By Larry Gross
Scapegoats talk back, and the boys in black squabble over the meaning of the Vatican “instruction.”
Fifty gay priests have spoken up, anonymously, to say “We feel like abandoned and unloved children of the Church to which we promised and gave our fidelity and love.” The statement, published on an Italian website, gaynews.it, stressed their objection to be being used as scapegoats for the ongoing sexual abuse scandal embroiling the church: ““We do not want to be made pay for the faults of others.”
Meanwhile, the Catholic clergy and theologians around the world are debating the precise meaning and extent of the Vatican “instruction” forbidding gay priests. According to Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, the path to possible ordination is still open to anyone, including homosexuals, who remain celibate and follow the church’s moral teachings. Spokane Bishop William Skylstad, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote,“many wonderful and excellent priests in the church who have a gay orientation, are chaste and celibate, and are very effective ministers of the Gospel.”
The Vatican fired back: in a Nov. 30 commentary in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, French Monsignor Tony Anatrella wrote that celibacy is not enough to allow ordination of a “deep-seated” homosexual because he cannot display the proper “spiritual paternity.”
To the Rev. Michael Fahey, a theologian at Marquette University, the disagreements are predictable given a final text that “reflects some haste in composition” despite years of work. “Undoubtedly, the instruction ... will be interpreted somewhat differently in various countries,” he said.