Tuesday, November 29, 2005

There Goes Half the Priesthood

Gay Priests To Be Banned scream the headlines.

Cynically, I kind of go "yeah, so what?" in the back of my mind - until the irony of it struck me.

Here we have the Roman Catholic Church going out of its way to make sure that no gays are in the clergy - or if they are, they're definitely celibate. This is the same church that is struggling to find enough clergy as it is, especially in the developed world.

The real irony comes to us from history. For centuries, the Roman Catholic Church was the only "respectable" employ that a homosexual person could often find. I don't know if any of the gay priesthood rose much above the level of the parish priest - only that there were lots of them in the hierarchy Annotated Bibliography. Of course, they were expected to regularly flog themselves or otherwise do penance for their "weaknesses".

In fairness, the church has generously decreed that if a homosexual has remained celibate for three years before entering the seminary, that they can become priests. (Rather like banning divorce, but oddly managing to find ways to grant annulments...) A bar like that is almost laughable. Periods of celibacy happen in people's lives all the time - sometimes by choice, sometimes by circumstance. Why such a bar exists for homosexuals entering the clergy, but not so for a heterosexual candidate is beyond me. Does the church not teach that extra-marital sex is a sin?

Personally, I think the Church would do itself a huge favour if it focused on expunging those that commit crimes from the clergy instead of moving them from parish to parish until the stink of their deeds overpowers even those outside the clergy. But, of course, that would be rational - and Pope Benedict XVI appears to be anything but.

No comments: