Do you remember?

It seems that there is more news of the Vatican preparing a statement that would forbid the admission of candidates with Same Sex Attraction to formation for the preisthood.

Now I caused quite a controversy when I took this position shortly after the scandals a year ago. It came from readers of my blog as well as seminarians and faculty members at the seminary I was attending.

I am happy to see this looks like it is going to happen. Not because I am cruel and I hate men suffering from SSA. Rather, because long term I think it is certainly good for the Church and more importantly good for the individual suffering from SSA.

There are plenty of theological arguments for why a man with SSA should not be ordained. There are plenty of practical reasons as well. I would like to offer you a pastoral one.

First we must start with the premise that SSA is an objectively disordered psychological condition. This is the teaching of the Church and found in the Catechism. If you don’t accept this then the rest of the argument will not be worth your time. Also if you don’t accept it please don’t use my comments box for vitrolic comments about it. You don’t accept it. Fine but you shouldn’t argue against Catholic Pastoral practices because your position isn’t Catholic and thus irrelevant to an argument about Catholic Pastoral practices.

Now if you do accept it, here is my point: It we are called to have life and have it to the full (Jn 10:10) then you shouldn’t be satisfied with living in with an objectively disordered condition if there is hope of remedying it. There is hope and we have seen evidence for it.

If we tell a man it okay for him to live with SSA as long as he doesn’t act out on it then we don’t encourage him there is hope to live without SSA. He might not even be aware of the possibility.

I think it is a rather selfish argument to tell someone it is okay for you to live with a disorder as long as it doesn’t affect other people. I think that charity requires us to do everything we can to help the person remedy their condition.

In otherwords I think the Church should apply its resources: Human (lay professionals in the psychological sciencs), monetary, and intellectual to help find a way to effectively help people free themselves from this condition.

I would love to see the Catholic Medical Assocation or the Catholic Institute for Psychological sciences encourage research into methods for therapeutically helping people achieve freedom from this disorder.

True pastoral action isn’t telling the person it is okay for them to live with a disordered condition. True pastoral action is helping people to recover from these conditions so they may life a life of true freedom.

I would encourage and call for us to begin active and aggressive research into ways to help people be free from SSA. I think it is possible since its genesis is psychological. With God’s grace and our using the intellectual capacities he gave us, I think we can do a lot more work in this area than we have done.

Be chaste but still suffer from the disorder is not a true pastoral response.


3 Responses to “Do you remember?”

  1. Charles A. Says:


    Is it true that there is more news of the Vatican preparing such a statement?

    Your link is to an October 2002 story. Like you, I would like to believe that such a statement is forthcoming….

    But another commenter states:
    “Actually, the Vatican has rescinded the draft of this document. It’s not going to happen.”

    (‘Actually’ that reminds me of McBrien’s recent retort about celibacy – “It’s toast.”)

    It seems that a lot keys off J. Allen’s NCR ‘report from Rome’ which reported that a lobbying group effective scothched the document (or intimidated the Vactican from issuing it…)

    What are the facts?

  2. Father Todd Reitmeyer Says:

    Francis should reread the post. No where did I argue a man with SSA couldn’t be holy.

    I think he also missed the clause about if you don’t accept this tenent.

    Judgemental? Who did the name calling e.g. arrogant.

    Men with SSA are psychologically unhealthy, that is they have a disorder with a psycholgical genesis, and it isn’t acceptable to tell them to live with it as long as they don’t act out.

    We need to help them.

  3. Todd Says:

    Peace, all.

    Fr Todd is on the trail when he implies the Church hasn’t dealt well with gays and hardly has a clue as to what to do. The hothead approach would be to assume that pedophiles and ephebophiles are all gays by definition of their conduct with same-sex children, but that’s a hard case to make in a thoughtful mind. My guess is that cooler heads are prevailing in the curia.

    Sex with children and teens is always about power. Certain characteristics of sexual contact with teens or children are not found in sex with adults. That would suggest the primary pathology here is one of manipulation and control, not unlike sadism and the more cruel forms of sex between adults.

    The Church really does need to do more than say, “You’re gay; too bad; just don’t have any sex, ok?” Living a life of celibacy and chastity is a gift, so we’re told. That gift operates very well when it is supported by an institution such as marriage, religious life, or community life. Sad to say, I think ecclesiastical credibility on matters of sex are very near zero at the moment. Even if the institution had any good ideas, it’s doubtful many people would pay attention. Then when loose cannons start talking about rooting gays out of the priesthood, you’ve pretty much seen the white flag go up. Loyal gay Catholics think they’re being sold out, especially the clergy. Gays outside the Church point and click that the whole lot of us are homophobic and nobody should waste their time even being Catholic. People in between don’t know what to think: traditionalists like anythiong with an easy answer that can boil down to one paragraph (no footnotes) in the catechism, and progressives discount the Magisterium as hidebound and arrogant.

    I think we’re on our own on this one.

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