The National Catholic Review
Church Blessed

The editorial on Ordaining Gay Men (11/11) does not want to come to grips with the fact that the overwhelming number of priestly sexual abuse cases that have come to light have been committed by gays. It does no one any good to pretend there isn’t a problem here. This does not, however, mean that the church hasn’t been blessed by many priests who are gay. No doubt it has.

The editorial struggles to say that it would be ill-advised to ban gays from the priesthood. Of course it would be, and for one very good reason: no sooner would the ban go into effect when we would learn that a great gay priest, who is celibate, got past the radar. What then? The scandal that would erupt by bouncing this priest would be nothing compared to what we’ve been going through all year.

The answer, then, is to screen more carefully so that immature men are not allowed to become priests.

William A. Donohue,
President Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
New York, N.Y.

Badly Fractured

Kudos to America for a well-reasoned editorial against the proposal to ban gay men from the priesthood (11/11). Such a policy has no valid theological or scientific basis and is not consistent with the church’s view of ministry, priesthood or homosexuality.

Whether they have been public about their orientation or not, gay men and lesbian women have served the church faithfully for generations. They have served as priests, teachers, members of religious communities, bishops, cardinals, artists, scholars, musicians, contemplatives, missionaries, hospital staff, spiritual directors, liturgists, catechists and in every ministry imaginable. The draft document not only unjustly disparages gay priests and seminarians, but also dishonors the service that thousands of gay and lesbian Catholics continue to provide our church.

Moreover, if the ban is enacted, it will cause grave pastoral harm, with many peoplehomosexual as well as heterosexuallosing faith in church leadership and potentially leaving the Catholic fold. Such a policy will force gay priests and gay/lesbian church personnel to live in further secrecy, shame and fearcertainly not an opportune context for Christian ministry. It will alienate many lesbian/gay Catholics, their parents, family members and friendsall who know from personal experience the reality of holy and wholesome lesbian/gay lives. At a time when reconciliation and healing are needed, such a policy will only further harm and divide our church.

Let’s hope that our U.S. bishops will be as courageous as America and that they will exercise their collegial responsibility by warning that such a policy is not only unjust, but will potentially wreak disaster on a church already so badly fractured.

Francis DeBernardo
Executive Director, New Ways Ministry
Mt. Rainier, Md.

Wolf in the Hen House

The Jesuits continue to amaze me. Your Ordaining Gay Men (11/11) points out the fine contribution the celibate gay priests make to the life of the church. For those of us who oppose the ordination of homosexuals, you say the burden of proof for such a policy lies with us.

Today the proof is almost daily in newspapers and on television screens. Hundreds of men have come forward to say priests abused them while they were in their charge. Bishops have even been accused, and some have now admitted their guilt.

In the great majority of cases, we are talking about homosexual priests going after adolescent boys. The actual cases of pedophilia (abuse of a young child) are small. The problem is homosexual priests recruiting young boys and young men.

The reality is that homosexuality is a lot more than a different lifestyle. It is a mind-set that permeates thoughts and actions. No doubt there are some homosexuals who can live a celebate life. But I believe they are the exceptions and need to guard day and night against the desire to sin again. Yes, by the way, the Catholic Church still believes the practice of homosexuality is a sin. I wonder if the Jesuits agree?

The bottom line is, if you put the wolf in the hen house you are bound to have a lot of casualties.

W. E. LaMothe
Sanibel, Fla.

Comments

Mark Makowski | 12/4/2002 - 1:36pm
I appreciate the varied letters to the editors that manage to be published. The process on how one is selected seems to be akin to how one is admitted to Harvard. 2002 will be remembered by me for how the Catholic hierarchy became more insane. William Donohue's letter seemed to be compassionate towards admission of gay men to the celibate priesthood but his usage of "immature" seems to be a hidden bias against gay men. The few priests that have confided about their own maturity admit that there are many levels of their personal lives that have not developed since before entering the seminary. Francis DeBernardo appears to have locked in on the real issue concerning ordaining gay men. Unfortunately, W.E.LaMothe has some hysterical notion of gay men especially in the way they recruit young men. The gender of W.E. remains hidden but one can only assume that those who use only initials to sign their letters must belong to a secret society, possibly a Papist who should be rounded up and removed from the shores of America. I know that if I keep writing, I will enter the hierarchy-zone and kiss my intellect good-bye.

Mark Makowski | 12/4/2002 - 1:36pm
I appreciate the varied letters to the editors that manage to be published. The process on how one is selected seems to be akin to how one is admitted to Harvard. 2002 will be remembered by me for how the Catholic hierarchy became more insane. William Donohue's letter seemed to be compassionate towards admission of gay men to the celibate priesthood but his usage of "immature" seems to be a hidden bias against gay men. The few priests that have confided about their own maturity admit that there are many levels of their personal lives that have not developed since before entering the seminary. Francis DeBernardo appears to have locked in on the real issue concerning ordaining gay men. Unfortunately, W.E.LaMothe has some hysterical notion of gay men especially in the way they recruit young men. The gender of W.E. remains hidden but one can only assume that those who use only initials to sign their letters must belong to a secret society, possibly a Papist who should be rounded up and removed from the shores of America. I know that if I keep writing, I will enter the hierarchy-zone and kiss my intellect good-bye.

Alistair McKay, C.Ss.R. | 1/31/2007 - 9:29am
The proposal to ban homosexual men from the priesthood should be implemented (12/16).

No individual can claim to have a vocation to the priesthood without the people of God ratifying that call and a bishop “validating” the vocation by conferring the sacrament of holy orders. Thus, the recent “ordinations” to the priesthood of several women were not recognized by the church. Down through the years the church has always had restrictions on who can be ordained priests. There have been physical, mental and spiritual demands made that have resulted in certain men being barred from ordination, even though they felt they had a priestly calling from God. A recent example is men being refused ordination because of their allergy to wheat gluten.

It is wrong to ordain homosexual men to the priesthood. Their very lives are witness to selfishness and sterility, even those who are celibate and chaste. Christ, the very giver of life itself, can never be found in a homosexual act. It is an impossibility. How can homosexual priests proclaim the holiness of married and family life when their whole being is centered on sterile attraction to others of the same sex?

Francis DeBernardo’s letter, “Badly Fractured” (12/9), has got it completely wrong. The banning of homosexuals from the priesthood will cause great pastoral good, and help to restore faith in a Vatican and U.S. hierarchy that have lost their moral leadership in recent decades.

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