Skip to comments.Cardinal's words on gay priests surprise scholars
Posted on 05/03/2002 6:38:30 PM PDT by history_matters
Cardinal Anthony M. Bevilacqua's sweeping rejection of gay men becoming priests diverges from mainstream thinking by U.S. Catholic theologians and policymakers, a range of church scholars said in interviews this week.
But his remarks echoed a little-known Vatican decree issued four decades ago that may come into play as church leaders labor toward a national response to the sex-abuse scandal in the church.
Upon his return last week from the cardinals' summit conference in Rome, Cardinal Bevilacqua weighed in on the debate about gays in the priesthood - a hot issue in the scandal - with a categorical pronouncement.
No "homosexually oriented" men, not even chaste ones, are "suitable candidates" for the priesthood, he told a news conference, because heterosexual celibates "are giving up" the good of family and children, while gay celibates give up what the church considers "a moral evil."
With his remarks, and the hard line taken against homosexuals at the archdiocese's St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Cardinal Bevilacqua has put himself in the front rank of church conservatives who staunchly oppose the ordination of gays.
The cardinal's views reflect an antipathy toward homosexuality that is found in the Catholic catechism, but his statements about banning even celibate gay priests surprised most of the 14 Catholic theologians and other experts contacted for comment. Two of the 14 voiced support.
Most said the dominant view among theologians, bishops, seminary officials and other policymakers is that the decisive factor should not be a candidate's sexual orientation but whether he is "acting out" sexually.
"He's the first one I've heard make this particular argument" distinguishing between gay and straight celibacies, said the Rev. John Baldovin, professor of historical and liturgical theology at Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Mass.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered" and "contrary to the natural law," while urging tolerance toward gays and saying they are "called to chastity."
But to say homosexual orientation alone disqualifies a person for diocesan priesthood takes church teaching into an area where doctrine is unsettled, several of the theologians said.
Church leaders "weren't willing to admit for the longest time that they had gay people in the priesthood," said Father Baldovin, so "nobody was trying to construct the difference between straight celibacy and gay celibacy."
Cardinal Bevilacqua is a canon lawyer, not a degreed theologian, but he has the last word on this matter in the archdiocese, as any reigning bishop has over a diocese. Unless rules bearing papal authority are imposed - which has not occurred regarding gays in diocesan seminaries - a bishop can interpret scripture and doctrine as he sees fit.
Cardinal Bevilacqua will have no further comment on his statements, archdiocese spokeswoman Catherine Rossi said.
The Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, a theologian at the Catholic University of America in Washington and a consultant to the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference's committee on doctrine, was among the theologians who questioned the cardinal's views.
A gay person "can't give up his orientation," Father Komonchak said. "... That particular application of theology I've never heard before. If it's anywhere in church teaching, I've never seen it."
A Catholic University colleague, theology professor John Grabowski, said he had seen the cardinal's position "argued by a few others, but I must say it's not a common position... . It's an isolated view."
Grabowski said the argument "doesn't work. The church does teach that homosexuality is an objective disorder, but every person has disordered inclinations. That's the human condition. I don't know how you can bar a person from ordination because of that."
The opposite view was voiced by the Rev. Ray Ryland, who teaches theology at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.
"I have not come across this distinction [on gay celibacy] that the cardinal makes, but I think he's quite right in saying it," Father Ryland said. "As a prudential judgment, I agree that persons of that orientation should not be admitted to the priesthood because of the very grave temptations they face" in seminary and parish life.
The Vatican has taken a similar stance. In 1961, Pope John XXIII issued a decree concerning people entering convents, monasteries and other religious orders. The directive, which remains valid, instructs that "those affected by the perverse inclination to homosexuality or pederasty [man-boy love] should be excluded from religious vows and ordination."
Scholars said the decree, developed by the Sacred Congregation for Religious, does not apply to diocesan seminarians. According to Catholic News Service, Vatican officials are considering updating and reissuing the document as part of their internal discussion about whether to impose standards for selection and training of priests.
The matter of gays in the priesthood has emerged as a thorny aspect of the abuse scandal. Some Catholic conservatives, noting that many of the reported molestations have involved priests and older boys, have renewed their complaints about the relatively high number of gay priests.
Gay priests and rights activists have said the cardinal and other conservatives are scapegoating gay priests. Homosexuals, they argue, are no more likely to be pedophiles than anyone else, and no more likely to break their promise of priestly celibacy than heterosexuals.
In his news conference last Friday, Cardinal Bevilacqua said without elaborating that he believed gay priests were at a "much higher" risk of becoming sexually active. "When a heterosexual celibate chooses to become a celibate in the priesthood," the cardinal said, "he's taking on a good - that is, his own desire to become a priest - and he's giving up a very good thing, and that is, a family and children that could follow. That would not be true of a homosexually oriented candidate. He may be choosing the good, but... he's giving up what the church considers an aberration, a moral evil."
The Rev. Donald Cozzens, a onetime Cleveland seminary rector and the author of The Changing Face of the Priesthood: A Reflection on the Priest's Crisis of Soul, said the cardinal's priesthood theology harked back to the tradition of asceticism. But the church, he said, primarily teaches that a person chooses priestly celibacy "because it feels like the path God has ordained for me for spiritual maturity, not as an ascetical practice like giving something up for Lent... . His framing of the issue is creative. It is fairly new to my ears."
The Rev. Richard McBrien, a theology professor at the University of Notre Dame and a former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, said Cardinal Bevilacqua's outlook seemed to be based on "a fundamentalistic interpretation of Scripture" that "no one with any serious scholarly credentials in the field of biblical studies" shared.
The cardinal's point of view is "rather fundamentalist," said the Rev. Don Clifford of St. Joseph's University, a longtime professor of dogmatic theology.
Further, the 72-year-old priest said, "many people who had the most positive influence on me, on reflection, were very likely gay... . They presumably were living chaste lives and had tremendous influence on their ministries."
The debate about gays is part of a "long-term discussion" within the church, Father Clifford said, and "I always bet on the Holy Spirit to see how it comes out."
If you want decent people to come to church, remove the degenerate priests and put them in prison. It can't get any simpler than that.
Is Homosexuality Normal?
By Reed Irvine
December 2, 1999
Why have the establishment media ignored the horrible murder of 13-year-old Jesse Dirkhising by two homosexual men in the little town of Rogers, Arkansas? That is a question that was first asked by The Washington Times on October 22, nearly a month after the seventh- grader was found dead after he had been brutally assaulted sexually by Davis Carpenter, 38, and his lover, Joshua Brown, 22, on September 26.
The front-page story in the Times by Joyce Howard Price brought the story, which had been on the front page of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on three days, out of Arkansas. But a Nexis search at the end of November found only a half dozen news stories about it outside of Arkansas and a dozen editorials, opinion columns and letters.
The contrast between the coverage of homosexuals murdering a seventh-grader in Arkansas and straights murdering Matthew Shepard, a homosexual college student in Wyoming, was striking. The Washington Post printed over 80 stories about the Shepard case since the murder last year. It has run one 59-word story about the Dirkhising murder, on Saturday, October 30, and that didnt even appear in the edition that is widely distributed in the greater Washington, D.C. area.
That was eight days after The Washington Times put the story on page one, five days after Les Kinsolving, a Baltimore radio talk show host, had asked White House spokesman Joe Lockhart if President Clinton would comment on the Dirkhising murder as he had on the Shepard case, and a day after the AP finally put the story on the national wire. The Washington Posts ombudsman explained her papers failure to cover the story, saying, in effect, that it doesnt report murders outside the Washington area unless, like the Shepard murder, the editors think they teach a lesson or are exceptionally newsworthy.
Jonathan Gregg, a senior editor at Time, gave this explanation in a column in Time Daily on line: "The reason the Dirkhising story received so little play is because it offered no lessons. Shepards murder touches on a host of complex and timely issues: intolerance, societys attitudes toward gays and the pressure to conform, the use of violence as a means of confronting ones demons. Jesse Dirkhisings death gives us nothing except the depravity of two sick men. There is no lesson here, no moral of tolerance, no hope to be gleaned in the punishment of the perpetrators. To be somehow equated with these monsters would be a bitter legacy indeed for Matthew Shepard."
Anyone who called Brown and Carpenter monsters before they killed Jesse Dirkhising, would have been accused by other homosexuals of gay-bashing. Practicing sadistic sex and seducing young boys is not uncommon among homosexuals. Those who do so are not labeled monsters and cast out. The day Jesse was killed, the annual Folsom Street Leather Fair was being held in San Francisco, celebrating sadomasochism with public demonstrations of whippings and bondage. During the 1993 Gay Rights March on Washington, a government auditorium was put at their disposal to show the tools of "rough sex" like whips, chains, bondage devices and electric cattle prods. There was also a large photo of "fisting," a form of sodomy even more revolting than that done to Jesse.
Seducing young boys is called "inter-generational sex" and is promoted by the North American Man-Boy Love Association. In 1983, Cong. Gerry Studds was censured for having sex with a young page. He wasnt expelled from Congress, much less the gay community.
Jesses murder came at bad time for the homosexuals who were organizing a campaign to get every public school in the country to teach children that homosexuality is normal. They were lining up support from the teachers unions and national associations of school administrators, psychologists, social workers and pediatricians. On Nov. 23, they announced that booklets proclaiming homosexuality normal would be sent to every school district in the nation.
Stories describing the horrible things done to Jesse Dirkhising could have aborted this ambitious project. Homosexuals are very influential in the newsrooms of the establishment media these days. If there was any debate about publicizing the Dirkhising story, arguments like those in Jonathan Greggs Time on line column prevailed.
Much of the behavior that homosexuals want children to believe is normal is too revolting to be described in a family newspaper. That is why educators should be shown the police reports on the Dirkhising murder and asked if what they describe meets their definition of normal. The reports can be found on Americansfortruth.org or obtained from AFT, PO Box 4552, Washington, DC 20026.
1) Priests have molested children of both sexes.
2) The Church bought the silence of the victims and hid the guilty.
3) The excuse offered: It's all the homosexual's fault.
4) The solution offered: ban homosexuals from the priesthood.
Sorry, but ain't gonna cut it. A "drunken priest molesting an underaged girl", to borrow an example offered, is just as evil as a sober priest molesting an underaged boy.
As a non-Catholic, the only thing I want to hear is that the Church will be turning both of those molesters over to law-enforcement authorities and they will pay for whatever counseling those victims require.
And then you proceed to give an outline of 4 talking points.
Hey, you forgot to use Power Point, change the font to Times New Roman and fax it to "Gays and Lesbians Against Defamation".
Speaking to your first one
1) Priests have molested children of both sexes.
Did you know that Father Cozzens said on Meet the Press that 95-98% of the abuse victims were teen age boys; and that Father McBrien backed him up on that statistic? You know why? Because it is true.
For what possible reason would you want to shift this fact to the doldrums? Hmmm? Why? On your talking points of 2-4, yes the church covered it up, and yes it is the fault of their leadership. But it was homosexual men who raped these lads, and homosexual men who are sexually perverted. It is a word that Paul used in his letters--perverted. Let's say it a few more times, shall we?
Perverted. Perverted. Perverted.
They should be dealt with. I am sick and tired of people apologizing for them.
This article mentions Catholic conservatives noting that molestations involve priests and boys. Why the use of the word "conservative?"
All child-molestation is bad and banning homosexuals isn't going to stop all the child-molesting priests.
The Church can ban anyone who ever had a dog named "Spot" for all I care, but they need to tell me how they're going to deal with all child-molesters.
If these faithless and perverted priests are ALSO violating the legitimate secular law (malum in se which prohibits and punishes acts evil in and of themselves), they can be charged, arrested, incarcerated, tried, convicted and punished whether the offense is molesting six-year olds, seventeen year-olds, or robbing banks or violating health regulations. That is the state's business and therefore the business of all taxpayers.
That lavender mafia which exists outside the Church structure can also mind its own business which most certainly does not include who may or may not be practicing priests of the Roman Catholic Church.
See, we, as Catholics refrain from sticking our noses into who runs the local Lamda Legal Defense Fund or chapter of the North American Man Boy Love Association and the lavenders keep their noses, inter alia, out of matters Catholic. For the lavenders to butt in would be just another case of ignoring what is supposed to go where. Animal lovers need not apply either. Call it scapegoating all you like, but RCs do not have to put up with the narcissistic demands for attention by practitioners of the love that once dared not speak its name but cannot nowadays shut its yap. Internally, duly constituted Churchg authority can and ought to purge this menace relentlessly. See the First Amendment.
I'm glad you think so. The Church, up to and including now, doesn't.
What I'm saying, and this may or may not be the homosexual groups' point, is that focussing on one group implies that the Church will otherwise go on, business as always, for everything else.
That's not acceptable. I don't care if homosexuals or pedophiles or 'horny heterosexuals who simply found the altar-boy handy' did .1% or 99.9% of the molestations -- I want to hear the Church talk about what they're going to do with 100% of the molesters. All the rest of it is a dodge.
Whoa! He should stay celibate (or maybe try the therapy) instead of entering the seminary. This is a practical issue. The heterosexual seminarian is not advised to live in one building with the nuns - the homosexual seminarians living in close proximity to other young men will be exposed to the great temptations and many of them will fail. Such situation is not good for them and is not good for the Church.
If a person with uncurable homoseuxal tendencies wants to live more religious life he can follow some semi-monastic rule under good supervision and guidance (like Tertiary or Third Order for example).
You seem to be pretty good at it.
Well, Mr. Josh Gray has a "When did you stop beating your wife?" response......
Now we really get to see your dodging skills in action--don't we Mr. Apologist.
No. I have little girls. It is not acceptable for girls to be abused--and you know it. What a ridiculous thing to even assert--but I guess it is time for you to pound the table some more.
This is about homosexuals who have raped boys--and homosexuals want to run away from it.
Job 5:2 - Resentment kills a fool, and envy slays the simple.