If you want evidence of where the gay movement is failing gay people, you only need look at this press release from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF). For once, I basically agree with the Task Force, but find their rhetoric way over the top and counterproductive. It offends those they should be trying to convince.
They fault Pope Benedict XVI for favoring an “‘Instruction’ that gay men should not be ordained as Roman Catholic priests.” That is, the church would “bar even celibate gay men from seminaries” Instead of calling the practice wrong, narrow-minded, unfair or discriminatory, all terms which I would use, NGTLF’s Executive Director Matt Foreman calls it “evil” and accuses the Church of “unbridled hatred” of gay people.
This over-the-top rhetoric obscures the merits of their case. I had to read the release twice before realizing that I basically agreed with the Task Force on this one. It does them no good to call the church evil — or to attack the Church as Foreman does. His screed will not succeed in convincing many people (who do not already have a negative opinion of the Catholic Church) of the extreme nature of this “instruction.”
I’m not Catholic, so perhaps this is none of my business, but it seems to me that most Catholics would be more sympathetic with the basic position of Matt Foreman than that of their Pope. After all, given Catholic teachings on sexuality, the Church should value a man who agrees to renounce his natural inclination to other men in order to serve God. And now apparently the Church seeks to bar from the priesthood a man merely because he is attracted to other men — even if he acknowledges that attraction and agrees never to act on it.
I have great admiration for many of the faithful Catholics I know, including several priests. I find appalling that their church would exclude a man from the priesthood merely because of feelings he cannot control. For, while he cannot control these feelings, he can control how he expresses them. And just like a straight man who enters the priesthood has elected to control his sexual feelings so too would a gay man.
It’s unfortunate that NGLTF could not oppose this “instruction” without recognizing the many merits of the Church. In the end, their release is more a temper tantrum than a responsible expression of disagreement. And will do little to change the minds of the people they should be trying to influence.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com
UPDATE: In taking issue with a New York Times piece on this topic, the Anchoress offers a thoughful view on the Church’s position, a perspective which, I dare say, many who read this blog, might not consider. I don’t think her position is all that far off from my own. A sample:
I DO support CELIBATE gay men being in the priesthood. To me, this is all about celibacy — about men keeping their vows. But I think until this scandal is rightly called what it is, rightly identified for what it is, no healing can come. Celibate gay priests who feel “victimized” by all of this should be making it clear to their NON-CELIBATE priest brothers just how much harm they have done, not pointing a finger and saying “unfair” to the Vatican.
Now read the whole thing.