We've all heard talk about barring men from admission to holy orders, purely on the basis of their sexual orientation. Many believe this an essential step and are cheered by reports that the Holy Father has signed off on such an instruction.
But Tom Toles, above--who often offends me--illustrates one of the problems of such a policy. (I shouldn't have to say this, but--I fully support the Church's teaching on what marriage is, who may marry, and on what chastity is for people in various states of life.)
One of the arguments often used for this is that somehow, a seminary must be a terrible temptation for a homosexually oriented man. Having spent six years in a seminary, I find this a little silly.
First, keep in mind that if the diocese, or order, is doing its job, it carefully scrutinizes candidates before entering, to determine their readiness for celibate chastity. We all hear horror stories, and should be skeptical, but I suppose they happen. In my case, studying for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati (which hardly has a reputation for being especially conservative), we are grilled about our past: dating, sexual history, etc. It's confidential; but very probing.
So if the admissions folks do their job, the homosexual men entering the seminary are going to have a track record of celibate chastity; they won't be--as someone from Catholics United for the Faith glibly put it--like an alcoholic in a bar. It will be more like a teetotaler in a bar. What's the problem?
Second, while I don't doubt guys in a seminary might well be able to pull off romances and liaisons, having lived in a seminary, I think it would be very hard to do and keep it secret. It's like the smallest small town you can imagine; everybody knows everybody else's business. If guys are AWOL a lot, either by themselves or with someone else, everyone will know it, including the faculty, many of whom live there (the priests, of course).
Third, people seem not to give much credence to what the Church actually recommends as a necessary tool for homosexual persons to succeed in chastity: close, trusting, disinterested friendship. This is what the Catechism says, and what Courage, the completely orthodox, pro-chastity, Catholic apostolate for same-sex-attracted persons, says.
And one of the great aspects of the seminary is the brotherhood men form in pursuit of the priesthood. You have every opportunity to form solid, trusting, life-giving friendships. And such friendships are key for all men, particularly in being morally accountable; who thinks they wouldn't be a great boon to same-sex-attracted men who are serious about chastity? If ever there were a place where a homosexual man might find a heterosexual man with the maturity, moral depth, spirituality and Christian charity to be a real friend, this should be that place.
The seminary is no place for anyone, heterosexual or homosexual--who is too immature to deal with such questions. And obviously, there are both appropriate and inappropriate ways to disclose such things. My point is that, contrary to the idea that the all-male environment is a snare for a homosexually oriented man; I am arguing that, if the seminary is made up of otherwise healthy, well-adjusted men, it would a very healthy environment for a homosexual male--who is demonstrably committed to celibate chastity--to succeed in that endeavor.
Finally, the "he's around guys all day, so it'll be too tempting" cuts both ways. After ordination, guess who a priest is more likely to be around all day? Not men, but women. Like it or not, the vast majority of those employed in, and active as volunteers, in a parish, are women. If "guys all day" is a grievous temptation for homosexuals, what is "gals all day" for a heterosexual? A priest-to-be spends at most 8 years in the seminary; he'll spend decades in a parish setting.