Gays and Catholic Intolerance

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The Christian faith is one of epiphany and inclusion. Vatican-appointed inspectors will travel to Roman Catholic seminaries throughout the United States looking for “evidence of homosexuality” (“Instrumentum Laboris for the Apostolic Visitation”).

Scheduled to begin later this month, the “apostolic visitations” will include interviews with seminarians and recent graduates. Paranoia and intolerance are based on magisterium, not Biblical references. The costly witch hunt headed by Archbishop Edwin O’Brien extends “to those who have not been sexually active for a decade or more.” The Church must stay, he declared, “on the safe side,” anticipating a Vatican document that decides whether gays should be barred from the priesthood. Coincidentally, O’Brien heads the Archdiocese for Military Services.

The mission, not entirely clear, is either pastoral or exploratory. Is the identification of “same-sex-attraction seminarians” the main item on the agenda? How can one detect or evaluate matters sexual? How can one screen sexual orientation or “inclination” during the admission process (question B3.3)? Has the Church developed a new clinical method to be used in confidential interviews?

In a private institution, seminarians and professors hang certain constitutionally protected rights at the door. The inquiry seeks to reveal dissenting voices in the faculty (questions B1.1 and B2.7). A daunting challenge is posed when asking if “the seminary [is] free from the influences of New Age and eclectic spirituality.”

Another area of concern is the extent to which candidates “use the Internet, television, etc., with prudence and moderation (question B5.4). A legally problematic area is the monitoring of “seminarians’ behavior outside the seminary” (question B5.5). If one is to follow the American Church’s line of reasoning, heterosexual priests or candidates are exempt from carnal temptations unlike their “same-sex-attraction” counterparts. Catholics are left to wonder if “same-sex-attraction” is synonymous with incontinence and pedophilia. Does it rule out the possibility of celibacy? Is sexual orientation a matter of volition? Is there a category of Christians excluded from the fulfillment of a priestly vocation?

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