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Archive for November 24th, 2005

I have a translation of the Vatican document on gays and the priesthood, and the full text is contained in the extended version of this post. It is three pages long (if that) and made for easy reading. I have changed the font color of the section that the reports cite to red and highlighted the passages most germane to the discussion. Anyone who reads my blog (yeah, like all four of you) will know that I will replace Stephon Marbury as the Knicks point guard before I am ever a knee jerk apologist for the Catholic Church. Just click on the Catholicism category in my sidebar to see for yourself. That said, I am Catholic and am as distressed as anyone when they or theirs are unfairly characterized by the media or others. In this case, I have to say that for the past five years or more the Church has brought much of the vitriol on itself.
The headline of yesterday’s NY Time article on the statement read as follows:
In Strong Terms, Rome Is to Ban Gays as Priests
This is patently false. In reading the statement I made three observations
  1. Given the Church’s (regrettable, in my view) strict rule of celibacy, this is nothing new. Sexually active men of any persuasion cannot be celibate priests.
  2. The criteria for judging seminarians preparing for the priesthood are not only subjective, they require the input of multiple overseers and spiritual mentors.
  3. The singling out of gay men and not reaffirming that they are being held to the same standard as heterosexuals is a lost opportunity and has (yet again) created unnecessary conflict between the Church and the people.
I recall seeing Mass Appeal back in college starring Jack Lemmon as a priest who has to determine if a gay seminarian (Zeljko Ivanek) would be permitted to be ordained. As I recall, he wasn’t. The reason was not his being gay, but rather the concern that he "wouldn’t stay on the farm after seeing Paris." If my recollection is wrong, forgive my memory. But the question is the important issue, not the outcome of a movie.
As I have blogged previously, the canonical teeth of the statement are about as sharp as a UN resolution. Years ago, higher ups in the Vatican (including the Pope) said something along the lines of "we should express our view on gays becoming priests." Yes, the Church moves slowly. Moreover, the subjectivity of the verbiage makes it difficult to judge, for instance, exactly what "deep seated" homosexuality is. Does it mean an active gay lifestyle? Probably. What isn’t subjective is the expression that three years of chastity is enough to judge a man as fit for the priesthood. Guess what? That’s always been the case. Today’s Times seems to suggest otherwise, but is wrong.
At least one gay seminarian has already quit in anticipation of the document’s release. Tim Powers, 30, said he left Holy Name College in Washington in October because he was struggling with celibacy and wanted to live a more honest life. Mr. Powers said he talked with his spiritual director about his conflict.
Powers would be in the same boat if he were straight. I have known pre-novitiates, seminarians, newly ordained and veteran priests of all ages my whole life. There is no double standard. If you do not possess the very special charism of celibacy, you are advised (and in some cases told) that this is not the vocation for you.
What is lost in the condemnation discussion of Church teaching is the fact that any sex outside of matrimony has always been taught as being sinful. Period. No, it doesn’t make for an easy ideal to live up to, but you cannot claim the teaching hasn’t been consistent (the carrying out of this teaching, especially in the Bishop’s enabling, protecting and shielding abusive priests is a place where criticism is rightly placed). A straight sexually active seminarian would be equally subject to dismissal from the seminary as a gay one. Sadly, they fail to reaffirm this, have chosen instead to single out gays rather than use inclusive language, and brought on more trouble.
I have studied Catholic theology and teachings throughout my years at Villanova, high school, and even parochial school. While I regret the awkward, dopey way Rome chose to single out gays to reaffirm the obvious, they have not been banned from the priesthood. I would ask that anyone with an interest in the truth to be selective in their sources to come to their own conclusions about the Church, because the Vatican is lobbing underhanded softballs down the center of the plate to the hateful and those with an axe to grind with things like this statement.

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If you, like me, leaned forward when you saw the triple amputee chase Jason Lee and subsequently beat him with a lawn sign on My Name is Earl this past Tuesday (or later if you have TiVo), you’ll be interested to know that the guy is real. No digital effects. The actor’s name is Cameron Clapp, and he’s remarkable. There, I just saved you a long Google search.
By the way, this show is shaping up to be a half decent program, especially in light of the reality garbage they’ve been pushing in recent years.

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Happy Thanksgiving

This was emailed to me by a solicitor, but the message resonates.
I Am Thankful…

For the teenager who is watching TV instead of doing the dishes, because that means he is at home and not on the streets.

For the parking spot I find at the far end of the parking lot, because it means I am capable of walking and that I have been blessed with transportation.

For my huge heating bill, because it means I am warm.

For the lady behind me in church that sings off-key, because it means that I can hear.

For the pile of laundry and ironing, because it means I have clothes to wear.

For weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day, because it means I have been productive.

For the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours, because it means that I am alive.

For the taxes I pay, because it means that I am employed.

For the mess to clean after a party, because it means I have been surrounded by friends.

For the clothes that fit a little too snug, because it means I have enough to eat.

For my shadow that watches me work, because it means I am out in the sunshine.

For a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, and gutters that need fixing, because it means I have a home.

For all the complaining I hear about the government, because it means we have freedom of speech.

For my child, who give me the chance to see through the eyes of innocence and be a kid myself again.

For the arguments with my loved ones, because it means that I am not going through life alone.

For the weeds I spend hours pulling in my garden, because it means I am not seeing my garden from six feet under it.

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