I wrote about the problem in the Catholic Church and the sexual abuse of children and young people by priests in the Church. There is a debate whether this problem is mainly one of homosexuality among the priests. As I noted before over 80% of the victims of priests were young boys. To some that suggests a homosexual priest is more likely to commit a sexual offense against young children than a straight priest; to others it suggests that a priest whether homosexual or not, when under certain pressures, will assault a readily available victim and that usually is a boy.
The sexual assaults which are mainly upon young men have brought shame upon the Church. What if anything can be done about it? Some suggest the problem is that of the homosexual priest. If that is so is the solution then to ban all homosexual men from the priesthood and remove those who are?
Is it that simple? The initial problem with taking any action against homosexual priests is not what at first blush it seems to be. It would not be identifying such men who do not want to disclose their sexuality. It is more fundamental. It is to discover how would such an act fit within the teachings of the Church.
The Church’s Catechism states that “homosexual acts” are “intrinsically immoral and contrary to the natural law.” That definition is found under the section “II The Vocation to Chastity” which are numbered 2337 to 2359. It further states “homosexual tendencies” as “objectively disordered.”
The Catholic Church does not consider “homosexual orientation” sinful in and of itself, it does have a very negative attitude toward it. In 1986 it was stated: “Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.”
The Catechism further states that “Homosexual persons are called to chastity.” It explains what chastity is and sets forth offenses against it which is pretty much all sexual acts outside of married life noting that “all the baptized are called to chastity.” Reading the section on chastity I’d suggest that very few have not offended against the teachings. The Church recognizes the harshness of its doctrine. To counterbalance that it recognizes in the Hail Mary that we are all “sinners” and has provided a mechanism for us to have our sins forgiven, even those against chastity.
It does though make special note about homosexuals saying, “Such persons must be accepted with respect and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” Barring young men who are gay from the priesthood would run afoul of such language. The Church would it have to change its teaching in regards to homosexuals if it barred such men from the priesthood.
How could it do that when it recognizes in its Catechism: “The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition.” If they have no choice then doesn’t the Church have to accept that their condition is part of God’s plan? If that is so then they must be afforded the rights and privileges of all members of the Church.
Perhaps then the solution to the Church’s dilemma is quite simple. It should do a better screening of those who want to become priests; and, it should have a no tolerance, or better put, a no cover-up policy. The Church should not again fall into the mistake made by Cardinal Law and others in the hierarchy who participated in hiding the sexual attacks on children to save the Church embarrassment. It should let in God’s sunlight which as we are told is the best disinfectant.
In doing this it should not hide that some, or many, priests are homosexual. The Church can, must and will cure itself to better its goal on earth when it makes clear that all are welcome as equals into its fold. It should be clear that all men who feel a vocation, straight or gay, may be admitted to the priesthood. It might even open the door to the priesthood to very talented distaff side and not deprive itself of their wisdom. They also had no choice.