Monday, July 13, 2009

Father John Dietzen on ordaining homosexual men to the priesthood

In his latest "Questions and Answers" column, Father John Dietzen answers a question from a reader in New York, "Can the Catholic Church ordain homosexual men to the priesthood? Some fellow parishioners say, What's the difference? If they do their job and remain celibate it's not a matter of contention. Others say it is an issue because the person is not whole, is not reconciled in this important part of his personality, has set God aside in his life and would be a negative example blocking God's grace for others. What is your answer?

Father's response: "First, I need to say that this second description and judgment of homosexuality in men (or women) is questionable, to put it mildly. Surely it does not reflect the attitude of the church, which teaches that homosexuals do not choose their condition and must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity, and without discrimination. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2358). To declare that homosexual persons have set aside God, are not reconciled in their physical makeup and block God's grace to others is at best a rash judgment and, furthermore, does not fit experience....To answer your question, a Vatican instruction on admission of men with homosexual tendencies to seminaries and holy orders, dated Nov. 29, 2005, prohibits men with 'deep-seated homosexual tendencies' from entering the seminary. The precise meaning of this phrase was not spelled out, apparently leaving it to bishops and seminary authorities to interpret it more specifically. And many have done so...It will require time and experience to learn how the prohibition should work out in practice."

What of this? Let's begin with Father Dietzen's citation of No. 2358 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Father Dietzen (and this is an old story*) fails to cite the entire paragraph. Yes, we must accept homosexual persons with "respect, compassion and sensitivity." But we're also told in 2358 that the homosexual inclination is "objectively disordered." And this paragraph does not say that homosexual persons must be accepted "without discrimination." Rather, it states clearly, "Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided." What's the point I'm trying to make? Not all discrimination is unjust. No one has a right to Holy Orders. As I explained back in 2001, in the pages of The Wanderer:

"On October 1, 1986, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published an instruction entitled, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Pastoral Service for Homosexual Persons, signed by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and approved by Pope John Paul II. In this Instruction, Cardinal Ratzinger writes, 'It is necessary to point out that the particular inclination of a homosexual person, though not a sin in itself, nevertheless constitutes a more or less strong tendency to an intrinsically evil behavior from the moral standpoint. For this reason, the very inclination should be considered as objectively disordered.' (No. 3).

This would appear to be especially significant since Canon 1040 of the Code of Canon Law states that: 'Persons who are affected by a perpetual impediment, which is called an irregularity, or a simple impediment, are prevented from receiving orders.' Now, irregularities arise either from defect (ex defectu) or from crime (ex delicto). It seems clear to me that a homosexual inclination, which Cardinal Ratzinger has referred to as 'objectively disordered,' constitutes an irregularity ex defectu. In fact, when asked by a Bishop if it is licit to confer priestly ordination to men with manifest homosexual tendencies, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments replied with a letter signed by Jorge Cardinal Medina Estevez which stated that, 'Ordination to the diaconate and the priesthood of homosexual men or men with homosexual tendencies is absolutely inadvisable and imprudent and, from the pastoral point of view, very risky. A homosexual person, or one with a homosexual tendency is not, therefore, fit to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders.'"

A person with a homosexual tendency "is to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders." And yet, Father Dietzen tells us that "It will require time and experience to learn how the prohibition should work out in practice." Is Father Dietzen suggesting that the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments is wrong? Such would appear to be the case.

Perhaps the Catholic News Service should find another priest to write the "Questions and Answers" column?
* See here for example.


Ann Duclos said...

Why does the CFP continue to carry Fr. Dietzen's column in its pages? Probably for the same reason the Commission for Women promotes New Ager Joyce Rupp: the leaven of infidelity has spread like a cancer.

Derek said...

Ann, you would think that a Diocese which has suffered through so many clerical sex scandals - most of them homosexual in nature - would be a bit more discerning before publishing a piece like Fr. Dietzen's. You have to wonder if the homosexual abuse crisis and the damage it has inflicted on the Church is fully appreciated by those who publish the CFP. I get the sense that they still don't get it.

Ellen Wironken said...

Theresa Notare just wrote a nice article titled "Safeguarding the heart of marriage." But how about safeguarding the heart of Holy Orders? Many men with homosexual tendencies were ordained, even after a psychologist warned that the person should not be ordained. I have to agree with you Derek. To suggest that homosexual men should not necessarily be prevented from receiving Holy Orders after studies have shown that most of the abuse which has occurred in the Church has been homosexual in nature is just plain irresponsible.

I'm saddened that the Catholic Free Press would publish a column which essentially contradicts the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

Maybe it's time to hire a new staff for the diocesan newspaper? Let's begin with the Executive Editor.

Samantha said...

British newspaper reporting:

US Church drops gay bishops ban

The vote could lead to more openly gay bishops like Gene Robinson
Bishops of the Anglican Church in the United States have voted to overturn a three-year moratorium on the election of gay bishops.

The decision seems likely to lead to the Episcopal Church's eventual exit from the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The Communion has been fighting to avoid disintegration since the Episcopal Church consecrated the openly gay bishop Gene Robinson in 2003.

The decision is expected to be confirmed in the next few days.

Archbishop's regret

The election of the Bishop of New Hampshire, the Right Reverend Gene Robinson, created an apparently irreconcilable rift between liberal and traditional Anglicans.

Liberals believe the Bible should be reinterpreted in the light of contemporary wisdom.

Traditionalists insist that it unequivocally outlaws homosexuality.

I regret the fact that there is no will to observe the moratorium in such a significant part of the church in North America

Dr Rowan Williams
Archbishop of Canterbury
To avoid expulsion from the Communion, the Episcopal Church agreed a temporary ban on the ordination of gay bishops.

But, impatient for change, its General Convention meeting in Anaheim, California, voted on Monday to end the moratorium.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams - who is head of the 70-million-strong worldwide Anglican Communion - said it "remained to be seen" whether the vote by the House of Deputies - made up of clergy and lay people - would be endorsed by the US Episcopal House of Bishops.

"I regret the fact that there is no will to observe the moratorium in such a significant part of the church in North America," he added.

The BBC's religious affairs correspondent Robert Piggot said the drafters of the motion say it still leaves room for dioceses to exercise restraint, and keep in effect to a moratorium.

But, he said, if it does lead to the election of another gay bishop, the decision will make it all but impossible for the Communion to stay intact.

The crisis could intensify further as the Episcopal Church could be about to end a second moratorium, on the blessing of same-sex relationships in church services.

There are some, like Fr. Andre Dragis, who have held up the Episcopal church as some sort of model of ecumenism. I think it was appropriate that he retired from ministry.

Samantha said...

I meant to say Fr. Dargis in my previous comment. He is the Assumptionist priest who was serving as "Pastor" of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Gardner.

Regarding homosexuality in the priesthood, I wonder what Fr. Dietzen would think about this article from Breaking News 24/7:

Police: Slain Jesuit in Moscow made sex advance

MOSCOW — Russian investigators says two Jesuit priests found dead last year were killed by a drunk man who was solicited for sex by one of them.

The bodies of Russian Otto Messmer and Victor Betancourt of Ecuador were found on Oct. 28 in their Moscow apartment at the religious order’s Moscow headquarters.

Several days later, police announced a 38-year-old man had confessed to the killings but gave few details.

The federal Investigative Committee announced Friday the man had been drinking with Betancourt, and when Betancourt suggested they have sex, the man bludgeoned Betancourt with a dumbbell.

It said Messmer arrived later and the man killed him to cover up the first killing.

Phone calls to the Catholic Russian Bishops Conference were not immediately answered.

John Ansley said...

Poor Father Dietzen, he just cannot listen to the Church it would seem:

Vatican says 2005 document on gays applies to all seminaries

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In a clarification approved by Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican said its 2005 document prohibiting the admission of homosexuals to the priesthood applies to all types of seminaries.

That includes houses of formation run by religious orders and those under the authority of the agencies dealing with missionary territories and Eastern churches, said a statement signed by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state.

The two-sentence clarification was published May 17 by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano. It came in response to "numerous requests for clarification," the Vatican said.

In 2005, after more than eight years of study, the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education issued "Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations With Regard to Persons With Homosexual Tendencies in View of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders."

The nine-page instruction said the church cannot allow the priestly ordination of men who are active homosexuals, who have "deep-seated" homosexual tendencies or who support the "gay culture." It urged bishops, major superiors and "all relevant authorities" to make sure the norms were followed.

Cardinal Bertone's clarification said in response to questions, "It is specified that the provisions contained in this instruction are valid for all the houses of priestly formation, including those that depend on the Congregation for Eastern Churches, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life."

It said the pope had approved the clarification April 8.

Site Meter