Friday, November 17, 2006

Catholic Church takes "don't ask don't tell" stance on gay parishoners

We've read a lot in recent months about the Vatican's pseudo-ban of gay applicants to the seminary, and about their attempts to blame their recent enormous problems on homosexuality among priests.

We've also read a lot of the circular ideology about homosexuality, about whether it refers to "inclination" or "orientation" and the claims that it is not a sin until acted upon. We have felt particularly disturbed by their calling homosexual inclination or orientation (right now I forget which) an "objective disorder." The gay person is supposed to accept this as an almost biological handicap to draw him or her to God! I discuss this in detail at this link.

A recent convocation of US Catholic bishops passed a resolution on the pastoral care of homosexuals, and it has been widely reported, and criticized, in the media. A typical story is in The Washington Blade, here.

What is most disturbing is that the Bishops "ask" gays not to discuss their sexual orientation or inclinations publicly outside of the home. In fact, this request borders on offensiveness. It seems that they are trying to protect "normal, ordinary people" from the distraction of competition from today's culture. A large portion of heterosexual married couples do have difficulty maintaining active interest ("in sickness in health, for richer or poorer" etc) in the face of a media-focused competitive culture that is always trying to measure people against one another in terms of certain ideas about attractiveness. The fear is that homosexuals, when they talk about their interests, will make heterosexual men feel less secure about themselves. The other main fear, of course, is that their public disclosures will disrupt the socialization of children. Yet, it seems disturbing to silence people because of the individual weaknesses or vulnerabilities of others. This one you have to call as you see, and speak bluntly.

I wonder, of course, if the Catholic and religious emphasis on collective solidarity is really good for traditional marriage, when that is conceived as a commitment and expression of personal responsibility between two adults. The Church obviously has its problems with its track record. They do have one point, however. By keeping certain things toned down, they appear to be trying to make it easier for people to function in helping one another in a practical manner, by letting them remain less self-conscious (of their own universal shortcomings). That is their world view, and they are free to express it. They see it as their own form of social or even political solidarity, which may seem ironic to the GLBT community, given all of their statements.

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