The average priest and typical lay person cannot defend the Catholic church’s positions on homosexuality without retreating to insular theology that ignores scientific, sociological, psychological, and priestly realities. Yet these same individuals lay claim to absolute truth on God’s judgement of homosexuality and promote a culture of denial, hatred, and persecution. We have a theological construct that is disordered in and of itself:
“From the standpoint of the psychology of personal constructs we may define a disorder as any personal construction which is used repeatedly in spite of consistent invalidation.” George Kelly
Cross-cultural similarities evinced by the Lethbridge study offer further evidence that being gay is genetic. The etiology of homosexuality, biological or otherwise, should have no bearing on gay individuals’ right to equality.[i] In a prior post I went in-depth on the hypocrisy of our teachings and morality on this issue: An incomplete look at Homosexuality and Catholicism (unfiltered).[ii] As lay people and priest we are making statements that fly in the face of science and the experiences of our own priest:
“…..gay men likely make up at least 30 to 40 percent of the American Catholic clergy, according to dozens of estimates from gay priests themselves and researchers. Some priests say the number is closer to 75 percent.”[iii]
The NYT times article quotation is well researched and ample evidence exist via other investigations and common knowledge that a significant percentage of Catholic Priest are Gay men that have chosen to be servants of God, and like heterosexual men, have chosen celibacy. The article link below gives indepth accounts from our priest. How can we as an institution continue to deny the existence of Homosexuality as a given both in society and in the clergy?
“Insanity Is Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again and Expecting Different Results.”[iv]
Whether it was Einstein or others that coined this phrase it is applicable to our church today. The public rightfully so is just not accepting our arguments on homosexuality just because we keep saying it is immoral.
The commentary section in this article has calls for utilizing the RICO act to condemn and ban the Catholic Church. This is not unheard of and has happened multiple times in human history – often in conjunction with violence and murder. Significant portions of society see the Catholic Church as a safe haven for sexual predators, advocate for discriminatory practices, and a history of sinful and murderous actions. As an institution we have both directly committed atrocious actions and indirectly supported or were silent when nation states committed the same.
The churches response to institutional crisis has been woefully shameful and amateurish simplistic approach: ignore, deny, accept, promise change, apologize, retreat behind the walls of our human nature to be sinful, repent, rinse, wash, repeat. Our public, our faithful, and our educated youth are not accepting this non-responsibility. Pope Francis understands this and is wearily challenging the conservative church to move forward without sacrificing our fundamental beliefs:
The weariness of hope (that) comes from seeing a Church wounded by her own sin” and of a Church “which so often failed to hear all those cries”.[v]
Pope Francis is hemmed in by Church tradition thinly supported by selected pieces of scripture to maintain theological stances on celibacy, women’s roles in the church, and Homosexuality and LGBTQ issues. A significant portion of remaining believers will not support shifting traditions in these areas despite our clergy’s significant failure to live up to these espoused standards and volumes scientific and even scriptural support to have tradition evolve and be more in alignment with the Triune of God (God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit). The teachings and actions of the Catholic Church, its priest, and congregation are simply not living up to the spirit of the laws. Countless parables are available where Jews condemned and challenge Jesus for breaking Judaic law when he carried out his father’s work.
Tradition can change and should change when we come to know that its basis is unfounded and misguided:
“On June 22, 1633, the Church handed down the following order: “We pronounce, judge, and declare, that you, the said Galileo… have rendered yourself vehemently suspected by this Holy Office of heresy, that is, of having believed and held the doctrine (which is false and contrary to the Holy and Divine Scriptures) that the sun is the center of the world, and that it does not move from east to west, and that the earth does move, and is not the center of the world.”
The church and its believers rely on short memories and the adage this too will pass. And it very well may albeit a diminished and tarnished Church. But should it pass by quietly?
At the end of the day our faith is best rooted in the Triune and not in the individual actions of priest. In five days, Pope Francis will lead the institution in addressing the sexual abuse crisis in the church. There will be a call to blame it on homosexual priest as disordered individuals as the cause. Numbers and studies prove this is a fallacy. Homosexuals are no more likely to abuse children than heterosexuals. But there is no scientific basis for asserting that they are more likely than heterosexual men to do so. Child predators are fixated on children and should not be characterized by their sexual orientation but by their preoccupation with children regardless of sexual orientation.
If the church goes this route, aside from persecuting Homosexuality (and LGBQT people in general) the church will ignore the root of ingrained practices and traditions that may leave child predator in place, continue to promote an unhealthy life style for our priest (lack of transparency, isolation, and dwindling numbers), and a closed toxic institutional approach.
Pope Francis requires our prayers and the grace of the Triune to lead our church out of the middle age definitions of human sexuality and human relationships in general. How can we return to our roots as a faith without falling prey to grave errors? How much more grave can the errors be than those we have already committed in God’s name or while wearing the vestiges of the priesthood? Retreating from the public spear, reducing our public footprint is not the answer. The answer is humility, compassion and change by all us in the pews, in the clergy, and at the Vatican – from the janitor to the Pope let no stone be upturned and left unchanged. We need to transcend our human traditions and return to divine transcendence.