Just in time for the season of peace and goodwill to all, the Roman Catholic Chuch has done the unconscionable: It has banned gay men from its priesthood.
From the New York Times:
The long-awaited document, which has leaked out in sections over the last few months, was published Tuesday in Italian by an Italian Catholic Web site, AdistaOnline.it.
The document appears to allow ordination only for candidates who experienced "transitory" homosexual tendencies that were "clearly overcome" at least three years before ordination as a deacon, the last step before priesthood. It does not define "overcome." Several critics worried that that language would make it nearly impossible for men who believe their basic orientation is gay - but who are celibate - to become priests. ...
The document puts the onus on bishops, seminary directors and the spiritual advisers "to evaluate all of the qualities of the personality and assure that the candidate does not have sexual disorders that are incompatible with priesthood."
A candidate, in turn, would have to be honest about his sexuality.
"It would be gravely dishonest for a candidate to hide his own homosexuality, regardless of everything, to arrive at ordination," the document states. "Such an inauthentic attitude does not correspond to the spirit of truth, loyalty and availability that must characterize the personality of one who considers himself called to serve Christ."
How about the inauthenticity of a church that claims to proclaim Jesus' message of love and tolerance?
The Church — whatever this contemptible document signed and approved by Pope Benedict XVI says — is telling gay men who are prepared to live chastely and who know in their hearts that they are called by God to serve as priests that in order to fulfill that call and do the Creator's will, they must lie.
This will be horrifying — certainly for the men who feel they are forced to lie, but also for the Church itself. As the Rev. Gerard Thomas, a gay priest, writes for Beliefnet:
The only gay men who will enter will be either clueless, closeted, or lying. This is a disastrous way to prepare men for healthy life as a priest, and gives rise to the very environment that everyone wanted to avoid: the repressed, fearful seminary where sexuality is a forbidden topic.
So, what is the bottom line here? Gays can't be celibate? As Fr. Thomas notes, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that gay men should (a debatable point) and can be celibate. So the truth is, good men are being told that they are not worthy because of who they are, not because of what they do. Though they were created, we are told, in the image of God, they aren't good enough to be priests, according to this document. Hell, the Church is treating them like they treat women. (The difference being that the leadership doesn't label women as "objectively disordered" — it only treats us that way.)