An article in today’s Pitt News has some misleading information. In the section addressing Lent, "Father" Bill Hausen, of Christ Hope Church, is quoted. Hausen broke away from the Catholic Church in 2004. He has been excommunicated and is no longer longer recognized as a priest by the Church, the sacraments he offers are not valid, and attending services at Christ Hope does not satisfy one’s Sabbath obligation.
"According to news reports, the Vatican document says that while homosexuals must be respected, the Catholic Church 'cannot admit to seminaries and to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, who present deeply rooted homosexual tendencies or who support the so-called gay culture.'"
"There is little doubt that most practicing Catholics will welcome this decision. The Vatican is prudent not to have an absolute ban on admission of homosexuals to the priesthood: there are too many good men with homosexual tendencies who have served the Church with distinction. But there is a monumental difference between someone who is incidentally homosexual and someone for whom the gay subculture is central to his identity. Only those blinded by sexual politics will fail to make this distinction."
With this much I am in agreement.
"As I have said many times before, most homosexual priests are not molesters, but most of the molesters are gay. The John Jay Report made this clear: 81 percent of the victims are male and almost as many are postpubescent. This is not called pedophilia – it is called homosexuality."
OK, I've seen this mythical 81% floating around the net for quite some time now and it's been bugging me. If I understand correctly – please inform me if I'm wrong – most of the victims of sexual abuse at the hands of priests were altar servers. If that's the case, then it only makes sense that most of the victims were male. Though female altar servers have been permitted for a few decades, there are still far fewer of them than male servers. The fact that most of the victims were post-pubescent might be more indicative of a demographic shift in altar servers rather than a preference among perverts.
If I am right about most of the victims being altar servers, then this is clearly a probaballistic fallacy. The probability of a server being male is very high. The probability of a victim being a server is very high. Therefore, the probability that the victim is male is also very high.
I am less sure that most servers these days are post-pubescent, but let's assume they are. By the same logic, the probability that a random victim would be a post-pubescent male would be quite high.
Throwing around this 81% figure is misleading. Remember, "there are lies, damned lies, and statistics".
"The Catholic laity are justifiably angry with molesting priests and their enabling bishops, few in number though they have been. What this document does is to send a signal – those who cannot seriously commit to a celibate lifestyle have no legitimate role to play in the priesthood. This stricture should apply equally to heterosexuals."
If Mr. Donahue is right about what the document says, I totally agree with him. Some folks don't agree with his reading, though.
Jeff Miller always seems to more on top of Catholic news in Pittsburgh than me. :/ Anyhow, he mentions an article at KDKA about a press conference held by the Association of Pittsburgh Priests. They want Bishop Wuerl to voice their desire for optional priestly celibacy and ordination of women to next month’s Synod on the Eucharist in Rome. Jeff makes some good observations about better ways for these priests to spend their energy (If the post weren’t so short I’d quote bits of it for you folks). One question that he didn’t ask immediately sprang into my mind as I read the story.
Why in Heaven’s name hasn’t Bishop Wuerl laid the smackdown on this heterodox organization yet?!
Here’s another article.
"In response [to the priest shortage], the Pittsburgh Association of Priests — a group of priests and lay people — is proposing a controversial conversation. Bishop Donald Wuerl goes to a three-week meeting with church leaders in Rome next month."
"When he’s there, some local priests want him to discuss two very radical ideas [optional priestly celibacy and women’s ordination]."
For the record, the idea of married clergy is not radical. Priestly celibacy in the Latin Rite is a discipline, not a doctrine. The ordination of women, however, is a theological impossibility.
Yet another article.
"Along with the priests’ letter to Bishop Wuerl the group also presented him with a petition signed by more than 28,000 Catholics backing their concerns."
*sigh* 28,000 poorly catechized Catholics. Please feed Christ’s sheep, Your Excellency.
Update 10/03/05: Apparently Australia has a similar problem with heterodox priests.
On Wednesday, I sent the following email to Father Ron Lengwin, spokesman for the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
I have a question I'm hoping you can answer in your capacity as diocesan spokesman. In a recent Post-Gazette article about the current seminary visitations and related comments made by Archbishop Edward O'Brien, Father Jim Wehner is quoted as saying,
"He is being very general. I would not challenge what he said, but I think we need to be more specific. You can have an orientation and never engage in homosexual acts. And you can have some young man who has too much to drink and engages in perversions he never would otherwise. That doesn't mean he's gay."
Domenico Bettinelli, Jr., managing editor of Catholic World News and editor of Catholic World Report, reacted to that statement with the following comments on his blog.
"Never mind that someone with a propensity for drunkness that leads to illicit sexual acts would have a whole other reason to be seriously re-considered for the seminary, what can the rector possibly be thinking? What normal heterosexual male suddenly finds himself a homosexual after having a few drinks? I'm sorry, but drunkenness doesn't change your personality, it lowers barriers and impairs judgment so that you're more likely to do things that are already in your mind."
"This is the kind of thinking that looks for loopholes and excuses, not elevated standards of behavior."
I am inclined to agree with Mr. Betinelli that not only is drunkenness a poor – and highly suspect – excuse for perverse acts, but is troubling on its own. However, I try as often as possible to hear all relevant sides of a story, and thus am loathe to accuse Father Wehner of offering an apologia for licentious behavior in seminaries. Furthermore, I do not think unchecked criticism of clerics is appropriate and provides opportunities for scandal in the Church. If Father Wehner was in any way misrepresented, I would like to know so that I might reply to Mr. Betinelli and others who were scandalized by the perceived apologia pro licentia. Would it be possible for a clarification of his comment to be offered? Thank you in advance.
Father Lengwin forwarded my email to Father Wehner, who responded to me today. He says that he must consult with the diocesan communications officer before clearing me to publish his response. However, I can state that Father Wehner was misquoted and his remarks were taken out of context. In fact, the (mis)quoted comment was made during a related conversation after he had, at the request of the reporter, commented on Archbishop O'Brien's statement that gay men should not be in a seminary. I'll publish his full response as soon as I'm permitted. I suppose technically speaking I don't need permission, but I wouldn't want to needlessly land Father Wehner in trouble with his boss, Bishop Wuerl.
Update 09/28/05: Father Wehner got back to me about publishing his clarification of the Post-Gazette article.
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Busy days.
I did speak with our communication office and in agreeing with them I believe I have clarified my remarks in light of the Post Gazette taking them out of context.
Therefore, if anyone else needs this same clarification they can contact me. My remarks to you are not be published.
I again appreciate the opportunity to address the questions you raised.
Sincerely in the Lord,
His address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are some very reasonable, fair, open-minded, intelligent, and compassionate orthodox responses to the announcement of the new policy against the admission of gays to the priesthood, and the related inspection of American seminaries, to be found in St. Blog’s Parish. Examples are those of Mark Shea and Amy Welborn. If only we could get that side of St. Blog’s to talk peacefully to the other side, for whom I’ll use Nathan Nelson as an example.
I don’t know whether the discourse thus far has been civil because I thus far haven’t noticed any discourse (outside of echo chambers) whatsoever.
Update 09/23/05: Here are three more good responses to the policy (which I’m now hearing isn’t so new, just not enforced).
The post by David Morrison is of particular interest. From David’s "About Me" page:
"David Morrison is the author of this web log and the book Beyond Gay, which Our Sunday Visitor press published in 1999 and which is still in print."
"He is also the found and moderator of Courage Online, an online support community for men and women living with some degree of same sex attraction who wish to do so chastely."
"Throughout his career so far David has written on human rights issues, population issues, pro-life issues and chastity issues. In addition to this web log and the writing for his day job, David speaks and writes on chastity and identity issues."