The Catholic Church’s HR Issue

Paula Ruddy has an impressive pied on The Progressive Catholic Voice breaking down the tortured logic used by the Vatican to justify discriminating against women and homosexuals for consideration for positions in upper management.

The Progressive Catholic Voice: “Spiritual Paternity”: Why Homosexual Men Cannot be Ordained Catholic Priests

Is the choice of a sexual analogy to describe the relation of priest to church being used to limit the priesthood to those who fit the analogy? If we define the nature of priesthood to require certain biological qualifications, then, of course, everyone who does not fit the requirement is by definition excluded. Why are maleness, heterosexuality, and sexual abstinence inherent in the “nature” of priesthood?

The Cardinal’s theology of priesthood uses the Christ as bridegroom metaphor. It’s an analogy of sexual union between Christ and the Church, with the ordained priest standing in for Christ who begets spiritual life in the faithful. In this analogy, the Church, an abstraction, is female, so priests have to be heterosexual men. The analogy requires that these men be celibate because if priests are sexually active, it is spiritual incest: the “spiritual father” exploiting the trust of the baptized. Homosexual men, and, of course, women of any orientation throw the analogy into further absurdity. Should this analogy control the theology and practice of ordained priesthood?

The article includes some excellent comments from people affiliated with the church, including my ex-priest father:

I don’t recall anything about “spiritual paternity,” the Cardinal’s term, in pastoral class in seminary — in our final year or at any other time anywhere. But then that was a long time ago. The Cardinal’s piece strikes me as another attempt by the Vatican to denigrate gay men as physically, morally, spiritually, and psychologically unfit for Roman Catholic ministry. That we priests should be competent in guilt formation and guilt relief (now that I do recall) seemed to be the focus of seminary education.

– Ed Kohler, St. Paul, former Catholic priest,
retired realtor, married, father of two sons

Do you mean to tell me that God made a mistake when creating my children? How can you refer to my children as “irregulars” and “deviants.” You wouldn’t call someone born blind or without limbs a “deviant” person or an “irregular” person. Why the homosexual?

This made me wonder how I could remain associated with an organization that I have such a fundamental disagreement with. If what the Cardinal says is right, what does it say about our celibate gay priests today? If the church is going to follow its own logic, our gay priests ought to be removed from their ministries and the church should start a campaign to weed out of the priesthood, or at least out of active ministry, all of the gay priests, bishops and cardinals since they are so wounded that they certainly can’t carry out their priestly functions.

– Dan DeWan, North Branch, lawyer,
married, father of two gay sons

Sadly, the church seems to be stuck in an antiquated power structure based on a combination of guilt and discrimination. Why not drop the discrimination and just stick with the guilt? I know plenty of women who are as good or better than any celibate man at laying on the guilt.

It’s great to see people attempting to drag the church’s celibate men, who don’t yet have the maturity to think inclusively, kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

If you’ve read this far and want to know more about how to get involved, check out the next Dignity Twin Cities Liturgy on Jan 23 at 7:30pm at Prospect Park United Methodist Church (22 Orlin Ave. SE, Minneapolis).

Dignity Twin Cities meets every second and fourth Friday of the month at 7:30 p.m. at Prospect Park United Methodist Church. Dignity Twin Cities is one of 70+ Dignity chapters across the nation. Dignity encourages and helps LGBT people experience dignity through the integration of their spirituality and their sexuality. The organization envisions and works for a time when LGBT Catholics are affirmed as beloved persons of God and, as such, can participate fully in all aspects of life within both church and society.

I don’t think you have to worry about running into the Archbishop there.

3 thoughts on “The Catholic Church’s HR Issue”

  1. It would seem to me there is nothing more irregular in the course of human events than celibacy, and to consider oneself to be married to a spirit.

    Can you imagine joining a club with such a rule and expectation? How mainstream, how normal would this be considered?

    Then, to create a church based on this, led by a person subjected to this inhuman, anti-societal basis to bring us together as a interactive group…where is the reasoning for this? And then this person is also supposed to be the counselor for marital problems and life situations that are causing stress to their flock, when they have lived their entire post-teen life in an artificial world of this making. Without even one single physically close relationship or emotionally human relationship upon which to draw from as an experience. And yet, this is their truth.

  2. Hi, Mike and Ed. Thanks for reading our blog. You are right, Mike, that celibacy is “irregular” and not “mainstream” but, for all that, I wouldn’t dismiss it as one way to go. I have known some relational and wise celibate (I believe) priests. I’m for freedom and diversity–married, celibate, gay, straight, male and female. It’s about continually growing up for all of us, don’t you think?

  3. “Why Homosexual Men Cannot be Ordained Catholic Priests” Grow up Catholic and straight, you get married. Catholic and gay: live wrong or join the ranks of those who continue to perpetuate the ancient hypocrisy. The silliest thing is that the majority of Catholic Clergy is made up of gay men either closeted or out and everyone on the inside knows it. The worry since the crisis is that Ma and Pa Catholic who still can’t believe Liberace was gay will figure things out. The recent Seminary Probe or whatever it was called was just another image gloss to quell any smoldering doubt and remind everyone on the inside that the heat is still on so build the closet deep. I was there 20 years ago and it’s the same today and probably always will be. It was the ones in seminary who “didn’t know their sexuality” who were and are a potential danger to others. When will this nonsense stop?

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