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ISSUE 119 VOL 4 PUBLISHED 10/7/2005

Gay ban misguided

By Stephanie Soucheray
News Editor

Friday, October 7, 2005

Roman Catholic laity and clergy have been abuzz about the news that the Vatican may release a document concerning the status of homosexuals in seminaries.

Though the document, which may ban gays from the priesthood, has been discussed since 2001, the election of conservative Pope Benedict XVI and recent comments from the Congregation for Catholic Education (the group which runs U.S. seminaries) has prompted Catholics to stop asking not if a ban will take place, but when.

A ban on gays in the priesthood could mean that seminary applicants would have to undergo an extensive interview process, that I would call a “witch hunt,” before being admitted to enter the seminary. The ban would not affect homosexual priests who are already ordained.

Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien, the head of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, was appointed by the Vatican to oversee a study of American seminaries. Archbishop O’'Brien commented to news organizations like Catholic News Service that he was confident that a ban would come, and that he would reject seminary applicants with a homosexual past even if they had been celibate for 10 years. The church is quick to point out that its views on homosexuals are nothing new. The catechism of the Catholic Church states that homosexuals have “disjointed objectivity” in their relations. And since 1961, the church has discouraged active homosexuals from entering the priesthood.

But what the church forgets, and what the American news media fails to mention when it portrays the Catholic Church as an antiquated and retrograde enemy of human rights, is that most Catholics practice “disjointed objectivity” in their sexual relations, whether straight or gay.

According to the church, sex should only happen inside marriage, and even then, intercourse should be free from the use of hormonal or barrier methods of birth control. Under that logic, all heterosexual sex that is not procreative or observant of natural family planning is just as “disjointed” in its objectivity as homosexual acts.

That said, the life of a priest is admittedly different from the life of his laity. Priests give themselves to God and live a celibate life; thus, their sexual orientation should cease to become a matter of discussion.

The Catholic Church has blundered badly with these rumors about bans and restrictions. In an attempt to help correct the horror of the recent pedophilia scandals, the church has renounced logical thought and instead is lashing out at any group posing a real or imagined threat to the fragile state of the Church in the 21st century.

What is so troubling, and what numerous (albeit anonymous) Catholic priests identifying themselves as homosexual point out, is that a ban may push homosexual clergy further back into the dangerous closet of self-hatred and shame. It is these attitudes, and denials of “disjointed” sexual activity, which fostered pedophiles in the priesthood.

Pedophile priests were not pedophiles because they were gay: They were pedophiles because their sexuality, whether homo- or hetero-oriented, was an issue of perversion and shame. They were sick men who were not men of God. Such people do not belong in the priesthood, and should be removed.

If seminarians enter a priesthood where all sexuality is considered by the church they represent as “disjointed in its objectivity,” then a tradition of pedophilia will continue to haunt the church regardless of seminarians’' sexual orientations.

Opinions editor Stephanie Soucheray is a junior from St. Paul, Minn. She majors in English and history.

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