Today, the Vatican announced what all of us basically figured was coming: no gays in the military.  Oh, wait, I meant: no gays in the clergy.  Pope Benedict has been in the Vatican for less than a year now and it seems his gravest concern is not for varied social justice topics, not for the poor, not for the undiscovered ways to bring more young men into the clergy.  No, ridding the church of gay priests seems to be on his front burner.

From the BBC:

The Vatican document describes homosexual acts as “grave sins” that cannot be justified under any circumstances. “If a candidate practises homosexuality, or presents deep-seated homosexual tendencies, his spiritual director as well as his confessor have the duty to dissuade him in conscience from proceeding towards ordination,” it says.

“Such persons in fact find themselves in a situation that presents a grave obstacle to a correct relationship with men and women.”

But the paper also stresses the Church’s deep respect for homosexuals, who, it says, should by no means be discriminated against.

Come again?

From what I understand, priests, of course, do not lose their sexual identity when they become ordained.  Rather, they deny themselves the right to act upon it.  This is clearly understood.  So, what is the difference if a priest is straight or gay?  Herein lies the problem of misunderstanding and re-appropriation of blame.  Following the molestation tragedy that befell the American Catholic Church, the blame, first off, was not placed on the bishops who allowed the molestation to continue and, second off, the blame was appropriated to the “homosexual” priests.  There seems to be a failure to understand that homosexuality does in no manner reflect tendencies to harm children.  It is possible to be a homosexual molester, but a molester is a molester no matter what sexual identity they have.

Again from the BBC:

Some Catholic theologians feel the document is not sufficiently clear, the BBC’s Peter Gould says.

That it refers to “tendencies” rather than orientation “has left many people scratching their heads,” Jesuit scholar Father Thomas Reese told him.

This had me wondering as well.  I think the Vatican is trying to avoid using the word orientation as opposed to tendencies, which can be fleeting, because of permanence.  If you refer to my reflection passage from two days ago you can see why: And now, O Lord, thou art our father, and we are clay: and thou art our maker, and we all are the works of thy hands (Isaiah 64:8).  That is a little difficult to get around if you’re a Christian.  Basically, the passage says that we are all creations of God and we are as we are because of God.

Yet, still, we have the another take by the National Catholic Reporter:

The document does not apply to already-ordained gay priests…While clearly rejecting the ordination of persons with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies,” the document nevertheless falls short of an outright ban on gay candidates. Aside from making a distinction regarding “transitory” tendencies, the document also specifies that it is still up to bishops and religious superiors to make judgments about whether individual candidates have obtained the “affective maturity” to be priests.

The document states that “it remains understood that the candidate himself is primarily responsible for his own formation.”

The document also calls upon priestly candidates to be honest about their sexuality.

“It would be gravely dishonest for a candidate to hide his own homosexuality, regardless of everything, to arrive at ordination,” it says. “Such an inauthentic attitude does not correspond to the spirit of truth, loyalty, and availability that must characterize the personality of one who considers himself called to serve Christ and his Church in the ministerial priesthood.”

As has always been the case, the Catholic Church has only served to confuse me even more.  This time, it may have confused itself, as well.

Today’s reflection: Iesus autem intuitus eum dilexit eum et dixit illi unum tibi deest vade quaecumque habes vende et da pauperibus et habebis thesaurum in caelo et veni sequere me; And Jesus, looking on him, loved him and said to him: One thing is wanting unto thee. Go, sell whatsoever thou hast and give to the poor: and thou shalt have treasure in heaven. And come, follow me. (Mark 10:21)