Vatican embraces Freud: Anything for a gay-free priesthood!

…A major component of the new document, reported today by CNS, is to screen out men who, as Rome put it before, “are active homosexuals or who have “deep-seated” homosexual tendencies.” The document says psychological testing was appropriate in “exceptional cases that present particular difficulties” in seminary admission and formation, and “whenever there is a suspicion that psychic disturbances may be present.” According to CNS, “Such problems may include “excessive affective dependency,” disproportionate aggression, incapacity to be faithful to obligations, incapacity for openness and trust, inability to cooperate with authority and confused sexual identity…”
It also cites as red flags “excessive rigidity of character and lack of freedom in relations.”
This won’t be welcome news for ideologues–nor, sadly, for gay men either considering the priesthood or already ordained. Alas, that’s nothing new. The Vatican did indicate this document (13 years in the making!) was a response to the sexual abuse crisis, which could be fodder for unfortunate conclusions about homosexuals:


A psychologist who helped prepare the document, Father Carlo Bresciani, alluded to the priestly sex abuse crisis when he told a Vatican press conference that such precautions were prudent and necessary. “One cannot forget that unsuitable people with inconsistencies in their sexual-affective and relational life provoke negative repercussions on the church and on the faithful,” he said.

But will this change much? Do seminarians in the U.S. go through psychological testing now as a matter of course? And won’t bishops and religious orders keep the safety net’s holes as large or small as they like?
I think some form of psychological testing should be a part of formation, obviously. But it has to be done wisely. Vatican officials clearly want to keep psychological testing at arm’s length, in part lest it interfere with a true vocation, I imagine.

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Meredith Gould

posted October 31, 2008 at 1:47 pm

Had they consulted with me, I would’ve added “misogyny” and “gynephobia” to the list. Maybe my answering machine was off the day the Vatican called?

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posted October 31, 2008 at 4:00 pm

Does anyone think that the Vatican may also be afraid to lose anyone? I mean, with recruitment continuing to go down, how will this affect the church’s ability to find new people?

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posted October 31, 2008 at 8:33 pm

I believe the Church is more concerned with those who are members following the precepts taught by the magesterium than they are losing or replacing members. It probably would be better off over the long hall if membership plummeted given that those who remained would be obedient to church teaching. Then there would be no question what it means to be Catholic and the Body of Christ would be more distinguishable from the outside secular world. So many protestants are reluctant to join simply because the average Catholic looks, thinks, and acts like secular America does.

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posted November 1, 2008 at 8:36 pm

If indeed the church would decide that priests could marry, they might find it easier to get priests. Living life without a sexual component is not what “MAN” usually considers “normal”, but the RCC expects men who become priests to give up a normal component of life. Is this based on the fact the JC was supposed to have not been married? Or they think he was celibate? Given that he was supposed to be a “normal” Jewish male, I expect he was “getting some” at one point or another. His story tellers just left that part out. OR he was gay and they didn’t want to advertise that. He did have 12 guys around, but also Mary M.
As for those gay men with “deep seated” desires…well, they certainly can’t be considered for the priesthood. They are so different from heterosexual men with “deep seated” desires for women. Neither is supposed to “act” on those “deep seated” desires if they marry the church or whateve they do at ordination.

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Your Name

posted November 2, 2008 at 7:48 pm

David, you write that the Vatican indicated this 13-years-in-the-making document was “a response to the sexual abuse crisis which could be fodder for unfortunate conclusions about homosexuals.” What, the church recognized they needed to take speedy action?
This makes me think of research findings on rapists and pedophiles. First, studies have found that rapists have a normal sex drive and exhibit “normal” types of behavior. So, do you think the psych tests for those entering the seminary means that they’ll throw out all those who test “normal” and keep the homosexuals?
And don’t forget that the major motive for rape is aggression, NOT sex. Gratification comes from gaining power and control and discharging anger. This makes me wonder if the psych tests for priests shouldn’t be given AFTER seminary, given to priests who’ve been within the church hierarchy for awhile — and have become angry because of the power and control issues within the church.
Next, some info on priest pedophiles (whom to my mind are “rapists”, but…) From an article in the national Catholic weekly “American Magazine,” I paraphrase, in part:
…A pedophile is normally NOT a homosexual;
…Clinical evaluation of pedophiles reveals them to be a diverse group, which differs educationally, vocationally, religiously and socioeconomically;
…Power and control are critical factors.
…The sexual acting out results in more pleasant emotional states, putting a psychological distance between the perpetrator’s feelings of loneliness, emptiness, despair and lack of connectedness to others…(could these emotional descriptives be a definition of the priesthood for some?)
Sharon McEachern

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