December 06, 2005

What Next?

As a brief introduction to my first post, I want to explain that I spent 2.5 years as an engineering major and often tend to think through the logical aspects of things. Also, I love playing the role of Devil's Advocate, which only gets encouraged by the fact that I spend my days surrounded by 15-17 year-old girls, who decide that the nun that teaches their religion class should be able to answer all their questions such as "Wait a second -- if Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law, then doesn't that mean that he was married? I thought that's why priests couldn't get married" or "If Joseph didn't have relations with Mary until after Jesus was born, then doesn't that mean that they had 'relations'?" And then, of course, there are all the questions wherein they try to reconcile Jesus' idea of God as a "passionately caring parent with untiring, unlimited, unconditional love and forgiveness" with these ideas that only some are good enough to come to the table. "After all, didn't Jesus hang out with the sinners and tax collectors?" So, if I come across as smart-alecky, it's most likely intended to draw out what would happen if things proceed to their "logical" conclusion.

All that being said ... Last Friday I blogged about the letter that accompanied the Vatican document, which instructs bishops that gay priests should not teach in seminaries. Knowing that this "dedicated day" was coming up (that I then subsequently missed!), I figured I'd hold it until today. So, without further ado ....

Let the Slippery Slope Begin

Just saw this in a buried headline ...

Letter Advises Against Gay Seminary Teachers

"Priests still struggling with homoerotic desires are perhaps not the best-placed to act as evaluators or counselors of candidates for the priesthood who are working through similar issues," said papal biographer George Weigel.

I can understand that point. Just as I can understand that someone who is truly struggling with whether she should be in community is probably not the best candidate for vocation director. But, if they're not struggling? If they have been able to integrate that aspect of themselves into their understanding of a celibate lifestyle?

Even if we disregard the fact that this comes "on the heels of so many people assuring us that this document does not relate to priests already ordained," (Rev. James Martin, SJ) , it still can be problematic.

The Rev. Donald B. Cozzens, a Catholic author and former seminary rector, points out: "I think it could also raise questions about people working in chanceries and about bishops who happen to be gay. And why stop there? I see it as a logical extension of the instruction, but it underscores the problematic nature of the instruction."

The question I would ask is much along the lines of Fr. Cozzens. What about the lay faculty of seminaries? Many seminaries are also colleges or universities -- what about the faculty not directly involved in the priestly formation? What if there's a gay priest who teaches English? Or a lesbian lay woman who teaches English? What's the line between "priestly formation" and "non-formation classes"? Would it be just the theology and homelitics and liturgical courses? What about philosophy? Can a gay man teach Western Civilization but not Church History?

Many of these schools also have lay students in attendance. If I went to Saint Whosits University to get a BS in Math Education, how does my professor's "priestly vocation" affect my knowledge of derivatives and integrations (pun intended, once realized!). What if I were a gay student? Would I still be able to be a math major? Would I be allowed in a theology class?

You can't tell me that there is not a single professor in a seminary (since there are many lay people employed by seminaries) that has not had an affair, or been divorced and remarried without getting an annulment, or practiced birth control, or any of the other ways to live "a life in conformance with the Catholic faith."

And yet these are the guys five years from now who will be sent off on their own to run three parishes by themselves, where they'll have to minister to all sorts of these "unmentionables" and deal wtih their sexual orientation to the women of the Knitting Guild.

You know, all these foreign priests we have these days? It's really hard to understand a lot of them because of their accents. Maybe we should stop letting people with accents into the seminary. Or guys who limp, because I really worry about them walking up and down the steps of the altar, especially when they're carrying the Eucharist -- they might trip and drop it.

Reminds me of an excellent sermon by cats that I discovered a couple weeks ago entitled People I Don't Like.

Is fear and exclusion really the answer?

And yet Jesus chose a hated tax collector to be part of his inner circle.

There's the Theresa of Avila prayer that says that "Christ has no hands on Earth but yours; no feet on Earth but yours."

Are we truly being Christ's body?

Sometimes I wonder....

[cross-posted at Narrow at the Outset]