Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Offensive Article

Well, I bet a lot of trads will love this. It denigrates the Eastern churches and elevates a certain Latin discipline to practically a dogma:

http://www.zenit.org/article-28589?l=english

There is some truly ridiculous screed in there.

But, in reality, I think this is actually a good sign. The guy they're interviewing is just some professor, and I have to think that reactionary ideas like this...are just that.

They're getting
defensive.

36 comments:

Mark of the Vineyard said...

I read that on Rorate. It ticked me off somewhat.

A Sinner said...

It's a very Western way of thinking. There is a difference between "ideal vs reality" and "rule/norm vs exception".

I'm fine accepting that celibacy is a nice "ideal" for priests (and anyone, really). But so are all the Counsels. And that's just it; they're Counsels, not rules. And this idea of "enforcing" an ideal as "mandatory"
as if somehow legislating the Better makes it Best...is just very Western.

More disturbing though is this idea that it is nearly dogma, a tendency you see in both East and West.

You see that with some Trads and the liturgy even. Arguing that basically Jesus celebrated a Tridentine Mass for the Last Supper.

You see it with some radical Orthodox, however, arguing that shaving is a grave sin or that leavened bread is necessary for the Eucharist.

Or even something like Communion in the Hand which, though I will fight against it to the death...really is not against the deposit of faith if it could be done with the right cultural context (as if was for the early centuries).

I thought that, in the West at least, we got past that dogmatization of discipline, we drew the line in the sand pretty clearly. I thought that our problem was the OPPOSITE, namely caring only about what was "minimally necessary" in the Neocon way (defending Communion in the Hand is a great example of that).

I think it really just goes to show that they'll use whatever argument is convenient for them to use at the time to maintain whatever the current status quo is. A crippling situation for any organization.

Pater, O.S.B. said...

A couple interesting comments from the posting on Rorate Caeli. Have you read any of these studies?:

It never mattered much in the first 7 centuries of the Church, East and West, if a man was single or married as he approached major Orders -- and most were probably married, since ordination to the presbyterate (as the word indicates) was not usually conferred upon very young men -- since single or married, upon ordination to the diaconate (and for many centuries the subdiaconate) they all had to make the commitment to continence, along with their wives, hence the necessity for her consent (it was more than just consenting to her husband taking on a new and demanding job).
Anyone who disputes this simply has not done the historical research. That the discipline changed with the second council "in Trullo" in 691-692 for the Eastern churches is a fact -- they formalized the concession/discipline of "temporary" continence for married clergy who were to participate in the divine liturgy. The opening rubric of the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom retains this to this very day (that "the priest will have abstained from the night before").
For those who remain unclear or in doubt, PLEASE read:
"The Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy" by Christian Cochini SJ, "Celibacy in the Early Church" by Stefan Heid, "The Case for Clerical Celibacy" by Cardinal Stickler, "Clerical Celibacy East and West" by Roman Cholij (and yes, I understand the problem of this particular work...), and "The Theology of Priestly Celibacy" by Stanley Jaki. No truly scholarly refutation of these books has been fielded (and I'm not holding my breath!). The book by Heinz-Juergen Vogels is utterly lacking when it comes to historical evidence, and indeed gets off to such a bad start that it can easily be dismissed.
Again, please consider doing the research before commenting on this issue. There is ample foundation for the early, original and consistent discipline of the Latin church both from Scripture and early church tradition -- and also evidence of toleration and indeed acknowledgement of the later Eastern discipline in this area, as Paul VI reminded us.

Magdalen Ross, J.C.L.

And another post with some quotes from St. Jerome. (I know I would like to look at the context) :

First, it bears pointing out, the argument is not that clergy weren't married, but that married clergy were continent.

I know St. Jerome wrote about this, and he did so as if it were the case everywhere at the time--in East and West.

"The apostles have either been virgins or, though married, have lived celibate lives. Those persons who are chosen to be bishops, priests, and deacons are either virgins or widowers; or at least when once they have received the priesthood, are vowed to perpetual chastity."

Letter 48 (Jerome)

And here, he responds to person who thought celibacy no good and that only sexually active men should be ordained. He asks this rhetorical question:

"What are the Churches of the East to do? What is to become of the Egyptian Churches and those belonging to the Apostolic Seat, which accept for the ministry only men who are virgins, or those who practice continency, or, if married, abandon their conjugal rights?"

CHURCH FATHERS: Against Vigilantius (Jerome)

A Sinner said...

I think a lot of those writings were part of a sustained discourse attempting to create the situation they considered ideal; we all know Jerome had an agenda when it came to sex.

I wouldn't even dismiss that the attempt to enforce this ideal has a LONG history. That doesn't make it any less discipline, nor a good idea. As I said in a recent post, mere antiquity isn't an argument for me.

Really, I think this has really had an overwhelmingly negative effect on Western Christendom and been the biggest distraction from what really matters all through our history. A lot of energy and ink has been wasted trying to justify it.

We know what Paul said about even bishops having one wife. And about the duties he said husband and wife owed each other. So it was not "always that way". We have no idea what the Apostles did afterward, all these claims about them are hearsay from almost 300 years later by people with a clear agenda.

Pater, O.S.B. said...

Okay, but:

I think a lot of those writings were part of a sustained discourse attempting to create the situation they considered ideal [What do you have to support this? This is making the assumption that the situation had to be created because it did not exist beforehand which is the whole question behind the scholarship mentioned in the post I quoted]; we all know Jerome had an agenda when it came to sex.[This may or may not be relevant to the topic at hand].

I wouldn't even dismiss that the attempt to enforce this ideal has a LONG history. That doesn't make it any less discipline, nor a good idea. As I said in a recent post, mere antiquity isn't an argument for me. [On this I completely agree. Which Church Father said an ancient practice could merely be an ancient mistake? However, it is begging the question to simply assert that it is ONLY a discipline with no dogmatic basis. Frankly, I am not sure WHY it might have a dogmatic basis, I am just a little surprised by the vehement rejection of the professor's thesis seemingly made on the assumption that it is indefensible. Without a thorough examination of the primary sources and scholarship on the matter (Have you done this?), I would hesitate to write it off as a 'screed'].

We know what Paul said about even bishops having one wife. And about the duties he said husband and wife owed each other. [I do not recall any mention of 'conjugal duties'. Even the presence of children does not exclude the possibility of continence upon receiving the office] So it was not "always that way". [This has not been established. What 'always that way' means also needs to be looked at. St. Vincent Lerins' teaching that what has been believed always and EVERYWHERE has to be understood properly. Since often enough what we hold to as undisputed dogma now has not always and everywhere been held (at least in its particulars as in the Immaculate Conception). Check out Newman's Development of Doctrine.

We have no idea what the Apostles did afterward, all these claims about them are hearsay from almost 300 years later by people with a clear agenda [Quod gratis asseritur gratis negatur. Prove it]. Read Heid.

A Sinner said...

"Prove it"

You can't prove a negative, but I just know there are no actual firsthand primary accounts of what the Apostles did with their wives; if there were, we'd see them more when debates against the Orthodox about this came up. Instead, we rely on the accounts of people like Jerome centuries later, and by then we have all sorts of questionable legends about what the Apostles did, where they went, etc...which may or may not be true.

"However, it is begging the question to simply assert that it is ONLY a discipline with no dogmatic basis."

'Dogmatic basis' is a slippery concept. The practice is allegedly based in the valuation the Church holds for the celibate life, which is dogmatic.

However, it does not follow from that that it has to be mandatory for clerics. Even the idea that "exceptions" can be made proves it is not any sort of dogma, as exceptions cannot be made to dogma, only discipline.

"I am just a little surprised by the vehement rejection of the professor's thesis seemingly made on the assumption that it is indefensible."

Because it is. Likening it to "the revelation of a dogma" is simply ridiculous, and shows just how far these people are willing are to go. Like I said, I think it's a sign they are getting defensive. Especially the way things are going with the Orthodox, I have absolutely no fear that clerical celibacy is going to be "dogmatized"...and depending on how vocations work out East vs West after the inevitable reunion...I'm not at all sure that married priests will be "an exception" numerically, at least, anymore.

Like I said, it sounds to me like this is the same sort of thesis put forth in the Middle Ages during the conflict East vs West about leavened bread, shaving, etc.

Catholics (and Orthodox, and maybe people in general) have this bizarre tendency to unnecessarily ramp up practical questions about prudential matters into the discourse of ideological absolutes (like I was saying about gun control in that other post, etc)

Anonymous said...

If one day I become a priest, I'm having sex with my wife as much as I can just to stick it to the idiots of the past.

I can't believe I just read that!

Jonathan said...

I was sent The Rorate Caeli article/blog yesterday and, well, now you see with your own eyes WHY reunion has yet to happen. It could have happened centuries ago (and I do believe for a time it did happen, but we split anew over some issues), but Latinization vs. De-Latinizations are always going to be the crux of the problem.

This article, from an Eastern Catholic perspective, adeptly refutes the "new defenders [who] argue for the discipline based primarily on historical grounds," including Cardinal Stickler:

http://www.east2west.org/mandatory_clerical_celibacy.htm

A Sinner said...

"If one day I become a priest, I'm having sex with my wife as much as I can just to stick it to the idiots of the past.

I can't believe I just read that!"

Ha! You're an Eastern Catholic, I assume? Or just waiting for the day when the Old Boys Club finally falls apart?

"This article, from an Eastern Catholic perspective, adeptly refutes the 'new defenders [who] argue for the discipline based primarily on historical grounds,' including Cardinal Stickler"

Thank you! A very good article, I'll have to do a review on it soon.

Just goes to show how far they're willing to go to maintain their stubborn spidery little world.

Try as they might, they cannot "academic" a doctrine into existence; nor use the past to prove that something is prudent to maintain in the present. And they might end up scuttling relations with the East in the process.

They need to get out of their ivory tower and into the real world.

George said...

"They need to get out of their ivory tower and into the real world."

reminds me of something you said once about 'all intellectuals being pseudo-intellectuals'

we shouldnt start any sort of anti-intellectualism of course, i myself am an amateur intellectual, so do you and many of the commentors seem to be

but i have a hard time respecting 'professional' intellectuals when the only difference between them and the amateurs seems to be that they get PAID for writing their half-baked ideas down, and supporting them with selectively quouted 'authorities' or sources...

i think that canon law should be reversed: NO ONE who has a doctorate in any subject should be allowed to become a bishop, at least not without exceptional permission

Pater, O.S.B. said...

Dear A Sinner,

So you've read Stickler's work?

A Sinner said...

"NO ONE who has a doctorate in any subject should be allowed to become a bishop, at least not without exceptional permission"

I know. The current regime of Scholar Eunuch Bureaucrats NEEDS to be toppled.

That sort of system is why China is so messed up now.

Pater, O.S.B. said...

"Just goes to show how far they're willing to go to maintain their stubborn spidery little world."


"Scholar Eunuch Bureaucrats"

I know you have a serious problem with mandatory celibacy, but are these words about the hierarchy really necessary? There are many who think mandatory celibacy is just what the Church (in the West, at least) needs. Are you really interested in testing and exchanging ideas in a civil manner?


As I've said before, I think you'll get a lot farther with some of your very interesting ideas if you tone down on the abusive language. It is not enough to keep it to yourself and those who think as you do. The usefulness of not having to "show all your cards" in a debate does not excuse anybody from being charitable in thought and word. I know I myself find this difficult to do sometimes. Nevertheless, your rhetoric is abusive and hurtful to myself and many good bishops and priests (scholars and non scholars alike). Just make sure when you're out slaying sacred cows that you don't hit a brother in the process. I consider the fact that once in a while I get angry enough to call our bishops "a bunch of dick-less sacks of shit" a BAD thing. Could you at least keep it civil as you recommend?

A Sinner said...

"Eunuch" is Christ's description of the [voluntarily] celibate, not mine. And as one who does feel called to that, I don't consider it an insult in itself, "for the Kingdom of Heaven". I use it here to make the comparison to Imperial China. Is that what the Church wants to be?

Scholars are...what they are. I have a personal distaste for academia, but in itself it's not an insult either. The hierarchy IS largely populated by Academics, especially at the higher levels. Priests all get a Masters, and it is even required in canon law, I believe, for a bishop to have a Doctorate in theology or sacred scripture. It is a failed attempt at Meritocracy, failing to realize that academia is no guarantor of leadership.

And the Bureaucratic aspect is something I think we can all agree is negative. But what else do you call someone with a cushy paid administrative position (I mean, besides "bishop")?

In itself, then, the description was simply objective. If you take offense to it, maybe it's because you know, in your heart of hearts, that it is a bad model for the secular clergy.

If someone thinks working "from the inside" is a good way, more power to him. I myself might take that road more or less (if I can find away around the 5-years of minimum security prison). But we must be careful: just remember there is a fine line between infiltrator and collaborator...

I say this as someone who would-be one of you. Who very much feels called to the priesthood, voluntary celibacy, and who will even probably pick up a doctorate somewhere along the way.

If bishops and priests feel hurt by the scathing critique they collectively deserve, I can only laugh. I simply cannot take seriously any claims of being the victim by an Old Boys Club which has victimized probably more people over the course of history (at least in the form of psychological trauma) than any other.

sortacatholic said...

Take it from a probably-soon-to-be career academic: the tower can be just as restrictive as the seminary or monastery. The insanity hasn't dissipated. It's merely displaced.

Renegade Trad, I agree that that some in the clerical nomenklatura have become fully insulated from the physical, emotional, and spiritual plight of the laity. I needn't reiterate the immense suffering that has arisen from hierarchic negligence and malfeasance. Yet I don't see a connection between education and deception. God bless Avery Cdl. Dulles -- brilliant mind, very humble and accessible. Rather, the insularity, careerism, and power/control games have gotten us to this point. The number of diplomas on the wall only indicates that the prelate has jumped through more hoops than the next guy.

Pater, I have no clue why anyone would defend or even promote mandatory clerical celibacy in the current climate. Clerical celibacy isn't a marker of abuse -- married men abuse as frequently as celibate or single men. Still, as Renegade Trad has noted, anyone who knows priests well or has spent time in a seminary knows that something has to give. What's wrong with non-stipendary married priests, for example? The neo-con/trad defense of unconditional clerical celibacy smacks of denial at best or delusion at worse.

A Sinner said...

I'm not saying Education is bad, sortacatholic.

However, I am saying that Academia is not where I'd go to look for strong masculine leaders to save a struggling organization. I'd go to Business and the Law for "get it done" types. Academics tend to think too much and act too little.

It's why I have something of a love-hate relationship with the current Pope. I LOVE what he says. Love his writing style and his thoughts. But then I get the sense that he has no concrete vision of where he wants all that theory to go specifically.

And when you don't have a Vision...you have nothing in particular to implement, so you sort of sit around discussing "ideas" while the status quo continues in terms of action. You need a Program of clear objectives, clear goals. Specific, concrete benchmarks that you can measure. I don't get the sense the bishops have any direction they want to go in, they just want to sit around twiddling their thumbs, not upsetting anyone.

Pater, O.S.B. said...

What did you mean by "Scholar Eunuch Bureaucrats":

1) Eunuchs in imperial China (Bad connotation)

or

2) Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven (Good connotation)?

Did you mean it to be derrogatory or not? Because it would APPEAR to be offensive to most impartial people.

At the same time you hold that your description of the clergy is merely an objective description, to which only a guilty conscience could take offense (Well, geeze, thanks a lot). Yet further on you make mention of your "scathing" critique to which you up the ante by laughing at those who would take offense including myself! This is not civil nor honorable.

A Sinner said...

Are the eunuchs of Imperial China a bad connotation? Many Chinese proud of their history might disagree, especially the more imperially inclined.

If you think it's a negative connotation, you've drawn your own conclusion. There is some cognitive dissonance there if you are so starkly separating "different connotations" of the word "eunuch" in your mind.

I do believe that, sociologically, the phenomenon is equivalent. Scholarly men (the humanities nerds, in modern terms) who can't have heirs being turned into an attempted meritocracy.

My critique is outlined in other posts. I have made it clear that I do not think a bureaucracy of scholar eunuchs is a good thing and have harshly criticized the system (as it deserves).

But, objectively speaking, that phrase is just an accurate description of what exists. I simply disagree with it. Scathingly.

But it is not beyond the realm of possibility that someone would actually support such a system, and defend it against such critiques, as apparently you yourself do. So feel free. If you think it's a good thing, then embrace the label.

But if you take these things so personally, I can only roll my eyes and consider my point proven.

George said...

"But if you take these things so personally, I can only roll my eyes and consider my point proven."

lol, but which point are you talking about? which point is proven? sorry, im a bit slow on these things...

A Sinner said...

"lol, but which point are you talking about? which point is proven? sorry, im a bit slow on these things..."

Oh, that's okay.

It really proves two points actually.

Firstly, about the clergy (at least those who support it) becoming very defensive.

Secondly, about how the clergy creates an enclosed Identity for these men, based around mandatory celibacy, that gives them this bizarre personal investment in the System.

I'm sure we all know some good priests who we have respect and affection for, even if no one is perfect. But we can critique groups of people and systems (like, say, Islam) without meaning every individual Muslim. And hopefully a mature Muslim could understand that and take it impersonally and dispassionately.

But, very often, I think you'll find people are using these things as a shield of sorts, and so cannot be so detached when they are critiqued. I can critique the institution, but there are many Catholics who can't (who can't even make a joke) because for them it has the function of a psychological crutch. It is usually around this sort of dynamic that the cycle of trauma has revolved.

Pater, O.S.B. said...

Dear Sortacatholic,

I am not completely closed to dropping the discipline. However, I do not accept that mandatory celibacy has failed. I was ordained in 2006. I have been around a lot of priests and live in a religious community. As to the statistics put forward by Richard Sipe, I really don't buy it. His statistics are from 1500 individuals: 1/3 are priests who came to him for counseling, 1/3 are mere anecdotes of priests and other individuals from whom Sipes gathered information at conferences and small group discussions. The final third (and this is the kicker) are from third party informants who claimed to have witnessed priests doing such and such, as well as alleged victims and mistresses. All this information was gathered from his work since the 70's and does not represent the state of the priesthood at any given point in time. I wish I knew more about statistics, but I understand that his lack of "random selection" is one of his biggest problems. Kind of like how Kinsey came up with many of his statistics on homosexuality by interviewing prison populations.

I don't deny there are serious problems, but the 50% statistic strikes me as absurd, and is certainly unverifiable. What is needed is a moral reform of all Catholics which has to begin IMHO with their pastors. How many of these troubled priests and individuals in Skipe's "interviews" were praying their Office Daily, praying the Rosary and a Holy Hour? A commitment to deeper personal prayer is essential. I am not sure how these things can be instilled and fostered (nobody can be forced) apart from the seminary system. Suggestions? Also, assuming that the moral behavior is as bad as Sipes would have us believe, is marriage the solution? I am afraid that married priests would then only give us divorced priests, adulterous priests, priests who contracept and abort. Then the (assumed) private struggles of priests will go from being a private failure to being the stumbling block for the community since their leaders cannot lead by example. Any take on what's going on with married clergy in the East? Families of six children? As to marital infidelity, most couples want to keep that very private. Given the poor formation of the faithful and clergy in Christian living, I think if there were ever a time to get rid of mandatory celibacy, now is not it.

Pater, O.S.B. said...

Your words here:

"Eunuch" is Christ's description of the [voluntarily] celibate, not mine. And as one who does feel called to that, I don't consider it an insult in itself, "for the Kingdom of Heaven". I use it here to make the comparison to Imperial China. Is that what the Church wants to be?

Your words here:

Are the eunuchs of Imperial China a bad connotation? Many Chinese proud of their history might disagree, especially the more imperially inclined.

If you think it's a negative connotation, you've drawn your own conclusion. There is some cognitive dissonance there if you are so starkly separating "different connotations" of the word "eunuch" in your mind.

Case closed.

I love the armchair psychology, but perhaps you should read what others write more carefully.

A Sinner said...

"What is needed is a moral reform of all Catholics"

I've addressed this in my other posts on the issue. This is explaining-away, not explaining. Like saying, "Prohibition would have worked if only people wouldn't drink!"

Anything could work if people were moral. Your alleged problems with married priests (contraception, infidelity, etc) wouldn't be a problem either...if people were moral. But we're talking about a world where people, frankly, aren't.

"A commitment to deeper personal prayer is essential."

Again, great. On paper. The problem is these men aren't doing that. And if they were...I'm sure any results would equally apply to keeping married priests moral.

"I am not sure how these things can be instilled and fostered (nobody can be forced) apart from the seminary system."

They can't be instilled and fostered there either. You can lead a horse to water, you can't make him drink. Obviously, all the multitudes of sexually active priests went through seminary too.

But, hey, why not just cut to the chase and say that what we need is for people to simply keep their vows. Because, obviously, that's a non-answer, as the very problem we're discussing is that people don't.

The kind of men willing to do that are hardly the kind who are going to attempt to pray it away.

"I am afraid that married priests would then only give us divorced priests, adulterous priests, priests who contracept and abort."

You mean they might...sin?! Gasp!

"Then the (assumed) private struggles of priests will go from being a private failure to being the stumbling block for the community since their leaders cannot lead by example."

A facade that needs to be deconstructed. Priests aren't leading by example in that sense, because they aren't married. Their lives give no model for most people to follow when it comes to handling things like family planning the break-up of a marriage, etc.

Pater, O.S.B. said...

Sortacatholic,

Are you still with us?

sortacatholic said...

Yes, Pater, it seems that my last comment was deleted.

You're quite right that both celibacy and a married clergy pose distinct pitfalls. The introduction of the Eastern model of the presbyterate and temporary continence will not end child abuse. Also, many will expect married priests to have large families. Those couples that are unable to have more than a few children without birth control will be ostracized by some people. Still, many priests might benefit from the companionship and mutual giving that marriage affords. Would married priests stand the pressure of others' expectations?

I can't understand why some in the church harp on homosexuality as the sole cause of abuse. I'm convinced that psychological maturity and peer socialization, not necessarily sexual identity, are key factors of the current crisis. Some of my priest friends are quite uncomfortable with peer relationships. I have one priest friend who I must still address as Fr. X even though I've known him for years. He won't let me call him by his first name. He refuses to wear lay-clothes even when off-duty. He only socializes within youth groups and people ten to fifteen years younger. It's almost as if he's using the priesthood as a force-field to shield himself from dealing with his peers on a casual and honest basis. It's these situations that worry me. Of course, there are well-adjusted priests who socialize easily with peers. So far, I've met few priests that qualify as well adjusted in my estimation. Maybe I just meet up with the wrong priests.

I've thought about ordination, but I don't want to live at seminary. I already have skills that priests need (Latin, Greek, philosophical studies). Why can't I do an M.Div. on my time, live alone, and have a life? I don't want to be trapped in a situation that encourages social and emotional stagnation. I bet a lot of men would argue similarly. A married priesthood might loosen the emotional chains that bind the secular priesthood. I've vowed to myself to not investigate ordination until the introduction of substantive reforms to the secular clergy. At this pace I expect to be a layman for the rest of my life.

A Sinner said...

I don't think I deleted any comment of yours, sortacatholic. Are you sure you're not talking about the one that is farther up? It's still there. I never got a notification email for any other comment.

As for blaming homosexuality, I somewhat have to agree with you.

I mean, it IS evident that the vast majority of abuse was of boys, not girls. There is no denying that. But, at the same time, I'm just not sure how a ban on homosexuals is going to work.

The honest obedient ones and ones who have come to terms with a consolidated sexual identity...will be the ones left out, while the sociopathic ones willing to lie will still get in, as will those who are confused or ambivalent about their sexuality.

I mean, a ban simply on "pedophiles and ephebophiles" would be just as [in]effective, and more to the point...

Again, I think the main problem is trying to legislate our way out of problems. Banning homosexuals because there are clearly too many in the current priesthood (and they are disproportionately represented in a disturbing way)...is sort of a reverse quota-based affirmative-action scheme. As if we can change demographics through brute force.

I agree, for Diocesan Priests especially, socialization as an independent adult in secular society is the important thing, and I've said this before.

The bizarre re-socialization in institutional seminary really creates weird dynamics, and making it stricter will make it worse, not better.

I've been lucky in that the priests I know best have been reasonably well-adjusted. But maybe that's because I don't tend to be able to get close to people whom I don't consider to be.

I do believe that some priests use the position of authority it gives them as something of a crutch to interaction. Namely, they always interact with people AS a priest, never as a private individual.

I wouldn't despair over the seminary thing, though. Like I've said in other posts, we're trying to get something going. Please email me at renegadetrad@gmail.com and tell me your story and I can keep you in the loop with the other young men I've found who express a similar desire. The more we have, the easier it will be to convince a bishop.

Pater, O.S.B. said...

Dear Sortacatholic,

Greetings. I don't blame you for not wanting to be in a situation that would encourage social and emotional stagnation. The example of your priest friend, I would suspect, however, was something that was long in the making; previous to his seminary experience. I suppose the difficulty lies in how does one encourage a person who is emotionally immature or is uncomfortable with his peers to "come out of his shell" and face manhood. I would hardly consider one in such a state to be suitable for marriage or Priesthood. (I am speaking in general, I do not know your friend's complete situation. Was he a loner in seminary?). After college it's really sink or swim. Such poor souls face a lonely existence in the adult world if they are not able to mature. Does seminary foster emotional stagnation and immaturity? For candidates who are already emotionally stagnated and immature, perhaps, but for one who is mature and comfortable with his fellow peers, my experience would say absolutely not. It does not create either monsters nor saints. I have seen individuals grow tremendously in seminary and others stay the same as the day they came in; mature and immature. On the whole, however, I would not characterize seminary life as long stay on the Island of Misfit Toys. If you are afraid that seminary is going to make you a completely different person, I would say do not worry. If you are a mature man, it will not repress or make you immature. If you are constitutionally immature and socially handicapped going in, I'm not sure if there is anything that can be done short of visiting a shrink. One would also have to question one's motivations for entering. If you make use of what your studies have to offer, pray and be faithful to spiritual direction and make use of the you'll be fine. The supposed all powerful formative influence of seminary socialization is overblown. I have never in the least felt that I was being brainwashed. If I had, I would have left.

Pater, O.S.B. said...

As to the homosexual question, it's difficult to say. The whole nature/nurture issue comes in. Perhaps there are some who have an homosexual orientation resulting mostly from biological factors. It could be possible that they are well adjusted enough to live and socialize with other priests/seminarians and remain chaste (A big gamble, one the Church doesn't seem to want to take, and I think reasonably so). Perhaps, however, there are also some who have an homosexual orientation resulting from psychological factors and sexual maladjustment resulting from upbringing and environment. These types would also have a lot of other unhealthy baggage that might be manifested in other areas in their lives. I think homosexuality is much more dynamic and complicated than some are making it out to be. At this time I am unwilling to dismiss the possibility that this one deviancy is not related to that of paedophilia and certainly ephebophilia.

As to training for the Priesthood, I am sure there are options out there and bishops who are willing to "think outside the box". In the meantime, it might be a good idea to visit religious communities and groups of priests who might be able to inspire you more. There is no harm in checking out different groups and looking for examples of Priesthood that work. I would hate to see someone avoid the option of seminary because he is afraid that it would turn him into some maladjusted socially stunted, sexually repressed shell of a man. You are you, and no seminary training is going to change that. If you are merely a lone wolf type who wants to pursue a more specialized form of the Priesthood as has been suggested on this blog, well, more power to you. The most important thing is that you PRAY, and seek to find the will of God. If it is meant to be the door will be opened. This is YOUR vocation your are discerning and no one else's. Work as if all depended on you, and pray as if all depended on God. Trust that he wishes joy and salvation for you, not death and failure.

A Sinner said...

I would agree with you very much, Father, that Seminary isn't going to create monsters, and that those kind of men are fit neither for marriage nor priesthood.

However, I do think it attracts a disproportionate amount of a certain type nonetheless. A type whom I would have a hard time living with day-in and day-out. As classmates or colleagues...whatever, I can handle anyone. But as practical life-partners institutionally for 5-years...all living together, eating together, socializing together?

No thank you. Most Americans simply need to be able to keep domestic life, social life, and work...in reasonably separate spheres, as Goffman described in the article on Total Institutions. There is something too all-consuming of ones identity about having them all combined.

I don't think anyone is claiming it would change us...unless you count driving us insane. That doesn't mean we wouldn't be miserable. But if seminary is allegedly supposed to act as a "filter"...it is filtering out all sorts of talented young men, while NOT filtering out the misfits too well. So I'm not sure what exactly the priorities of this filter are...

I also agree with your analysis of homosexuality and psychology 100%. The problem (as Rocco Palmo once pointed out in an article of his I quoted) is maladjusted sexualities, and certainly many gays do have a lot of issues and baggage.

My problem with the "ban" is that it seems to simply leave it all to the "honor system". I mean, you're not going to hook them up to an arousal detector and show them porn, and short of that...how do you tell?

And so all you do is exclude the honest ones. But I get the sense that the ones with baggage are likely to lie, because many haven't even admitted it to themselves yet.

I also think it has the potential to become yet another tool of blackmail and witch-hunting. Don't like a seminarian or priest? Now you can just trump up some accusation that he's gay. I worry about that sort of atmosphere, which is the exact dynamic that existed under many totalitarian regimes.

Pater, O.S.B. said...

Dear A Sinner,

While I am not absolutely sure, I beleive that most psych evaluations are able to detect men who have homosexual tendencies. It is not completely up to the honor system as there are other ways to tell one 'bends that way' that need not involve such obvious indicators as arousal response to gay porn. I would like to find out more about how such tests work.

A Sinner said...

That's not true. The US military's experience even prior to "don't ask, don't tell" proves that any such attempt at "detection" short of arousal-response...is extremely imperfect.

You're fortunately able to catch people who are flamboyantly effeminate, of course, and that's probably a sign of homosexuality...but hardly fool-proof. And so then it's all left up to the "gaydar" of some psych evaluator?

And even if an evaluator could allegedly detect such things, would they be willing to tell the seminary? If they were liberal, probably not, as they wouldn't consider it an issue (unless there were other issues). But if they were Catholic...well, I have to think that's a serious conflict of interests; I think part of the problem is that Catholic biases about what is healthy and what is not have been letting through the zombies that creep me out so, even while keeping more independent personalities out.

Is some biased Catholic evaluator with their own axe to grind going to report simply sensitive young men who don't necessarily conform to pop-culture masculinity (but who may be perfectly heterosexual) out? It's possible. And all the while he'd be recommending butch homosexuals good at "passing".

Certainly, there are certain men who are currently priests who, forget any talk of an in depth evaluation...I could tell you shouldn't have been let through after talking to them only 15 minutes. Not necessarily just because of sexuality, but because of their general affect. They could certainly detect those whose views of sexuality were stunted, severely immature, confused, or skewed, whether gay OR straight (or the ambivalent types who never consolidated any particular sexual identity).

Certainly we need to be more strict with spotting the weirdos (homosexual or otherwise) and filtering them out. But, again as that Rocco Palmo article (http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/2005/10/beware-of-self-anointed-orthodox-part_05.html) said, I'm not sure I'd frame that in terms of homosexual vs heterosexual. The US military's experience once again is helpful showing that this opens the door to way too much subjectivity, potential for blackmail, retaliatory accusations, etc.

I think, more than anything, we need to target the maladjusted of all stripes. Once again, the priorities of the "filter" of the seminaries do not seem particularly designed to keep the right people out.

Pater, O.S.B. said...

So the U.S. military was actually giving psychological evaluations with the intention of identifying homosexuals before "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"? I thought D.A.D.T. was put in in response to openly gay men wanting to serve in the military. D.A.D.T. simply put into law what was already the practice. You may still have an arguement, but does the military example apply? I am not so sure. As for liberal psychologists, well you can get screwed there any number of ways. My understanding is that if you request a certain kind of profile to be examined, they follow along. It is at the request of the person paying for the exam. You sign away any privacy.

A Sinner said...

No, "Dont Ask, Dont Tell" was actually considered under Clinton a liberalization of the previous policy, wherein they DID ask, and you WERE expected to tell.

So before DADT, they did try to actively figure that out. DADT was in some ways a compromise admitting that was impossible.

The army moved from a total ban (impossible to implement) to DADT. The Church seems to be moving in the opposite direction; from something akin to DADT...to an impossible-to-enforce alleged total ban.

Pater, O.S.B. said...

So before DADT, they did try to actively figure that out. DADT was in some ways a compromise admitting that was impossible.

Are you sure that it was the result of a compromise admitting that it was impossible, or the result of a compromise over the debate of whether or not they should be excluding gays at all? Is there a website you would recommend?

A Sinner said...

"Officially, the compromise dictates that the armed forces will no longer ask recruits about their sexual activity and/or orientation, will not investigate any serviceman or servicewoman's sexual activity and/or orientation without solid evidence (thus preventing witch-hunts), and self-identified homosexual servicemen and women agree that they will not engage in homosexual sex acts, or otherwise announce their homosexuality through public statements or open participation in a same-sex marriage."

From the wikipedia article on DADT.

It was not a compromise over whether to admit them at all, as they are still officially not allowed, period.

But, it recognizes that there is nothing you can do if it is kept a secret, and prevents witch-hunts and harassment by not allowing the military to pursue accusations without solid evidence.

Previously, as the article says, there were pre-screenings but many got through anyway and there were several brutal murders related to that, which eventually led to the policy of not "don't ask, don't tell, don't harass, don't pursue"

Pater, O.S.B. said...

Thanks.