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Catholic Church's gay guidelines
November 30, 2005 7:06 AM   Subscribe

The Catholic Church reaffirmed its opposition to gay priests yesterday when it published long-awaited guidelines. But has it really faced up to the issue? The church considers homosexuality a "serious personality disorder", and the Pope's views are well documented. But according to the guidelines, it is a "tendency" that can be overcome in as little as three years. (The Guardian's Emily Wilson brilliant compares it to smoking: "a few years off the fags and you're nice and pure again".) The guidelines only applies to future priests, not the many existing closeted priests. And what exactly has it got to do with the endemic child abuse, which the report was originally conceived to address?
posted by londonmark (27 comments total)

 
*Brings out Popcorn*
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:16 AM on November 30, 2005


Given that priests aren't supposed to be active heterosexuals either, isn't the no to active homosexuals just equality in action? (Other issues aside of course)
posted by biffa at 7:24 AM on November 30, 2005


And what exactly has it got to do with the endemic child abuse, which the report was originally conceived to address?

In their twisted logic, priests molesting boys (male on male) = gay. A nice way to scapegoat and manage to ignore the problem completely at the same time.
posted by dr_dank at 7:27 AM on November 30, 2005


Seems like this is as much a sop to the brain-dead 'family values' types who don't see a diffrence between teh gey and tey pehdo.
posted by delmoi at 7:29 AM on November 30, 2005




Seems like this is as much a sop to the brain-dead 'family values' types who don't see a diffrence between teh gey and tey pehdo.

Well, delmoi, considering that scandals within the catholic church involve (male) priests and overwhelmingly young boys it would seem that the correlation with "teh gey"and "tey pehdo", at least among catholic priests, is rather high.
posted by three blind mice at 7:53 AM on November 30, 2005


Given that priests aren't supposed to be active heterosexuals either, isn't the no to active homosexuals just equality in action? (Other issues aside of course)

I think I agree.

But it's really not any more ridiculous than the celibate itself, hetero or not, and will be followed just as well (not). If it had been even 90% enforced during the last couple of hundred years, the CC wouldn't have enough priests to be more than a fringe group.
posted by uncle harold at 7:55 AM on November 30, 2005


Thanks Rothko, I missed that post. I have a lot to learn.

Biffa, my personal problem with this is those 'other issues'. I don't care that priests have to be celibate (although I think it's silly), I just care that a gay man has to spend at least three years overcoming his "transitory problem" before he will be accepted to a seminary. And of course, nobody will actually follow these guidelines any more than they have followed the 1961 thingy (an edict perhaps?) so it will achieve nothing -- gay priest will still hide their true nature and the church will still be stuck with poofs in its ranks.
posted by londonmark at 7:57 AM on November 30, 2005


A question for the new nazi pope:

Why must priests wear those gay looking dresses instead of pants then? :-)
posted by nofundy at 7:59 AM on November 30, 2005


The long-awaited document, released Nov. 29, states that the church cannot admit to the seminary or ordain men who are active homosexuals, who have 'deep-seated homosexual tendencies' or who support 'gay culture.'

Biffa, it's not "equality in action" unless they also deny admission to those who have "deep-seated heterosexual tendencies."
posted by callmejay at 8:02 AM on November 30, 2005


"Deep-seated homosexual tendencies, which are found in a number of men and women, are also objectively disordered and, for those same people, often constitute a trial. Such persons must be accepted with respect and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. They are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's cross the difficulties they may encounter."

Hold on, this is good. This is progression. No-one's burning the pink effigies, no-one's calling names, no-one's being threatened with hellfire.
This seems as far as the Catholic church can be expected to go without becoming alarmingly careless about the issue. If they gave up on this matter and conceded that, actually, homosexuality doesn't mean you're utterly soulless, people may notice that organised Christianity is just a lot of established dogma. Which probably isn't in their long-term interests.
posted by NinjaPirate at 8:07 AM on November 30, 2005


delmoi, I dig that. But I've also often wondered about the whole argument that man-boy pedophilia != gay. I can understand the technical distinction as well as the legal one. And I surely don't think that gay men are inherently prone or tempted to pedophilia at all.

I just wonder how it can be so clear-cut a distinction when it seems to be part of a spectrum, in a sense. I mean, heterosexuals don't like to talk about this all that much either, but they face the same issues.

So, in polite society, we may recognize that a 24 year old man might have physical attractions to a developing 15 year old girl, and rightly call those immoral. But we avoid the hard question of what makes it immoral attraction and at what point it functionally becomes moral (which surely has to be something in addition to just what the law requires). And surely, even if we considered the 24yo man + 15 yo girl situation to be pedophilia, I don't think people would generally reject the idea that it has nothing to do with hetrosexuality at all.

Similarly, when a 24 year old man is attracted to an 18 year old man, we consider that to be gay, but not pedophilia. And when a 24 year old man is attracted to a 13 year old boy, we clearly consider that to be pedophilia. Where is the clear cutoff, the bright line, though, to not consider that also gay?

Is it based on the law only? Is it based on the subjective, emotional development of the child? Is it based on an absolute age, say 16 or 18? The laws are most certainly needed, and considerations of the emotional development of both participants is important. But surely, if there's a functional moral distinction, then that morality rests on more than just the statutory law of whatever jurisdiction is under consideration.

I know this is a very sensitive subject, and apologies in advance to any who are offended by my sincere question. But I'm just curious as to how male-male sex can be so clearly categorized as either gay behavior or pedophilia when the younger participant is in the upper teens, for example, other than simply referring to the law (which seems somewhat facile).

As for the gay priest ban, if it is dangerous enough for actively gay men to serve in the priesthood, and thus crucial to ban them from joining, it seems like the same factors would logically demand setting the same criteria for current priests. But I think the "Instruction" specifically does not apply to those gay priests who are already serving. Upon what argument, I wonder, are they basing that seeming inconsistency?

Finally, I'm all for the leader of the Catholic church defining and clarifying the rules of that religion according to his best understanding of what his church stands for. He surely has a mandate to do so from the followers that have placed him in the very role to do this. I may not agree with the position he takes, but it is, after all, his responsibility and privilege to take it, and expect the rest of the church to adhere to it.
posted by darkstar at 8:10 AM on November 30, 2005


The question shouldn't be when does a gay man become a pedophile, but what does homosexuality have to do with pedophilia. The answer to the latter is quite clearly nothing. One gay man may be attracted to kids, but that doesn't make it a characteristic of his sexual orientation and it doesn't say anything about the sexual preferences of other gay men. Some commentators (the church included, I think) have leapt to false conclusions about what the cases of institutionalised child abuse tell us. If you observe that many of the priests were gay and the victims male, you may conclude that gay men are pedophiles. You may also conclude from the same evidence that priests are pedophiles. Scientifically, you have no grounds for either statement.
posted by londonmark at 8:30 AM on November 30, 2005


serious personality disorder

It certainly is an evolutionary mistake should it be genetic. But I'll never get married until marriage is for everyone.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 8:44 AM on November 30, 2005


I'd really like the Church to reaffirm its opposition to kid-fucking, but that is probably way too much to ask.

Some commentators (the church included, I think) have leapt to false conclusions about what the cases of institutionalised child abuse tell us. If you observe that many of the priests were gay and the victims male, you may conclude that gay men are pedophiles. You may also conclude from the same evidence that priests are pedophiles. Scientifically, you have no grounds for either statement.

Yeah, only six percent of priests have had sexual conduct with minors. No biggie.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:45 AM on November 30, 2005


I always adore it when religions focus on a few specific lines in an otherwise disused testament (how many Christians keep Kosher?) while ignoring the many others that contradict it. One of the best-loved pastors in my former parish (recovering Catholic, thanks) was so flamboyantly gay he could light the candles just walking through the rectory. He was a nice guy, and very friendly; nothing like your traditional dour and lifeless priest (though this is itself as much a myth as the 50s' nuclear family sold on TV; most priests are at least somewhat approachable). The Church is again shooting itself in the foot. As biffa said, it's a moot point they're addressing. They should just come out against pedophilic priests. It's what Jesus would have done.
posted by Eideteker at 8:47 AM on November 30, 2005


As I understand it, one of the problems in this discussion involves the disparity between female victims who report the crimes and female victims who show up to support groups (see, for example, this article in the Boston Globe, as well as an article previously linked here).
posted by thomas j wise at 8:48 AM on November 30, 2005


Shorter papal bull:

The Roman Catholic church is conflating pedophilia with homosexuality. Nothing more.
posted by nofundy at 9:12 AM on November 30, 2005


The church considers homosexuality a "serious personality disorder"

Heh, funny. I feel the same way about religion.
posted by wakko at 9:18 AM on November 30, 2005


Heh. I'm in Massachusetts, where we were running out of priests before the whole molestation scandal. A common problem in much of the modern world from what I've heard. Removing gay priests a) does nothing to prevent pedophiles from entering the clergy and b) knocks out a wide base of men who might actually be guilted into it.

Well, thank God the Catholics have the moral conviction to eat themselves and die out proper, choking on their anachronisms. Unlike those "fundamentalists" who morph, water-down, and commercialize their faith whenever possible. Guys like that live forever.
posted by es_de_bah at 10:22 AM on November 30, 2005


The Roman Catholic church is conflating pedophilia with homosexuality.

The Pope and the Heirarchy is. Despite stereotypes we don't all "take our orders from Rome." (not accusing you of anything, nofundy, just making a point)

But, it's true, this is confusing adult gay sex (normal, harmless) with pedophila (abnormal, harmful). Not that hard to process, really.
posted by jonmc at 10:53 AM on November 30, 2005


Heh. I'm in Massachusetts, where we were running out of priests before the whole molestation scandal.

And, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Mass. the most Catholic state in the country?

It's the celibacy rule that attracts pervs to the priesthood. Disallowing mairrage and normal gay sexuality dosen't deter those who are uninterested in either.

Allowing marraige, etc. will attract more and healthier preists. Scandals like these are a lot rarer among Ministers, Rabbis, and Imams.
posted by jonmc at 10:57 AM on November 30, 2005


But I'll never get married until marriage is for everyone. - The Jesse Helms

Come to Canada! Here, marriage is for everyone.
posted by raedyn at 11:54 AM on November 30, 2005


Why do I have a feeling that "serious personality disorder" is the new generic insult?

"You have a serious personality disorder!"
"No, you have a serious personality disorder!"
"Nuh uh! You do!"
posted by dagnyscott at 12:43 PM on November 30, 2005


But I'll never get married until marriage is for everyone. - The Jesse Helms

Come to Canada! Here, marriage is for everyone. - raedyn


Not is Stephen Harper has his way.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 1:28 PM on November 30, 2005


"Come to Canada! Here, marriage is for everyone." - raedyn

Not is Stephen Harper has his way. - PurplePorpoise

Well if you hurry up and do it before January 23, you'll be okay. He says they'll introduce traditional-marriage-only legislation, but it won't anull the marriages that have already happened. Stupid stupid idea sez me, but I'm biased. Just another reason to campaign hard against them, as far as I'm concerned (told you I was biased).

/Canadian politics derail
posted by raedyn at 2:13 PM on November 30, 2005


Well, delmoi, considering that scandals within the catholic church involve (male) priests and overwhelmingly young boys it would seem that the correlation with "teh gey"and "tey pehdo", at least among catholic priests, is rather high.

I have heard that the victims of clergy abuse were about 50-50 boys and girls. Can anyone confirm/deny? I guess I read it here.

Reformers and the press are appalled by the church’s gay panic. They point out, rightly, that there is no statistical correlation between homosexuality and pedophilia, that gay priests are no more likely to flout celibacy than straight ones, and that, while numbers are mushy, many therapists concur that in the universe of priestly victims the vast majority are girls and women. Half the membership of SNAP, or Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, for example, are women. The group’s president, David Clohessy, was astounded that the New York Times, in breaking news of the seminary investigation, reported without qualification the American bishops’ calculation that “about 80 percent of the young people victimized by priests were boys.”

The boys get all the press, naturally, but are they really the "overwhelming" majority?
posted by mrgrimm at 5:11 PM on December 1, 2005


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