Sunday, September 25, 2005
Catholic Church in the News...Again
I imagine that most folks who visit my blog know I am a recent Catholic convert. I love this faith, though I am not always in agreement over all of its doctrinal points and decisions. Well, the Catholic Church is once again in the news, this time for an alleged ban of homosexuals entering the priesthood.
Now, the Church distinguishes between homosexual orientation and homosexual ACTS. The church encourages people to be true to themselves; if one is homosexual, they should acknowledge this fact BUT live a chaste life, thus avoiding any "sinful homosexual acts." In this way the Church seeks to be welcoming to everyone, but staying true to its doctrine against homosexual ACTS. Whether this is successfully accomplished is a point of debate.
The point of contention with this new potential ban on homosexuals enetring the preisthood is that the ban would include ALL people with homosexual tendencies, including those that have made the choice to be celibate in accordance with Catholic Teachings. Since it IS current news, I thought I'd make a statement on this issue to those who would be curious to know my stance.
There's one important thing to keep in mind in reagrds to this issue:pPortions of the document in question has been LEAKED, and the actual statement of the church has not yet been published (and in fact, may not even be completed). So every report that is in the news is speculative. No one, save the authors, have read the final document. We will have to wait and see what the official document actually says. That being said, I will quote myself on this issue, from an email I sent earlier during an online discussion:
It seems to me that the underlying issue here is TRUST, or lack thereof as the case may be. If a heterosexual man is attracted to women and sex but realizes that a promiscous lifestyle is one of sin, he can make the decision to abstain. If in turn he feels called to join the priesthood, it is great step in his journey towards unity in Christ with both God and his Universal Church. As a priest, we trust him to lead us and have faith that he will do his best to live by his vows.
So let's imagine another man who has his own sexual urges, realizes that they may lead to a conflict with his faith's moral teaching, and makes the decision to live a celibate life. He feels the call and chooses to pursue the priesthood. In the grand scheme of things there is no difference between the two men, except that now the church may say that the first man is OK and trustworthy to be a priest, and says the second cannot pursue the priesthood because he may have felt attracted to another man. He cannot be trusted-which is to say he is INCAPABLE- of living up to his celibate vows.
We are ALL sinners, we ALL have our personal struggles, and priests are no different. Hopefully we are all striving to be holy and live a life befitting of a Christian. But to me, this new line of thinking reeks of a double standard. If a man happens to be gay but makes the decision to live celibately, I see absolutely no inherent difference from the man who is attracted to females and decides he should abstain from sex or marriage. Celibacy is not defined as "not having sex with a woman", nor is it defined as "not having sexual urges". It is defined as "Not having sex. Period." The object of the desire is a moot point in this case. If the person has made the decision of celibacy, he is one step closer in his personal spiritual journey, and we should NOT view him by who he WAS, but rather by who he CHOOSES TO BE. In essense, it's a act of forgiveness and trust that I hope extends to us all as sinners.
When I'm at Mass, when I'm struggling with a question of faith, when I'm seeking comfort- I don't go to the Church to speak to a straight man. I go to speak to my spiritual guide and someone I can trust to help me move closer to Christ. It makes no difference to me where he started his journey.