The Jesuit of the Future

Benedict sees homosexuality as incompatible with the priesthood, for two reasons, First, the Latin priesthood is celibate and celibacy does not have the same meaning for a homosexual and a heterosexual and second because the homosexual has a distorted view of the relationship of men and women.

Homosexuality is incompatible with the priestly vocation. Otherwise, celibacy would lose its meaning as a renunciation. It would be extremely dangerous if celibacy became a sort of pretext for bringing people into the priesthood who don’t want to get married anyway. For, in the end, their attitude toward man and woman is somehow distorted, off center and, in any case, is not within the direction of creation of which we have spoke. (p. 152)

I think Benedict is both overstating his case and underestimating the real situation.

As to the first: It seems to me that a homosexual can take a vow of celibacy, just as a poor person can take a vow of poverty. Obviously a rich person who renounces his possession does something different from a poor person who renounces possessions he does not have, but I do not see why a poor person cannot take a vow of poverty or a homosexual a vow of celibacy.

Some homosexuals may have a distorted view of male-female relationships (as do many heterosexuals), but I do not know if that is universal. If a homosexual has a sincere desire to be chaste and has a normal masculine personality, I do not see why he would not make a good priest. If homosexuals were in the priesthood in about the same proportion as the general population (2-3%) I doubt that there would be any problem.

Benedict is concerned about having the priesthood viewed as a gay profession.

The Congregation for Education issued a decision a few years ago to the effect that homosexual candidates cannot become priests because their sexual orientation estranges them from the proper sense of paternity, for the intrinsic nature of priestly being. The selection of candidates to the priesthood must therefore be very careful. The greatest attention is needed here in order to prevent the intrusion of this kind of ambiguity and to head off a situation where the celibacy of priests would practically end up being identified with the tendency to homosexuality. (pp. 152-153)

But Benedict is deceiving himself if he thinks that the Vatican’s directives to exclude homosexuals from the seminary are being observed. The Dominicans ordained a leading gay activist. In Quebec a male prostitute was ordained. The Jesuit novices of the Western province had a drag party and put it on the internet. Seminary rectors, such as Father Donald Cozzens, who are in the best position to know, say that half or more than half of seminarians are homosexual. A Los Angeles Times poll indicated that young priests are both more orthodox and more gay than the older generation – and the two groups overlap (the data are all in my book Sacrilege).

David Berger is a Thomist who moved in conservative Catholic circles and came out of the closet in March. He claimed, and I think with much truth, that the liturgically conservative Catholicism that Benedict is encouraging is especially attractive to gays (not only to gays, I hasten to add). The scandal of the ultra-conservative seminary of St. Polten in Austria is symptomatic.

If Benedict thinks that anyone is paying any attention to Vatican directives about not ordaining homosexuals, he is sadly mistaken. There is perhaps more discretion now – no more photos of novices in drag on the Internet, but the reality remains unchanged. The priesthood in many parts of Europe and America has become a heavily gay profession. The chief effect will be to encourage the heterosexual male tendency to stay away from involvement in the church, and especially to keep their sons away from contact with gay clergy.

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