Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Sneak-Peek at Controversial Vatican Document

The 'Tablet' and N.O.R. have released an unofficial English-version copy of the controversial Vatican document affirming the current ban on homosexuals in the priesthood...
{read the document here}

If this English-version document is an accurate representation of the authentic Latin one, which has not yet been released, I have no problem with it. I would have preferred a little stronger language, with perhaps a more clearly defined goal in the opening text, but it will do.

Essentially the document says if you’re gay, don’t apply for holy orders. It also outlines the means through which the Church is expected to “verify” a seminarian’s sexuality and honesty. If the document is implemented as it is written, then I think it’s safe to say that it would be virtually impossible for a gay man to make it to ordination without winning an academy award for best acting. Even if he manages to do that, the document leaves the seminarian with the long term guilt of having achieved ordination through dishonest means, which is inconsistent with the office he desires to hold. In other words; if you’re gay, you can’t be a priest unless you lie, but if you lie, you’re not worthy of being a priest. I would say this would be sufficient discouragement for most homosexual men seeking ordination, especially when it’s far too easy for them to get what they want in the Episcopal Church. If they want it that bad, it would be a lot easier to go Anglican -- and I predict many of them will do just that.

As for the “transitory homosexuality” thing, it appears that the document is just covering all the bases. It’s a way of saying a candidate was once gay, but isn’t anymore. There are a small number of people who fit this description. For example; some young men were victimized by older homosexual men during their teen years. Sometimes these men explore the “gay life” for a while, only to discover that it’s terribly wrong and they want out. The Scriptures give account of these people: “Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” - 1st Corinthians 6:9-11

It is possible to be involved in some abhorrent sin (even homosexuality) and repent. Such previous involvement may leave the psyche scarred with occasional homosexual thoughts, but it does not mean the person scarred wants to go back to that kind of sin. The message I’m getting from the document is that men who have a history of homosexual behavior, but have since repented, will be watched very closely. They will have to submit some form of proof that they’ve been free of this behavior for at least three years before they can even be admitted to the diaconate. Having provided such proof will only alert seminary directors to their previous problem, which will only increase their scrutiny of the seminarian. This is hardly a “back door” or a “loophole.” The message here is that if you’ve had any kind of a homosexual past, you must prove that you’re free of it, and we (the Church) will be watching you.