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Cardinal's words on gay priests surprise scholars
The Philadelphia Inquirer ^ | Fri, May. 03, 2002 | JIM REMSEN

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."


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Extended News; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: cardinalbevilacqua; catholicchurch; catholiclist; celibacy; homosexuality; priesthood
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To: american colleen
There was quite a bit of discussion on Mundelein in Goodbye! Good Men.

Yes, and I've seen some ambiguous comments by the Mundelein rector, Fr. Canary. Do you know whether the McBrien-type book reviewers have yet commented on Goodbye! Good Men? (I'm dying to hear their take on it.)

201 posted on 05/04/2002 1:48:14 PM PDT by Hibernius Druid
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To: RobbyS
The clergy is a higher order. One can says that being a noncom is just as good as being an officer, but officers have greater rights than noncoms. Likewise a priest has more rights than a lay brother.

Let's not compare the priesthood to the military; the two are entirely different with different functions.

What "rights" does a priest have that a lay brother doesn't? They have different functions and roles, but one is not "higher" in the Church than another.

It's ironic that one would argue about priests being "higher" and having a more "exalted" vocation when the priest is supposed to be a servant to his fellow man.

No wonder we have a problem.

202 posted on 05/04/2002 1:49:11 PM PDT by sinkspur
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To: RobbyS
Despite his reputation as a conservative, he has tried to hard to accomodate people who will always hate the Catholic Church until the Church becomes as docile as the Episcopal Church.

You could say this about Pope John Paul II as well.

203 posted on 05/04/2002 1:51:56 PM PDT by sinkspur
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To: RobbyS
Robby,

He is obviously a very learned at comitted Catholic. I am always concerned though when someone says that we shouldn't be too simplistic. That usually indicates that there is a plausible 'simplistic' answer but we do not want to go there because it somehow makes us seem intolerant. The theologians curse, I expect, is trying to be true to God's law whilst showing grace and mercey.

Hard job! I'm noy sure I would want it.

God Bless

Mel

204 posted on 05/04/2002 1:57:15 PM PDT by melsec
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To: history_matters
Kudos to the Cardinal!
205 posted on 05/04/2002 1:59:49 PM PDT by BunnySlippers
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To: BlackElk
A stunningly beautiful post from you. Bless you and thank you for putting into words something I would dearly love to see i.e., the sacking of the apostates and criminals. I do not believe in papal resignations, but if the Pope felt that was the best thing for the Church and he was willing to take the trash out as he goes, then I would support whatever decision he took.
206 posted on 05/04/2002 3:19:32 PM PDT by history_matters
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To: JoshGray; Dimensio
The Church has an excellent ministry that can help those who suffer from SSA (same-sex attraction).

Clink on the link for COURAGE

207 posted on 05/04/2002 3:32:13 PM PDT by history_matters
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To: history_matters
Thanks for the ping(s), I'm glad you stayed and hope your feeling better.

Peace be with you.

208 posted on 05/04/2002 4:24:32 PM PDT by Cap'n Crunch
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To: history_matters
Well, at least there is one good Bishop out there, what is Fabian Bruscowicz saying about all of this?
209 posted on 05/04/2002 4:41:00 PM PDT by Coleus
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To: history_matters
"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.""

BUMP!

210 posted on 05/04/2002 5:10:10 PM PDT by EdReform
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To: Coleus
He has been direct and on target as we all would expect. The media are steadfastly not covering his take on the crisis.
211 posted on 05/04/2002 5:11:37 PM PDT by history_matters
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To: Notwithstanding
perhaps...but scripture also condenms any teaching that forbids marriage and family for those who would serve Christ's kingdom...as being "false doctrine". Paul exhorted "Bishops" of the early church to be husbands to only one wife(not that everyone had to be married) and in control of their house-holds,ect,ect..Paul stated he would rather all servants of Christ be single as he was but if the couldn't stay celibate, they should marry,("better to marry than to continually burn with passion"). I do have a concern with the Cardinal's view that having homosexual impulses should disqualify one for the priest-hood...does this mean that if I have impulses to steal from the laity and line my pockets I could still qualify for the priesthood? I think it is the outward expression, the uncontrolled sinful passions acted upon that need to be examined and judged. I have trouble with trying to predict how a person will behave years in the future. Christ said that It's not what goes into the draught(digestive tract of the mind and soul) that defiles him...it is what comes out of him. Should active pederasty/homoerotic behavior be banned with the forced removal of the errant clergy..you bet! The Catholic church needs to change its policy of not allowing married priests(they are allowing some limited exceptions ie., married ANGLICAN PRIESTS who wish to return to the Catholic fold) They need to stop this false doctrine of forbidding their clergy to marry! I think you'll see a flood of healthy hetero-sexual men into the clergy, who with their families will bring vitality into the church...who knows, a protestant like myself might even be persuaded to visit a church like that. WE Protestants also are suffering from our own scandals and the problems with the Catholic churches are affecting us too.
212 posted on 05/04/2002 5:17:47 PM PDT by mdmathis6
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To: mdmathis6
You need to be careful to choose your words correctly.

The Catholic Church's discipline of celibacy is NOT a doctrine - as you called it.

It is a rule prudentially imposed whereby in the Latin Rite no married man may normally be ordained a preist and no priest who has freely vowed himself to perpetual celibacy (as all unmarried men wishing to be ordained must do) may get married.

Any man who wants to get married is free to serve the Church in some fashion other than ordained priesthood. No man is forced to be a preist - and no man can demand that he be ordained.

213 posted on 05/04/2002 5:43:26 PM PDT by Notwithstanding
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To: fatima
Wake up and smell the coffee.

The truth ain't always pretty.

214 posted on 05/04/2002 8:01:21 PM PDT by arepublicifyoucankeepit
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To: history_matters
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.

The 12 who voiced dissent should be placed under interdict and forbidden from teaching in Catholic universities. When things like that start happening, we'll know that progress is being made. As it stands now, Cardinal Bevilacqua is a lone, courageous voice of TRUTH amid a chorus of "whitened sephulcres."

Dear Lord, purge your Church! Bind up the weeds to be burned!
215 posted on 05/04/2002 8:12:37 PM PDT by Antoninus
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To: Antoninus
As it stands now, Cardinal Bevilacqua is a lone, courageous voice of TRUTH amid a chorus of "whitened sephulcres."

Oh, for heaven's sake! Because no other cardinal or bishop is voicing the same thing Bevilacqua is, they are "whitened sepulchres"?

Bevilacqua's the only man in the band making up his own moves, so this means everybody ELSE is out of step?

Wanna lay a bet that his formulation is not part of the statement from the June meeting?

216 posted on 05/04/2002 8:22:32 PM PDT by sinkspur
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To: BlackElk
How about: Track down each and every one. Any proven act of homosexuality separates the actor UNDER CHURCH AUTHORITY permanently from the priesthood. The government can investigate, indict, try and punish as in any other case but who is a priest and who is a bishop is strictly Church business and our First Amendment recognizes as much, viewing the courts as quite incompetent to rule on matters of religious doctrine.

Purge the seminaries of pederasts, pedophiles, homosexuals and enablers and protectors (liberal or conservative, normal or homosexual). End all experiments in AmChurch heterodoxy and heresy. Restore order. Get pushy parishioners out of positions of governance. Expect, according to Canon Law, priests not "eucharistic ministers" to distribute the Eucharist at Mass. End the narcissistic practice of "communion in the hand" to thwart theft of the Eucharist by satanists. Remove from the priesthood and any position of authority anyone who acts so as to undermine the truth of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Nuke any nervy bishop or archbishop like the Mad Monk of Milwaukee Rembert Weakland at the first instance of willful disobedience. Just for starters. AND stop kowtowing to every fashionable and politically correct trend of the week and of the weak. Anyone who finds actual Catholicism too much of a challenge to their morally flabby attitudes can just get out. There are plenty of less rigorous churches.

Instead of having to put up with lavender priests, lavender bishops, heretical priests, heretical bishops and the enablers of them all, Roman Catholics who actually ARE Catholic have a right to a Church led by leaders who are in communion with the Holy See. The Church is not, thank God, a democracy and it ought not to behave as though the iron rule of 50% + 1 is any trustworthy guide in moral matters.

Worth repeating. Black Elk, you have the clearest vision of anyone currently arguing this subject on Free Republic. Bravo!
217 posted on 05/04/2002 8:30:46 PM PDT by Antoninus
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To: sinkspur
You could say this about Pope John Paul II as well.</> The pope , I think, is not surrounded by trimmers and "progressives."
218 posted on 05/04/2002 9:19:48 PM PDT by RobbyS
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To: sinkspur
Wanna lay a bet that his formulation is not part of the statement from the June meeting? Then you had better hope that the newspapers don't turn over too many more rocks.
219 posted on 05/04/2002 9:25:13 PM PDT by RobbyS
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To: american colleen
And you forgot to mention a graduate of St. John's Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts (1962) - among the alumni are Geoghan and Shanley.

As time passes on, my disapproval of this man continues to grow. Why he remains a Catholic is beyond me.

220 posted on 05/05/2002 7:54:29 AM PDT by ThomasMore
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To: Dimensio
Very well. As an experiment, could you possibly choose to have exclusive same-sex attraction for a day? I don't ask that you actually act on it, just that you choose to have it for a 24-hour period. After that you could choose to go back to not having them. If you can do this and report was it is like, I might believe your assertion.

Hehehe…try prison.

221 posted on 05/05/2002 1:52:57 PM PDT by Clint N. Suhks
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To: history_matters
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."

That must really kill the liberals.

222 posted on 05/05/2002 1:59:32 PM PDT by Aquinasfan
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To: history_matters
an area where doctrine is unsettled

This means that it is an area where the Church has not been yet induced to accept the proposals of these theologians for new doctrine that is more in keeping with new age modernism then is that musty 2000 year old stuff that Rome seems to be stuck in.

223 posted on 05/05/2002 2:27:58 PM PDT by arthurus
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To: arthurus
than
224 posted on 05/05/2002 2:29:36 PM PDT by arthurus
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To: history_matters
You know one thing That does not make sense about this Gay Scandal, is that why is this centered on just American Catholic priests, I mean isn't this a problem in Catholic Churches worldwide? Despite the differences I have with the doctrine of the Catholic Church, Why is this focused only on the American branch???
225 posted on 05/05/2002 2:33:35 PM PDT by ColdSteelTalon
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Comment #226 Removed by Moderator

To: history_matters
I see I'm a couple days late to this, but thanks for posting it; very interesting indeed.
227 posted on 05/05/2002 10:04:46 PM PDT by St.Chuck
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To: Bonaparte
re: please tell me the objective criteria that will be used to determine who ia a homosexual.

Why is this hard to understand? Someone who has sex with someone of the same gender is a homosexual. Why try to make the obvious into something complex?

Now having said that.... (and anticipating your response ) it's important to note that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. There is none righteous... not even one. Our throats are like open graves.

In short, every man and woman deserve hell and it's because of our sin and because we can't be good enough to earn our way to heaven. It is only because Jesus paid for our sin in FULL... by dying on the cross in our place. God wouldn't accept the death of another sinner... it had to be a perfect (sinless) lamb... and he supplied the lamb... just in the same manner that He did when Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac.

God had Jesus lifted up so that all who look upon him for salvation would be saved. Just like Moses did when the Israelites were bitten by snakes.

Jesus died so all men and women could be free from sin. The homosexual... the murderer (yes, Moses and David demonstrate that point). And Jesus pointed out that any of us who hates his brother is guilty in the same way.

So in a nutshell, this Holy God that we're talking about has revealed himself and he loves everyone (so much he gave us his one and only son). So He is a God of love yes... but also of holiness. And that salvation (grace) is available to all.

Christianity 'should' be known as the religion where the playing field has been levelled for all. And even more than that, we 'ought' to be known for our love for one another (not just those that have the same views).

If you have seen otherwise... then please don't let the missteps of others cause you to not see the truth (& grace that God has provided for all). Don't let those folks hurt you twice (once on earth and once for eternity).

228 posted on 05/08/2002 3:18:36 PM PDT by blue jeans
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To: blue jeans
Permit me to preface my (very) brief remarks by telling you how much I enjoy reading your posts. Sincerely meant.

That said, I think you may have mistakenly addressed your post to me (perhaps not). I have no problem at all with the concept of identifying homosexuals and excluding them from sensitive positions of stewardship within the Catholic or any other faith. They should be welcomed into the parish or congregation just as any other repentant sinner is, ie. fully confessing their absolute dependence on Lord Jesus for their personal salvation, fully confessing Who Jesus is, confessing the sin in all its enormity, repenting of that sin in their hearts and with the tongue, and asking Jesus for his forgiveness. Any homosexual who considers his sexual practices to be "just another lifestyle," brazenly persisting in it, certainly does not belong in any church that I would bother to attend. I would shun him.

229 posted on 05/08/2002 4:24:01 PM PDT by Bonaparte
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