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7 March 2002

I haven't had a good rant in awhile, but there is steam pouring out my ears the last couple of days. I'm remembering why it was that I left the Catholic Church in the first place, unable to stomach some of its teachings.

The recent spate of revelations about molestation by priests throughout the country has finally sparked comment from Rome. I wonder, first of all, where all the concern was before the media got hold of this issue. I've known for years that the Catholic church has been quietly moving molesting priests out of parishes and into other parishes (in the case of some pedophiles, they've been moved from one youth group to a youth group in another city). In some cases they've been moved to a center for treatment of their sexual problems. It's not exactly something that anybody in the church hierarchy has started foaming at the mouth about. And it hasn't exactly been a secret. (I don't know how I learned about the center for treating molesting priests, but I remember getting angry at the time--and it was a very long time ago.)

However, now it appears that it's all the fault of homosexuality. Of course. (Nobody has mentioned the straight priests who molest girls.) According to a NY Times article, Vatican spokesman Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls blamed clergy sexual abuse on gay priests. Navarro-Valls was quoted in the March 3, 2002 Times as saying that "People with these inclinations just cannot be ordained," and he suggested that just as a marriage can be annulled if the husband turns out to be gay, so the ordination of gay men might also be made invalid.

(Right off, this goes against what I've been taught since a those years in Catholic grammar school--once a priest, always a priest. You might be "defrocked" but ordination confers this magical "thing" that you always have.)

Navarro-Valls goes on to say "That does not imply a final judgment on people with homosexuality,' but you cannot be in this field.''

Excuse me? I thought priests were supposed to be celibate. What the hell does sexual orientation have to do with worth to minister to the flock and preach the word of God?

Navarro-Valls' comments blatantly suggest that homosexuality equals pedophilia, conveniently ignoring--again--all those pedophile priests who molest girls or young women. It also ignores the statistics which show that pedophiles are more commonly heterosexual, and all the legal and psychological evidence that pedophilia has nothing to do with orientation. It is an illness where the perpetrator is attracted to children. That has absolutely nothing to do with two consenting adults who happen to be attracted to each other.

It just amazes me. I sit here and shake my head. We are blowing up people in Afghanistan. There are people starving all over the world. There are so many social issues to address and yet there is all this foaming at the mouth over homosexuality.

A.W. Richard Snipe, a former priest and psychotherapist, who has been studying the sexuality of priests for 25 years and has written three books on the subject, estimates that half of all priests--gay as well as straight--are honoring their vows of celibacy. He said his studies have shown that ''over twice as many priests are involved with adult women as with boys.''

Men--gay or straight--commit to celibacy when they are ordained priests. So why should only gay men be singled out as a category of persons who should not be admitted to the priesthood?

''If they were to eliminate all those who were homosexually oriented, the number would be so staggering that it would be like an atomic bomb," says Snipe. "it would do the same damage to the church's operation.''

''It would mean the resignation of at least a third of the bishops of the world. And it's very much against the tradition of the church; many saints had a gay orientation, and many popes had gay orientations,'' Sipe said. ''Discriminating against orientation is not going to solve the problem.''

But it's easy to get a community behind you when you attack homosexuals, so why try to deal with the real problem, which is sexual misconduct by priests, whether they are gay or straight.


Quote of the Day

In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.

-- Martin Niemoeller,
German Lutheran Pastor

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