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More Asteroids, Less Eggs

By Joe Murray

January 8, 2006


“Noise proves nothing,” wrote Mark Twain, “for often the hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she has laid an asteroid.” In a world full of chickens, one must wonder if Twain was a man with prophetic vision or a man with a core understanding of human nature. The latter, most likely, is the safer bet.

 

In a day where politics tramples over principles, faith is labeled fiction, and virtue has given way to vice, one wonders what repairs are being done to the cultural levies that stand on the brink of collapse? Good question.

 

The answer, however, is not optimistic. “Pro-family” groups run around the country flinging red meat to the faithful and warning of the “homosexual” advancements, all the while their coffers get bigger and the results fewer. On the other side of the aisle, pro-homosexual groups, frustrated by the sluggish march in achieving their goals, have done to the will of the people what Sherman did to Atlanta. When all the noise is gone, the public is left with a purposefully polarized debate and a number of hens with their eggs.

 

The most recent example of cultural egg-laying may be taking place in the seminaries of the Catholic Church. The issue, not surprisingly, concerns a set of new instructions concerning the ordination of potentially gay seminarians. It is important to note, however, that before one critiques a General’s strategy during battle, he must understand the war in which the General fights.

 

The Catholic Church has long been a lightening rod, for the Church is charged as the gatekeeper of the Truth. Truth is like a fine wine, for it is good in small doses, but if you drink too much, your eyes become bloodshot, your head is left pounding, and you have to come to grips with your behavior the night before. And the Catholic Church is known for serving the Truth by the carafe full.

 

In regards to homosexuality, the Church has pulled no punches. As written in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, homosexual acts are considered “intrinsically disordered” and “acts of grave depravity.” In other words, homosexual acts are sinful.

 

The Church’s position on homosexuality has not gone unnoticed. As punishment for violating the political orthodoxy of the day, the Church has been the focus of a social siege. Hollywood has replaced Father O’Maley with Father Pilkington; the “Rainbow Sash” movement has defiantly flaunted their homosexual acts in front of the Blessed Sacrament; and the media has converged on the Vatican like Grant on Vicksburg.

 

In this midst of this battle, the Church is struggling to address an issue that goes to the heartbeat of the Church’s mission—the priesthood Evidence is clear in that there is a crisis in the rectory. The average = age of a priest in the United States is over 55 and only one in eight is under 35. By 2015, the Church will have lost 16,000 priests in America, a net decline of 46%. 27% of the parishes in this country lack a resident priest and over 58,000 parishes worldwide are absent a priest.

 

With this crisis looming overhead, and the issue of celibacy still swirling, the Church has released its much awaited, and extremely controversial, instruction on “gay” seminarians to bring wayward seminaries back into the flock. Unfortunately, while the Church has been a steadfast General in the culture war, the release of these new instructions stands to be a strategic move that may become an ecclesiastical Bull Run.

 

In the new instructions the Church states:

 

In light of this teaching, this department, in agreement with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, holds its necessary clearly to affirm that the Church,while profoundly respecting the persons in question, may not admit to the seminary and Holy Orders those who practice homosexuality, show profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called gay culture.

 

For the most part, this declaration re-affirms a long held Catholic doctrine—those admitted to the priesthood must remain celibate. No shocker there.

 

As for the requirement that the seminarian not support gay culture, such a requirement is undeniably reasonable in light of the Church’s position on homosexuality. A priest holds a pivotal place in the Church and if that priest chooses to march in a gay pride parade or participate in local “Outfests,” that priest, whether intentionally or not, has undermined the authority of the Church, and, even worse, possibly confused some of his flock as to the gravity of homosexual conduct. The real issue, however, becomes the directive that all men with “deep-rooted homosexual tendencies” shall not be able to be ordained to the priesthood.

 

First, nowhere in the Church’s instructions are “deep-rooted homosexual tendencies” defined. One is left with the perception that, just like Justice Potter Stewart opined “I know it when I see it” when describing pornography, those spiritual leaders in the seminary will be required to know homosexual tendencies when they see them among the seminarians. Such vague proclamations can eventually lead to arbitrary enforcement and unjust results.

 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that homosexuality is a moral disorder, and “homosexual persons are called to chastity.” The Catechism also states that homosexuals “are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.” The question then becomes, if the Catechism holds that homosexuals are commanded to follow God’s will in their lives, and throw themselves at the foot of the Cross, what happens if God is calling a man with “deep-rooted homosexual tendencies” to be celibate and enter the priesthood? Usher in a Catch 22.

 

Under the current system a male with “deep-rooted homosexual tendencies” is instructed to do as follows :

 

It would be gravely dishonest if a candidate were to hide his own homosexuality to enter, notwithstanding everything, to Ordination. An attitude so inauthentic does not correspond to the spirit of the Truth, allegiance, and availability that must characterize the personality of he who believes to be called to serve Christ and His Church in the priestly ministry.

 

Thus, the Catch 22. While the Catechism calls homosexuals to follow God’s will, the new instructions hold that those with “deep-rooted homosexual tendencies” cannot be ordained to the priesthood. A man with “deep-rooted homosexual tendencies” is thus left with the decision to lie about his tendency, which is wrong, or be honest and be booted from seminary. Therefore, these new instructions have the ultimate effect of telling those with “deep-rooted homosexual tendencies” that there is no room at the inn.

 

Even more perplexing is the fact that other “grave” sexual behavior has not warranted such a scourge. The Catechism describes fornication as “the carnal union between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman.” It further states that such an act, “is gravely contrary to the dignity of persons….” Fornication is not alone, for the Catechism holds that pornography “is a grave offense.” Heterosexual oral sex would also fall under the umbrella of grave sin.

 

Thus we must ask what is the instructions on men who have “deep-rooted” tendencies towards fornication or men who have “deep-rooted” tendencies to view pornography? What about men who have “deep-rooted” tendencies towards heterosexual oral sex? Good questions.

 

These men, like the celibate man with “deep-rooted homosexual tendencies,” may have leanings towards the aforementioned activities, but, just like a man with “deep-rooted homosexual tendencies,” can resist acting upon them. Thus is the reason the Catechism calls for gay men to unite their struggles with the Cross. Because the Church did not address the other grave sexual acts when issuing these instructions it has left the impression that gays are the only target.

 

While the Church failed to adequately define “deep-rooted homosexual tendencies,” it did provide a glimpse of how homosexuals should be viewed. In the introduction to the document it is written:

 

The candidate for ordained ministry, therefore, must reach emotional maturity. That maturity renders him able to put himself in the proper relation with men and women, developing in him a true sense of spiritual fatherhood toward the ecclesial community entrusted to him.

 

Translation—not only does a gay man have troubles relating to other men and women, his homosexual tendencies now effectively prevents him from having any spiritual connection with his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. This statement is down right disturbing.

 

Make no mistake, the Holy Catholic Church is the true Church, the bride of Christ. It is the gatekeeper to the Truth, the protector of the Gospels. Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus. This, however, does not mean those of us who form the Body of Christ can rest on our laurels. While it is true that the forces of Hell will never prevail against the Church, and the gates protecting the Church’s teaching on the Gospel are divinely impenetrable, the stewardship of such holy protection cannot be taken for granted or the laity of the Church will suffer the consequence.

 

It is essential to understand that the situation before us today is not RuPaulian in nature; it is one calling for justice, compassion, and most of all, mercy. We have to avoid the temptation to politicize this issue, for we are not giving the green light for gays to overrun the walls of the Vatican, we are dealing with one issue only—a policy that effectively denies a place for a man who may have homosexual tendencies, but has chosen to remain celibate and adhere to the teaching of the Church. Such a policy is not only contradictory, it is scandalous. It is time for fewer eggs and more asteroids.

 

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Joe Murray (jrm@waidelaw.com) is a civil rights attorney practicing in Tupelo, Mississippi. Murray is a former Staff Attorney for the American Family Association and has also served as National Director of Correspondence for Patrick J. Buchanan’s 2000 Presidential bid. Murray has been a guest on numerous radio and television talk shows, including the O’Reilly Factor.

 

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