Wednesday, 31 July 2013
"Who Am I to Judge?"
Okay, I'm just going to put this 'out there'. As someone who has committed the particular sin and who carries the cross of homosexuality, I am pleased that the Holy Father is 'reaching out' to homosexuals, as the media puts it and, as someone who has sinned so greatly against Heaven, I too would say of another, 'Who am I to judge?' But does that mean I cannot tell someone the truths of the Church's teaching on homosexuality or explain it?
I know we are all sinners in need of God's mercy. I agree very much with the sentiments of the Holy Father that the Church should not 'marginalize' persons with a same-sex attraction. The Church wants to gather her chicks to Her breast, as Christ said as He lamented over Jerusalem. I do wish His Holiness had not decided to adopt the secular usage of the word 'gay' since this word has been stolen. Even if it is the language of the man on the street or even the lay Catholic in explaining Catholic teaching, it is, I think, a little unbecoming of a Pope.
I know that priests are human like all of us are human and, being priests, their weaknesses are even more targeted by the Devil than our own, since the Devil wants most to strike the Shepherd, so that the flock may scatter.
I'm just wondering when the Church authorities can, would or should make a judgment call on someone's suitability to the Priesthood. It seems to me that 'Who am I to judge?' as an attitude must have been one factor in the huge amount of time it took for Cardinal Keith O'Brien to 'come clean'. By the time he did, because he'd been 'told on', the Catholic Church in Scotland was sent into disarray.
The gentleness and compassion of Pope Francis is indeed most endearing and wonderful. He gives the impression that His Holiness is tender-hearted and merciful. That said, if nobody - nobody - makes a judgment call on a gay man's suitability in the Priesthood at any point in his career then the Church suffers greatly later on.
When a priest acts on his homosexuality it causes great problems not least for the priest's spiritual life, but also he can become a target for blackmail. It also means that when he, as a priest does what a priest needs to do - preach the Church's teaching on homosexuality - he becomes vulnerable to being 'taken down' should anything come to light. It undermines both faith and belief - it undermines the credibility of the Church and of the priesthood and opens the man who teaches the Truth about human sexuality to charges of hypocrisy.
A gay man, as a Catholic, may fall and fall again, but this cannot be the way with the seminarian or the priest - not if he is serious about upcoming or already taken vows. Who is to say that any priest or seminarian is not a person of 'good will' or 'seeking God' - only God actually knows what is 'in a man'. This language is - in the current state of play in the Catholic Church - a little vague. Unless seminaries have ultra-holy rectors who can see into men's souls exactly how, in the light of the Supreme Pontiff's comments, is he to know whether a candidate is suitable for the Sacred Priesthood?
Perhaps I am making a mountain out of a molehill as we bloggers sometimes do. As far as I know there is no 'total outright ban' on homosexual clergy - just the seeking of reassurances that active homosexuality is something that the candidate has substantially and honestly left behind - just as a heterosexual hopefully isn't out womanising his local district in the run up to his entrance into the seminary or ordination. The Church, I believe, looks for candidates with a spiritual maturity that means that the candidate not only believes what the Church teaches concerning the condition of homosexuality, but who is not, or no longer is, mastered by his inclination.
Much as it is unpleasant to judge people's personal qualities, is it not a lack of due judgement of people's personal qualities the reason why the Barque of Peter has taken on so much water in the past 50 years? That is, unless of course, we don't really care anymore.
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