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Close reading elicits positive response

Observer Viewpoint | Monday, December 5, 2005

I write in response to Andy Buechel’s negative conclusion on the Vatican document on homosexuals and seminaries. I think Buechel, in large part, is a victim of his own feelings. By not carefully examining the document and by relying on emotions rather than theological fact, Buechel misinterpreted the document which, I believe, is a very necessary step in the reconciliation between the church and its failings in dealing with the sex abuse crisis.

Buechel asserts that any man or woman who has homosexual tendencies will be banned from entry into a Roman Catholic seminary. In reality, though, this assertion is just plain wrong, and Buechel fails to tell the whole story. The document states that the Church “may not admit to the seminary and Holy Orders those who practice homosexuality, show profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called gay culture.”

Though the phrase “show profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies” seems vague, the phrases that precede and follow it clarify any vagueness that may seem to exist. The document is not at all unsympathetic to those men and women who have same sex attractions-quite the contrary. However, it is unsympathetic to those men and women who fail to observe the Church’s teaching on the matter, as well as those who fail to live chaste lives, and rightly so.

With this in mind, I believe that the document is right on the money-those men and women who disregard the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and chastity will encounter problems in “relating with men and women.” It is wrong, and heretical, in the eyes of the Church, to teach that it is morally correct men and women who deal with same sex attractions may act upon their feelings and may disregard Christ’s call to chastity. Religious men and women must not only respect the Church’s teachings, but also be a role model for the laity. Those Religious who do not respect the Church’s teaching on homosexuality are not able to fulfill their duties as Holy men and women.

So, should men and women with same sex attractions be concerned about being denied Holy Orders? If they follow the Church’s teaching, which is very clear and Biblically based (see Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, Romans, and to Timothy), they have no reason to be nervous, and I believe I am a great example of this. I plan to enter a Catholic seminary at some point after graduating, and despite the fact that I deal with same-sex attractions, I have no reason to believe that I will have any difficulties in becoming a priest because I follow the Church’s teachings and call to chastity.

In reality, then, the document makes it very clear-those men and women who follow Catholic teaching and live chaste lives, all other things equal, may be granted Holy Orders. Those who do not, whether homosexual or heterosexual, probably are not fit to represent the Catholic Church anyway. I encourage you to read the document for yourself, a good translation of which can be found at the Catholic World News website, and after careful examination, I believe that you will have a positive perception of the document.

Christian HoeffeljuniorSt. Edward’s hallDec. 1