Homosexual Priests and the Paradox of Pope Francis

Caricature by DonkeyHotey flic.kr/p/Ct4G4K https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Caricature by DonkeyHotey flic.kr/p/Ct4G4K https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I’m sort of reluctant to post on religious subjects because they can turn into a reenactment of the Thirty Years War in a split second. Especially as we Catholics, both at RedState and in the nation, swim in an overwhelmingly Protestant sea. What follows is an interesting story and my opinion. (As a head’s up, I’m not trying to convert anyone to Catholicism; I’m totally not interested in hearing why I should convert to Protestantism or, the old standby, of why Catholicism isn’t Biblical. So please don’t go that direction in the comments.)


I am not a Pope Francis fan. While I don’t think he’s wildly heretical, I do think he’s shockingly cavalier with his use of language and blindingly arrogant in his refusal to explain or clarify his nebulous statements. And I think he loves his own press clippings. Nowhere has that been more on display than in the subject near and dear to all secular religious reporters: screwing. Particularly that which occurs outside of wedlock and between a couple of hairy, sweaty guys with great fashion sense. This is not to say that his inartful statements are limited to homosexual grappling. His apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia in 2016 seemed to open the door to admission to Communion for Catholics who were divorced and remarried (we believe in one man + one woman for life). And he’s muddied the waters to an incredible degree about the admission of non-Catholics to Communion, so much so that a majority of the German bishops decided that Protestant spouses of Catholics could participate in Communion. And, of course, there was the atheist father in Heaven brouhaha. And his bouts of Gaia worship. And his infatuation with Marxist dialectic.

In regards to homosexuality, in particular, there have been two key events that have led a lot of gay rights activists to conclude that Pope Francis could be prevailed upon to toss out Catholic dogma on homosexuality. There is the “who am I to judge?” episode concerning homosexual priests. And a couple of days ago, there was the “God made you this way and loves you” event.


As I said, I’m no fan of or apologist for Pope Francis, but in the spirit of charity I really believe all of these are best explained by where he comes from (a country that is overwhelmingly Catholic in culture that leads him to believe the rest of the world is the same) and his position there (a big fish in a very small pond who was never questioned or challenged).

Where is this meandering to?

The issue is homosexual men in the priesthood. Technically, this should not be a problem, right? I mean if we are all chaste, celibate, and continent then it shouldn’t make any difference…just like I should be able to shower with the girls so long as I keep my hands to myself. The issue of gay men in the priesthood and the impact is has was definitively explored in the book Goodbye, Good Men.

The macro issue of ordaining men with homosexual tendencies, in general, rather than focusing on the specific case at hand was addressed as an official policy for the first time by Pope Benedict Benedict XVI in 2005.

From the time of the Second Vatican Council until today, various Documents of the Magisterium, and especially the Catechism of the Catholic Church, have confirmed the teaching of the Church on homosexuality. The Catechism distinguishes between homosexual acts and homosexual tendencies.

Regarding acts, it teaches that Sacred Scripture presents them as grave sins. The Tradition has constantly considered them as intrinsically immoral and contrary to the natural law. Consequently, under no circumstance can they be approved.

Deep-seated homosexual tendencies, which are found in a number of men and women, are also objectively disordered and, for those same people, often constitute a trial. Such persons must be accepted with respect and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. They are called to fulfil God’s will in their lives and to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter[8].

In the light of such teaching, this Dicastery, in accord with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, believes it necessary to state clearly that the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question[9], cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practise homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called “gay culture”[10].

Such persons, in fact, find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women. One must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies.

Different, however, would be the case in which one were dealing with homosexual tendencies that were only the expression of a transitory problem – for example, that of an adolescence not yet superseded. Nevertheless, such tendencies must be clearly overcome at least three years before ordination to the diaconate.


Many had thought that Pope Francis would get rid of this and adopt something softer.

A few days ago, Pope Francis attended a plenary session of the Italian bishops conference (this translation tracks with Reuters).

“If there’s a doubt about homosexuality, it’s better not to have them enter the seminary.”

The words of the Pope in the closed door session with the Italian bishops: “Discernment is needed”. Reaffirmed what was in the Vatican documents of 2005 and 2016

With the pastors of the CEI (Italian bishops conference) – Vatican insider learned – Francis, speaking about the downturn in vocations, one of his “three worries” for the Italian church, he was, instead, more straightforward and, inviting the bishops to oversee more the quality of future priests, then the quantity, explicitly mentioned cases of homosexual persons who desire, for various motives, to enter into the seminary. Then he invited the bishops to a “careful discernment”, adding: “if you have also the slightest doubt it’s better not to let them enter”.

One indication, from the Pope, that expresses his deep concern: these tendencies, which are “deeply rooted”, and the practice of “homosexual acts”, can compromise the life of the seminary beyond that of the young man himself and an eventual future priesthood. They can generate those “scandals” of which the Pope had spoken in his discourse at the opening of the assembly of the Italian bishops in the new hall of the Synod, that disfigure the face of the Church.


And it was reported this way by the gay-friendly magazine, America, of the gay-friendly Jesuit order (Pope Clement XIV really had this right):

The Vatican on Wednesday declared that “persons with homosexual tendencies” cannot be admitted to Catholic seminaries. This reaffirms a 2005 policy now seemingly at odds with Pope Francis’ famous “Who am I to judge?” response when asked about gay priests in 2013.

Quoting the 2005 teaching, the new document says that men “who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture’” cannot become priests.

It goes on to say that gay men “find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women.”

“One must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies,” it says.

But men who experience a “transitory” attraction to other men could be admitted to seminaries, it says, again repeating the 2005 document, though “such tendencies must be clearly overcome at least three years before ordination to the diaconate.”

This is one of those things that may, or may not, cause some short-lived problems. In the long run, though, it is a positive thing. This goes to the paradox of Pope Francis. Someone on Twitter observed that Pope Francis had great pastoral instincts but is a horrible Pope. I tend to agree to with that. His flirtations with heresy are based in his desire to bring people to God. Whether you can do that by not telling them the Truth, of course, is debatable. They feel better but is that good? On bright line doctrinal issues, though, he’s not strayed from Scripture or Sacred Tradition. Hopefully, he’ll eventually learn to not shoot from the lip and cause confusion but I’m really not counting on it.


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