The unbearable lightness of screening
A few last thoughts before leaving the To Screen or Not to Screen thread behind.
Before I exit the party, I regret not clarifying a few terms earlier. For instance, even though I slip into writing "gay man" (or woman) out of convenience, the term is misleading. Along with "gender" the term gay has become a largely socio-political label, a self-applied construct with a weak tether to reality. Science has found no "gay gene" although, of course, genetic predispositions are clearly involved. (Dispositions, mind, not sole causality.)
In my very humble opinion, Christians should avoid buying into language that presupposes any kind of inherent, permanent "gay identity." Which, I submit, is a satanic deception. To whit, I believe Same-Sex Attraction Disorder more accurately describes the phenomonon. A man with decades of pastoral experience, Father John Harvey (founder of Courage) says he regrets the title of one of his books, The Homosexual Person: New Thinking in Pastoral Care, because putting homosexual as a predicate to person, instead of the other way around, implies an ontological basis of the disorder, i.e., "God made me this way. I am a person who is homosexual."
As a Christian, I reject any idea that robs people of hope for change. Any fixed isness applied to an objective disorder such as homosexuality contains the implication that God's very design orients his creature toward perversion "from the beginning."
Also, I object to a prejudicial phrase of which Carlton and others are fond: "banning gay priests." I object because a) the word ban suggests some unjust restriction, such as banning books or artistic genuises; and b) we're not talking about priests but seminarians, who, of themselves, have no "right" to the priesthood. One more time: Holy Orders is not a right, but a divine gift from Jesus Christ, conferred by and with his Church.
I have given ample evidence that the recent priestly crisis is a crisis of homosexual predators and the bishops who enabled them, not a "fringe crisis" of pedophilia. Carlton ignores this or derides it as spurious. Not one peep about the Clowes-Sonnier study; barely a sneer.
And yet, 81% of the priests catalogued by the John Jay Report abused children homosexually. This is not ultra-conservative homophobia. It's the truth. While I'm at it, here's some more inconvenient evidence for the old ignoring/deriding bin:
* Dr. Thomas Plante, a psychologist at Santa Clara University, found that 80 to 90% of all priests who in fact abuse minors have sexually engaged with adolescent boys, not prepubescent children.
* The Boston scenario is even worse. According to The Boston Globe, “Of the clergy sex abuse cases referred to prosecutors in Eastern Massachusetts, more than 90 percent involve male victims. And the most prominent local attorneys for alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse have said that about 95 percent of their clients are male.”
* In a database analysis of reports on more than 1,200 alleged victims of priests identified by USA Today, 85 percent were males.
* In another study, also by USA Today, it was determined that of the 234 priests who have been accused of sexual abuse of a minor while serving in the nation’s 10 largest dioceses and archdioceses, 91 percent of their victims were males.
And none of this justifies paying added attention to homosexual leanings at the formation level? Reach down, grab neck, pull head from sand.
The conservative allergy against screening for homosexuality in seminaries is eerily similar to the liberal aversion to so-called racial profiling for terrorism in airports. Since an overwhelming percentage of terrorists who've harmed Americans have been Arab males between 19 and 35, it's just common-sensical to pay particular attention to this particular profile when security screening points. Sure, I suppose some terrorist could dress up as a Swedish nun or a Chinese grandmother, but, well, you get the point.
Now -- you watch -- someone will say I'm equating homosexuality to terrorism!
Carlton proposes what he calls a sound risk management plan. He summarizes it thus:
A sound risk management plan, for example, may require all retreats involving children to ensure multiple adult supervision, double occupancy of all rooms or tents (adults with adults, children with children), separate bathing times and washrooms, etc.
Can a more wrong-headed waste of the Church's already overtaxed time and energy be imagined? As I said before, I also propose a risk management plan -- to be implemented long before the egg hatches. Curiously, Carlton supports Archbishop O'Brien's US seminary visitations, which will most certainly be watching especially for signs of unseemly lavender behavior, yet he (Carlton) thinks the orientation itself -- that which motivates said behavior -- is too precious to single out.
The following summarizes my basic point of view:
-- Are all heterosexual priests sinless? Not a chance. (Our High Priest excepted.)
-- Should the priesthood be restricted to ex-Marines, jet engine mechanics, rodeo stars, or exhibit otherwise overpoweringly masculine personalities? God forbid.
-- Should we rely only on secular psychological methodologies alone to assess a candidate's worthiness? No.
-- Is it better to have chaste, holy, orthodox priests who secretly deal with SSAD than to be overrun with feminist nuns or crappy heterodox priests? Duh.
-- Are all persons with SSAD by definition liberal dissenters? Certainly not. Many in fact, veer to the other extreme. They even have a seminary nickname, "Daughters of Trent" (wouldn't be caught dead out of their cassock and berreta, but emotionally as tightly wound as a steel trap).
-- Should homosexuality be the sole criterion on which to expel a seminarian? Obviously not. (Some critics of the proposed screening are hyperventilating that this will happen.)
-- Is the Holy Spirit able to give restoration and normalcy in exchange for repentance and ongoing conversion? Absolutely.
-- Is it possible for a man who has struggled in the past with SSAD, or even been active in the lifestyle who could, over time with therapy and prayer, experience enough freedom from its compulsive power to be ordained? My answer is yes.
We do well to recall that the Catholic Church operates by a thoroughly incarnational principle. If the Church doesn't ordain you -- regardless of your strong subjective feelings -- you don't have a vocation. So let's take a deep breath and just see where His Excellency O'Brien's visitation plans lead us, mkay?
Carlton gets in one last, rather un-Canadian, dig:
I will be honest on one other point: In the face of these arguments, the teachings of the church and everything else I do suspect that many of those who want to expel all gay men simply, well, don't like gay men - and either wish to exclude them out of hate or are indifferent to them as men.
Wow. A DignityUSA press release couldn't have said it better. Imagine if I wrote the corollary: "I do suspect that many of those who refuse to screen for homosexuality simply, well, really, really like gay men - and either wish to be as close as possible to them out of love or are especially attracted to them as men."
Let's just keep it charitable and say my northern opponent doesn't know me, and leave it at that. Such "suspicions" remind one of the liberal tactic of reading the "true intentions" behind conservative policies they dislike. I very much regret to say Carlton has already accused me of regarding victims as somehow complicit in sexual abuse. A jaw-dropping -- and so far unacknowledged -- bit of finger-pointing, which has only contrary evidence in its favor.
As radio host and author Dennis Prager says, "clarity before agreement." My readers, along with Carlton's, are more than capable of deciding for themselves who's approach makes the most sense and why.