By the way, I was told (ahemmm ... thru a little bird) that there were already threads on this topic, (Gay Issues in the Catholic Church) but could not locate any? So I am posting this as a new thread. If anyone locates a similar thread which is not locked, please let me know. No need to create duplicate threads...
Battle Lines Drawn Over Vatican Stance on Gays (external - login to view)
Wed Nov 23, 2005 4:38 PM ET
By Jason Szep
BOSTON (Reuters) - Gay rights activists and liberal Catholics girded on Wednesday for a long battle over the Vatican's tougher stance on homosexuality, predicting the Church would lose thousands of followers in the United States.
The policy, drafted to deal with scandals over pedophile priests that erupted in Boston in 2002 and spread across the United States, says the Church can admit those who have clearly overcome homosexual tendencies for at least three years.
But practicing homosexuals and those with "deep-seated" gay tendencies and those who support a gay culture should be barred, it said. Conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church and in other religions welcomed the stand.
"We are calling on all Catholics of goodwill to speak to their priests and to express their outrage at this decision," said Harry Knox a director of Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group based in Washington.
"We'll seek to speak over the heads of the Pope to Catholics in the pews to urge them to take into consideration what Jesus would do if He saw His neighbor being treated in this way," said Knox. "Jesus would never exclude."
The Catholic Church would lose thousands of future priests in the United States, while those who remain will live in fear of "witch hunts," said Marianne Duddy-Burke of gay and lesbian Catholic group Dignity USA in Boston.
"A number of good, holy gay priests will probably quietly slip away from their calling because of the climate."
That is exactly what many conservative Catholics say should have happened long ago. They laud the 21-paragraph Vatican document for reinforcing a standing policy that many believe has not been properly enforced.
"This is not just about homosexuality or homosexual acts -- it's about an agenda and subculture that is in direct conflict with the teachings of the Catholic Church," said Michael Rose, author of "Goodbye, Good Men: How liberals Brought Corruption Into the Catholic Church."
Like many conservative Catholics, Brian Saint-Paul, senior editor of the Catholic journal CRISIS, sees a firm link between homosexuality and the scandal over pedophile priests.
"That was not a homosexual scandal. It was a pedophile scandal. There's a significant difference. But there was some kind of same-sex element to it," he said. "Rome has to look at all the factors. So we see them addressing that now."
Underpinning his concerns is a 2004 survey by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice which found that, of 10,667 people abused by priests between 1950 and 2002, 81 percent were male.
Gay rights advocates said the Church was turning gay men into scapegoats for pedophiles and should address deeper failings that allowed U.S. bishops to move priests known to have abused minors from parish to parish instead of defrocking them or reporting them to authorities.
Daniel Maguire, a professor of moral theology at Marquette, a Jesuit university in Wisconsin, said the Church's underlying problem is its policy of mandatory celibacy and how this is interpreted as meaning not getting married.
"Many gay seminarians who weren't planning on getting married anyhow were drawn toward the priesthood but not necessarily drawn toward a virginal life," he said, adding that the new policy "will lead to a tremendous amount of deception and a 'don't ask, don't tell' kind of a regime."
Implementing it and defining "deep-seated gay tendencies" will prove tough to do, said Donald Cozzens of John Carroll University in Cleveland and author of "The Changing Face of the Priesthood: A Reflection on the Priest's Crisis of Soul."
"It is possible the vocation crisis will deepen," he said.
That would come at an alarming time for the U.S. Catholic Church, whose followers are in decline in proportion to the population.
There are currently 64.8 million Catholics in the United States compared to 45.6 million in 1966 -- or 23 percent of the population compared to 24 percent in 1966, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate in Georgetown.