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Driving Gay Priests Underground?


Loose Canon is fighting hard to remain squishy on the subject of ordaining homosexual men to the priesthood. It's becoming harder and harder. Mainly because those who advocate the ordination of homosexuals inevitably advance an argument that makes me move closer to the against position.

A case in point is a piece by Michael Sean Winters, a Catholic writer who seems to think that a Vatican ban on homosexual priests is imminent (and the piece seems to have been occasioned by a homosexual priest's referring to gays as "they" rather than "we"):

"The problem with such a ban is twofold. First, banning gay seminarians will only drive the issue underground, precisely the situation before the sexual revolution permitted people - even priests - to be more honest about their sexuality. The most notorious clerical child molesters were all ordained before the sexual revolution and before the changes wrought in the church by the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). Secrecy and silence encourage immaturity and duplicity, necessary precursors for inappropriate sexual behavior."

Drive the issue underground? Does that mean that gay priests won't come out of the closet? Well, as I said, I've been against a ban on the ordination of homosexuals, but if it will ensure that priests behave more as they did in those halcyon days before the sexual revolution, then maybe it's time to re-evaluate my opinion. I could applaud a homosexual priest "coming out" privately to a penitent if he is trying to lead to a chaste life. That would be fine. But we don't need to know our parish priest's sexual orientation. And is the implication that molesters only molested because of secrecy? Ever meet a really open child molester?

"Second," Winters continues, "many of those priests the right wing considers 'their own' are also gay, and only a willful ignorance would fail to see it." As I said, I can't imagine why I would care if a priest with a homosexual orientation is leading a chaste and holy life. So what's the problem here?

On the other hand, if they are using secrecy to engage in homosexual (read: sinful) activity, I agree with Diogenes,who writes, "I think they do more damage to the Church than the Weaklands and the Bernardins, precisely because conservatism provides better cover for gays to operate under. And Winters is right that many conservatives have indulged in willful ignorance here and given a pass to -- or at least averted their eyes from -- questionable behavior by traditional and orthodox clergy that they wouldn't countenance in liberals."

Winters continues:

"I know some gay priests who have truly wrestled with their sexuality. As with straight priests, some have fallen from their vows on occasion or on holiday, but most have been largely faithful. Some gay priests are liberal and others are conservative. Some are still conflicted by their sexuality and others are not.

"What they all share is an almost heroic sense of integrity. To try and blame them for the shiftless careerism that caused bishops to look the other way while children were being abused is beyond the pale."

All gay priests have an "almost heroic sense of integrity?" All? How does Mr. Winters know this? No good words for the bishops, though I must say that shiftlessness and careerism are an unusual combination.

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