Keeping Homosexuals From the Priesthood Not the Answer
According to various news sources, the Vatican is preparing a document that would bar homosexual men from entering seminaries as a response to sexual-abuse incidents. However, the word ‘homosexual’ is not clearly defined. The document has been outlined since 2001, but there is no evidence of the document, nor is it fully known if this document will be proclamated by the Vatican; still, it has many individuals stirred up.
The sexual-abuse scandals in the United States have had many individuals and the Roman Catholic Church infuriated, saddened and embarrassed. Many conservative Catholics blame homosexual priests for the scandal and feel that the church should ‘stay on the safe side’ by restricting homosexual candidates for priesthood.
To start off, I am a Catholic. Knowing that fact, you may have already formed preconceptions of me. However, I hope you will delve into what I have to say, as unsophisticated as my opinions may be.
The background to the scandal is that there have been accusations of priests sexually abusing adolescents. These accusations came from the parents or guardians of the victims, and were then presented to the bishops within their diocese. Rather than removing the accused priests from their priesthood, the bishops relocated them to different parishes and notified no one of the accusations. As a result, more young children were placed at risk.
In my opinion, the issue that should be addressed is not that of homosexual men being barred from priesthood, but rather why these bishops relocated priests when they were aware of the accusations. Bishops are looked upon highly by Catholics and Catholic priests; for bishops to disregard a sexual abuse accusation is unheard of.
What is more saddening is that there are cases where the same bishop was notified about the same priest sexually abusing another adolescent; the bishop simply relocated the priest a second time. The issue, thus, should be to reevaluate the bishops who were aware of the accusations and did little about them.
The reasoning as to why homosexual priests are targeted is based on a study commissioned by U.S. bishops that found the majority of sexual abuse victims since 1950 were adolescent boys. In addition, many individuals feel that homosexual priests are not adept for the celibate life of priesthood.
To be truthful, I cannot fully understand this argument. If we are referring to physical appearance, I would feel that a homosexual priest should not wear makeup or female attire as it may offend many individuals. However, if we are speaking strictly about sexuality, how is a heterosexual male more suited for priesthood than a homosexual male? Isn’t a heterosexual male just as attracted to a female as a homosexual male is to a male? The livelihood of a priest is to dedicate his life to God, to live a celibate life finding purpose only in God. Therefore, if a homosexual male is willing and capable of leading a celibate life, why deny him his devotion and love for God?
Moreover, what does it mean to be homosexual or heterosexual? While many individuals can definitively state their sexual orientation, the spectrum as to what an individual is may be blurred. Because this spectrum of sexuality is blurred, who are we to deny the celibate life to these potential priests? If a homosexual priest is leading a virtuous, chaste life and not living or promoting a ‘gay lifestyle,’ I think all should be fine and even God may smile upon him.