also offer that I’m sure your understanding of love and mine are quite different, at least on the surface. I’m not familiar with how some of the groups you mention view love and so can’t comment on your report of their stances. Regarding how you brought the Catechism into your post, well, that is another conversation and another topic, much outside the context of this article. I’ll only say that there is always a need for discernment (opening up to listen with the ear of our heart instead of listening with the wounds of our heart). Along with discernment, more precise definitions of certain terms within the Catechism would allow it in to be a more authentic tool for catholicity and unity as opposed to its opposite.
Tim O'Leary
1 year 3 months ago
Kevin - Like "love," there is great confusion about what "natural" means (as in comments below). Some think natural is whatever feels good or innate, or "deep-seated," which is not Scriptural or Catholic teaching. Such thinking was used to justify a whole host of immoral things in the past century. Whatever the merits of this philosophy, it is certainly not Christian morality. I brought up the Catechism as it is a sure guide to what the Catholic Church actually teaches, whether one decides to accept it or oppose it. We know this because Pope St. JP II said so in his accompanying Apostolic letter "The Church now has at her disposal this new, authoritative exposition of the one and perennial apostolic faith, and it will serve as a "valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion" and as a "sure norm for teaching the faith...this genuine, systematic presentation of the faith and of Catholic doctrine a totally reliable way to present, with renewed fervor, each and every part of the Christian message to the people of our time." http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/aposletr.htm. This has been confirmed by Popes Benedict and Francis and synods of bishops. Furthermore, the editor of the catechism was Cardinal Schönborn, the very same person Pope Francis relied on to present Amoris Laetitia. The Catechism sees itself as "presenting an organic synthesis of the essential and fundamental contents of Catholic doctrine, as regards both faith and morals, in the light of the Second Vatican Council and the whole of the Church's Tradition. Its principal sources are the Sacred Scriptures, the Fathers of the Church, the liturgy, and the Church's Magisterium. It is intended to serve "as a point of reference for the catechisms or compendia that are composed in the various countries." (CCC#11).
Michael Barberi
1 year 3 months ago
According to the magisterium the homosexual orientation is an objective or intrinsic disorder. But what is the term disorder mean? Science has shown from mental health and from animal biology that it is entirely natural, and not in any scientific sense disordered. The magisterium says that such a disorder is not be viewed in this sense, but in the theological sense. Just what does "disordered" mean "theologically"? Besides the argument that homosexual acts are not ordered to procreation, which I have adequately addressed many times in the past, I have not worked out what a so-called theological meaning might be. The Vatican theologians have conceded that the condition of homosexuality is entirely natural, and so not disordered in this sense. However, they have not offered any clear explanation of what meaning it does have. Does the meaning of homosexuality have a meaning in any reality that can be measured? Or is it merely a verbal construct used by those theologians to reach the conclusions they want? According to Catholic theology, the acts flowing from a neutral or positive inclination could not be intrinsically evil. So, any moral judgment on this inclination must depend on use. If "homosexual orientation or inclination" is morally neutral, then the judgment that homosexual acts that flow naturally from that orientation or inclination are disordered does not logically follow. It is like saying, it is ok to be left handed as long as you don't write with your left hand. Many moral theologians and Catholics disagree with the Church's teaching on homosexuality. However, it is important to emphasize that respectful disagreement does not mean that one is unfaithful, misguided, nor do people who disagree are stirring doubt and giving comfort to the enemy. You can disagree and have good motives, ends and intentions. Most forget that many moral teachings of the Church were taught for centuries as truth, but were reformed thanks to disagreement.
Tim O'Leary
1 year 3 months ago
Michael – you ask what does the term “theological disorder” mean. Theological disorder is any inclination to sin, which is further defined as any appetite contrary to reason (concupiscence). They are consequences of the Fall, the original sin that affect us all. Some disorders, like gluttony and greed and lust are disordered because of their excess or their circumstances. They can be minor or major, intermittent or "deep-seated." Disorders are "intrinsic" if their end always fails in the purpose of the action. So, masturbation and homosexuality are intrinsically disordered (see CCC #2352). Many saints have fought heroically against their inclination to sin, so a disordered appetite can certainly be overcome by God’s mercy and grace. You say “The Vatican theologians have conceded that the condition of homosexuality is entirely natural, and so not disordered in this sense.” But, I have seen no official statement with this "entirely natural" term and believe there is none. Here is what they do say about homosexual inclinations or activity: “It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained.” (C#2357). The term “entirely natural” is also not a scientific term in the primary literature with respect to sexual orientation or gender identity. The inability of an exclusive homosexual to bear progeny is certainly a disorder, just like all forms of infertility during reproductive years are seen as disorders. There is a whole medical specialty dedicated to reproductive disorders, with many insurance-covered treatments (many of them immoral) to overcome the disorder. That gay couples must resort to in vitro fertilization and surrogate motherhood to generate progeny (not fully their own) proves this. Finally, you never said whether bisexual orientation is “natural.” Your only response was they have to make a choice, and stick with it.
Michael Barberi
1 year 3 months ago
Tim, All humans have an inclination to sin which is a consequence of the Fall. However, you cannot equate masturbation, or for that matter pedophilia, murder and theft, etc, with homosexuality. For one thing humans are not born with a natural innate inclination to murder, theft, etc, while homosexuality is something many people are born with. As for the statement that Vatican officials have conceded that the condition of homosexuality is entirely natural, I took it from the writings of James Allison. a homosexual priest who has spent his adult life studying this issue. He has written many books and published many articles on this subject. More importantly, Allison is not the only priest or moral theologian who has written extensively on homosexuality and theological ethics (e.g., the books on Sexual Ethics by Todd Salzman and Michael Lawler). There are many studies that explain the etiology of homosexuality. What is clear is that homosexuality is not 'chosen'. In many ways, it is like being born left-handed. However, and most importantly, the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association or the National Institutes of Health have not concluded that homosexuality is a so-called intrinsic disorder of the natural human condition. This is what the Church says it is but they have not offered any convincing theory or evidence to support their conclusion. Far from it. As to you question about bisexuality, I already answered your question in the past. As you know, no one knows all the answers to all moral or scientific questions. This does not negate the ability of right reason or faith from drawing reasonable conclusions. This article was about the guidelines to the priesthood as they pertain to men who are homosexuals. In that regard, I have made my comments clear. I think we have to leave this issue here once again Tim, as I do not want to enter into protracted arguments with you again. We disagree about various moral issues and I don't want to repeat myself as my historical arguments with you have not been productive.
Tim O'Leary
1 year 3 months ago
My heart goes out to James Alison. He converted to Catholicism (he says in part because he fell in love with a straight Catholic man!) and seems to love much of Church doctrine. He became a Dominican priest but has now become a vocal dissenter of Catholic moral teaching and has publicly abandoned his vow to celibacy. He describes his current canonical status as “anomalous” and has no position in a parish or order. He does not consider himself a moral theologian. So, he is not a reliable source for what the Vatican theologians “concede” about homosexuality. He is also not a good example for those with same-sex attraction who want to become priests. https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/alison. I accept the fact that you have not figured out where bisexuality fits into this discussion, and cannot address it adequately, but I think it is central to any theological conclusion on homosexuality. There are more bisexuals with same sex attraction than exclusive homosexuals, including prospective seminarians. If bisexuality is not natural despite those feelings being as strong and persistent and apparently innate, then it undermines all concepts of “naturalness” based on feelings, which is all we have to go on with homosexuality – self-identification. Science has not discovered any objective physical tests that can distinguish homosexuality from bisexuality. It would seem illogical to claim naturalness for one and not the other. Same with the other letters in the ever-expanding LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM acronym. (http://www.wesleyan.edu/creativecampus/studentgroups/themedhousing.html).
Michael Barberi
1 year 3 months ago
There are many moral theologians that argue theologically and scientifically that homosexuality is a natural innate sexual orientation-inclination to members of the same sex, as heterosexuality is a natural innate sexual orientation-inclination to members of the opposite sex. See Sexual Ethics by Todd Salzman and Michael Lawler. As to bisexuality, it is one of three categories of sexual orientation and as you will notice below (from Wikepedia, Homosexuality) that scientific research demonstrates it is a natural condition. If you want to read the references, you can google Wikipedia, Homosexuality. The short clip below is not to be considered to exhaust all the evidence in support of my argument. "Along with bisexuality and heterosexuality, homosexuality is one of the three main categories of sexual orientation within the heterosexual–homosexual continuum.[1] Scientists do not know the exact cause of sexual orientation, but they believe that it is caused by a complex interplay of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences,[3][4][5] and do not view it as a choice.[3][4][6] They favor biologically-based theories,[3] which point to genetic factors, the early uterine environment, both, or the inclusion of genetic and social factors.[7][8] There is no substantive evidence which suggests parenting or early childhood experiences play a role when it comes to sexual orientation.[7] While some people believe that homosexual activity is unnatural,[9] scientific research has shown that homosexuality is a normal and natural variation in human sexuality and is not in and of itself a source of negative psychological effects.[1][10] There is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation.[11]" Your argument that bisexuality is central to any theological conclusion about homosexuality is not the opinion of many moral theologians who have studied this issue. Additionally, your argument that science has not found any physical tests that can distinguish homosexuality from bisexuality is specious and weak. You seem to be saying that because of this fact, no legitimate theological conclusion can be drawn. Well, science has not found any easy, convenient and accurate physical test for the moment or day of ovulation, yet the Church has no problem requiring couples to abstain from sexual intercourse for an average of 12 consecutive days per month, instead of 3-4 days. Tim, we have come to an impasse again. This is my last comment on this blog. Merry Christmas.
Tim O'Leary
1 year 3 months ago
So, now you postulate 5 sexes/genders that are innate or "natural." Keep counting - it's all pseudoscience ideology anyway. I would be very happy to see a test for these new genders anywhere as accurate as ovulation tests. It doesn't have to be easy or convenient either. Merry Christmas!
Patrick Murtha
1 year 3 months ago
Michael, Merry Christmas! You cite Wikipedia as your proof of multiple types of sexuality. But why do you not rather cite the words of the unerring, unchanging Creator? Which of the two can be said to be undeniably true? Which of the two cannot be altered or cannot deceive? God's word says: "And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created them: male and female he created. And God blessed them, saying, "Increase and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it..." By the very words of God Himself do we not realize that God created only two sexes, and the primary and unchangeable purpose of two sexes was for procreation? Homosexuality, which is one of the sins that cries to heaven, is opposed to nature. Now just as a human, due to the fall of man and the affects of original sin, may be inclined to be a glutton or a drunkard or an fornicator, so also a human might be inclined towards homosexuality. This inclination does not justify his sin any more than the a gluttons inclination towards food and drink justifies gluttony, or a fornicators inclination towards sex or sensuality justify his fornication. Rather, the virtue lies in the opposition to the vice: the one inclined to gluttony may save his soul by fighting gluttony, the one inclined to sodomy may save his soul by fighting sodomy. Instead of ever quibbling over the supposed rights of man and fearing affronting man, should not we as Catholics focus on the rights of God first and the fear of affronting God? It seems that the first of the two Great Commandments is often put aside for a sentimental and sensational manipulation of the second. If we Catholics were really concerned about mercy and charity, we would work harder to warn people of the dangers they place themselves in by living outside the laws of God, rather than attempting to make them comfortable in their vices by pretending they were virtue. It would be like telling a man who is, perhaps unconsciously, poisoning himself that he is eating a healthy meal, and that every thing is just fine. Let us face reality and defend the truth fearlessly with charity.
Michael Barberi
1 year 3 months ago
Patrick, My posting about the question of whether homosexuality is a innate natural condition or an 'intrinsically disorder" was posted in response to Tim O'Leary's assertion that homosexuality was unnatural. No prominent scientific organization that has ever studied this issue has concluded that homosexuality is an "intrinsic disorder" as the Church asserts and the Church does not offer any rationale for such conclusion. This issue has been debated theologically for decades. As to your implication that I am not focused on Scripture or what God says reflects your ignorance of my previous comments over the years. I have studied moral theology for 6 year now and I am a published author on moral issues in a prodigious Catholic Theological Journal. As to my love of God and neighbor, mercy and charity, I attend weekly Mass, I am an active Knight of Columbus and a member of ministry to an Orphanage in Tecate, Mexico that my parish sponsors, among others. I do not 'quibble' over the rights of man as my sense of morality is focused on Scripture, Tradition, Human Experience (collective) and Reason (science, et al). Moral theologians for decades now, and in particular the past 10 years, have offered much scholarship and legitimate "but different' interpretations of Scripture and Pauline texts that have been used as underpinning on homosexuality. All of these scholarly works are considered 'contributory' by many Catholic Journals of Theology...as only 5% of all manuscripts by those with PhDs in Theology are ever published. I hope you agree that there is room for disagreement within the Catholic Church while remaining faithful Catholics. As for moral teachings that were taught as truth for centuries, many were reformed because of disagreement. Witness that Holy Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics was never permitted without an annulment, yet now it can be morally permitted per Amoris Laetitia and many bishops are issuing such guidelines as we speak (e.g., Bishop McElroy of San Diego). Incidentally, people are not born gluttons. They choose this behavior. As for homosexual acts in a permanent, faithful and loving relationship, I will have to leave that argument for another time as this blog was about "Guidelines for the Priesthood, as it pertains to men who are homosexual". In this regard, I have made my comments clear. Let's pray that the Holy Spirit will guide us to the truth in agreement and disagreement. Merry Christmas.
Tim O'Leary
1 year 3 months ago
Michael is using Amoris Laetitia as a justification for changing other fundamental moral doctrines. This is strange because it puts him in the same place as the Cardinals and theologians who think AL at least leaves the impression that doctrine has changed on divorce, despite the statements by Pope Francis that no doctrine has change, and the confirmation by the Pope's CDF Cardinal Muller that the teaching has not changed: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/edward-pentin/cardinal-mller-magisterium-unchanged-by-amoris-laetitia. So, we have doctrinal liberals and conservatives both claiming that doctrine might be changed by AL, and the Magisterium (Pope Francis and his CDF) claiming that it has not. I had initially thought the 4 Cardinals' dubia was unnecessarily provocative, but given the eagerness of Michael and others to use AL to undermine all moral doctrine on sexual activity as changeable, even in contradiction to the document's author, I think Pope Francis has himself in a bind and will eventually have to clarify his position, for the sake of unity of the Church.
Michael Barberi
1 year 3 months ago
Tim, It seems to me Tim that you are indirectly misrepresenting my comments to suite your argument. Thus, while I have said before that this is my last comment to you, I must reply because what you are saying is not accurate at all. I have always said that 'many teachings' of the Church have been taught as truth for centuries but were eventually changed. This is absolutely true and please 'notice' that I don't use the word doctrine. I mentioned this because disagreement fueled such changes and this was my point to Patrick. Disagreement is a healthy thing for the Church and it does not have to 'undermine' the foundation of our faith. On the contrary, well-reasoned and scholarly work can often bring new insights to our understanding of truth and our past teachings. However, with respect to AL, I have always said that AL did not change doctrine (and you know this Tim), but it did change the pastoral application of the teaching about Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried. This is significant because AL leaves open the possibility that the pastoral application of other moral teachings might also be changed in the future. You seem to minimize the fact that it is almost impossible to completely separate a doctrine or teaching from its pastoral application. How else do Catholics understand a teaching if not by its pastoral application? In this light, AL 'essentially' changes the practical effect of a past teaching. As for your comment about the 4 Cardinals and their dubia, many moral theologians do not think that anything of significance will materialize from this attempt to undermine AL and Pope Francis. This is my last comment to you Tim...I hope.
Tim O'Leary
1 year 3 months ago
Michael - clearly, you are reading AL differently than Pope Francis or his CDF intended, or else Cardinal Muller would not have made the clarification in the piece I linked to. For those with insufficient time to read that piece here is a key quote: “Cardinal Müller argued that if Amoris Laetitia really wanted to 'rescind such a deeply rooted and such a weighty discipline, then it would have clearly expressed and stated its reasons.' But he pointed out that the document has “no statement to that effect.'" ''At no point has the Pope called the arguments of his predecessors into question,' he said. Those arguments, he added, 'are not based on the subjective guilt of these brothers and sisters, but on the visible, objective way of life, which is opposite to the words of Christ.'" Cardinal Müller also addressed the issue of footnote 351 in which the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist are mentioned in the context of the pastoral care of remarried divorcees. Some have read this footnote as slyly giving the green light to admitting such couples to the sacraments. Again, the cardinal prefect sees this as a general description and therefore not applicable to specific cases concerning the divorced and remarried. 'If that were the case', he said, 'then such a change would have to be expressed "concretely''. "'Without going into detail, it is sufficient to point out that this footnote refers to objective situations of sin in general, not to the specific case of civilly remarried divorcees, because this latter situation has specific features which distinguish it from other situations,' Cardinal Müller said… footnote 351 'does not touch on the former discipline' and the norms of Familiaris Consortio 84 and Sacramentum Eucharistia 29 and their application 'remain valid in all cases.'"
Michael Barberi
1 year 3 months ago
Tim, This is my last comment, final. I do not read AL any differently than Pope Francis. Witness the letter of Pope Francis to the Argentina Bishops on implementing Amoris Laetitia (AL) where he praised them for their interpretation of AL and their pastoral guidelines on Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried Catholics without an annulment. Also witness that Bishop McElroy of San Diego held the first and only Diocesan Synod on the Family in the U.S. This Diocesan Synod on AL included a significant number of clergy, theologians and the laity. Bishop McElroy announced that he will be implementing guidelines and permitting Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried without an annulment under conditions in accordance with AL. What you are doing Tim is demonstrating the theological disagreement among the bishops on AL. However, Cardinal Schoenborn of Vienna is the official interpreter of AL per Pope Francis and you can read his interview on the internet and his interpretation of AL. It is clear he agrees that Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried without an annulment can be permitted under certain conditions. Cardinal Cupich has the same interpretation. The other thing that should be mentioned. The difference between the doctrine of marriage on Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried, versus its pastoral application, is the difference between "the letter of the law and the spirit of the law". For most Catholics, it is the practical application of any teaching and its existential effect that people witness and experience. How else do people understand doctrine or any teaching if not for its practical application? I do respect your determination and comments Tim, but unfortunately I disagree with your viewpoint. I will have to end our exchanges for now. Enjoy the blessings of this Christmas season and have a Happy New Year Tim.
David Whitewolf
1 year 3 months ago
"Homosexuality, which is one of the sins that cries to heaven, is opposed to nature." These words are lies, and very offensive ones. I have been in a very loving relationship with my male partner for more than thirty years. As any honest couple would acknowledge, this blessing doesn't happen without love, commitment and work. To equate these thirty years with gluttony and drunkenness is ridiculous, and makes no sense whatsoever. You are merely expressing an irrational prejudice, and creating a God that aligns with your prejudice.
Tim O'Leary
1 year 3 months ago
David - I responded to your comment to me below. But, if I understand your comment here, you are saying the Catholic Church teaches lies when it teaches that homosexual sex is very sinful or mentions the sins that cry out to heaven (CCC #1867)? This is also the clear teaching of Holy Scripture (the word "outcry" in Gen 18:20; 19:13). The subjective feeling of righteousness in an illicit sexual relationship is very common among many heterosexuals as well. So, maybe you are not a Catholic Christian and do not believe the Catholic Church is protected from teaching error regarding faith and morals? That might be your prejudice.
Roberto Blum
1 year 3 months ago
Tim, here you go again pontificating and anathemizing anyone that does not agree with your rigid and not Christ like ideas. Shame on you.
Tim O'Leary
1 year 3 months ago
Roberto - My response and question was for David, as I do not know if he accepts the Church or Scripture. My arguments would be different depending on where he is coming from. But, as to your standard perfunctory contribution, I understand you have a problem with the Catechism.
Roberto Blum
1 year 3 months ago
Not with the Cathechism but I do with your particular interpretations of it. Almost always judging others with an evident lack of charity. Luke 6:41-42 may be well applied to you Tim.
Tim O'Leary
1 year 3 months ago
Roberto - Have you thought that when you say "shame on you" that is a judgment? But, I am not judging anybody, just reacting to the charge by David that what is in the Catechism is a lie (David said "These words are lies" so I quote the Catechism). If I have misquoted the Catechism, I am happy to be shown where I erred.
David Whitewolf
1 year 3 months ago
Of course what the Catholic Church teaches about homosexuality is a lie. And there is absolutely nothing in Scripture which addresses loving homosexual unions. And even if there was, it's subject to criticism, not blind assent. Such biblical and doctrinal fundamentalism has no place in an adult faith. Neither do I believe that the Church is protected from teaching error. "The Church" represents nothing more than the opinions of imperfect, weak, faulty men. Some of those opinions may touch on truth, but not in this case. The Pope said that the Church needs to apologize to gay people. I respect that opinion.
Tim O'Leary
1 year 3 months ago
David - thanks for clarifying your position. You will not be persuaded then by either the Catechism, or by the near unanimous interpretation of Christians of Holy Scripture prior to about 50 years ago. What adult faith do you belong to and how do you know it is from God and teaching the truth?
alan macdonald
1 year 3 months ago
The Catholic Church does not teach lies and does not conform to whatever you believe. Sodomy was, is and always will be a sin subject to excommunication.
Roberto Blum
1 year 3 months ago
double entry
Roberto Blum
1 year 3 months ago
Maybe you mean simony which is a canonical crime punished by excommunication. Sodomy is not. See Canons 1364 to 1399.
alan macdonald
1 year 3 months ago
An unrepentant sodomist would be most definitely excommunicated.
Roberto Blum
1 year 3 months ago
Alan, no penalty can be imposed on an individual if he or she has not committed an action or omission defined as a crime in the penal code. Excommunication is a penalty in Canon Law that the Church imposes on individuals who commit certain crimes. Sodomy is generally defined as anal or oral sex between people of the same or different gender. Sodomy may be a sin, but is definitely not a crime in Canon Law and therefore no one can be excommunicated for sodomy.

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