Thursday, September 22, 2005

purging gay Catholic seminarians

Here’s something that has been going around in the media and in blogosphere which just recently caught my eye. In the hurly-burly of activities in the parish, and with all the news about the impending landfall of Hurricane Rita, this one news item almost slipped my attention: the future release of a document from Rome concerning homosexual candidates to the priesthood.

In a related news item, I learned that at the apostolic visitations of the various seminaries and houses of formation in the US, one of the questions that will be asked of faculty and students is, “Is there any evidence of homosexuality in the seminary?” I find that question problematic.

Throughout my years in seminary I have been oblivious to stuff like that. I mean, with all the things we already have to do as students (our theological studies, our responsibilities in the parish, responsibilities in the formation community, our family life, friends, part-time work), who has the time to be looking for evidence of gay-related activities?

And what would such evidence be anyway--short of catching the “miscreants” in flagrante delicto? Come on now.

And if you ask me, I think the two questions that should really be emphasized are these:

"Do the seminarians know how to use alcohol, the Internet, television, etc., with prudence and moderation?"

"Do the seminarians show an aptitude for and dedication to intellectual work?"

I mean, there is more evidence that addresses those two issues, in my book.

Anyway, one of the comments I have heard is that if the push goes through to bar homosexual candidates from the priesthood, candidates with same-sex attraction would be more inclined to lie about their orientation.

This could mean that transparency would be lost, which is integral in priestly formation. And there could very well be a return to the stifling and unhealthy atmosphere of denial that pervaded houses of formation prior to Vatican II–-an atmosphere that was responsible in the first place for the formation of those priests who subsequently committed crimes against children. Do we really want that?

Of course one understands the seriousness of the situation that has prompted the raising of such question at the visitations and the publication of such a document. But shouldn’t we be moving towards more open discussions of sexual issues in our seminaries, including homosexuality?

I know these comments are not to the point of whether or not homosexual men should be ordained. But that's for a different post.

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