By Hilary White

November 30, 2005 ( – After last week’s leak of the long-awaited Vatican document on homosexuals and the priesthood, reported that the anticipated ban was prompting dissenters to reveal themselves publicly. Now that the document has been officially released and Vatican officials have clarified that indeed the intention is to bar those with serious and persistent homosexual temptations from ordination, reports are coming in of bishops and other Catholic clergy openly or subtly dissenting. The reaction is further revealing the deep rift that has long been observable between much of the US episcopate and the teachings and disciplines of the Catholic Church.

In addition to the usual suspects such as the notorious Cardinal archbishop of Los Angeles, Roger Mahony, and Bishop Matthew Clark of Rochester, NY – both of whom either wink at or encourage homosexuals among their clergy and were praised by homosexual activists for their support of the “gay community”– other bishops are revealing their opposition.

Bishop William Lori, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, asserted that the document “is not, as some have concluded, a response to the sexual abuse crisis in the United States,” although the text of the document clearly states that its proscriptions are “made more urgent by the current situation.”

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the archbishop of Westminster, said in an official statement, “The Instruction is not saying that men of homosexual orientation are not welcome in the priesthood.” This despite the fact that the document says exactly the opposite.

The Swiss Bishops’ Conference issued a statement that opted for ambiguity instead of overt denial. “At the heart of our reflections on becoming a priest,” they wrote, “there is no question of sexual orientation but instead the responsibility to follow Christ in a coherent manner.” The ambiguity arises with the implication that following Christ and obeying Church dictates can be two different things.ÂÂÂ

The president of the US Bishops’ Conference, Bishop William Skylstad, head of a diocese that recently declared bankruptcy after its huge abuse case payouts, signed a statement that laboriously sidestepped the specific issue of ordaining those with homosexual tendencies. Skylstad said that the answer to the question “whether a homosexually-inclined man can be a good priest” lies in the lives of men who “have truly been dedicated priests.”

One US Jesuit, Fr. James Martin who writes on the issue said Skylstad’s statement and another from the head of the organization for priests in religious orders indicate some officials “reserve the right to interpret the new document according to their own reading of it on the local level.”

A statement from Theodore Cardinal McCarrick of Washington said, “It is important to look at the whole person” in assessing candidates and specified commitment to celibacy and backing for church teaching but did not address same-sex orientation as such.

The Vatican’s document states that there are three categories of men who may not be admitted to seminaries or ordained: “those who practise homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture’.”

With the Church’s own hierarchy in many countries openly or tacitly in support of the “so-called gay culture” it is difficult to anticipate what Rome’s recourse will be to bishops who defy, ignore or “interpret” the document to mean business as usual.

Read related coverage:
  Catholic Schism Being Revealed as Homosexual Priest Document Readies for Release

Vatican ‘Gay’ Priest Ban Forcing Dissidents Out of the Closet


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