Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Battle Episcopal

So it's the morning after, and now the bishops are fighting amongst themselves over What It All Means.

From the Washington Post....
"I think one of the telling sentences in the document is the phrase that the candidate's entire life of sacred ministry must be 'animated by a gift of his whole person to the church and by an authentic pastoral charity,' " Skylstad, the bishop of Spokane, Wash., said in an interview. "If that becomes paramount in his ministry, even though he might have a homosexual orientation, then he can minister and he can minister celibately and chastely."...

Bishop John M. D'Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., said yesterday that Skylstad's interpretation is "simply wrong" -- a rare public clash among bishops, who usually go to great lengths to preserve an image of collegiality, even when they disagree.

"I would say yes, absolutely, it does bar anyone whose sexual orientation is towards one's own sex and it's permanent," D'Arcy said of the document. "I don't think there's any doubt about it. . . . I don't think we can fuss around with this."....

Although each bishop can apply the document as he sees fit in his diocese, the fallout could reach thousands of Catholic schools and parishes as gay men who are considering the priesthood -- and some who have been ordained -- reevaluate their place in the church.

"I think every gay seminarian faces a question of conscience now," said a 33-year-old gay seminarian from New England who requested anonymity because he has not yet decided whether to leave his seminary. "There's no question of leaving the church. I'll die a Catholic. The question is whether I can with integrity be a priest."...

Several prelates, including Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington, indicated that they will continue to ordain seminarians regardless of sexual orientation, as long as the candidates are committed to live in celibacy and to uphold church teachings.

"It is important to look at the whole person. One issue of many that are looked at in the overall evaluation process is in the area of human sexuality," McCarrick said in a written statement. "Applicants for the Archdiocese of Washington must have a demonstrated commitment to living a chaste life and must fully embrace, through belief and action, the Church's teachings, including those on human sexuality."

Asked whether that means the archdiocese will still accept gay seminarians, the cardinal's spokeswoman, Susan Gibbs, said: "We don't anticipate our admissions policy changing based on the document. There can be people whose orientation is homosexual if it's not such a strong part of their makeup that it interferes with their ability to live out church teaching. It's part of the larger picture we have to look at."

Skylstad took a similar approach. He said the barring of men with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" refers to those who are "principally defined by" or whose "primary identification" is their sexual orientation. Although the document does not say so, he said, the same implicitly applies to men who have deep-seated heterosexual impulses.

Let the slice-and-dice begin.