Pope Francis Allows Gay Priests to Exhale – UPDATES

Lots of exploding heads on the internet today, thanks to this headline, which will, naturally, be over-emphasized by the press. But it is certainly worth noting:

Pope Francis says he won’t judge gay priests

Pope Francis reached out an olive branch to the gay community Monday, saying that he won’t “judge” gay priests.

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

The pope’s predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, authored a document that said men with homosexual orientations should not be priests. Francis is softening that position, saying gay clergymen should be forgiven.

It is unfortunate that our Holy Father does not use English, because it leaves me wondering about translation or, in the case of this story, a reporter’s own misunderstanding of Catholic teaching. Did he say gay clergymen should be “forgiven”? That’s doubtful — as John Thane points out — and wouldn’t make sense, because it presumes that gays sin simply by being gay, which the church does not teach. A fuller reading of that section of his impromptu Q & A with reporters:

“A gay person who is seeking God, who is of good will — well, who am I to judge him?” the pope said. “The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. It says one must not marginalize these persons, they must be integrated into society. The problem isn’t this (homosexual) orientation — we must be like brothers and sisters. The problem is something else, the problem is lobbying either for this orientation or a political lobby or a Masonic lobby.”

Then again Francis’ remarks were part of a discussion about the “gay lobby” within the church, and one of his appointees in particular, whose faithfulness has been questioned by some. In that context, Francis’ remarks are worth noting:

“I did what canon law requires, which is to conduct a preliminary investigation. We didn’t find anything to confirm the things he was accused of, there was nothing. . .I’d like to add that many times we seem to seek out the sins of somebody’s youth and publish them. We’re not talking about crimes, which are something else. The abuse of minors, for instance, is a crime. But one can sin and then convert, and the Lord both forgives and forgets. We don’t have the right to refuse to forget. . .it’s dangerous. The theology of sin is important. St. Peter committed one of the greatest sins, denying Christ, and yet they made him pope! Think about that.”

Increasingly I think this pope’s motto should have been “go and learn what this means: I desire mercy.” (Matthew 9:13)

Forgiveness, and the recognition that people can sin and then repent and live faithful lives with the help of God’s grace, is so basic a tenet of Christianity I’m not sure I understand why people are having difficulty with this. When a friend of mine suggested that “even if” the priest in question had repented, “he should not be in such a position of prominence. It gives scandal!” I disagreed. To proclaim a Gospel of Mercy and then only permit a man or woman who has converted their lives in Christ to assume lesser or menial positions is to say we do not trust our own teaching — Christ’s own teaching — about mercy. The pope is correct; by that way of thinking, Peter would never have been given the keys to the kingdom. We are the church of Saint Mary Magdalene and Saint Paul; sinners who were first forgiven and then trusted with prominence.

I understand some folks’ concerns that perhaps Francis is too heavy on the mercy and too light on the justice side of things — and certainly the cross itself teaches us that both must be held in balance. But this is still a pretty fresh papacy. The sense I’m getting is that Francis means to scrape some long-attached barnacles from the Barque of Peter, so we can see what the deeper hues of Justice and Mercy look like; he’s readying it to travel some rough, challenging waters.

I wonder who will jump ship? Last night I debated a woman with her skirt over her face about our bishops having a little fun, in Rio. She thought it was scandalous and silly and unbefitting the church. I thought our bishops — after a terrible decade — were finally being allowed to exhale!

Not long ago, I watched heads explode when when Benedict XVI was pope, now it’s ‘Splode! ‘Splode! ‘Splode! again, but from the other direction. Peter is always a controversial man. That eating with the gentiles stuff, and all. This morning, I am watching heads going all ‘splody all over the place, (because the internet is nothing if it is not a place for hysterical over-reaction and hand-wringing) over Francis’ pronouncement “on gay priests”.

I’ll tell the new hysterics the same thing I told the old hysterics: you’re gonna be surprised who makes it into heaven and who doesn’t, because it’s not going to line up with what you or I think is Catholicism-done-Correctly, so be sweet to everyone, mind your own soul, not theirs, and trust Jesus to sort it out. He is, after all, the one whom God appointed to judge, and “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7: 21-23

It’s easier to react and indulge in a feast of high-drama when a pope does something that you or I think seems incongruous to our understanding, and yet is part-and-parcel with Christ’s own words. I have a great reverence and love for the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI but his decision on gay priests — made during a period of crisis and deep scandal, when all sorts of actions were being demanded of the church — was one I always hoped he would change, because it always seemed so foreign to Benedict’s own writings on mercy. I wrote about that, here:

I wonder if her bishops and religious leaders will, for example, have to acknowledge with loving support the numerous celibate homosexual priests who, throughout history and still today, serve her faithfully, courageously, and with great joy. Such an acknowledgment could go a long way repairing that disconnect that keeps everyone talking about tolerance while walking away from it.

It would speak to the value of the human person as he is created; it would reinforce the church’s own teaching that the homosexual inclination is not in-and-of-itself sinful; in a sex-saturated culture where “gay” has become in some minds synonymous with “promiscuous” and both heterosexual and homosexual couples see no particular value in chastity, it would present the radical counter-narrative.

Most importantly, such an acknowledgment would be call of olly-olly-oxen free for the church herself. Battered by the revelations of the past decade, poorly served by past psychological studies suggesting that child abusers could be “cured” and therefore distrustful of more recent findings that homosexuals are no more inclined to pedophilia than heterosexuals, the church has reflexively pulled the curtains over a number of her priests, and in doing so, she has hidden the idea of “acceptable otherness” from a flock that is sorely in need to see some of it.

It is a self-protective move—and given the way the church is portrayed in media, a somewhat understandable one—but in making it, the church is being dishonest. Worse, she is contradicting the message—the very consoling and urgently needed message—that we are created perfect in God’s eyes, and therefore must be acceptable to each other, no matter the extra-chromosome, or the physical imperfection, or the “other” way of feeling and looking and being.

A generation in turmoil needs to hear it. A church that survives by the grace of the Holy Spirit needs to breathe it.

Benedict did what he had to do to see the Barque of Peter through a devastating storm. After a terrible, penitential and spirit-challenging decade, our bishops are being allowed to exhale; our faithful gay priests are being allowed to exhale. Perhaps the whole church needs to unclench its jaws, relax and breathe for a little while, before we face the next stormy crossing, with Peter still at the helm.

Take a deep breath and let it out, before your head explodes. Then, let us all, like Solomon, pray for wisdom and “an understanding heart.”

Jimmy Akin puts Benedict’s views on gays in context because the mainstream press won’t.

Mollie Hemingway at Get Religion
makes an important distinction between priesthood and formation and then wonders why this specific statement actually a story at all and is unimpressed with mainstream press reportage. I’d argue that previous unimpressive mainstream reportage is why this is a big story: because the press has framed previous popes, and the church as a whole, as a big gay hating enterprise.

For those who can read it, here is a Spanish report on the Pope’s remarks. I do wish he spoke better English.

If you still feel inclined to hyperventilate, read this wonderful quote from the Pope Emeritus

Dwight Longenecker says the press is going to run on Francis…at some point.

God not only forgives, but forgets: “we don’t have the right to not forget.”

“You have saved me from the pit of destruction, when you cast behind your back, all of my sins.” (Isaiah 38-17) I know in my life I’ve needed God’s mercy far too much to be cheap with it.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Lenten Reading: Rosary and Inner Healing
Anchoress Shows Up to Give Homily at Mass! Also, Fatso!
Anchoress is CPAC “Blogger of the Year?” Get OUT!
ISIS takes more Christian hostages; seals its doomed fate
About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Mark.

    Gerard Manley Hopkins, S. J.

    Okay, maybe his career as a Jesuit wasn’t too impressive, but maybe it was especially precious in the eyes of God.

  • AnneG

    Thanks, Elizabeth. I’ve taken to reading what Pope Francis actually says in Spanish because the English translations are bad, really bad. I just read the transcript of the press conference. This was one question and The Holy Father said what the catechism says. That was only one question out of several and in no way encourages homosexual acts or behavior. Most of his remarks focused on living our lives in union with Christ, that being normal.
    Lots of the misunderstanding seems to be linguistic and cultural from Spanish. And, people do need to take a breath!

  • Jude

    I think the Papal theologian chosen by our Pope Francis explains it very simply the best to understand. Papal theologian: Treating homosexuals with dignity means telling them the truth | LifeSiteNews.com http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/papal-theologian-treating-homosexuals-with-dignity-means-telling-them-the-t #LifeSiteNews

  • Brian English

    I was perplexed by Benedict’s statement as well. I don’t see how you can tell people that those with same-sex-attraction should not act on those desires, but should live lives of celibacy and devote themselves to God, while at the same time barring them from an obvious path for their lives.

  • KimT

    I already heard this at exercise this morning, “did you hear that the pope embraces gay marriage? I heard it on one of the morning TV shows”.
    I think Pope Francis may be at his Palm Sunday moment with the media, with all their hosannas. We need to pray for him because eventually he will reach his Good Friday with them.

  • Bob Carlton

    I was also encouraged by his mention of “a truly deep theology of women in the church” – interesting to watch that work through a very patriarchal Catholic decision making community.

  • MeanLizzie

    The problem is the press and the church’s own inability to teach itself well. This weekend at a BBQ I had a Catholic tell me she was fed up with the church because of its wrongheaded teaching that “Being gay is a sin.” She was utterly shocked to learn that we do not teach this. Once she heard that she was willing to listen to what the actual church teaching was and even said, “well, that actually makes sense…we’re all supposed to be chaste.” I suggested she pick up a catechism and read it.

  • Anglican Peggy

    I was just reading about that ban on gay priests. I’m not sure it was banning them per se. It mentions that gay priests cannot be sexually active and that they cannot promote gay culture. The problematic phrase is “deep-seated” gay tendencies. But given the context of the others, is it possible that this is in reference to someone who has trouble controlling their urges and impulses? It looks to me as it always has that Benedict was merely reinforcing the rules. You can be gay priest but you must control your passions and cannot promote it or agitate for it as if it was normal and wholesome. Anyway, I’m not a Catholic and certainly no expert but that is just how I read it. My .02 Besides, I really liked Benedict and I think he is being given a bad rap in this as in so many other things.

  • Jeni

    This is excellent. Thank you.

  • Jeni

    Good point…

  • MeanLizzie

    I understood it the way you did, too, mostly. The problem was that sort of subtle nuance gets lost in the middle of it all. I loved and love Benedict, so you’ll see no bad rap on him from me.

  • MeanLizzie

    Yes, but he did not explicitly that JPII had answered this question of female ordination definitively.

  • MeanLizzie

    I think he really was trying to protect the church from the extremes…those who simply could not live that life of celibacy. Recall what a pardon my expression shitstorm he was facing… :-)

  • Matt Swaim

    Francis is contradicting Benedict roughly as often as Jesus contradicted himself in the Gospels.

    I’m convinced that a generation suckled on cynicism has no capacity for understanding paradox, so fixated on its own navel that nuance flies right over its collective head.

    That said, you couldn’t pay me enough to be one Fr. Federico Lombardi.

  • savvy

    He said the ban on women priests is final. Other options can be discussed.

  • savvy

    Not everybody with a same-sex attraction is going to have a vocation. Some might, some may not. I know that people are no longer allowed to sign up and try out, like they used to. They have to demonstrate sings of a true vocation.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    LOL, I’m glad you’re absorbing the internet storm and not me. I think the Pope made a wonderful statement on homosexuals. I wish he had said this before the SSM debate. That turned everyone into alienated positions. If this had come first I think the gay community would have understood us better. Ah, probably not. They want full acceptance and that requires the catholic church agree to SSM. Nothing is going to soften the gay community’s positions.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    People hear what they want to hear and demogogues always get their slant out best.

  • Tony

    My Sense is that Francis wants to crush clericalism more than anything, and will take the consequences if people don’t understand. Because clericalism is found on the right and the left, and people hide behind both. Francis is saying, preach the warmth of Jesus first, and let Him lead people to orthodoxy

  • bender

    Pope Francis did not say anything about “gay priests.” But that has not prevented the MSM from imposing its own agenda upon his remarks, especially if it can be used to claim differences and distinctions with Pope Benedict.

    Indeed, what Pope Francis talked about was exactly about people trying to impose agenda with respect to same-sex attraction.

    Specifically, he said, **“There is so much being written about the gay lobby. I haven’t met anyone in the Vatican yet who has “gay” written on their identity cards. There is a distinction between being gay, being this way inclined and lobbying. Lobbies are not good. If a gay person is in eager search of God, who am I to judge them? The Catholic Church teaches that gay people should not be discriminated against; they should be made to feel welcome. Being gay is not the problem, lobbying is the problem and this goes for any type of lobby, business lobbies, political lobbies and Masonic lobbies.”**

  • Bob Carlton

    Helpful commentary from Andrew Sullivan:

    what it does is explicitly end the Vatican’s demonization and
    marginalization of gay people made in the image of God, people who have
    served the Church from its very beginnings, in ways large and small.


  • Colleen Connell Mitchell

    I am an American Catholic missionary in Costa Rica and read a lot of Pope Francis’ words in Spanish first. I am very concerned that people are reacting over and over again to partial and not very well done translations of his words. We are getting a lot of direct translations that mask some of the sentiment in his phraseology, a lot that gives us what he said without giving us what he meant. In the Spanish translation, he was asked about Bishop Ricca and said he had followed Canon Law on the issue, issued an investigation and the investigation turned up nothing. Then he commented that the media and often the church tend to try to dig up the sins of our past, and that we need to remember that there is a difference between a sin and a crime. Sexual abuse of minors is a crime. Gay acts are a sin. Sins can be forgiven if the person repents. Then he quoted what the Catechism says about our treatment and acceptance of gay people. The journalists then asked him about the gay lobby, and he said we must distinguish between the two. That is when he made the comment about not judging gay people, but said the lobby, just like any other moral lobby, is unequivocally bad. They later asked him why he didn’t speak about abortion and gay marriage when he was in Brazil and he said he did not think it was the time for it. That the Church has made her doctrine clear on these things and the youth know what that is. It was not necessary in this environment. Later, the questioned him about what he thought about the ordination of women and he responded, “I am a son of the Church, I think what the Church thinks.” You get a much fuller picture of what he is saying when you read the Spanish version of the text. We may have to find someone who can faithfully paraphrase him in English rather than just pass on a direct translation because it is really a faulty version of his words.

  • Alex

    Speaking of homosexual priests in their July 29, 2013, article in USA TODAY, John Bacon and David Agren write: “Francis is softening that position [on homosexual priests], saying gay clergymen should be forgiven.”

    Wrong! Our Holy Father did not say those words. He said: “If a person—be he or she a lay person, a priest or a nun—commits a sin and then is converted, the Lord pardons. And when the Lord pardons, the Lord forgets.”

    The context of the Pope’s comments is found in the USA TODAY article. “The pope was speaking to reporters on an overnight flight as he returned to Rome from a trip to Brazil. The Wall Street Journal reported that Francis discussed the issue after a reporter asked about a report in an Italian magazine purporting that a Vatican monsignor named Battista Ricca engaged in gay sexual relationships years ago while living in Latin America”

    The Pope commented: “I see that many times in the Church, aside from this case and even in this case, people go looking for sins, for example, sins of a person’s youth and publicize them.”

  • SteveP

    Perhaps you impugn, unintentionally I’m sure, those whose heads exploded, not from a reiteration of the catechesis on same-sex erotic attraction, but from a naïve belief that journalism is not propaganda and propaganda is not journalism.

  • MeanLizzie

    I’m not impugning anyone. I’m seeing heads exploding all over the place in EVERY direction. But read my First Things column for tomorrow. I’ll be writing about that.

  • Romulus

    Because priesthood is not merely functional. It’s far more than “doing a job”. As a sacrament, priesthood must signify. In the case of a man whose sexual identity is so disordered that notwithstanding his piety and chastity he cannot honestly see himself as a husband and father in the natural order, such men are spiritually disfigured to the point of unfitness for ordination, even as a quadriplegic would be physically unfit.

  • Barfly_Kokhba

    Forgiveness and “Forgetting” are two very separate things. What is the Scriptural basis for the statement “we don’t have the right to not forget?”

    To forget someone who has sinned in a way that causes harm to others is dangerous and wrong. The abusive clergy who brought such shame and disgrace to the Church are a great example. Forgiving is one thing, but who in their right mind would recommend that we “forget” what happened? The mere suggestion is absurd if not insane.

  • MeanLizzie

    I think my piece includes the part where Francis makes the distinction between a sin and a crime. What some priests and bishops did was criminal. It should not be forgotten. But in the case of the priest he appointed to a Vatican position, he’s talking about a sin, one repented of. And yes, God forgets them so we don’t have a right not to. As with that Isaiah quote I provided.

  • stefanie

    At every Catholic gathering – non-Mass setting — at which a priest is present, and Q&A’s are open to all — eventually, a question will be asked about a. married priests, b. women as priests, c. Holy Communion for divorced/remarried-without-Church annulments-Catholics. It’s as if these are the most important ‘things’ that is the only barometer of ‘how the Church is effective today.’
    Gets a bit tedious.
    Priests know what to answer and how to answer with the CCC and the good ones do without apologies to the CCC and the Magisterium. This is what being in a seminary is all about and is why seminaries AND the catechism were developed in the counter-reformation period.
    Some get tempted to elaborate in order to connect with their audience — and they get into trouble because 1. they truly wish the Church would allow a., b., c. or 2. even if they state the CCC and the teachings of the Magisterium/pop, those words will get twisted all over the which-way-and-back.
    I am awaiting the official transcripts and the reporters on the flight producing their articles about what was said.
    Remember that a pope is not the pastor of just Catholics …like Peter, his responsibility is of the souls of everyone alive during his pontificate. This is why he is asked the questions he is asked; this is why he answers the way he does.
    Pray for the world’s pastor and your own parish pastor — that they may reach the hungry souls with the mercy and compassion of our Lord Jesus.

  • USKensington

    No such thing as “helpful commentary” from Andrew Sullivan, and this excerpt demonstrates that. “Demonization,” indeed…

  • Ellen Kolb

    Thanks for addressing the Holy Father’s remarks sanely & soberly. May your attitude be contagious.

  • SteveP

    Thank you for the clarification; I look forward with anticipation to your FT article!

  • Andy

    I really think that this is not worth having my head explode. Benedict was a trained college professor – he speaks and writes in that professorial manner – sometimes that manner leaves leaves room for debate – Francis is more plain spoken, more blunt if you will. I see very little difference between what Benedict said and wrote, what the CCC says and what Francis said. Francis has his own view – one of reconciliation and forgiveness. He is blunt about it. Benedict had the same view, he was more nuanced about it. The CC is clear – being gay, having SSA is not a sin, acting upon that attraction is a sin. Maybe I am not bright enough, but I can’t see the problem with what Francis said.

  • Jack

    “[Y]ou’re gonna be surprised who makes it into heaven and who doesn’t, because it’s not going to line up with what you or I think is Catholicism-done-Correctly, so be sweet to everyone, mind your own soul, not theirs, and trust Jesus to sort it out.”

    Elizabeth, aren’t you in this statement presuming to know more than others about who will and will not end up in heaven? Wouldn’t it be better simply to exhort people to follow Church teaching? (It does, after all, include the concepts of charity, humility, patience, and obedience.) Doesn’t Church teaching provide the necessary recipe for getting to heaven? So why cast doubt on what “Catholicism-done-correctly” is?

  • Brian English

    Well certainly. No one should try to join the priesthood if they do not actually have a vocation. Some of the problems in the priesthood arose from men joining who saw it as a socially acceptable excuse for remaining unmarried, while at the same time having no intention of remaining celibate.
    Benedict is my favorite Pope, so I am not trying to be critical of him, but to the extent people interpret the statement he issued as excluding all men with same-sex-attraction from the priesthood, I do not see how that can be correct. I am sure there are saints in Heaven who suffered with same-sex-attraction during their lives, and were able to carry that burden because they devoted themselves completely to God. I do not see why someone who chooses that path should be barred from the priesthood.

  • Ron Turner

    You do realize where you are, right?

  • Birgit Atherton Jones

    You have some sound advice as far as your wait and see suggestion goes. I do have one question about your thoughts about homosexual priests. Yes, there is promiscuity on both sides of the sexual fence but aren’t homosexual priests being tempted all the more – being intimately quartered with other males? A comparison might be if heterosexual priests lived in the convent with religious sisters. The temptation and opportunity for scandal would be similar. No? Is this really a healthy situation for all involved?

  • Ron Turner

    What about the alleged explanation of the Pope that he didn’t want to talk about abortion because he didn’t want to appear “negative”?. I seem to remember some list of “shall not”s in the Bible ..

  • jasper

    we’re in trouble..

  • Barfly_Kokhba

    Adultery is not a crime. Is that something that should be forgiven, or forgotten, or both?

  • MeanLizzie

    You tell me.

  • MeanLizzie

    What about it? You sort of answer it yourself when you correctly use the word “alleged.” That’s not something anyone knows for sure, but I have an inkling that Francis knows that specifically using the word “abortion” doesn’t have much power to move, after all these years. On the other hand, his going out of his way to kiss deformed teenagers and babies with encephalitis as he repeatedly does, are full-bodied sermons and testaments to life and the dignity of the human person. You know that saying “preach the gospel, if necessary use words?” We’ve had 40 years of words. One image of a powerful, singular man caressing the face of severely brain-damaged individual could do more good for life than twenty more sermons. There is absolutely nothing about Francis that makes me think he is not as wholly committed to social and life issues as anyone else. We know all the commandments; we know all the no’s in the world — time to demonstrate ‘yes’ and that is what he is doing.

    Are you telling me you’d be happier if Francis just kept saying “no” while no one listened? What sort of gospel is that?

  • Dan C

    I watched the right wing heads explode with one of the earliest official acts of Benedict, visiting Hans Kung.
    Then I watched right wing heads explode when Benedict published “God is Love.”
    Then, I watched right wing heads decide to become propagandists as they explained how their obsession with libertarianism and its relatives really did square with the third encyclical of Benedict, Truth in Love, who some claimed didn’t really write anything but the three anti-abortion lines in that encyclical anyway.
    Right wing heads explode a lot in Catholicism.

  • MeanLizzie

    Supposedly John Henry Newman was one of those men who managed to be a faithful, joyful, celibate priest. And of course, Mychal Judge. I know several priests who, if you asked them, would probably say that they have experienced same-sex attraction, but have managed to be great priests who have lived out their vows.

  • MeanLizzie

    Where is he?

  • janen7

    My shake up occurred in prayer, before the election, when I asked the Lord how I should be looking at the gay marriage issue. I believe He said, “That is where I would be having dinner if I was there today.” “No!” I cried. “Do you know how that would be perceived? We’re being decimated on this topic and you would be providing additional ammunition!” No response.

    I came away with a profound paradigm shift. My opinion didn’t change, but my attitude certainly did. The anger was gone. The war mentality I had been obsessing over shifted from the people who happened to be proclaiming the latest heresy to the Creator of all Heresy.

    This Pope is doing the same thing as God did that day. It’s just as painful and at times irritating, but I appreciate being challenged when I create God in my own image or the Republican party’s image or my-understanding-of-solid-Catholic-orthodoxy’s image. If we understood Him, He would not be God, said St. Augustine.

  • Dan C

    I am a huge Benedict fan. Huge.

    I can still say this pope differs and differs greatly than Benedict without getting all defensive or propagandistic as I have seen the Anchoress and others get.

    Francis has made a massive change. He did not use the term “intrinsically disordered” and gays in the same sentence, paragraph, or thought. That is huge. And he said, to the benefit of all gay priests, that they were welcome in their ministry.

    That is a VERY different message than Benedict. Just ask a gay priest.

    Benedict said clearly: you are unwelcome. Francis said the opposite. As much as pope will ever say. Writers who say differently dissemble. Ask a gay priest what Benedict’s statement meant and how it compares to Francis. Benedict’s proclamation made headlines, so should Francis’s. The NYTimes did pretty well on the quotes and the article.

    One serves an ideology that needlessly tries to see Benedict as conservative (false) and Francis as “in continuity” with Benedict in order to say they are really saying the same thing. Conservatives are the only ones trying that propaganda.

    In short: Benedict made public he toyed with the idea of sorting out divorced and re-married Catholics. As he did with celibacy for clergy. Even if the idea was considered for only 5 minutes, he played with the idea. Benedict did not serve the ill-conceived culture wars so so loved in Catholic blogdom and well-perpetuated by the Acton and the First Things parties of the Church.
    Simcha Fischer noted that it may not be the liberals who leave the Church but the conservatives.

  • MeanLizzie

    When I was a little girl, one of my friends was girlier than I ever was. He always was, even when we were 4-5 years old. He dealt with rejection and pain all of his life because of it. Did God make him that way? Did some environmental booshwah that none of us know about make him that way? It doesn’t really matter. He was who and “how” he was from his (and my) earliest memory and so for him — by his perception — he was “born that way” and it was the only way he knew how to relate to the world, or for that matter to God. You have to be where people are before you can do anything for them. Jesus talks marriage and says it is not for everyone; he mentions “eunuchs” who have been “born” that way, or “made” that way or have become eunuchs for the kingdom. I’m sure I don’t have all the answers. Do you?

  • MeanLizzie

    I suppose it comes down to whether or not they have a vocation and how they live it. I have known priests — both diocesan and religious — who, if you asked, would likely tell you they’ve experienced same-sex attraction. They’re good priests who have chose to live out their celibacy with joy. We’re all tempted to sin every single day of our lives, aren’t we? I’ve known nuns who were NOT gay, but have become so close to other sisters that they’ve gone and stayed with other communities for a while, in order to get past it. One of the reasons I argued two years ago that the church should acknowledge its faithful gay priests was precisely so this discussion could be undertaken, honestly, forthrightly, and people could SEE that yes, it’s entirely possible to WILLINGLY live a chaste life in or outside of the priesthood. I think it’s a message the gay community needs to at least hear.

  • MeanLizzie

    “Elizabeth, aren’t you in this statement presuming to know more than others about who will and will not end up in heaven?”

    No. I’m simply saying all I know, which is what Jesus himself told us. My error was in saying “you’re” instead of “we’re.” But I thought I’d cleared that up when I wrote: “what YOU OR I think is Catholicism-done-Correctly” which you know….included me.

    And yes, Catholicism gievs us “the recipe” for getting into heaven. That doesn’t mean any of us will manage it.