Wednesday, November 23, 2005

If You're Lonely You Can Talk to Me


The Catholic Church has released new guidelines regarding gay priests/seminarians. They state, in part:
"The church, even while deeply respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to seminary or Holy Orders those who are actively homosexual, have deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called gay culture," it says in one key passage. "Such people, in fact, find themselves in a situation that seriously obstructs them from properly relating to men and women."
Well, except for the gay men and women to whom they'd minister, that is. Let's take the logic to its natural extension. Gay men, by virtue of their homosexuality, can't relate to members of straight culture. Well, since "proper" priests are unmarried and celibate men, doesn't that mean that they'd be constitutionally incapable of relating to women, married people, and anybody who has sex?

One portion of the new rules has created some controversy:
It says that spiritual directors and confessors in seminaries "have the duty to dissuade" any candidates "who show deep-seated homosexual tendencies" from joining the priesthood.

These priests said this would turn the confessional and spiritual counseling sessions, which seminarians previously regarded as private and supportive meetings, into a tool for weeding gay men out of seminaries.
It seems to me that such a policy would only encourage the keeping of secrets from confessors/advisors, thereby subverting the value of the process. Dishonesty and dissembling do not promote the open examination of the soul. Furthermore, it encourages the culture of odd sexual insecurity and privacy which has resulted (to my mind) in things like pedophile priests.

I know that religion's supposed to be about eternal truths and whatnot, but come on. Even if you're uncomfortable with homosexuality, we all know now that it's not like gay people are just wanton sinners, but honest people with honest desires. Where is the christian sympathy?

I was raised catholic, and part of what turned me off was the disconnect between the gospel and the actions of the church. Jesus' message of unconditional love and support for others resonated deeply with me, and it still does (even tho I'm a godless heathen). Exclusionary practices like these are inconsistent with Jesus' message, which said that all people are god's children and are all deserving of sympathy and love.

When you institutionalize anything, even good things like the message "love others like you love yourself," what becomes important is not the core message but the institution itself. Historically, this has meant torturing and killing people who've opposed the church. Today, it is the church's shocking tacit approval of child abuse and it's utter unwillingness to engage society on any issue other than abortion. This new decision is another slap in Jesus' face. Instead of being zealous advocates for the disadvantaged, the church wants to witch hunt the gays. And the logic behind the move contradicts itself.

The church seems to acknowledge that you have to walk a mile in another man's moccasins in order to minister to their soul, and then turns around and rejects openness, honesty, and sympathy. What would Jesus think?

And if that issue doesn't engage you, then what about this: What totally awesome song does this post's title come from? And just how awesome is that song?


scarlet panda said...

The Catholic church is completely, 100% wrong in banning gay men from the priesthood. There should be no difference between a celibate straight man and a celibate gay man. For that matter, the church is pretty much always wrong whenever they say anything about sex or sexuality. I am saddened and sickened by this backward step.

That said, I don't think the Catholic Church lacks "Christian sympathy" for gay people. The Church's official position toward gay people in general could best be characterized as "sympathy." Its position is that gay people are God's children, that they are honest people with honest desires, that their orientation is not their fault, and that they should be respected. The church urges gay people to be celibate not because gay sex is a particlularly horrific sin, but because the church opposes all sexual activity outside of marriage. Gay people, celibate or not, are encouraged to remain a part of the church.

In my mind, the Catholic Church's position on homosexuality is wrong not because it conflicts with the message of Jesus (I don't think it really does), but because full equality for gay people is (a) not inconsistent with the message of Jesus, and (b) obviously correct in terms of basic humanity and modern scientific understanding of sexual orientation.

Also, I would take issue with your statement that the Church is utterly unwilling to engage society on any issue other than abortion. That is its most controversial position, so of course it gets the most attention. But the Church spends much more money, and individual Catholics spend much more time, on the massive network of Catholic charities serving the poor and elderly--food banks, disaster relief services, services for the homeless, services for immigrants, and other assorted charities. Nothing could be more consistent with the message of Jesus.

Fishfrog said...

Is the song, "Since You've Been Gone," by Kelly Clarkson?