Saturday, December 03, 2005

A Vatican Retreat on Homosexuality

Ellen Goodman wrote in WaPo Somewhere along the way the dividing line over gay issues picked up and moved. It's no longer between red and blue states, or left and right wings, but between nature and nurture. Or, to be more precise, between those who believe that homosexuality is a choice and those who believe that homosexuality is innate. Remember the moment in the 2004 debate when CBS's Bob Schieffer asked George W. Bush and John Kerry whether they thought homosexuality was a choice? The president answered, "I don't know," and the senator replied, "We're all God's children." Well, it turns out that the more you believe homosexuality is innate, the more accepting you are of gay rights. A full 79 percent of people who think human beings are born with a sexual orientation support gay rights, including civil unions or marriage equality. But only 22 percent of those who believe homosexuality is a choice agree. The same line can be found in the religious world between those who regard homosexuality as a (bad) choice and those who see it as (biological) trait.

Even if it is a biological trait, could it not be a bad biological trait?
The most conservative Protestant churches that talk about the homosexual "lifestyle" prohibit gay men and lesbians from being ministers. Religious liberals who see sexual orientation as an inborn trait are more open to gays in the pulpit. All in all, Americans seem reluctant to condemn people simply for who they are.
I condem murderers and pedophiles for who they are? Don't you?
What, then, do we make of the Catholic Church's banning -- and perhaps purging -- of gay priests? On Tuesday the much-leaked and much-awaited document from the Vatican said the church "cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called 'gay culture.' " What was painful to many Catholics was the obvious scapegoating of gays for the church sexual abuse scandal.
Why shouldn't they have been blamed (or scapegoated) for the sexual abuse scandal? Do you blame the children they abused? Were they "asking for it"
But there was something less obvious. Thirty years ago the Catholic Church accepted the view that some were definitively gay. Church teachings said that "they do not choose their homosexual condition." Nevertheless, the new document doesn't just ban gays who "practice" homosexuality, breaking the vows of celibacy. It bans all those with homosexual "tendencies."
Because they don't want any more priests abusing young children.
In the strange new backsliding language of the Vatican, homosexuality is a "tendency." The church doesn't define tendency, nor does it say whether such a tendency is biological. Voluntary or not, it marks a man permanently. As Matt Foreman, a gay activist who was raised Catholic, says, "Doesn't matter what you do or believe or practice. If you are gay there is no making that better in the eyes of the church." Ironically, the only exemptions are offered to men who were not "real" homosexuals but "transitory" ones. They're given a pass, in the words of a Vatican cardinal, for "some curiosity during adolescence or accidental circumstances in a state of drunkenness or particular circumstances like someone who was in prison for many years." A drunk or ex-con is okay; a chaste gay seminarian is not.
Actually I believe that if the seminarian has been chaste for a certain period of time (3 years) they let him stay.
Mean Dean blogged All this energy and hyperbole when in fact all that really recently happened was the Vatican extended its prohibition on sexually active priests and seminarians to include homosexuals.

Jimmie blogged To be nice, I’ll assume that Goodman is having problems reading, as opposed to purposefully deceiving you and slandering the Church. Read the Vatical sttement again and pay special attention to the verbs in the sentence: practice, present, support. Those are action words. They indicate an activity, not a state of being. Simply put, what the Vatican is prohibiting in its priests are homosexual acts, not the state of being of homosexuality.

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