Flipping through pages of the Dec. 6 issue of the Marquette Tribune I could not help but notice all the troubling news abound on campus and in our world. From Marquette's name once again gracing national media outlets for a crackdown on free speech, to the antics of Saddam Hussein as he faces the possibility of experiencing capital punishment from a different perspective, to the attempts to unscramble the mystery of Brandon Henak's troublesome egg bandit on the loose, it seems this semester will not depart quietly.
Nevertheless, none of these stories gave me as much pause as Amanda Sheaffer's report on the Catholic Church's recent re-articulation of its stance on the admittance of homosexuals for study in seminaries.
The release of the document, titled "Instruction," comes at a time when officials of the Vatican are being dispatched to visit seminaries and, among other things, present questionnaires asking, "Is there evidence of homosexuality in the seminary?" As a Catholic, this troubles me for two reasons. First, in an era when the Church should be opening its doors to the faithful, the Church is closing itself off from those who wish to join its ranks. Second, the Church is failing, to its great determent, to address the larger problem within the priesthood, that of pedophilia.
The Catholic Church has long professed that the act of homosexuality is in conflict with its teachings on morality. Although this teaching has its critics, it is not the theological issue at hand. The question of whether a gay man may become a priest has nothing to do with whom he might engage in sex with; the vow of celibacy a seminarian, gay or straight, assumes he would not. What bothers me is the willingness by some in the Church, and in society, to make the assumption that a homosexual is less able to keep their hands to themselves than a straight person.
In the article, one celibate Jesuit explained why others may not be so capable of fulfilling the same vow. Supporting the ideas in the document, he stated, "People having lives of that particular orientation are not able to live a celibate life and be happy."
Intimately tied to the Church's approach toward homosexual priests is the willingness they have displayed to overlook the issue of pedophilia within the Church. The Church, has made the terrible mistake of conflating the issue of homosexuality, which would be of no consequence among an already celibate population, and the issue of pedophilia, which the Church desperately needs to address. Unlike almost any other institution, the Church has responded to allegations of pedophilia by shuffling pastoral assignments like a deck of cards and shielding those individuals responsible, sometimes the bishops themselves, rather than immediately and unequivocally condemning those actions, and dismissing those responsible.
The willingness of the Church to pursue so fervently the presence of gay men wishing to profess a vow of celibacy in its seminaries, while transferring the disgraced Cardinal Law even closer to the seat of power in Rome, leaves this Catholic questioning where the Church went astray. It is my hope that the body of Catholic faithful will not be fooled into carrying out a witch-hunt but will instead undertake the healing Christ calls us to begin.