Skip to comments.Doctrinal head (Levada): Openly gay priests make it tough to represent Christ
Posted on 02/27/2006 12:24:00 PM PST by NYer
ROME (CNS) -- Cardinal-designate William J. Levada said a priest who publicly announces he is homosexual makes it difficult for people to see the priest as representing Christ, the bridegroom of his bride, the church.
A public declaration of homosexuality places a priest "at odds with the spousal character of love as revealed by God and imaged in humanity," said the U.S. cardinal-designate, who is prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Cardinal-designate Levada made his remarks during a Feb. 26 homily as he presided over a Mass for the installation of the new rector of Rome's Pontifical North American College.
In the presence of some 170 seminarians, Msgr. James F. Checchio made a formal profession of faith and promised his fidelity to Catholic Church teaching as he took over as rector of the U.S. seminary in Rome.
In his homily, Cardinal-designate Levada reflected on the challenges priests face today and on the Sunday Scripture readings, which described God's love for his people as the love of a husband for a wife and described Jesus as the bridegroom of the church.
Referring first to "the tragic problem of sexual abuse of minors by clergy," the cardinal-designate said, "thanks be to God, it is now possible to say that the measures taken by the bishops on behalf of the church have put into place a comprehensive program of education, prevention and care for victims, as well as measures to ensure that abusive clergy are not returned to ministry."
"One of the more immediate challenges facing seminaries," he said, is the implementation of the Congregation for Catholic Education's November instruction that men with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" should not be admitted to the seminary or ordained to the priesthood.
The instruction, however, made clear that the church was not questioning the validity of the ordinations of gay men who already are priests.
The cardinal-designate said the instruction "is not directly related to the U.S. sexual abuse crisis, but it is not without relevance for it," insofar as a study commissioned by the U.S. bishops identified homosexual behavior as a component in many clerical sex abuse cases.
Beyond the issue of psychosexual maturity, Cardinal-designate Levada said, "the question also needs to be viewed from its theological perspective," particularly in light of the biblical images of God's spousal relationship with his people and Gospel passages in which Jesus refers to himself as the bridegroom.
The doctrinal chief said he wanted to look specifically at "the situation of the gay priest who announces his homosexuality publicly, a few examples of which we have recently heard reported" in reaction to the Vatican document.
"I think we must ask, 'Does such a priest 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?'" he said.
"Sadly, this provides a good example of the wisdom of the new Vatican instruction," he said.
The cardinal-designate also told the seminarians: "It is important for our people to hear us priests preach and teach about the fundamental character of God's love imprinted upon humanity in the original act of creation: 'God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.'
"It is here that we find the basis for church teaching about marriage and about the family," he said. "It is here, too, that we find the basis for church teaching about homosexuality and the reason why proposals for recognition of homosexual marriage are contrary to sacred Scriptures and the natural law."
I believe the answer to both questions is "Yes." The damage that these men sow is not accidental in any way; it is deliberate.
"ROME (CNS) -- Cardinal-designate William J. Levada said a priest who publicly announces he is homosexual makes it difficult for people to see the priest as representing Christ, the bridegroom of his bride, the church."
Well, MAYBE that's because HE AIN'T REPRESENTING CHRIST!!!!!!!
Christ is NOT represented by a homosexual priest PERIOD.
You can throw any theology which requires that out the freaking window.
Too bad he didn't say that while he was Archbishop of the San Francisco Diocese (1995-2005)...
"The instruction, however, made clear that the church was not questioning the validity of the ordinations of gay men who already are priests."
You folks can't question the "validity" of the "ordaination" of a man that sodomizes other men or little children????
Come on! Right is right and wrong is wrong!!!
Christ is NOT represented by a homosexual priest PERIOD.
You can throw any theology which requires that out the freaking window.
Considering that the statement is coming out of the Vatican (and how nuanced they make all of their statements), his words are remarkably clear and unambiguous. Made in a way as to apply reason to the declaration where the logic cannot be contested.
Had he simply said, "Gay Priests are an abomination," true, he'd make us happy, but he'd set the Vatican up for a firestorm (considering the gay lobby, perhaps the right word would be "a firebombing"). This way, one can't honestly argue with the logic. (The cool part is that one can apply the same logic to the abomination of so-called female priests, as well)
Sort of refreshing...at least imho. But ymmv.
As long as the bishop does what the Church calls for, the sacramentality of the ordination is valid. "The Lord hath sworn, and he will not repent: Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech" (Psalm 109: 4). The validity doesn't depend on the temperament of the one being ordained.
It is an old stance of the church that sinfulness does not invalidate the authority of a priest. However, scnaelous does serve to discredit priests in the eyes of his flock. If your shepard acts like a wolf, he scatters the flock.
If his behavior he known, then he should not be allowed to remain as a priest.
There is one minor, little problem. No, they shouldn't have been ordained in the first place. However, once they were ordained, they can't be "unordained." Not because they would deserve to be ordained (ordination is a grace), but because ordination "confers an indelible spiritual character" on the ordained.
If the validity of their ordination is called into question by the Vatican, then the validity of any ordination could be called into question by others.
Again, a profound and inspired statement, imho.
"If his behavior he known, then he should not be allowed to remain as a priest."
Isn't laicization extremely rare.
No, he should and, according to Canon law, must be punished. This punishment goes up to and includes laicization. And if he violates that, excommunication. But one can't "undo" an ordination. One can make a person "effectively" a layperson, but not "literally" a layperson.
You're thinking like man, and not as God does. All of those who are ordained are sinners. All are most unworthy to receive that sacrament. If it is discovered that a seminarian is a sodomite, they wouldn't be ordained. But if it isn't discovered until afterwards, and they received the sacrament, it doesn't change the fact that they have received it. In that case, they would be defrocked, but they are still "priests" in the sacramental sense.
I think you're misunderstanding the technical language. (Maybe you ought to stop thinking with your emotions. Just a suggestion ...)
Saying "the church is not questioning the validity of the ordinations" means that they are really priests, not just laymen wearing funny collars. It doesn't mean they are good priests, or that they ought to be in active ministry, or that they should have been ordained ... only that they really were ordained.
By contrast, if (for example) a man pretended to be Catholic and appeared to have been ordained to the priesthood, but it later came out that he had never been baptized and was a Muslim, he would not be validly ordained. He would not be a priest at all. (Not even a Catholic layman, in this case.)
It has nothing to do with the virtue of the person involved, or the lack thereof.
You mean like Aaron, who made a golden calf for the children of Israel to worship, and then was appointed their high priest?
Please understand, we're not saying that's optimal. But there are no clergymen who are not sinners. In any denomination.
Remember the book and movie (with Humphrey Bogart. )"The Left Hand of God?"
Which Bible do you use?
I just looked up Romans 2:27-29, and couldn't find "(or priest)" anywhere. Oh, I see, you added that.
"I just looked up Romans 2:27-29, and couldn't find "(or priest)" anywhere. Oh, I see, you added that. "
No friend, here is the point. The Bible teaches that we are not what we are outwardly if we are not that inwardly as well.
A Jew is not a Jew just because he is outwardly a Jew. He is only a true Jew if he is a true Jew in the heart.
And a man of God is not a true man of God by virtue of some office, but only if he is truly a man of God in his heart.
See the distinction?
Now you have just called into question the validity of your own baptism. How do you know for sure that you have truly been baptized?
"How do you know for sure that you have truly been baptized?"
What do you mean?
That is your interpretation. In that we live in a country without a state religion, you're entitled to your opinion.
However, I have a hard time seeing how your view isn't Donatism. In that the Donatist heresy was condemned and discarded early in the first millennium, I find it puzzling, as a Catholic, that we're still debating the question more than a millenium and a half after it was decisively settled by the Church.
As an evangelical, it may be that you reject the authoritative witness and teaching of the Universal, Undivided Church, preferring your own interpretation. However, for Catholics and Orthodox (I've pinged a few Orthodox who can speak for themselves and their Church on what they think of Donatism), your rejection of the infallible doctrines of the Undivided Church may seem like little more than breath-taking arrogance.
Notice how you switched from "Jew" to "true Jew". Gnostics hold on to the "inner" and forget the "outer". Ritualists hold on to the "outer" and forget the "inner". But actually, both are important. In all these things, form and matter are distinct principles, and must both be preserved. The tendency of Protestants has always been toward Gnosticism. For a good antidote, read Lang's Why Matter Matters.
If the validity of a baptism comes only from the earnestness of the person seeking baptism, then it would not matter whether the person administering the baptism was in serious sin. Right? In other words, in your opinion, in baptism, God is not using *any* instrument, God is simply seeing the heart of the seeker. As long as the seeker's heart is sincere, and if that is the only thing that makes a baptism valid, then the baptized person would have a legitimate baptism if they were baptized in oil, in vinegar, in pig's blood, by anyone in any state of sin, in the name of any deities whatsoever.
On the other hand, if the moral condition of the person administering the baptism can affect the validity of the baptism, then the safest thing to do to ensure that one has a valid baptism, is first to make sure that one is in a state of repentance and moral cleanliness, and then baptize oneself.
You gotta bunch of highfalutin words there to explain why a pedophile sodomite is a valid priest befor God.
But I'm not buying it.
Right is right and wrong is wrong, and a pedophile sodomite is not a man of God - he is of the devil.
And I don't care if you've got enough "Tradition" to fill the ocean, if you can't see a simple fact like that your "Tradition" is wrong.
I think that in the quote cited, the author of the article using the word "gay" in an imprecise and misleading way: I think he didn't mean a priest who commits sodomy, but a priest who experiences (and resists) homosexual temptation.
But you bring up a good point. If a person was married in the Catholic Church but never actually intended to keep the vows, the marriage would be considered to be "null" = no sacrament, invalid, defective vows.
But if a man is ordained a priest in the Catholic Church similarly not intending to keep the vows, wouldn't his ordination be considered "null"? I wonder if any of our Catholic Freepers can answer this.
If my baptism was valid it was because I was responding in faith and obedience
The validity of your baptism didn't have anything to do with your "response". It's not about something that you do, or you did, or you can do, or might want to do, or anything like that. God saves sovereignly, not through "your response" to anything.
God will not use a dirty instrument.
There are no "clean instruments". All your righteousness is but filthy rags to him. Have you forgotten?
I don't think so. Diocesan priests don't take vows, anyway; they make promises.
The sacramental matter of matrimony is the vows. The sacramental matter of ordination is the imposition of hands and the anointing. They're different situations.
It's also true for a priest.
If a priest is not a priest in his heart, he is not a good priest. Note however, he is still a priest.
Just because a cop takes bribes, committs crimes and completely dishonors his profession, does not mean that he is not really a cop. If he was sworn in as a cop, a cop he remains, although a bad one. He is still a cop until his badge is taken away.
Ditto for those who've received the sacrament of Holy Orders. It is conferred by the Church and the sacrament does not become null and void due to the recipient's perfidy. Now the Church may cancel the sacrament and defrock the priest, but Holy Orders is the equivalent of the cop's badge.
"Just because a cop takes bribes, committs crimes and completely dishonors his profession, does not mean that he is not really a cop"
Can a devil be a valid priest?
You are also a Donatist. Since you aren't a Catholic maybe you ought to let Catholic theology of ordination speak to Catholic claims instead of telling Catholics that they ought to be Donatists like you. The validity of the sacrament rests on the power of Christ. The Donatists claimed that a sinful priest's sin could trump Christ's power in the sacrament. The Catholic response was no. The sinful priest does wrong and has to answer for his wrongdoing. In the case of sexual abuse he will be removed from active ministry. But the statement to which you replied with such vehemence spoke of "validity of ordination." You gave a classic Donatist response.
Donatists, incidentally, are not Catholics either.
Well, if we are unsure of the ordination, then you might write it as "ordination" and we could question it. However, a valid ordination is a valid ordination. Even if a Priest were to become an evil and wicked man afterwards. True, he could and should be suspended from ministry if this is the case, but the supernatural indelible mark of Holy Orders remains. Same logic applies to people who are validly baptized and then leave their Faith for a sinful life instead. The solution, of course, is for them to repent and come back to God's sheepfold. Their original baptism remains valid.
A Priest who strives to be a holy man in his Priesthood works towards a greater glory of grace in heaven. A wicked, sinful, and unrepentant man performing the sacraments of the Church in Christ's name as a valid Priest does so for his greater punishment in hell.
St. Augustine dealt with this very problem Centuries ago which lead to his singular title as Doctor of Grace.
Your heart is in the right place though. Homosexuals should not be ordained to the Priesthood to begin with, and those who are ordained while living this sinful lifestyle without repentance should be suspended and laicized.
"The validity of the sacrament rests on the power of Christ. "
News for you: Christ doesn't use pedophile sodomites in his holy service, he casts them into the lake of fire.
Don't let your theology confuse you about what's right and wrong.
I don't believe it is possible for the Church to "cancel" a valid sacrament. The Church can suspend and/or laicize a Priest from active ministry, but the sacramental character remains with the individual man throughout the rest of his
life eternity. Either for his greater glory in heaven or his greater pains in hell. Just as in Baptism or Confirmation, the soul is permanently changed and configured in a supernatural sense forevermore after valid reception of the sacrament of Holy Orders.
That's the Donatist heresy. This was settled about the time of St. Augustine of Hippo.
Yes, priests who break their vows or break the law are doing wrong, and need to be dealt with.
But that doesn't mean their ordination is invalid, or the good works they have done (like saying mass, baptising, marrying, and so on) is made invalid by their personal sin.
Should men who cannot live up the standard be dealt with? Yes.
"You gotta bunch of highfalutin words there to explain why a pedophile sodomite is a valid priest befor God."
My "highfalutin words" explain why ANY sinner is a valid priest before God.
"Right is right and wrong is wrong, and a pedophile sodomite is not a man of God - he is of the devil."
He may be. Nonetheless, if he was validly ordained, he is still a priest. And, in that the mark of the priesthood is on his soul, should he be damned, he will suffer all the more for it.
"And I don't care if you've got enough "Tradition" to fill the ocean, if you can't see a simple fact like that your 'Tradition' is wrong."
Yes, yes, I know. PetroniusMaximus is right, is the valid interpreter of Holy Scriptures, is the right teacher of Christian doctrine, and the collective teaching of the Church of Christ is wrong.
There's that arrogance that I mentioned previously.
Don't worry. With enough prayer, it may be overcome.
PM, it does look to me like you have bought into Donatism. The moral character of the person who administers any sacrament is quite immaterial to the efficacy of the sacrament for the simple reason that the priest in question is merely a "conduit" of God's uncreated energies, of which the sacraments are a visible sign, a tool of God if you will. And thus, his moral state can have no effect on the sacrament. The real problem with Donatism is that virtually everyone falls far short of moral purity. It is a particularly vicious and dangerous heresy.
Interestingly, the Donatist heresy so weakened The Church in North Africa that it is likely that it lead to the rapid collapse of Christianity there when the Mohammadens showed up.
S, it may be that our friend PM can be so sanguine about what The Church teaches is a heresy because his view of the sacraments is fundamentally different from that of The Church. Possible, PM?
Interesting theological question.
The devil and other fallen angels are just that, fallen angels. The angelic beings are pure created finite spirits. They were tested as was mankind and the good angels passed to the life of Grace built on the nature God gave them. The evil angels fell because of their pride. They still retain their natural abilities, but are forevermore lost to the life of Grace since their pride will not allow them to repent. They have lost all lovableness except for the mere fact of their existence which God gave them. Indirectly, in the plan of Salvation, they still give glory to God in the sense that He uses them to manifest his glory in defeating them.
In the plan of Salvation God has for His creation, Man is at the center. With a nature made up of matter (our bodies) and spirit (our souls), it is through the instrumentality of human nature that God devised His plan for our Salvation. And it is precisely through the Life, Death, and Resurrection of the God-Man Christ Jesus that this plan is carried out.
Christ established His Church and the Sacraments as vessels of Grace to extend His Life to the world throughout the centuries till the "close of the age". The Sacraments involve outward signs concerning matter that signify and produce supernatural Grace in the interior life of individual souls. The Sacrament of Holy Orders is a Sacrament given by Christ to the whole Church by which He invisibly continues to minister His Priesthood to His Church through the Ordained visible Priest.
Can an angel, good or evil, be a Priest? The answer is no. Christ's Grace comes to us through the instrumentality of human nature. It flows from the font of His humanity, which is hypostatically united to His eternal and infinite Divinity, to ours. Which is God's plan from all eternity. Angels, in the order of nature higher than man, do not have human nature. This leads to reflection on one theory of the pride of the fallen angels. It is this: They could not accept God's plan whereby He entered into His creation as a lowly Man, rather than an angel. The Epistle to the Hebrews deals with this concept.
Can an evil man be a Priest? All mankind is born under Original Sin. It's a downhill fall from there to ever more evil sins. It takes a supernatural Grace from God for any person to turn to Christ in Faith. Already, we see that God's pure Grace has to crash through an evil heart to start the life of Grace in each soul, just as Christ crashed into the sinful, evil world of human history at His birth to start the process of redemption. Grace is God's initiative from beginning to end.
God can and does use sinful persons for the completion of His eternal plan for His creation. This includes the ministers of His Church (think of St. Paul). All Priests go to (or should go to) confession like all other Catholics. That means that they have sins to confess as do we all. Fortunately, while we cannot see into the interior life of each Priest to decide where their hearts are, we have the confidence from Christ that it is He Who is invisibly ministering to us through His Priest and that His Grace is not dependent on the state of the ministering Priests soul.
That said, why yes, yes I'd like to see all homosexuals Priests suspended from ministry. The Grace of God builds on nature, and in the last forty or so years especially, the Church has made some bone-headed mistakes at the practical level regarding this issue.
"S, it may be that our friend PM can be so sanguine about what The Church teaches is a heresy because his view of the sacraments is fundamentally different from that of The Church. Possible, PM?"
That had occurred to me.