In John McNeill’s “Sex as God Intended”, the epilogue reflects on the “Vatican Instruction” barring openly gay men from seminary training. This reflection is clearly directed at gay men and lesbians, but in fact covers much more ground, with important observations on the very meaning and understanding of God’s revelation, and on the source of authority within the Church. As such, it is relevant to a wider audience as well, and just as the “Declaration” that I wrote about earlier in the week, it seems at least as relevant in the light of the current troubles over abuse, as when first published. These are some edited extracts from that chapter, with a light commentary to take you through it.
From the Epilogue to “Sex As God Intended”: Objective Disorder
Since his election as Pope Benedict XVI, the former Cardinal Ratzinger has carried the persecution of gays and lesbians to almost a hysterical level. I would like to reflect here on one action in particular: the implications of the Instruction forbidding the ordination of self-accepting gay men to the priesthood.
In that Instruction the Vatican has given a vicious collective slap in the face not only to gay priests and seminarians, but to every gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered person on earth. The Instruction, issued by Pope Benedict XVI, calls homosexual orientation an “objective disorder” and any sexual act that follows from that orientation is contrary to the divine will and profoundly sinful. Any effort by a gay person to reach out for human sexual love, no matter what the circumstances, it judges as evil. Scripture says that if anyone loves, they know God because God is love. The Vatican says that if gay people enter into a human sexual love relation, they know evil and will separate themselves from the love of God.
It is common knowledge that the primary yet unstated reason for the publication of this Instruction is the priest/child abuse scandal that has seriously and probably permanently damaged the Catholic Church’s moral authority. This document has little to do with God or even morality. This is a political document issued in self-defence by the human and sinful hierarchy of the institutional church. The hierarchy, rather than accept their responsibility, for this crisis, decided to scapegoat gay priests and seminarians
A more probable explanation for the abuse, according to the majority of psychologists is the high number of priests who were immature, insecure about their tendencies and full of doubt and guilt. Any homosexual who achieves a healthy self-acceptance and has a positive attitude towards his sexual orientation is precisely the one this Instruction excludes, whereas those gay men who are struggling with immaturity and self-rejection acceptable candidates for seminary. Rather than setting up a cure of the child abuse crisis, this Instruction guarantees that the crisis will continue. What is bad psychology is bad theology.
A consequence of this Instruction will be a further decline of the moral authority of the hierarchy.
Read the rest of this entry »