The Raving Theist

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I Still Don’t Get It

September 30, 2005 | 28 Comments

I hate to beat a dead horse, but apparently I didn’t kill it right. Consider the following propositions:

(1) The Catholic Church has purged all sexually active people from the priesthood. What


28 Responses to “I Still Don’t Get It”

  1. Kate B.
    September 30th, 2005 @ 3:36 pm

    Not to notpick, but you can’t purge someone from something they were never in. Thus, numbers 2 and 3 are false. No women were ever purged from the priesthood, because women have never been allowed to be priests. Ditto with those who disbelieve in Christ. You’re treading the strawman line.

  2. The Raving Atheist
    September 30th, 2005 @ 3:49 pm

    Arggggh, I knew someone would notice and was busying concocting refutations when you commented. Of course I could have avoided the problem simply by saying “the Catholic Church excludes” instead of using “purged.” But, since you brought it up I will speculate that the Church had to at least one time in its history purge a guy like this. No defense for the women, though.

  3. Kate B.
    September 30th, 2005 @ 3:56 pm

    But a guy like that would never have been ordained, as far as I know, if it were known he held those views. In other words, it has never been policy to ordain nonbelievers or women.

    The other aspect you might want to consider is whether or not priesthood is the only form of serving God and humanity. You kind of imply that it is: that being excluded from the priesthood is being excluded from service. This ignores the other forms of vocation, however. Nuns serve. Married and single men and women serve. Priesthood is not the only way to serve. Homosexuals serve, too–it’s not limited to Holy Orders. The question is, does a certain sexual orientation make a certain form of service impossible?

    No, I don’t have a concrete answer.

  4. The Raving Atheist
    September 30th, 2005 @ 4:15 pm

    You can still “purge” people who slip in unnoticed, if you interpret the word in fhs broader sense of cleaning house under the old rules rather than acting pursuant to a new policy change.

    Your second point is an even stronger argument against Jill’s complaint. Of course she would respond that the sexual orientation doesn’t afffect any level of service, but if that’s her position, she’d have to explain why she’s not advocating for female priests. Or for non-celibates for that matter, given her position that celibacy is a unhealthy and said.

  5. Kate B.
    September 30th, 2005 @ 4:35 pm

    Okay, I’ll agree with you on the possible use of the word “purge” as cleaning house if a mistake was made (no one, BTW, is suggesting removing already-ordained gay priests from the priesthood).

    I confess, I only skimmed Jill’s original post, but you’re right, there’s an implication that all are called to serve in the same way, and anyone who isn’t allowed to serve in that way isn’t allowed to serve at all. According to that implication, yes, all non-priests are discriminated against. I think that’s a flawed understanding both of srevice and of vocation. IN fact, in the Catholic Church, marriage and the single life (even outside the taking of religious vows) are classed as vocations, just like the priesthood. How your sexuality works can affect what you are called to. Two different people may not be called to serve in the same way.

    Again, I’m not sure what the exact implications are of different sexualities on a particular type of service. I just think that any criticism of the Church’s stance on vocations and sexuality needs to be made on the basis of what the Church actually says, which isn’t that gays, women, or unbelievers cannot serve God and humanity.

  6. folieadeaux
    September 30th, 2005 @ 5:31 pm

    Give it a rest with attacking Jill. Man, what is your problem!

  7. folieadeaux
    September 30th, 2005 @ 5:38 pm

    My comments are directed at RA. Sorry for not being more specific.

  8. Dawn Eden
    September 30th, 2005 @ 6:09 pm

    Being a priest isn’t merely serving God and humanity–it’s being a vehicle through which the body and blood of Jesus Christ is consecrated and distributed. You can say that Jesus associated with sinners, but Catholics believe that the person who is a vehicle for the consecration and distribution of his body and blood should be living according to His commandments. This means ruling out people who are practicing sinful behavior, or who, based on their stated inclinations, are tempted towards sinful behavior.

    Keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of pedophile priests have been homosexual. The Church has good reason to be concerned.

    When it comes down to it, the Church has every right to choose whomever it chooses for the priesthood, or reject whomever it chooses to reject.

  9. Reluctant Atheist
    September 30th, 2005 @ 6:35 pm

    Dawn Eden:
    I might suggest you do some research in this regard. From: – “The empirical research does not show that gay or bisexual men are any more likely than heterosexual men to molest children. This is not to argue that homosexual and bisexual men never molest children. But there is no scientific basis for asserting that they are more likely than heterosexual men to do so. And, as explained above, many child molesters cannot be characterized as having an adult sexual orientation at all; they are fixated on children. ”
    You are propogating a falsehood. Do some secular research.

  10. shaggy
    September 30th, 2005 @ 7:03 pm

    cleary the sky man hates anyone without a penis -_-

  11. Jennifer
    September 30th, 2005 @ 7:07 pm

    Actually Kate B., whether or non women were priest is also open to question.

  12. worldcitizen
    September 30th, 2005 @ 7:12 pm

    “…are tempted towards sinful behavior.”

    What fucking bullshit. The Catholic Church hates gay people. (Now it’s even starting to hate people who don’t hate gay people.) If the job requirement is celibacy, so be it. You’d think everyone could see that that requirement makes sexual orientation irrelevant by definition.

    What’s really being punished is honesty. They’ll sweep out the priests with self-awareness and maturity and leave behind the twisted closted freaks.

    Stupid blood-drinking bigots. Dawn Eden included.

  13. Dan
    September 30th, 2005 @ 7:27 pm

    Here are the answers to your questions:

    (1) The Catholic Church has purged all sexually active people from the priesthood. What

  14. Tony Martin
    September 30th, 2005 @ 7:50 pm

    Don’t try to understand it, religion is not known for its great strides in logic.

  15. John
    September 30th, 2005 @ 10:46 pm

    Catholicism is a club with certain rules. If you don’t like the rules, don’t join the club, leave it if you were born into it, and go start your own club with your own rules.
    Celibacy was started by the church to keep them from losing church lands when priests died and their property was divided among their heirs. It’s all about the money and the power.
    People should stop trying to change Catholicism, and simply leave it if they don’t like it.

  16. qedpro
    September 30th, 2005 @ 11:44 pm

    I think its great that they’re excluding gays from being priests. To paraphrase Bill Maher, The costumes, the pagentry, kneeling down infront of another man with your mouth open, the whole thing is so gay. Hopefully, they won’t realize that ALL THE FUCKING PRIESTS ARE GAY FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!!!! Soon they’re won’t be anybody left to preach the word of “whoever made that shit up”.

  17. Oz
    October 1st, 2005 @ 12:03 pm

    RA, I think you may be reaching a little too far with #3. It’s a true statement, but not very interesting. It’s about as inane as it would be for someone to attack you for “purging athesim of all people who don’t explicitly not believe in God.” You mean someone who believes in God can’t be an atheist? Daaaaaamn. With you on the rest, though.

  18. Kate B.
    October 1st, 2005 @ 3:25 pm

    Jennifer, the amazon link you provided doesn’t actually prove that women were priests (in spite of the book’s title). Several of the posted reviews criticized the book’s scholarly method for not providing enough evidence and for not countering refutations–which doesn’t make the book sound like a promising read. And early evidence of women in leadership roles is not the same as evidence that women were priests. Leadership is not the sum total of a priest’s function.

    As far as gay men in seminaries goes, two points:

    No, there is no evidence that pedophiles are gay. There is at least one case (that of Rudy Kos) in which, when Kos was admitted to the seminary, it was known that he had strong homosexual tendencies, to the point that some argued he wouldn’t be able to remain celibate while living in the dormitory. He went on to molest a large number of boys. No, it may not have been becuase he was gay, but it sets a precedent that suggests that the relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia in the priesthood needs to be examined. Is there a correlation between the two? If so, what other factors might be involved that would divert homosexual impulses into pedophiliac ones? Or is it a red herring, and if so, how do we keep pedophiles out of the seminaries?

    The other point is that a seminary is a bunch of men living together, testing the ability to keep a vow of celibacy. They’re not supposed to spend too much time with women, to make sure this is really a test (yet another reason for the seminary visitations). If an individual cannot live in this situation without acting on his attraction to his housemates (or nearby women, if he’s hetero), he shouldn’t be there. If his sexuality and his struggle with celibacy would create a tense environment that would interfere with himself or his brothers getting their jobs done, then he needs to leave, regardless of his orientation. Sexual tension doesn’t help any environment, as far as I’ve seen. Whether or not an individual creates these problems would need to be evaluated on a case by case basis.

  19. worldcitizen
    October 1st, 2005 @ 6:10 pm

    People should stop trying to change Catholicism, and simply leave it if they don’t like it.

    That approach was fine during the brief period in history–the past few decades–when the pope was not trying to rule the world by dictating to politicians and government leaders. Now that they’re getting back into that business with a vengence, decent people need to work to push them back out of it.

    In my state, the bishops issue orders to state legislators telling them how to vote, and they try to punish them if they don’t follow orders. FUCK the idea that the church is a private organization. If they want to be, they need to start acting like it.

  20. Sportin' Life
    October 1st, 2005 @ 6:14 pm

    …and if so, how do we keep pedophiles out of the seminaries?

    How about if you try to find some bishops that actually understand child molestation is wrong? And when they ACTUALLY CATCH PEDOPHILES IN THE ACT they report them to the police instead of shuffling them around to molest more kids somewhere else? Wouldn’t that solve your problem right there?

  21. Jennifer
    October 2nd, 2005 @ 10:17 am

    Kate B. Said

    And early evidence of women in leadership roles is not the same as evidence that women were priests. Leadership is not the sum total of a priest’s function.
    I seriously doubt that anyone’s first leadership roles in the church bear any resemblance to the priest function today. But don’t Catholics regard Paul as the first Pope. And wasn’t his statement excluding women made to appease the Greeks who were reluctant to become Christian due to the number of women assuming leadership roles in the church? And wouldn’t that statement constitute the first Banishment?

    Incidentally, to the other posters here that feel the Catholic Church should be able to include and exclude whom ever they choose, I would argue that the Church is also an employer and a business. Imaginary friends or not they should be held to the same hiring and pay practices that other businesses are held to.

    And to Jill and Amanda, my problem with Unity Church is that its a Gay Ghetto inside the church. Wouldn’t it be healthier to just not participate?

  22. The Other Aethiest
    October 3rd, 2005 @ 1:24 am

    I really think the Catholic Church just doesn’t want gay priests doing an MJ dance in front of the congregation in an attempt to “liven the spirit”. Though I would pay to see that. Strange how its alright to have a dozen fat women going for the gold in that regard though…

  23. Kate B.
    October 3rd, 2005 @ 4:17 pm

    Sportin’ Life:

    Yes, that’s one solution. But that awfully post hoc, isn’t it? Catching soemone in the act doesn’t prevent the horrible act in the first place. So, yes, this particular war needs to be waged on multiple fronts.

    Jennifer, is that heavily indented part of your post yours? Catholics do not regard Paul as the first pope or, in fact, as any pope. Peter, yes.

  24. Justin Winokur
    October 3rd, 2005 @ 8:59 pm

    On number 4, i agree about the gays and stuff but the real problem (not that the church cares) is the gays who molest the kids. They should go to jail, die and serve thier eternity in hell giving satan enemas

  25. Sportin' Life
    October 3rd, 2005 @ 11:56 pm

    Yes, that’s one solution. But that awfully post hoc, isn’t it?

    Bringing the church up to the standards of civil society is a start, right? It’s going to be tough to get significantly better results than society-at-large when you have a bunch of “celibate” single men as your priestly caste–regardless of orientation.

    Anyway, my point was this: don’t you think the whole clerical culture (of having the magic power to turn bread/wine into flesh/blood; of having responsibility for the immortal souls of parishoners; etc.) becomes a problem when it is mixed with the church’s traditional belief that it is entirely outside and above the civil law? It seems to me a really toxic combination, and the unique status of priests as trustworthy authority figures for children feeds into it too. Don’t the psychologists tell us that sex crimes like these are often about power-tripping with the vulnerable?

  26. Kate B.
    October 4th, 2005 @ 9:38 am

    Sportin’ Life–

    Yes, that is part of the problem. It’s a difficult balance to maintain between the spiritual and temporal swords, as they are often called. And it’s a balance the Church has been looking for for ages: It’s the heart of a lot of medieval history. But looking at medieval history points up the reasons behind keeping priests away from civil law. A lot of kings were trying to control the Church. The Church said it couldn’t. Some priests took that and ran, and the saga of trying to keep power-mongers out of the priesthood began. We’ve never had a perfect solution.

    Anyway, yes, I do think child-molesting priests should be sent to jail, along with all the other child-molesters. As with all priests who commit crimes for which the civil code has a penalty. And I think the bishops need to be quicker about responding to allegations against priests. I can also understand the hesitation some have about believing every allegation, if for some reason they feel the allegations are unwarranted (yes, I have met people who think the entire scandal was cooked up by people who just wanted the money–yikes).

    To sum up, now that I’ve rambled: bringing the church up to code is a start. Trying to figure out how to keep the code from being violated in the first place is also a start.

  27. The Doom of Fools
    October 5th, 2005 @ 8:55 am

    hm, I’m not a Catholic, but if memory serves, the answers to your questions are, theologically, no, no, no, and no.

    Hope that helps.

    -The Doom of Fools

  28. PG
    October 5th, 2005 @ 7:41 pm

    (1) Sexually active people are distracted by worldliness from treating the Church as their mate and family.

    (2) Women can serve in the church, though not as priests. While I consider this a bad policy, it can be defended on the basis that celibate women (whether they sexually incline to men or to other women) are given the option of becoming nuns, in which capacity they can do a great deal to serve God and humanity, though not rise to the power level of a cardinal or pope. Celibate men whose sexual inclination is toward men, however, can become neither nuns nor priests.

    The Church made a serious PR mistake in allowing its reform of the seminaries to be depicted as a witchhunt for men with homosexual preferences. It should have been framed as ensuring that all priests were of sound doctrine, such that both straight and gay seminarians must deem abortion, sex outside marriage, contraception, etc. as well as sex between two men or two women to be sinful. No one would criticize the NAACP for ensuring that there were no white supremacists in its ranks, so the Catholic Church as an organization (leaving aside its attempts to be treated as a government) would have the same right to police the ideology of its employees.

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