The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has taught that men who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or men who support “gay culture” should not be admitted to seminary.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with this (though that’s easy for me to say). It isn’t a ban on all gay men, only those gay men exhibiting deviant or immoral behavior. All men who exhibit or promote abusive, deviant, or unchaste behavior should not be admitted to seminary or ordained.

However, those guidelines from the CDF don’t go far enough for some. Earlier today someone messaged me to discuss this topic and said that he knows a priest who said that someone who identifies as gay is not able to provide valid matter for the sacrifice of celibacy because they are not actually renouncing marriage and family to become a priest.

Here I pulled the “gay friend” card and responded saying that a good friend of mine, who is gay, desperately desires a family. But every day he renounces that desire because he chooses to follow the Church and her teaching. So don’t tell me that gay men can’t really renounce a family.

The belief that those guidelines from the CDF don’t go far enough is also shared by Daniel Mattson, who himself identifies as having same-sex attraction, in an article titled, “Why Men like me should not be Priests.”  But if someone is unfit for priesthood simply because he is gay, then what is he fit for? Does being gay make someone automatically a predator? If so, should people like Mattson, although claiming to live a chaste life in accord with the Church’s teaching, be allowed to work with kids in any capacity whatsoever?

Let’s be clear here that this kind of rhetoric is unjust discrimination against individuals, regardless of their behavior, simply because they are gay. It directly contradicts the Catechism which condemns “Every sign of unjust discrimination” towards homosexual persons (CCC 2358). Blaming this abuse and cover up on homosexuality just creates another group of victims, another group of people denied basic dignity. I asked my friend how all this blame towards homosexuality made him feel and he said:

“Personally, and to be totally honest, I’m hurt, I’m shocked, I’m offended, and I’m angry. My sexuality is not a one way trip to child abuse. I’m a normal human who hates to see children harmed in any capacity. All I want to do is shake people and make them realize that being gay does not automatically make you a pedophile. It doesn’t automatically make you freak. It certainly does not make you a sinner.”

People who had no choice over their sexual orientation and who are struggling desperately to live chaste lives in the Catholic Church are being talked about as if they are part of the problem, as if they are to blame for this evil in the Church.

Further, blaming gay men for this abuse crisis is simply scapegoating. The problem isn’t gay men, or celibacy, or bad liturgy, or whatever other excuse people have conjured up. The problem is that the hierarchy chose to protect their power and institutions rather than protect children from this kind of unimaginable evil. The problem, as Pope Francis rightly stated, is “the abuse of power” and “clericalism” which “leads to an excision in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today.  To say ‘no’ to abuse is to say an emphatic ‘no’ to all forms of clericalism.”

Blaming gay men is a distraction, a way to shift blame and responsibility. As unimaginably evil as the abuse was, the cover up was equally demonic. Whatever structures were in place that allowed bishops to cover their own asses and shuffle these priests around for decades needs to be taken down. That’s the discussion that needs to be had.

[Photo credit: yatharth roy vibhakar on Unsplash]

Paul Fahey

Paul Fahey is a husband, father of four, parish director of religious education, and co-founder of Where Peter Is.  He can be found at his website, Rejoice and be Glad: Catholicism in the Pope Francis Generation

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9 Responses

  1. Peter Aiello says:

    Aren’t there any cases of priests molesting young girls? Lust doesn’t only apply to gay men. Apparently, the spirituality that has “developed” in the Church is no match for human weakness caused by the Law of Sin (see Romans 7:14 thru 8:2). Structural changes are no match either.
    The Church will have to revisit Scripture to figure out how to enhance self-control in its ranks. When the Church comes to terms with the fact that temperance or self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, then progress can be made towards chastity. Temperance is not a fruit of the Eucharist or Holy Orders. The sacraments associated with receiving the Spirit are Baptism and Confirmation. We receive Christ by faith—a faith that includes unconditional trust in Christ. The reason that this would sound foreign to many Catholics is the same reason why there is so much sin recurrence even after confession and communion. This type of faith is not taught. It is not taught because it is not part of Catholic culture. This affects both clergy and the rest of us.
    Scripture is helpful in this regard. We are told to cast all of our care on the Lord and to be anxious for nothing (1Peter 5:5-7 and Philippians 4:6-7). This is how I received the peace and strength to deal with my personal lust issues. These verses explain the kind of humility that brings peace and strength.

  2. Devin says:

    First, it goes without saying the primary cause is the enabling bishops. But the recent scandals along with the John Jay report have illustrated two primary types of abuse. One is the abuse against male minors that have achieved sexual majority, so this would follow under the homosexuality umbrella. The other is against seminarians, so also homosexual in nature. Also there is evidence (some stronger, some weaker) of a homosexual subculture ignoring continence habitually and apparently without remorse. See the dioceses of Lincoln with Msgr Kalin and also the diocese of Newark. Also a victim in the Altoona Johnstown Diocese grand jury report testified that an abusive priest told him that 70% of priests were gay. The priest in question attended seminary at St. Mary’s in Baltimore for a reputation of being the “Pink Palace”.

    Now, homosexual men in the general population are no more likely than heterosexual men to commit abuse of either type. But in the Catholic priesthood, gay men are more likely to commit abuse than gay men in the general population (recognizing that the majority of gay priests do not commit abuse).

    So there is something about gay catholic priests, either the priesthood is attracting disproportionate amount of gay men who are more likely to commit abuse than heterosexual priests or gay men in the general population or there is something about seminary life/belonging to the priesthood that makes committing abuse more likely for gay men.

    This needs to be addressed one way or another.

    • Paul Fahey Paul Fahey says:

      Two thoughts via the John Jay report.

      1. “The John Jay College researchers and other researchers of the subject have found no data to indicate that homosexual orientation is a cause or risk factor for abuse of children. Clergy who exhibited homosexual behavior were not significantly more likely to abuse minors than those who did not.”

      –Kathleen McChesney, first director of the USCCB’s Office of Child and Youth Protection, on the findings of the John Jay Report (1950-2010).

      2. “Despite the fact that 81 percent of the victims of clergy abuse in the United States were males, the report states that homosexuality was not the cause of the sexual abuse crisis. The John Jay College researchers and other researchers of the subject have found no data to indicate that homosexual orientation is a cause or risk factor for abuse of children. Clergy who exhibited homosexual behavior were not significantly more likely to abuse minors than those who did not. Sexual identity is different, of course, from sexual behavior, and the study did not identify the sexual orientation of all the offenders. The report suggests that one reason the majority of victims were male may be that boys were more accessible to the predators than girls. The data show that the percentage of girls who were victims increased after girls were allowed to become altar servers.”

      https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2011/06/06/what-caused-crisis-key-findings-john-jay-college-study-clergy-sexual-abuse

  3. Jim Russell says:

    ***Whatever structures were in place that allowed bishops to cover their own asses and shuffle these priests around for decades needs to be taken down. That’s the discussion that needs to be had.***

    Hence the call for dismantling the gay subculture. THAT was the structure that was in place that allowed bishops to cover their own asses and shuffle those priests around.

    So, let’s discuss….

  4. Jacob Coulter says:

    Yeah, this is rubbish. The vast majority of abuse cases are Gay predators going after post-pubescent boys. It is fair to say that having unwanted desires and struggling to live chastely does not make you a predator, but we have a “gay lobby” in the Church actively seeking her destruction.

    • Paul Fahey Paul Fahey says:

      That the majority of children who were abuse were male doesn’t say anything about the sexual orientation being the culprit. Abuse is about power and opportunity, not sexual orientation.

      1. “The John Jay College researchers and other researchers of the subject have found no data to indicate that homosexual orientation is a cause or risk factor for abuse of children. Clergy who exhibited homosexual behavior were not significantly more likely to abuse minors than those who did not.”

      –Kathleen McChesney, first director of the USCCB’s Office of Child and Youth Protection, on the findings of the John Jay Report (1950-2010).

      2. “Despite the fact that 81 percent of the victims of clergy abuse in the United States were males, the report states that homosexuality was not the cause of the sexual abuse crisis. The John Jay College researchers and other researchers of the subject have found no data to indicate that homosexual orientation is a cause or risk factor for abuse of children. Clergy who exhibited homosexual behavior were not significantly more likely to abuse minors than those who did not. Sexual identity is different, of course, from sexual behavior, and the study did not identify the sexual orientation of all the offenders. The report suggests that one reason the majority of victims were male may be that boys were more accessible to the predators than girls. The data show that the percentage of girls who were victims increased after girls were allowed to become altar servers.”

      https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2011/06/06/what-caused-crisis-key-findings-john-jay-college-study-clergy-sexual-abuse

      3. “As an expert panel of researchers convened by the National Academy of Sciences noted in a 1993 report: “The distinction between homosexual and heterosexual child molesters relies on the premise that male molesters of male victims are homosexual in orientation. Most molesters of boys do not report sexual interest in adult men, however” (National Research Council, 1993, p. 143, citation omitted).

      … The distinction between a victim’s gender and a perpetrator’s sexual orientation is important because many child molesters don’t really have an adult sexual orientation. They have never developed the capacity for mature sexual relationships with other adults, either men or women. Instead, their sexual attractions focus on children – boys, girls, or children of both sexes.”
      http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/facts_molestation.html

  5. James Heaney says:

    I broadly agree that the scapegoating I am seeing is ridiculous and unfair. I think it’s both wise to acknowledge the unique influence of the so-called “lavender mafia” of active homosexuals in the present crisis, and to take that into account in devising responses to the Scandal… but, c’mon, lots of gay priests are more chaste than their straight counterparts. Leave *them* out of it.

    But I’m not here to detail my views. I’m already exhausted from making the case elsewhere that the problem is clericalism and unchastity, not the fact that innocent chaste gay priests exist. I’m just here to make a very minor correction:

    The 2005 Instruction was not issued by CDF. It came out of the Congregation for Catholic Education, a minor dicastery with substantially less teaching authority. (Which is good, because, two cents, the 2005 Instruction was premised on bad Freudian psychology, not the Gospel.) Pope Benedict XVI expressed verbal agreement with it in a book-length interview, but I think the Francis years have shown how little stock should be placed in papal interviews.

  6. Allen W Thrasher says:

    There are all sorts of reasons for not ordaining people that do not reflect on their virtue, e.g. their being too young, being female, having insufficient brains for the training, lacking testicles, having neurological diseases not fully controlled by medicine that mean they might spill the Precious Blood during Mass.

    I would also point out that St. John XXIII forbade the admission of men of homosexual inclination to seminaries in 1960. The fruit of the forgetting or ignoring of this in the two generations since does not seem to show it was unwise and unjust.

    As for the John Jay comments, they seem to be manifest political correctness, from fear of the gay lobby in church and society, or else grotesque self-deception. As many have pointed out, the overwhelming majority of abuses have been of boys, and the overwhelming majority of the boys were adolescents, not little boys. It is no more surprising that homosexuals should be attracted to teenage males than that heterosexuals should be attracted to teenage girls. Everywhere that homosexuality is accepted and even institutionalised, as in ancient Greece and Afghanistan and some other Islamic societies, it is directed primarily towards the young, not to full adults.

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