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

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  • MeanLizzie

    Well, Simcha could well be right. That’s why I asked who might jump ship. But forgive me for being mildly irked that you call me a propagandist. If you read my piece — including the excerpt I provided from First Things — you see I was arguing that the church needed to acknowledge her ssa priests. I also said, however, that I think Benedict did what he did because he was in the middle of an unimaginable scandal where “action” was being demanded and this was one of his action items. It is the only think I’ve ever disagreed w/Benedict on…but I think he did the best he could. All of our Peters are only men, and none of them get every bit of it perfectly. Don’t you think?

  • hotboogers

    Yes. The press will turn on him and will be even more savage than with others because of their current crush on him. Prayers indeed.

  • hotboogers

    Bless you, Ms. Scalia. You can’t get away from it, it being your job. Prayers for you.

  • Bob Carlton

    Ron, I thought I was on a blog by Elizabeth Scalia, the Managing Editor of the Catholic Portal at Patheos.

  • OneTimothyThreeFifteen

    I left Protestantism because I no longer wanted religion in my image but one I knew with certainty was guided by the Holy Spirit.
    This is it. The barque of Peter is safe. Christ is not asleep.

  • BoilerMike

    I appreciate Pope Francis’ honesty but his “off the cuff” remarks are either accidentally or intentionally misleading or disingenuous, allowing the secular media to “fix” the “true” meaning of his words. And then you have all these folks trying to “back-spin” the commentary to the true intent of the Holy Father’s words, which no one believes, identifying them as “right-wing” consternation. As I said I appreciate his honesty but it would be much better if he articulated his meaning more plainly and directly.

  • BoilerMike

    Sounds just like what Pope Francis said. Yet, we’re all to believe that Francis is retracting B16′s policies.

  • BoilerMike

    Benedict is a lightning rod because he stood unequivocally on the side of Catholic teaching. (Duh, he’s the Pope, fcol!) When Francis finds himself in a similar situation, he, too, will be castigated for “caving” to “right-wing” interests.

  • BoilerMike

    Francis hasn’t said anything different than the Church has said for a long time. The rather “active” and insincere interpretation of his remarks that indicate something else is remarkable.

  • BoilerMike

    You can’t pass an electron between the views of Francis and Benedict re. the dignity of people with gay orientation. I don’t think Francis is more plain-spoken. I think he is more colloquial almost to he point of being prone to misinterpretation. With Benedict, you knew what he said and what he meant. Not so with Francis. It takes a few follow-up comments to discern his true intent and meaning. I wish he were at the same time more clear and direct.

  • BoilerMike

    Studies have indicated that there is a higher rate of homosexual orientation among RC clergy than among laymen. Priests who are dedicated to their vows and joyful in their ministry are what we need. That’s it.

  • Dan C

    Re: Propaganda

    1) I will start with the oldest bit of propaganda in this discussion, “Gay priests were the problem with the abuse crisis.” False, every bishop in America and would-be bishop and a small army of the Chancery in every diocese enabled abuse. What do Boy Scouts, and public schools, and Jewish summer camps all have in common: they attract pedophiles. In 1988, the not-exactly-liberal Boy Scouts of America acknowledged its problem and THE LEADERSHIP enacted policies to try to end it. Failures of compliance were failures of attending to policies, and failures of leadership, not a “gay menace.” Failures in the Church were exclusively a failure of diocesan leadership-of folks who chose to support priests, save the face and PR of the Church, and to save their own careers. Any focus on gay priests as a consequence of the Abuse Crisis in the American Church is propaganda.

    2) Francis is so so different than Benedict. Anyone trying to say otherwise is trying to fit a square peg of a message into a round hole. He is different. He isn’t trying to be critical, but he differs and if a debate were to occur between the two, they would be critical of the other. We have a new leader, though, and he is a South American who watched the US-supported (and Vatican-supported) governments of Latin America torture its people and its priests viciously. Benedict as Joseph Ratzinger was silent during this era, one that formed Francis. Joseph Ratzinger did not speak up, and unlikely had any sympathy to these disasters as they occurred. I think he grew from that time, however. I think the dead Jesuits (and their lay associates) at UCA in 1989 changed many things for the Latin American Church, the Jesuit order, and even the Vatican. Yes. in so many ways, as part of an order that experienced real persecution (without support in the smallest from the Vatican) in the past 25 years, and even Vatican appointees and suspension of self-rule for a time in the Wojtyla-Ratzinger era, Francis, from Latin America is formed and thinks profoundly differently than Benedict, a man raised and coming of age in the height of Western civilization’s power.

    3) I think it is also a propagandistic distraction to keep the focus of the criticisms of Francis (and he is criticizing Church direction and leadership) supposedly directed on Benedict. If a knowledgeable Catholic writer really wanted to identify some powerful people for the uninformed press who are prime examples of those with whom Francis differs, one would choose Burke and Chaput. Want to help the media out and take the heat off Benedict? Let them know who really is the target: not the now-silent Benedict. It is the powerful and influential Burke and the darling of conservative Catholics, Archbishop Chaput.

    In searching for a word to describe how the message of Francis has been phrased, I could find no other word than “propaganda.” It feels like a distinct “selling” of Francis’s message in a way that is not really Francis. I am not clear why there is a need to “sell” these points, except if only to try to make Francis more appealing for conservatives. Conservatives barely endured Benedict, except his uber-pious statements, certainly not his encyclicals. (For another case of propaganda, Weigel on “Truth in Love” is a delight.)

    For the record, I am lukewarm on Francis. I really liked Benedict.

  • roughplacesplain

    It seems to me that God forgetting our sins isn’t the least bit dangerous because God cannot be hurt by our sins. And what I’ve found on a human level is that when I truly forgive another’s damaging sins against me, I relinquish, or “forget,” the power the sin had over me, although I don’t forget to protect myself on a human level from the damaging behavior should it be repeated.

  • carrdexter3

    Agree! Who are we to judge on what kind of man we are, only God has the right to do it but in the other side having this kind of situation must not be tolerable at all. http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/96732.Frank_Viola

  • Dan C

    1. Folks live in a variety of living arrangements without temptation as heterosexuals. Quartering with other males is not a guarantee of temptation.

    2. Heterosexual males have the greatest opportunities and likely temptations. Who works for the parish and the school and volunteers the most all day long? Not men. Not really. Women are the bulk of the Parish workers, employees, and volunteers.

    Temptation is all around. For everyone. Gays do not have a special Achilles heel. I think there is a misleading mythology about this.

  • Deborah

    Faithful Christians worship within the Catholic and Apostolic Church because of their love for and faith in Christ Jesus and the truth. For Simcha Fischer to suggest that “conservatives” (or liberals) may leave the Church because of what the Pope or anyone within the Church says or does is a political/secular view that has lost site of who the Church is: the Body of Christ.

  • The Gentlemanly Giraffe

    Did John Henry Newman say so himself? I have never come across that suggestion before.

  • Sharon

    Did the Holy Father really say this, as reported by John Allen Jr


    “He [Pope Francis] said the group of eight cardinals tasked with reform
    will explore the issue of
    whether divorcees can receive Communion, which they are currently barred from doing.”

    As far as I am aware people who are divorced can, as long as they in the state of grace, receive Holy Communion. If they are divorced and civilly re-married they can’t receive Holy Communion.

  • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

    Priests who self-identify as homosexual may well be great priests, but the reason Pope Benedict’s clarification raises the bar substantially on same-sex attracted seminarians pursuing the priesthood is that the not-sinful-but-still-disordered reality of same-sex attraction is a tremendous cross to bear, and particularly in one whose identity as priest is rooted in his identity of “man as man” (an icon of manhood) and more specifically his identity as icon of the Spouse of the Church (husband) and his call to spiritual fatherhood.
    These are essential aspects of the priesthood, so easily undermined if a man with SSA does not cope well with the disordered passions manifested by it.
    So it’s a “both/and”–Benedict & Francis are *both* right on this. Benedict’s instinct to safeguard the essential meaning of priesthood and identity of priest does not contradict Francis’ statements on homosexuality as applied to priests.

  • Horatius

    It seems to me that many are missing the most troubling part of this whole affair. Consider the quote below:

    “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.”

    At first Francis seems to be saying that he investigated the charges against Monsignor Ricca and found nothing. But then he speaks about seeking out the sins of someone’s youth. (Ricca was hardly a youth by the way. He was well into his forties when the alleged transgressions occurred.) And then Francis goes on to make distinctions about crimes and sins. And finally he talks about forgiving and forgetting after conversion, even using St Peter as an example.

    I understand the first part of the Pope’s statement——- if Ricca has done nothing wrong. But if Ricca has done nothing wrong, why is the second part of his statement even necessary. And if Ricca has done nothing and this is all just a plot to undermine the Pope’s reform efforts, then it seems to me the Vatican has a duty to demonstrate this. Were the charges against Ricca simply made up out of whole cloth? With the specificity of detail put forth in the article in the Italian press about Ricca, it would seem very easy to prove or disprove the charges based on the number of people who would have knowledge.

    The whole thing is very troubling. I fear that the gay lobby possibly controls the investigative arm of the Vatican and is misleading Francis just as JP II was mislead about Father Maciel. We are in the midst of serious spiritual warfare and everyone needs to pray for deliverance.

  • Brian English

    ” Ask a gay priest what Benedict’s statement meant and how it compares to Francis.”
    What do you consider a “gay” priest?

  • Ron Turner

    Dan, the brain has to be functioning for the head to explode.

  • MeanLizzie

    The thing that is troubling you, Horatius, is actually consoling to me. Francis is no fool — he went against his own Jesuits as regarded Liberation Theology and paid for it. He’s a warrior. He made a very salient point about past sins and forgiveness and no, I didn’t miss them — I made a point of showing them in my text. As I wrote at FT today — he’s making it clear that he’s on no “gay priest witch hunt” but that the gay lobby cabal won’t be tolerated, either.

  • MeanLizzie

    The suggestion has been out there for a very long time. While he did not say so himself, back in the day, as they say — particularly in English society — many close friendships between men had an attraction component that, constrained by conventionality or religious committment, developed into deep agape friendships. It’s long been speculated that this was the case bewteen Newman and Ambrose St John, who are buried together.

  • MeanLizzie

    Sharon, the truth is most reporters have no freaking idea what the truth is about Catholics and divorce, and for that matter, most Catholics don’t either. Many many Catholics don’t even know that if they are divorced but not remarried, they can still receive communion. They believe the mistaken narrative that once divorced, automatically excommunicated. This is the church’s own fault. She teaches her stuff badly. I’m sure that whatever this panel or advisory board does, the FIRST thing they’ll do is look into whether or not divorced Catholics even UNDERSTAND their status.

  • felliott

    You’ve managed to turn opposition to homosexual activity into a kind of racism, just as some Catholics turned opposition to the Jewish faith into racial anti-semitism.

  • Horatius

    And are you satisfied that there is nothing to the Ricca affair? Because I’m not. Not after a mountain of evidence was sent up the Vatican chain of command about Maciel and it went nowhere.

  • felliott

    It’s fairly common for priests in South America to have common law wives, often their housekeepers. In other Catholic countries, the expression for “bastard” literally translates as “priest’s son.” Perhaps, heterosexual priests are more tempted because heterosexuality involves no social ostracism.

  • felliott

    “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.”

    That was courageous of you. As for the gay community hearing the message, many of us did. We took the Church up on that advice, but were no less ostracized. Too bad I didn’t know anyone like you.

  • Bob Carlton

    I am, Frank.

  • Dan C

    And this is where we face propaganda again. I think the question and definition is obvious. It is not obvious to those steeped in the discussion points of the FIrst Things and Acton Party.

  • Maria

    It’s not very charitable to accuse him of that. Do you know that it is a common piece of slander used against him here in England? It is widely and derisively whispered that he was gay, and not celibate, by those who hate the Catholic Church. Whatever his feelings, I don’t think we should speculate as to them now, particularly as it gives ammo to those who wish to attack the Church.

  • Dan C

    Blogdom’s discussion especially on conservative blogs has been that liberals were going to leave the Church. There were hopeful Catholics awaiting this with Benedict’s papacy. The discussion boards are full of such comments.

    These discussion points reference the conservative talking points of the culture wars.

  • MeanLizzie

    I am accusing him of nothing bad. It is a fact that Ambrose is buried with him and while YOU say there are rumors that they were not celibate, that’s the first I’ve heard of it. I am holding Newman up as an example of chastity and faithfulness. Why would you spread the notion that he was not?

  • MeanLizzie

    I don’t HAVE to be satisfied with it, Horatius, the pope does, and it seems he is. Unless you think Francis is a liar? I think having watched the mistakes of JPII, in that regard, he’s in a better position to be thorough. But perhaps the better question is: When does a priest’s past sins cease to be our business, particularly if they were not criminal? It seems entirely possible to me that even if the priest did what has been claimed, he has had a conversion and a repentance, and has sought mercy. That being the case, there would be “nothing” to be found, any longer — nothing relevant to the day. If we mean what we teach about mercy and second chances, then this priest is as entitled as anyone to the appointment. After all, Peter, Mary Magdalene and Saint Paul all had to go through the mercy/redemption thing. None of them were denied jobs, ministries or offices afterward.
    19 hours ago · Like · 2

  • MeanLizzie

    You say propaganda. I say this is what I think. You are free to disagree and — if you think it’s propaganda — to not read it at all.

  • Brian English

    Oh please. Would you answer the question instead of hurling accusations? Both you and Elizabeth use the phrase “gay priest,” but I have a feeling you have very different definitions.

  • Horatius

    I don’t think Francis is a liar. Just maybe mislead in the same manner that JPII was mislead about Maciel. Great harm comes to the church through such deceit. Many fall away because of such deceit. You can whistle pass the graveyard if you want.

  • MeanLizzie

    I’m not whistling past a graveyard. I’m giving Francis the benefit of a doubt that he’s wise enough to have LEARNED from the mistakes of his predecessors, and therefore more likely to do due diligence and NOT be “mislead by deceit.” You can, on — no evidence at all — believe that he’s not that on top of things. You can believe you’re smarter and more cautious than he, if you want. :-) Or you could be aware that this pope, encountering the gay marriage issue in his own country, has learned a few things: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/diaryofawimpycatholic/2013/07/the-day-the-pope-said-gay/

  • Horatius

    And on what evidence are you basing the notion that when Francis said there was nothing there he really meant that there might be something there but the accused has undergone a conversion so so there is really “nothing” there? Seriously? We have a pope who resorts to Clintonesque speech formulations that have to be parsed? That hardly seems to be a becoming characteristic for the vicar of Christ. And I’ll tell you when a priests sexual sins no longer become our business. It will be when the stench of all the past sexual scandals have worn off—–whenever that is. Until then no priest is “entitled” to anything. Your very use of that term is bewildering. Jesus was not about entitlement.

  • MeanLizzie

    Oh brother. Now we’ve reduced this to its nadir. I’m basing the notion on Francis’ own words. This is where we go on faith a little bit until we’re proven wrong. But you clearly want to believe the worst — that the pope is misguided, clueless, perhaps stupid and perhaps (since you call him Clintonesque) devious and out to mislead — and have no hope. I’ll believe the best and maintain hope. I’m done with this conversation. Have a good day.

  • Horatius

    Calm down sister. You are the one who insinuated that people needed to read between the lines to get at the meaning of what Francis was saying—-not me. I want to be able to take the Pope at his word. When he says there is nothing there I would like to believe there is nothing there. Am I asking too much? Is that not a hopeful thing to want? Shouldn’t a good shepherd lead with clarity?

  • MeanLizzie

    I’m quite calm, dude. I insinuated nothing. I didn’t say read between his lines. His lines are very clear. I don’t even understand this comment. If you want to believe him when he says there is nothing there, then believe him until you find that he is unreliable. It’s pretty simple. Take someone on good faith, until they prove you ought not. He seems pretty clear to me. I think some ppl will only be happy if Francis’ every pronouncement are specific quotes from the Catechism. Now, I have really spent more time in these comboxes than I can afford to. If you want to think the best of the pope I think you should. And I am out of here. Have a good day.

  • Barfly_Kokhba

    OKay, I’ll offer my opinion. Everybody would like to forget their sins. A lot of us would probably like to forget other peoples’ sins. Sometimes it is not possible. I forget my car keys. I forget that I have a dentist’s appointment. Am I to apply that same word, “forget,” to years of abuse from a parent or a loved one? To years of abuse inflicted on others? In such cases I think it is dangerous and injurious to say that people should just “forget” it, because that implies simply pretending that it never happened. Forgiving is one thing, forgetting is something different.

    There are times when people become despondent over things they have done in life. They would desperately like to forget them–in fact, they might give anything, their life, their last breath, to just forget it all. To obliterate it, make the past all just go away. That’s called suicidal tendency.

    From first-hand experience I don’t think that is a healthy way to approach sin and negativity. I don’t expect God to “forget” anything, and I do in fact think it is borderline blasphemous to imply that such a thing is possible, because as far as I know that phrase is NOT used in the Bible. God is not my therapist or my parole officer. I want God to forgive, not forget. That’s why I would honestly like to know if there are any verses of Scripture wherein God is spoken of as “forgetting,” with that specific phrase or word. As I wrote previously, Isaiah 38:17 does not in fact use that precise term. I am asking an honest question.

  • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

    Yes, well, I don’t disagree that there is more to life than sexuality. But it is foolish to suggest that all people who are gay are called to and gifted with celibacy. That’s absurd on the face of it.

    The raison d’etre of the Church-formed LGBT support group Courage is to mitigate the negative effects of this religiously-coerced celibacy. Courage works to combat loneliness, depression, isolation and other ill side effects like substance abuse. They treat homosexuality like alcoholism. This is not living out celibacy “with joy”.

    The church teaching on homosexuality is demonstrably harmful to people who are gay. You could very well believe that the suffering is necessary to fulfill a higher calling. But it’s either ignorant or intellectually dishonest to pretend that the Church is not causing harm.

    It is not the press that is painting the church as gay-hating. it is a church that treats as worthless the relationships formed by gay couples that has well earned that reputation.

  • GFFM

    I have to say you couldn’t be more wrong about Benedict and his view of the acting out of homosexuals in the priesthood. He was on the money. If a priest is truly following the church and her rule of celibacy then the faithful shouldn’t even know that he has the orientation; gayness should be a non-issue. To make it an issue is a problem. Hence the problems within seminaries in the 80s. I would also strongly suggest that you do a little reading on reparative therapy. “Gayness” is not a state of being and as several colleagues of mine who have done much spiritual direction in seminaries have observed. They have seen young men “develop” away and beyond these tendencies. Benedict was right to do and say what he did and I don’t believe the present pope would disagree. If you seek Christ, you seek conversion away from sin. That is all Francis said. Much ado about nothing.

  • Howard

    “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.” You are wrong, at least generally speaking. Let’s say I lie on my resume about my qualifications for a job. I later repent of my lie and admit to it. Guess what? I’m going to lose my job. That’s not a lack of mercy, it’s because the consequence of my sin is that I cannot be trusted. Ask George O’Leary, among others. Oh, and the odds are that without my lie, it is obvious that I am not qualified for my job in the first place.

    Or, if you doubt that my example had to do with Church Teachings, consider this example. A man murders his wife. He not only repents and is absolved; he goes on to obtain a plenary indulgence, which remits all temporal punishment for the sin he has committed. In spite of this, the state not only is likely to have some harsh consequences in store for him, it is even arguable that the state is in the right to do so. And even if the state does not punish him, he will certainly not get his wife back.

  • Bender

    **If a priest is truly following the church and her rule of celibacy then the faithful shouldn’t even know that he has the orientation; gayness should be a non-issue.**

    You make a good point here. Any person who makes it their business to know the sexuality of priests, including saying they know many “gay priests” or “lesbian nuns,” as well as asserting the sexuality of various saints, is not only nosy, getting into matters of privacy that are none of their business, and are extremely uncharitable toward those persons, but they come quite close to being a part of the “gay lobby.”
    This is the lobby spoken against by Pope Francis and which continually advocates, not merely for charity toward those with same-sex attraction, but for the very existence of “gay priests,” whereas the only priests we should have are Catholic priests who, being men, are by their very nature as males ordered toward complementariness with women and not other men in a sexual manner.
    And if they do have feelings toward other men and continue to insist that such is appropriate, then that is itself a disqualifying conflict of interest as well as a gross misunderstanding of the nature of the human person which would preclude them from promoting the truth of human sexuality to others and, again, would disqualify them.

  • Charles Martel

    Dear Dan,

    Your statement “Heterosexual males have the greatest opportunities and likely temptations” and your statement in a previous comment to the effect that homosexuals weren’t the problem with the abuse crisis do not square with the facts. Relatively very few pre-pubescent children of either sex were abused, and comparatively very few post-pubescent females. Most of the victims were post-pubescent males.

  • Charles Martel

    I know the pattern was set by Ms Scalia at the beginning of the article, but couldn’t we find a more traditional and less graphic image than “exploding heads” which strikes me as somewhat adolescent? Maybe words like discomfit, dismay, distress?