By John-Henry Westen

ROME, November 23, 2005 ( – The leak of what has been confirmed by various sources as the Vatican document barring from enteringÂthe Catholic priesthood menÂwho are homosexual, has spurred comments from various leaders within the Catholic church. Some of those comments have exposed the commentators as willingly and resolutely opposed to the Catholic teaching on the matter of homosexuality and the priesthood.Â

In addition, faithful Catholics both within the hierarchy and among the laity have spoken up to defend the Vatican’s statements, despite animosity from the media guardians of political correctness.Â

Apart from the usual anti-Catholic groups, which to no-one’s surprise used the leaked document as yet another opportunity to bash the Church, Catholic priests opposed to the Vatican stand have publicly exposed their dissent from Christian moral teaching. In addition to Rochester, NY, Bishop Matthew H. Clark, and Rev. Timothy Radcliffe, the former international leader of the Dominican Order, who came out against the long-standing Vatican position in recent weeks (see coverage ), the controversial Archbishop of Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony has, through the diocesan spokesman, not surprisingly also come out against Catholic teaching as re-emphasized by the Vatican document.

Tod Tamberg, spokesman for the Archdiocesees [sic], told the LA Times, “There will be some people who from what they hear in the media will think: ‘Oh my God, this means no gay will ever be ordained in the priesthood again or anybody with a homosexual orientation will never be ordained again.’ That’s simply not true.” Rather said Tamberg, the important disqualifier is an inability to lead others to Christ.”Any impediment that would prevent a priest from fulfilling that duty is cause for examination or disqualification,” Tamberg said. “That could be one’s sexuality that, one way or the other, gets in the way; it could be alcoholism; it could be that that person is incredibly selfish and not willing to give of themselves in the measure that is required of a priest.”

Just as Bishop Clark suggested that the Vatican document would not change matters in the Rochester diocese, Father Thomas Rausch, professor of theology at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, suggested homosexuals would still be accepted. He suggested that since the document leaves administration of the rules to the local bishop, the document will not “have a major impact.” Were the document to rule out homosexual candidates, he said “it clearly would be discriminating against gay candidates, and that would clearly be unjust.”

The confirmed text of the document also throws the spotlight on the views of Spokane bishop William Skylstad, the current president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Writing in his diocesan paper in October, he said: “There are many wonderful and excellent priests in the church who have a gay orientation, are chaste and celibate, and are very effective ministers of the Gospel. Witch hunts and gay bashing have no place in the Church.”

The news of the leaked full document also afforded known dissidents the opportunity to vent their agitation with the Vatican in the press. Rev. Donald Cozzens, Sister Jeannine Gramick, and Father Tom Reese were all more than ready to slam the Church over the new document.

However, far from silence, a growing band of faithful Catholic clergy and prominent laity made their voices heard in support of the new Vatican document.

Answering Rev. Cozzens’ charge that the new document will empty already meagrely occupied seminaries, Rev. Richard John Neuhaus of First Things magazine told the New York Times that the decree will attract to seminaries those candidates who in the past wereÂrepelled by”the presence, and sometimes dominance, of a gay culture” in seminaries.

On his website, Fr. Neuhaus explained, “The new Vatican instruction is clearly aimed at countering what Archbishop Wilton Gregory, when president of the U.S. bishops conference, called the homosexualization of the priesthood that has turned many manly young men away from a priestly vocation. “

The American biographer of Pope John Paul II, George Weigel also added his commentary in the Times saying, “I think there will be the usual attempt to paint the Catholic Church as behind the times, segregated, etc.. But that’s just the way it is when the Catholic Church defies the politically correct view on anything having to do with human sexuality.”

Rev. Joseph Fessio, editor of Ignatius Press, which has the exclusive rights to the distribution of the writings of Pope Benedict in North America, told the Times “I don’t think it’s anything new or different from the church’s constant teaching, but it’s new in the sense that the teaching has been widely disregarded in seminaries.”

Both Neuhaus and Weigel concurred that the key factor with the new document is what local bishops will do with it.Â

“All of this inevitably comes down to whether the local bishop wishes to implement these things, and the church is not going to set up some sort of gestapo,” said Weigel.

Fr. Neuhaus concluded his observations stating, “During the years of the sex abuse crisis-a crisis mainly occasioned by homosexual priests having sex with teenage boys-I was famous (or infamous) for saying that it was all about three things: fidelity, fidelity, and fidelity. The story of the new instruction from Rome will likewise be about three things: implementation, implementation, and implementation.”

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