Reactions in Europe

Source: FSSPX News


In the U.K. Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, archbishop of Westminster said: “The instruction does not say that men with homosexual tendencies may not be readily accepted for the priesthood. But it clearly states that they must be capable of practicing celibacy and not sharing the values of the gay eroticized culture. This is particularly important because seminaries are for the most part, masculine societies.”

 Criticism also came from Germany, where the instruction aroused many reactions from politicians of both left and right, as well as a Catholic protest group. The text, approved by Benedict XVI, is “unacceptable in both substance and form”, said the liberal (right) deputy Hans-Michael Goldmann, responsible for religious questions within his party. “Jesus himself taught us by his acts, that God loves and accepts all men. The fact that the Vatican is going back on this basic principle is appalling. It is a worrying sign of a growing intolerance in our society,” continued Goldmann, who emphasized that “the capacity to care for souls and to transmit the teaching of the Church does not depend on sexual orientation.”

 On the left, the papal directive also provoked the disapproval of the Green party deputy leader, Volker Beck, who warned against a “widespread damnation of gays.” “When the Vatican demands more from gay seminarians than from aspiring heterosexual priests, that is discrimination, and it is indefensible,” declared the Green politician, who felt that “this directive is like a theological demonization of homosexuals.” “Even abstinence can not save them (from the condemnation of the Church),” he lamented.

 For its part, the Catholic protest movement “We are Church” called it “a very bad sign”, which would “aggravate the shortage of priests in the Catholic Church.”

 A comment from France, in the daily La Croix. “Debatable in its substance, this document may be unenforceable in its form”, according to the editorial writer Michel Kubler. “It fixes conditions for acceptance to the sacrament of Holy Orders which do not correspond to any certain criterion.” The French association “David and Jonathan”, which brings together homosexual Catholics, have judged this directive “contrary to the truth, but above all, distressing, unenforceable and dangerous.”

 The ultra-progressive magazine Golias declared the text “scandalous, discriminatory and insulting.” “The most grave thing about this text is that homosexuals are almost considered to be handicapped, since the text clearly states that they find themselves “in a situation which is a serious obstacle to proper relationships with men and women,” its editor, Christian Terras told AFP. “This text will foster an unhealthy climate in the Church, we are going more and more towards denunciations, which can only be based on rumors or discriminatory judgements.”

 “Les Panthères roses” (The Pink Panthers) – an association of homosexuals – have called for a “protest march” on November 26 in Paris, in order to invite passers by to make an “act of apostasy, that is to publicly and voluntarily abandon their membership of the Catholic Church.” “Through this action, we are protesting against the sexism and homophobia of this institution in public life,” the association states. According to the Panthères roses , “the Catholic Church derives its legitimacy from the number of baptized persons: by inviting this act of apostasy the Panthères roses intend to refuse to support this anti-choice, sexist, transphobic, lesphobic and homophobic ideology.”

 Sophie de Ravinel in Le Figaro quotes Mgr. Hervé Giraud, the auxiliary bishop of Lyons and president of the Commission of French Bishops for ordained ministers who points out that “the question is not to know first of all if a candidate is homosexual or not, but rather to discern his aptitude for pastoral relations.”

 In Belgium, Cardinal Daneels, first of all, then all of the Bishops Conference, felt the necessity to comment on the contents of the document. According to the Belgian bishops, the Congregation for Catholic Education had wanted, above all “to recall several criteria of discernment, allowing them to ensure that a candidate for the priesthood has the psychological freedom necessary to commit himself to this way.”

“As a matter of fact,” explained Eric de Beukelar, the spokesman of the Bishops Conference, “Cardinal Daneels has said that the candidate should be judged on his capacity to live what is asked of him.” A chaste life is not always easy. And impossible situations really do exist, like for example “not being able to live without sexual relations”, or even “because sexual desire is so deep rooted in him that it becomes an obsession with him, and prevents him from living his consecrated celibacy in complete freedom and serenity.”

 In Belgian Christian homosexual circles, they are far from sharing the analysis of the Church hierarchy. Benoit Van Parijs, in the name of La Communauté du Christ Libérateur (The Community of Christ the Liberator), observes that “for the first time, it is no longer only the acts which are sinful, but even the mere homosexual orientation which justifies our exclusion from this sacrament.” And he deplored the fact that “this act of exclusion is an affront to the dignity of all Catholic homosexuals,” before concluding that “Christian homosexuals can not be judged merely by their sexual orientation.” Therefore they reject this “unfounded simplification.”

 In Holland, the Dutch Bishops Conference pointed out that the aim of the instruction was to ensure that “every priest is capable of establishing with other people, pastoral and affective relations which are compatible with celibacy.”

 In Switzerland, the bishops published a declaration on November 23, which reads: “A homosexual predisposition lived in continence does not exclude ecclesial ministry; continence lived faithfully may even announce a particular charism, in the same way as freely chosen celibacy. If a homosexual tendency does not allow a man to live chastely, then admission to Holy Orders is not possible.” The Swiss bishops state: “Anyone who decides deliberately on a life of celibacy on committing himself to the Church, can not in all sincerity, cultivate a lifestyle which is opposed to that decision, neither can he take a stance which is incompatible with that of the Church.” They conclude, however : “What we care about is that each seminarian and each priest experience a human and spiritual help to live his lifestyle with conviction and in freedom.”