If The Church Gets Tough --Very Tough-- With Deviance, Pope Will Make His Mark
Pope Benedict XVI may be shaping his pontificate as a quiet one that will tend to housecleaning -- the first of which, critically, is to root out homosexuality. If he is doing this, he is truly receiving the torch from John Paul II, who had ordered an investigation of seminaries. If he sticks to his guns, he will be known as the Pope who corrected a terrible situation.
For the Church, nothing is more urgent. Sexual transgression has created a crisis of historic proportions. Whether homosexual or heterosexual, perversions and those who practice them have no place -- none whatsoever -- in the clergy.
With the current case, the crisis is homosexuality. In the United States there have been allegations of sexual misconduct against approximately one priest in fifty. Of the alleged victims of these assaults, about 10,000 were male, and about a thousand female.
In April 2002, Wilton Gregory, then bishop of Belleville and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, noted that "there does exist within American seminaries a homosexual atmosphere or dynamic that makes heterosexuals think twice" about entering the priesthood, adding that "it is an ongoing struggle to make sure the Catholic priesthood is not dominated by homosexual men."
It is a struggle that the Church must now decisively win.
This is not to judge those who are "gay." Many are sensitive and talented people who like the rest of us have failings. Many of them yearn to be spiritual. They are skilled in many ways. They are anything but the picture of hardness and militancy we envision when we see radical "gays" parading around Greenwich Village or San Francisco. Some of the most considerate, sensitive, and upstanding people are of this leaning -- good in other ways. We are to love them as we love anyone else. Nor can we judge them: how do we know how they got to where they are? And have we looked for the logs in our own eyes?
But we are also to hate the sin and acknowledge the truth and the truth is that those who are homosexual grapple with a disorder that requires deliverance. It is a spiritual issue. And while they struggle with that disorder they do not belong in a position of any spiritual authority.
It is better to suffer a severe priest shortage than to limp on with those who are too immersed in personal turmoil to tend to the flock -- and who in fact can pose (as has been startlingly seen) an actual danger.
Let's tell it like it is. The demonic is at work. How did the spirits invade? We note that much of the onset for this crisis was in the Sixties. During alleged messages at Akita, Japan (a partially Church-approved occurrence in which a statue wept), the Blessed Mother warned around that time that "the demon will be especially implacable against souls consecrated to God."
Priests are exceptional men on the front line and prone to horrific temptation and assault. We must sympathize with that.
But those who are homosexual must be rooted out and hopefully the Vatican is moving forcefully in this direction.
We have been accused of being too easy on priests. We believe that they should be defended because, by and large, they are exceptional, well-meaning, and selfless. They deserve our respect. A minority have caused the crisis. One in fifty.
But that respect will not return until the "gay" element is rooted out and the typical Catholic can go back to the assumption that his or her pastor is not disordered or deceived or otherwise touched in such a way.
Plain truth: at least 81 percent of priest-abuse cases involve men who are homosexual.
This disorder has manifested not only in sinful, aberrant sex, but also in a modernism that has replaced spirituality with intellectuality (which is less "judgmental") and has helped lead to an epidemic of pride. The crisis spread because the Church has always sought to hide scandal before everything, because priests were in short supply (and bishops reluctant to get rid of even one), and because priests were arrogated above the common man when they are supposed to stand for humility.
That says a lot. Let us not make excuses here.
But also, let us also not throw every priest out with the bathwater.
Instead, let us purge the homosexual element -- ministering to those so afflicted, praying for their deliverance (from actual evil), but removing them from authority no matter how painful this will be in the short run. We must purify the priesthood even if the shortage of priests becomes excruciating.
Doubtless, there will be parishes without priests. Doubtless, there will be a special strain on dioceses that have tolerated homosexuals and as a result are deeply infiltrated.
But in the long term, reducing and then purging such from the priesthood will reshape public perception of the priesthood and once more attract heterosexuals to their calling.
All this we mention because the Vatican is set to reaffirm a policy that has said just this all along: that gays should not be in the priesthood.
Reportedly, it is preparing a document to this effect.
And at the same time, Rome is ready to begin a review of all 229 U.S. seminaries, looking for homosexuality.
A loud cry of secular protest there is, already -- but Rome must remain firm. To go on as we have because we need the priests or because we wish not to offend -- because we wish to be politically correct -- will lead to a disaster greater even than what we have seen already!
In recent decades, Vatican officials have stated several times that homosexuals are "intrinsically disordered" and should not become priests. Let us now enforce that. How many are "gay"? No one knows. The estimates range as high as 25 percent and in some cases upward. Many with a homosexual proclivity are not practicing homosexuals. Those who already are priests will and should remain -- as long as they are strictly celibate, and as long as they are working at correcting this deep spiritual flaw, as we all must work at correcting our flaws.
Any priest who is not celibate, whether homosexual or heterosexual, is breaking his vows and sinning. When there is a perversion or "disorder," it makes it all the worse. It is not for the laymen to pry into the personal lives of priests, but surely it is in the domain of bishops. It is also in the jurisdiction of law enforcement: those who have abused children belong in jail like anyone else.
The fact that such abuse has happened is stunning and will be a stain on the Church for much of this decade, if not this century -- an historic crisis.
But not one from which we can't recover.
Priest shortages in the West?
Bring in heterosexual priests from places like Poland and "third world" countries where the seminaries are bursting at the seams. Along with the rapid expansion in Catholic population, reports one Catholic newspaper, "has come an explosion in African bishops, priests, brothers, sisters, and deacons. There are today more than 600 African bishops and almost 30,000 priests, and Africa and Asia each number approximately 30,000 seminarians. In 2004, roughly 20 priests were ordained for all of England and Wales, while Nigeria alone ordained more than 200."
Bring those they can spare to areas where there will be shortages due to the purge.
That sounds harsh:
To purge is to cleanse. Homosexuality is often the result of what Christ called unclean spirits. Purge them. Christ did not tolerate such spirits. He cast them out.
Let's help those who are homosexuals -- but not by pretending that what they do (or want to do) is normal. Let us help them as Jesus helped the adulteress.
Until they expurgate the spirits or personal flaws behind their disorder, homosexuals have no place in the ministry; none. They are in need of ministry.
Perversity of any kind can not be allowed in the priesthood, no matter how the priesthood shrinks.
Good will come from the fire.
We must purify the Church at all costs.
Nothing else will work.
A gay should not become a priest. He should seek out a good priest for help and deliverance.
"I do think about leaving," a 30-year old Franciscan seminary student told The New York Times in the wake of the announcement of the new document, which apparently will affirm policies set in 1961 and again in 2002 against homosexual priests. "It's hard to live a duplicitous life, and for me it's hard not to speak out against injustice. And that's what this is."
An injustice? To allow a priest to contravene God's law? And to afflict the faithful?
Good-bye, dear friend. You have our love and prayers but you do not belong in the priesthood.
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