Some comments to my post below, a mixed message to gay Catholics, seemed worthy of a post.
I want to focus on one question Tim raised in comments there (to read his entire comments, go to that post from Friday, September 23).
"You are right about the need for disinterested friendships and healthy male bonding for men with same sex attraction disorder but the seminary is for the formation of priests not a treatment center for men with SSAD, alcoholism, or any other serious problem. '[T]his should be that place." No our parihes should be that place, The Knights of Columbus should be that place, our Catholic social groups should be that place. '[I]f the seminary is made up of otherwise healthy well adjusted men it would be a very healthy environment for a homosexual male...' My question then is how many healthy well adjusted men per homosexual candidate? Ten to one? One to one? Surely you would not want more homosexuals than straight men. So whats your quota? What do you tell the men with SSAD who don"t get in after you have the safe number. 'sorry fellas we have reached our quota of "Gays" try the next diocese over or just head to LA, Albany, or Rochester. Mahony, Hubbard and Clark never listen to the Pope anyway."
Well, let's unpack this question.
First of all, my original point presupposed that everyone admitted to the seminary is carefully examined, both for commitment to celibate chastity, including a track record, as well as all the other things you look for in potential seminarians.
I presupposed it, not because I'm so naive as to assume it always happens, but to make the point that it MUST happen. And the comments I made were intended only for that context. If there's any validity to having same-sex-attracted men in the seminary, it totally hinges on that.
Now, Tim and others (if I understand Tim correctly) doubt the gatekeepers and formators are being as careful as they ought to be. Understood; and while such negligence is an important question, and obviously related, it is, still, a separate question.
Because if they are as negligent as some insist, I fail to see how helpful a new instruction from Rome will be, if it is simply added to the dusty pile of ignored instructions.
Likewise, even if the formators and gatekeepers do their jobs, I take Tim's concerns with my views to mean that that is still not enough. A further step is needed, to exclude men with a same-sex orientation from the get-go. (And if that's not Tim's position, we may not actually disagree in substance, but perhaps misunderstand each other.)
Second, if Tim thinks I'm advocating seminaries as places of "therapy" or "treatment" for disordered guys, I am sorry my original post was insufficiently clear on this point, and I am happy to clarify it.
No one should be admitted to the seminary who doesn't have his act together, including in relation to his own sexuality. So Tim and I agree, the seminary isn't a place of "therapy" for people who aren't committed to chastity.
So when I said, "this should be that place," I wasn't saying seminaries are places to "fix" guys who aren't chaste, but it should be the place where chaste guys are reinforced in their chastity. Big difference. (Please remember, I was addressing the supposition that an all-male seminary is a near occasion of sin for same-sex-oriented men.)
And my point was, if they happen to have homosexual feelings, a seminary of guys properly screened, properly formed, is a healthy, chastity-affirming setting, not a "seething cauldron of pent-up testosterone" to use Father Jim Tucker's colorful phrase.
So to Tim's question--what should the ratio of homosexual to heterosexual be?
Well, I don't know, and other than those who say "zero," I don't know who knows. And--by the way--if Rome doesn't take the "zero" position, then I have no idea how Rome would answer Tim's question, either.
This may not be a satisfactory answer, but--I'd say with the proper admissions and formation scrutiny, and recruitment, I don't think this becomes an issue.
All I can cite is my own experience. When in the seminary, I had no idea of who might be same-sex-oriented, although I figured there had to be some, so naturally I might wonder about this or that guy. But it's not like I had anything obvious; there were no flamers. Here's a guy who likes opera and show tunes--only he was a widower, married 20 years. Here's a guy who had an odd mannerism (nothing flagrant); only he talked about the girls he went out with in college. Could have been lying. How can I know?
I hinted, but didn't say directly, what I think about a possible policy completely forbidding same-sex-attracted seminarians. I do have reservations about such a policy, in part because I'm having a hard time seeing how it would be articulated, enforced, and how effective that would be--including the inevitable incentives created and unintended consequences. I think the practical difficulties of actually framing such a policy may explain why it's still "in the works." Making it concrete is not easy to do.
Even assuming the strictest possible likely policy, I honestly don't know if I will think that a good or bad idea. I can see arguments both ways, and reservations both ways.
And after all, it all depends on what, if anything, actually emerges. I am not so bright that the reservations I can come up with won't have occurred to the folks in Rome, too.
Finally, if anything emerges, it may end up being more or less what I tend to favor: not total exclusion of same-sex-oriented men, but close scrutiny and a high standard for commitment to celibate chastity.
If anyone is concerned that I'm going to undermine the authority and unity of Mother Church over a policy disagreement, I can assure you that's not my style.
If I may, I publicly swore an oath of fidelity to the Church, and all her teachings, even those not infallibly defined, on two occasions: first, prior to being ordained a deacon, and second, upon my installation as a pastor. In addition, I made a solemn promise at both ordinations, to obey my ordinary, and I renew that every year. Anyone who cares to say I have failed in any of those oaths is welcome to say so; otherwise, I think I'm entitled to the benefit of the doubt.