NCR on Gay Priests and Celibacy
The National Catholic Reporter (NCR) just ran an editorial: “Parish priest breaks the silence, shares that he is gay: 'I am weary with holding it in'.” The gay priest, Father Gregory Greiten, was also its author. This was NCR’s lead article, showing a large picture of Father Greiten.
Father Greiten was gay when he entered the seminary, and gay when he was ordained a priest. He tells us that between 23% and 58% of Catholic priests in America are gay – about 10 times the rate of homosexuality in the general population. Father Greiten complains that homosexuals were persecuted in his high school seminary: “During my senior year, a friar led an inquisition seeking to identify and discipline sexually active students.” Father Greiten apparently confuses an “inquisition” with an inquiry - and a pro-forma inquiry at that. If about a third of priests are gay, the Church is persecuting heterosexuals rather than homosexuals.
Father Greiten also contradicts himself. He complains that the priests and leaders of his seminary kept telling him: "Keep it to yourself"; "Don't say a word to anyone"; "If you don't keep quiet, you will be thrown out of here"; "If you make it known publicly, it will hurt your ministry." If the seminary wished to root out homosexuals, they wouldn’t have kept telling him to keep his mouth shut and do whatever he wants. They’d have thrown him out!
The Issue of Gay Priests
Father Greiten wants the church to allow openly gay priests, but he ducks a couple of important issues. First, Sacred Scripture, which the Church proclaims “the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit,” tells us that homosexuality is an abomination, and that homosexuals should be stoned to death. While the Catholic Church allows Sacred Scripture to be modified by Sacred Tradition, Sacred Tradition has been opposed to homosexuality since St. Paul repeatedly condemned it. By Scripture, by Tradition, and by everything that is Holy, the idea of gay priests should be anathema.
The latest Catholic Catechism modifies tradition. It focuses on homosexual acts, calling them “acts of grave depravity,” “intrinsically disordered,” and “contrary to the natural law,” concluding that “under no circumstances can they be approved.” It is silent regarding punishment. While I assume that Sacred Scripture is the default whenever possible, I suspect the Church makes an exception in this case.
This leads to the second issue, that of celibacy. The Church allows celibate priests with homosexual tendencies. But this seems to contradict the Lord Jesus Christ, who taught that if you so much as look at someone with lust, you have committed adultery. Christ said you are judged based on your desires, not merely your actions.
This applies to both sexes, but with very different implications. First, a man can have many wives so having imaginary sex with an unmarried woman isn’t necessarily a problem. Second, even if a man has adulterous relations with a married woman, it isn’t a capital crime. Witness David and Bathsheba. God got upset about David arranging for the death of Bathsheba’s husband, but He didn’t seem very concerned about David's adultery.
On the other hand, if a homosexual has imaginary sex with another man, that is always an abomination. Celibacy is not a sufficient condition for homosexuals. They can’t even look at another male with lust. Having homosexual priests swear an oath never to look at someone with lust is probably too ludicrous for even the Church to consider. Based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, even celibate men with homosexual inclinations should be excluded from priesthood. You don’t want abominations representing God and administering sacraments.
Father Greiten is somewhere between vague and deceptive regarding celibate gay priests. He says, “there are and always have been celibate, gay priests and chaste members of religious communities,” and then goes on to provide estimates of the total number of gay priests in America. He implies they are celibate, though that is an outrageous falsehood.
Father Greiten implies that he himself is celibate, but that seems unlikely. The morbidly-obese Father Greiten has serious problems controlling his appetites. Were he celibate, I don’t think the priests and leaders of his seminary would have kept telling him to shut up about his homosexuality. If he only had gay inclinations, I doubt whether his sexual orientation would have been such an overwhelming issue for him. I suspect Father Greiten’s refrain of “I can’t hold it in!” applies to more than words.
In short, NCR gives us a puff piece on gay priests as its lead article. Instead of taking an official stand, it gives us a wink and nod.
But on the Other Hand
Australia has just released a Royal Commission Report on the sexual abuse of children. It is the most comprehensive report available on the subject, and has much to teach the Church. The only article NCR has run about the report appeared on the same day as Father Greiten’s puff piece. While Father Greiten was featured as the lead article, coverage of the Royal Commission report was buried far below the main news section. Adding insult to injury, the headline says, “Australian probe into child abuse attacks Catholic celibacy.” The article ignored virtually everything the Royal Commission had to say.
When it comes to gay priests, celibacy is treated with a wink and nod. When it comes to openly heterosexual priests, the Church insists on oaths of celibacy. The Catholic Church would rather break the law, suffer decades of scandal, put its children at risk, and incur billions of dollars in fines and charges, rather than impose effective restraints on its gay clergy. (Contrary to Church propaganda, nearly all its sexual abuse of children is homosexual.) The institution is utterly corrupt, and seems incapable of reforming itself. Insofar as it endangers the well-being of children, the State should aid its reform efforts.