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September 22, 2005

Celibate & Gay

The Vatican is about to drop a small bomb in the form of a new rule which says gays cannot be priests. I expected something of the sort when Ratzinger was elected, but not so soon. This development is appropriate to the Catholic Church as a hedge against creeping nihilism, however one has to wonder exactly how you can be celibate and gay at once.

You can't of course. Gay is to homosexual as black is to African American. It's about a pride of expression and a celebration of difference. You can certainly be homosexual and celibate, but being gay and celibate is like being OJ and black. The blackness is not there if it's not celebrated.

So if the Catholic Church is so very focused on that level of purity, that the very thought of homosexual pleasure is a sin forbidden the priesthood, then we can expect that they are going to be very strict in any number of areas of dogma. Perhaps a smaller more well-disciplined Catholic Church could pull this off, and certainly the Pope has said as much. So let's see if throwing this 'dead' weight off the ship actually makes it steer a truer course.

I have said that the Catholic Church made its error in insisting on the duality of sexuality and intellectuality - a celibate priesthood was a decision made in a day of sexual ignorance. (Nor could Henry VIII be considered prescient in retrospect.) Chastity is a heavy burden on any man. As well, I have supported the ordination of gays and women in the Episcopal Church in support of a liberal notion of support and empathy with congregations in a representative / democratic fashion.

A more authoritarian Catholic Church may be necessary in today's world. If that is the case, the course they are pursuing will certainly put them there.

Posted by mbowen at September 22, 2005 07:55 AM

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Huh? There is no difference between being gay and homosexual, they are synonims. If you are gay, you are homosexual. OJ is black whether he celebrates it or not.

What will be interesting is to see how the Church enforces this though.

Posted by: Dell Gines [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 23, 2005 08:39 AM

I say there's a huge difference. Homosexuality is you sexual orientation, Gay is how you express it publicly - what you make of it.

If you are a closeted homosexual male, married to a straight woman in order to hide your preference, that's hardly Gay. Gay is a breakthrough and a celebration of a homosexual lifestyle. The first person would never fight for Gay Marriage because he is perhaps ashamed or refuses to be exposed as homosexual.

This is a very important difference. To deny it would be tantamount to suggesting that feminism has no impact on the sexuality of women - who cares what they think about it, so long as the physical act is the same?


Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 23, 2005 09:05 AM

I understand how you got there and why you make the distinction. But amongst all the people I ever new, homo, gay, queer etc. All had one meaning. We didn't differient as to whether you hid it, expressed etc.

Posted by: Dell Gines at September 23, 2005 11:10 AM

I have to say Dell that your perception is part of the reason that activists for Gay Marriage have been successful. They are hoping that nobody makes the distinction between gay and queer. They wish to establish the premise that there is no difference between the drag queen who cruises public restrooms on the DL and the tweedy English professor who likes to think of himself as a modern day Gustave Flaubert. Which is to say that they see marriage as a right and not a privilege and assert that all sexual expression is equal.

What activists for the gay cause desire is not to get into the icky sticky details of homosexual behavior on the false premise that all sexual behavior, homo or het, is equal and therefore all worthy of the blessings of Marriage.

So anybody who doesn't bother to split the difference can swallow the premise whole, but the historical fact is that there are many reasons to be homosexual, not the least of which is precisely to be anti-social.

To the extent that sexual abstinance is considered Godly, I find it somewhat repressive (but not odiously so) that Catholics would punish the abstinant homosexual. I think there must be a range in there where repressed sexuality is roughly equal from the perspective of acceptance of abstinance as Godly. In that regard how can the value of sacrifice between homo and het be compared? Probably by the value of family, in which case the het priest is seen to sacrifice more and therefore be more worthy. After all, if the Church holds that homosexuality itself is sinful, certainly the homo priest's sacrifice is seen a no more ennobling than that of the man who 'sacrifices' by not stealing.

And yet certainly all clergy are flawed in some way. I believe that the move by the Church is meant to be more symbolic of its influence on the laity than any punishment or discipline in the ranks of a clergy who might be considered insufficiently penitent. But that's a problem right there, given the scandals of child abuse.

If on the other hand this move is more of a hardline hammer on the sexual disposition of the clergy in light of scandal, it might be a good start if it doesn't end at this. After all, haven't most of the abuses come at the expense of young boys?

Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 23, 2005 12:23 PM