Search This Blog

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Catholics, Homosexuals, and the Priesthood

There is an ongoing debate within the Church today regarding homosexual priests and their fitness regarding their ministry.  What I am about to blog about is not "kosher."  What I am about to blog about is not easy and it is not for young children to read.  But it is a view which has some merit.

What is a priest's role?  How does a priest relate to the Church, to the parish and to the parishoners?  This is a question that for centuries was taken for granted.  However, since the middle 20th century it has become a much more difficult question to ask and it has become a much more difficult question to answer.

When we look at the priesthood, there are a couple of factors that we must take into account.  I will look at each of them individually, the first being the vocation itself.  When a man becomes a priest what does he become?  He becomes, before all other things an alter Christus.  He acts in persona Christi at several points in his priesthood and hopefully on a very regular basis.  How?  By marrying the Church.  If Christ is the bridegroom and the Church is His bride, then the priest takes on the role of groom and he marries the Church.  That is how the relationship between priest and Church must exist, that is Christological and it is also the reason why a priest is called Father.  For if the the Church is our Mother (ie. Holy Mother Church) and the priest acts "in persona Christi" then he is the Father and it makes perfect sense.  It is logical.

The second factor is celibacy.  What is celibacy for a priest?  It really isn't a very difficult concept, but it is made much moreso because of today's climate in society.  Celibacy is a sacrifice.  But a sacrifice of what?  It is the sacrifice of a man (the priest) marrying and having a family.  That is what celibacy is.  In that vein, it is governed by chastity.  Because in the legal sense a priest forgoes marriage and a family, he must not engage in sexual actions.  That is the chaste thing to do.  So they are intertwined, but they are very separate, at the same time.

The debate is now, does a homosexual have the right to be a priest.  I argue no, he does not.  Why?  Because as I have just laid out, the priesthood is designed (by God) for a heterosexual man.  Gays cannot enter into the Sacrament of Matrimony.  They cannot marry.  It is simple.  If a gay cannot marry, then he cannot rightly enter into the covenant which is formed through Holy Orders.

Secondly and much more importantly, a gay is not celibate.  For the gay man it is not a sacrifice to forgo a wife and family.  He is gay.  The gay man has no desire to have a wife.  If he has no desire to have a wife, then there is nothing given up.  It would be akin to me saying, "I'm giving up tomato soup for Lent."  I hate tomato soup.  I can't stand it.  For me to give up tomato soup for Lent is not a sacrifice and there is no merit in it.  For the gay man, he has an aversion to marrying a wife and having a family.  There is no merit in him being celibate.

The institution of the priesthood is not founded upon homosexuality.  It is founded upon heterosexuality.  When we speak of a married clergy or when we speak of a celibate clergy, we're not speaking about homosexual priests.  The Church has always taught that the priest will be a man.  The Church has always taught that the priest will be a heterosexual man, because certain parameters must be met in his vocation.  The gay man is incompatible with the priesthood, precisely because he is gay.  Bottom line.  The priesthood cannot be founded upon that inclination which is intrinsically evil.  If you look toward the Catechism of the Catholic Church, you'll see that between CCC 915; CCC 1544-1584; CCC 2349; CCC 2357-2379, the genesis of this post is founded.

There is a place for homosexuals in the Church, because there is room for all men in the Church, but there isn't room in the ministerial priesthood for a homosexual, because he is not rightly disposed to be a Catholic priest.  But then again, most Catholics are not called to be priests, so the gay man shouldn't feel slighted by that, but rather he should find what his right vocation is in the Church and give his greatest glory to God in that manner.


  1. Andy:

    While admittedly not an expert in matters of theological nature, it seems to me that your opinions are consistent (if not identical) with church doctrine. That being said, this situation has caused me a certain amount of concern due to some ambiguities. The "Instruction on the Careful Selection And Training Of Candidates For The States Of Perfection And Sacred Orders" states that "Advantage to religious vows and ordination should be barred to those who are afflicted with evil tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty". Notice that the precatory "should" is employed rather than the mandatory "shall". My concern lies with whether homosexual priests are validly ordained. Is the element of matter (i.e. the necessity of ordaining a male) suffering from an irreparable loss of integrity? Is the ordination of homosexuals merely "illicit"? Are sacraments administered by these priests valid? Thanks in advance for addressing my lack of understanding.

  2. To answer your question about validity, the answer is no. It seems that through what I've been able to find, the necessity is filled based solely on gender. So if a man is gay, he can be validily ordained to the priesthood, but his ordination would be illicit, which I think speaks to the second question.

    Since the Church teaches that homsexuality can be mastered, then it is possible, albeit unlikely that a gay man should be ordained. Because it is impossible to know when that self mastery is complete (and the Church gives no timetable, rightly), then I think that addresses validity.

    For the rest, I think we're on the same page.