Wednesday, November 30, 2005
By way of a first answer to the question of Michael Perry, whom I love: If the Church "ruled" that "persons of African ancestry could not be ordained," Patrick would be shocked, awed, and confused. But, mercifully, the same Patrick doesn't and won't have to confront that crisis; the Church won't so "rule." And, for the record, I have taken no position here (or elsewhere) on whether gay men (people?) are in fact called by God to the ministerial priesthood; my position is that on this question I (shall) seek to accept the answer given by the Church. For the sake of the discussion, however: Was there a non-discrimination norm seeking to bind Christ when he called the apostles to their priestly ministry? Does Christ's exemplary charity entail or reveal that God cannot or does not, on account of an equality-of-equal-service norm, call some (but not others) to such (holy) office? The Church doesn't (and, to my knowledge, never has) taught that ethnicity is part of what Christ taught about His holy priesthood. That the Church would now -- in a world that more and more denies the essential and consequential difference between homosexuality and heterosexuality which the Church continues to affirm-- speak afresh to sexuality's part in the ministerial priesthood is as it should be. Susan S. is of course right that the documents sounding in terms of "homosexuality" are of compartively recent genesis; whether the Church's teaching on homosexuality as such is a flash in the pan is another question, which I referenced with my observation that new wrongs call forth new declarations of (new) rights. Returning to the question of the ministerial priesthood in particular: "Discrimination is the wrong issue/question, as concerns the life of the Church as we're discussing it here; the sources of officia and munera are the heart of the matter, as I see it." The Church's teaching on homosexuality should not be a cause for our surprise, whatever one may think of the teaching; the recent Instruction as it concerns the necessary conditions for admission to (the seminary leading to) ministerial priesthood is a matter that will be well debated by competent theologians in service of the Church.