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Pope Benedict XVI & NGLTF — an appalling policy, an offensive release

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.

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17 Comments

  1. Dan-

    I suspect most (or at least many) American Catholics would agree with you. But Catholicism is an enormous international church (1.1 billion people worldwide, perhaps 60 million in America).

    The U.S. Episcopal Church rediscovered this issue recently, when they/we ordained an openly gay bishop. Other branches of the church, especially in Africa, went ballistic. There still may be a schism over this at some point in the future, over sacred (but non-marital) rites for same-sex couples.

    For a less strident response to the “instruction,” see Dignity, the Catholic version of PFLAG. Their release may still sound a bit anti-Vatican (like NGLTF they see this as an attempt to deflect responsibility for the child abuse scandals) but the language is far more temperate and I suspect it will find more ears among American Catholics than NGLTF’s will.

    Comment by Clint — September 23, 2005 @ 3:42 am - September 23, 2005

  2. Over-the-top hyperbole shakes more money from left-liberal donors than temperate argument. You don’t really believe these groups want to make progress, do you? If they really achieved their goals, donations would dry up and they’d have to get real jobs.

    Comment by V the K — September 23, 2005 @ 8:42 am - September 23, 2005

  3. V&K…good thing that right wing groups don’t do that…not

    Comment by Mr. Moderate — September 23, 2005 @ 9:12 am - September 23, 2005

  4. Comment #3 Demonstrates The Truth of This Thread Yet Again

    Comment by V the K — September 23, 2005 @ 9:56 am - September 23, 2005

  5. Temper tantrums and hissy fits have been the MO for gay rights groups for years now. And if I do say so myself, it’s been working like a charm!!!

    (Note sarcasm….)

    Comment by Chad — September 23, 2005 @ 11:11 am - September 23, 2005

  6. Considering that I grew up gay hearing that I was “intrinsically evil”, I have to say that calling the Pope evil is all to easy a thing to say.

    But in this case I think what he is doing truly is evil.

    He is putting forward the idea that a certain group of people are so inherently immoral in and of themselves, regardless of their actions or even whether or not they repent of their sin, that the power of Christ cannot redeem them.

    Even those that think homosexuality is a sin believe that any sin can be cleansed by Christ. That is the central message of the Gospel. How many convicted criminals have gone on to become Priests and Ministers?

    What Benedict is saying is a complete betrayal of Christ. He is saying that the sacrifice of Christ on the cross was pointless for gay and lesbian people. We are destined for damnation by our very existence.

    Benedict should be stripped of his robes and sent back to acolyte status scrubbing floors in the rectory. He’s either forgotten or turned his back on Christ’s fundamental, essential, lessons. He is no longer worthy of the title of “Priest”, much less Pope.

    Comment by Patrick (Gryph) — September 23, 2005 @ 12:58 pm - September 23, 2005

  7. Calling an organization that promoted Cardinal Law evil is an understatement! (even though we all know it was Liberal Boston’s fault)

    The priest that I dated (don’t worry I was in my 20’s) said that seminary school was like a Roman orgy, so I wish them luck on their “cleansing”

    Comment by Altar Boy in Chastity Belt — September 23, 2005 @ 2:26 pm - September 23, 2005

  8. Gryph, I might agree with you on the “evil” nature of this policy if it did not just apply to priests, i.e., if they excommunicated people just for gay thoughts.

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — September 23, 2005 @ 5:19 pm - September 23, 2005

  9. The Catholic Church is already having an exodus of Priests. This is only going to exacerbate the problem.
    I’m sure some have, but I don’t think the majority of gay men that join the priesthood did it for the pedophilia benefits!
    Most I think went in trying to “cure” themselves of the evilness called homosexuality!

    Internationally I’m sure this will help the church, in America I think it will HURT the church. And we all know that we in the US are the ones with the money. It will be interesting to see how this shakes out.

    Comment by MarkP — September 23, 2005 @ 6:20 pm - September 23, 2005

  10. NGLTF is over the top. Worse, it just criticizes rather than explaining why the church is wrong. And when you say

    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.

    You are exactly right. And for Catholics, a gay attraction/inclination is not the problem anyway. And that is why this is so noxious. It is unchristian and a betrayal of the church’s own teaching. And allowing current gay priests to remain in the priesthood is only an example of the inherent stupidity of the policy.

    Yet, I also agree with Patrick. The Vatican issues a fairly steady stream of hatred. There is no reason why we should be politically correct simply because we are gay. We don’t need to shy away from calling a spade a spade. And some things that come from the Catholic church, primarily from the Vatican, but also from Cardinals, etc… are sleeze.

    I am not a caricature because I am gay, as JP2 said.

    And although the Catholic dictionary said otherwise, I do have a social value.

    And the vatican doesn’t know any gay adoptive parents, otherwise it wouldn’t have said that these adoptions “[do] violence to children.”

    And the Catholic dictionary is dead wrong when it said suffer from an “unresolved psychological conflict.”

    And the Vatican controlled paper/ propaganda organ said gay marriage was a “legalization of evil” among other things.

    The Catholic church can be and is full of BS and hatred. Although NGLTF should moderate its rhetoric (afterall, there is no reason to sink to their level) there is no reason to treat the Catholic heirarchy with a respect it doesn’t deserve.

    Comment by born again queer — September 23, 2005 @ 6:42 pm - September 23, 2005

  11. This document hasn’t even been released yet. No one actually has any idea what Benedict is going to say. Lots of jumping the gun here, but I think calling the church “evil” misses the point. The church was actually tolerant enough, all these years to ordain gay priests. The gay priests have rather betrayed that trust. Doesn’t anyone want to look at that?

    Comment by jack-jack — September 24, 2005 @ 3:52 am - September 24, 2005

  12. Gryph, I might agree with you on the “evil” nature of this policy if it did not just apply to priests, i.e., if they excommunicated people just for gay thoughts.

    GPW,

    The reason I believe it to be evil isn’t because it’s an anti-gay policy. It’s because its an anti-Christian one. It’s not about rights, it’s about redemption. But do note that they are saying even a gay priest that has been celibate for over 10 years or more would not be eligble for the priesthood.

    Gay people are now unsalvagable in the eyes of the Church. Because of who they are, not what they do.

    The message of Christ was that there is no one who cannot enter God’s grace. Benedict’s policies, if enacted, are an abomination against Christianity.

    Comment by Patrick (Gryph) — September 24, 2005 @ 3:57 am - September 24, 2005

  13. Jack-Jack-

    Follow the link I posted in comment #1 to the response from Dignity.

    From there, you can get the .pdf of the document. It has been released, and is being circulated to Catholic seminaries. (The relevant portion is on pages 6 and 7.)

    Comment by Clint — September 25, 2005 @ 12:39 am - September 25, 2005

  14. The above comments confuse two distinct documents. Only one has been released, although the NY Times has seen fit to sensationalize both through gratuitous, hyperbolic and anonymous quotes.

    The document linked above concerns the review of seminaries. It covers a broad range of subjects bearing on priestly formation. Readers can judge for themselves whether it is “obsessed about homosexuality” or constitutes a “witch hunt”.

    The other document, the “instruction” to which Mr. GayPatriotWest and NGTLF refer, has not been released and as far as anyone knows has not been approved by the Pope (as even the NGTLF press release acknowledges). In other words, nobody who has commented on this document publicly has read it, much less thought about it. Why would any responsible, credible organization let fly with such a virulent denunciation based on hearsay?

    Of course, the NY Times could have waited to read the document, too. Instead it chose to spread heat, not light. You have to wonder about its editors’ motivation.

    Comment by j.a.m. — September 25, 2005 @ 12:01 pm - September 25, 2005

  15. I didn’t read all the prior comments, so this may be redundant. As well as poorly typed, composed, and spelled. I’m flawed – deal with it.

    Pedarasts are evil people who should be imprisoned – and are more common in the American school system than in any American church.

    OT – A friend of mine saw a court arraigment once, and when the charges against a pedarast pleading guilty who raped a minor were listed, the other guy in the box got exceedingly upset. It took several Marshalls to save the accused so he could live long enough for trial.

    An important difference between chastity and celibacy is that chastity means not having sex; celibacy is not getting married. Catholic Priests (non-Anglican) don’t get married – they are celibate – and so shouldn’t have sex, and thus they should be chaste. Outside of marriage, sex without marriage – a life-long promise – is a sin.

    This distinction between sex-for-fun and sex-for-love is being lost.

    To say to a seminarian “If you want to be a Priest, and you’re willing to stay single, and never have sex with anyone, you’re in; unless we don’t agree with whom you find cute” verges on ‘stuck on stupid.’

    I’ve sinned many, many times – and not just with my overuse of dashes and semicolans. Intimacy without commitment damages the soul.

    The Catholic position is the same with gay people – no sex without marriage. Catch 22 – no one can marry a person of the same sex. So they are celibate, and so they shouldn’t have sex, and thus they should be are chaste for their whole life.

    It seems rather harsh to me. Life without sex.

    If I remember correctly, this was the position of John Paul II in his ‘Pastoral Letter on the Care of Homesexual Persons’ back in ~1986. Policy hasn’t changed, just being reiterated.

    The glory of blogs – it’s been 19 years since I read serious commentary about this issue, and I can still blather.

    From what I remember of my history readings, the Catholic Church went for celibate Priests because almost any man with a family would care for his family before his parish, and covering the cost of several single Priests was cheaper than covering the cost of 1 Priest with several kids.

    I could be wrong, and probably am. In fact, this has taken me so long to write, that I’m not sure I’m still on-topic. If you agree with what I’ve said, it’s all true; if you disagree, go search the data, and if you’ve read this far, I’m surprised.

    Comment by David D — September 25, 2005 @ 7:51 pm - September 25, 2005

  16. David–Interesting comment with some good thoughts, most of which I agree with.

    I had heard that the Catholic Church introduced celibacy so that priests could not pass church property onto their heirs, that what they had would belong to the church or some such.

    And you’re right when you write, “This distinction between sex-for-fun and sex-for-love is being lost.” We need to discuss this more.

    If I were less tired, I might offer some thoughts.

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — September 26, 2005 @ 3:22 am - September 26, 2005

  17. You people are addicted to the Fixed Sexual Orientation Syndrome — that is why you refuse to admit change is possible wih Jesus Christ! (2Cor 5:17)

    It is. I know!!

    Comment by Otis Page — September 27, 2005 @ 12:10 am - September 27, 2005

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