Discussion: How is the term "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" defined?


#1

Hello all,

I would just like to generate some discussion on this question. The reason I post this in the vocations forum is just because of something like this (I forget what document it comes from): “those with deep-seated homosexual tendencies cannot be admitted to the priesthood” or something like that. One reason I am asking is because, not surprisingly, I haven’t seen/heard it discussed much. I am familiar with Fr. Brett Brannen’s book “To Save a Thousand Souls”, and have read the chapter dealing with sexuality and priesthood. Otherwise, I am just curious what others think about the term “deep-seated homosexual tendencies”, and how it relates to admitting men into seminaries who may have some degree of SSA.


#2

I believe the letter of Oct. 1, 1986 released by Ratzinger is very helpful in this area: vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19861001_homosexual-persons_en.html

From this and from other documents in the last 30 years, I get the sense that “deep-seated same sex attractions” is related to the man’s sense of personal identity. For a man to identify himself as a “gay person” or “homosexual person” is to exclude himself as a “human person”. He takes the label, the title, and the association of a passing thing and applies it to his whole identity. This is deep-seated. This is not good for anyone. To allow a man with such a self-identity to become a “Father” of souls would be harmful for all under his care.

A therapist I spoke to who also happens to be a priest said that 50-60% of the Catholic priesthood in north America is definitely gay. He’s a bit of an iconoclast. I think the worry in the Church isn’t really about further abuse by “paedo priests”; rather, it’s a deeper question of where each seminarian’s focus is: Christ, or himself? Same-sex attracted men can certainly sacrifice their whole lives for Christ, but if they are so deep in their identification as “gay man” or “homosexual person”, they are in a narcissistic pool of self-reflection. That is the problem, and nothing else.

We must be brought out by self-giving.


#3

In what sense is one’s sexual orientation a “passing thing?” And I trust that you are not saying that homosexuals are in any sense not “human.”


#4

This is very good and shows clear insight. I have a thought to add to Tarpeian Rock’s question, but I’ll let you have first go.


#5

It worries me that people automatically associate homosexuality with pedophelia. Homosexual men are men who are sexually attracted to other men. Pedophiles are adults who are attracted to children.


#6

Sexual confusion and experimentation is not uncommon in adolescence and young adults. The phrase simply means you’re not necessarily excluded if you did some disasterous dabbling in college and later repented of it and worked through it.

Those who seem to have a non-transitory SSA have an extremely tough time discerning the real call to priesthood (presuming a sincere faith and desire for holy chastity) from an escape hatch which lets them live out a celibate life without all those nagging questions from friends and relatives about why they don’t date. This is why this guidance was given to seminaries, I think.

One of the oldest and truest tests of a priestly vocation has been the willingness to give up the longed for good of wife and family in favor of Christ. The gay man who loves Christ already doesn’t have a yearning for that good. In fact, he’s already obligated to live celibately by basic morality. It’s a hard life, but so is priesthood. Those not actually called to it have no chance of living it out faithfully. It’s actually charity to those discerning to not allow themselves to see the priesthood as a means to an easier life.


#7

Yes, but it goes further than that. Pedophiles are men attracted to pre-pubescent children and have no preference in regards to the gender of their victims. Almost none of the sexual abuser priests had that characteristic.

There are lots of hetero pervs out there who like teen girls. There are gay pervs out there who prefer teen boys. Guess who 80%+ of the victims of priest sexual abuse were? Not pre-pubescent kids, but pubescent boys. That’s not pedophilia, it’s the gay equivalent of the dirty old man who “likes 'em young.” We all know those guys are out there.

But you’re still mostly right. The fact that a subset of gay men likes teen males says nothing more about gay men as a whole than the fact that a subset of hetero men likes teen girls says about hetero men as a whole.


#8

Some homosexual men do long for mate and family. And, if one is willing to walk away from the Church, having a (civil) spouse and a few children is entirely possible. Homosexual men who feel called to chastity and service and who decide they may be called to the priesthood are more or less in the same boat as their heterosexual counterparts in this day and age.


#9

Thank you for your response - that is helpful. So you think it’s more about how the man identifies himself than about the fact that he is certainly sexually attracted to other men. I like this idea, because I do believe those with SSA are more than capable of becoming good priests. In any case, though, I would echo Tarpeian Rock’s question regarding whether or not SSA or sexual orientation in general is a “passing” thing.

Sexual confusion and experimentation is not uncommon in adolescence and young adults. The phrase simply means you’re not necessarily excluded if you did some disasterous dabbling in college and later repented of it and worked through it.

Those who seem to have a non-transitory SSA have an extremely tough time discerning the real call to priesthood (presuming a sincere faith and desire for holy chastity) from an escape hatch which lets them live out a celibate life without all those nagging questions from friends and relatives about why they don’t date. This is why this guidance was given to seminaries, I think.

One of the oldest and truest tests of a priestly vocation has been the willingness to give up the longed for good of wife and family in favor of Christ. The gay man who loves Christ already doesn’t have a yearning for that good. In fact, he’s already obligated to live celibately by basic morality. It’s a hard life, but so is priesthood. Those not actually called to it have no chance of living it out faithfully. It’s actually charity to those discerning to not allow themselves to see the priesthood as a means to an easier life.

So manualman, are you just trying to make a distinction between “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” and “transitory SSA”? If so, I think you put in a somewhat accurate observation of transitory SSA in your first paragraph, although I don’t think a period of “transitory SSA” has to include “experimenting with your sexuality”. Regarding “non-transitory SSA”, I think you have a point - there’s a problem with those who only want to become a priest as an escape, not because they are actually called. In that sense, I think Praedicare’s post would come into play here, and that person would not be a good candidate. That being said, regarding your third paragraph, I don’t think it is true that all gay men do not desire a wife and family. Even if their desires are disordered, they can still desire for, well, ordered attractions and in that sense still desire a wife and a family. In this way, the “gay man” can certainly be giving up the prospect of a wife and family if he were to enter the priesthood.


#10

You lost me. It strikes me as somewhat similar to the kid who says “Yeah, I hate spinach but I know it’s good for me, so giving it up for Lent counts as a sacrifice.” Say, whaaat? :slight_smile:

The poster before you asserted that he’s still giving up the potential to have a ‘gay spouse.’ That’s true, but such a sacrifice is part of the basic call of Christian life for him anyways, whether he seeks ordination to priesthood or not. Priesthood is supposed to require a harder sacrifice than lay life and the willingness to accept that is often key to discernment.


#11

Because in heaven we are like the angels - neither male of female. Our experience here on earth as sexual beings will pass away when we leave this temporal existence.

Defining oneself by one’s sexual orientation is a sign of a “deep seated” condition. If one is “gay” first, and a priest second, it is a priority problem.

I am not sure if this is what was meant by it, but it seemed like an effort to say that focusing on the part of one’s humanity which is sexual orientation over and above all the other aspects of being human is exclusive.


#12

This is quite true. Religious life is not a place for anyone who is trying to flee from the difficult struggles of life.


#13

Lol, sorry, I can see how what I said looks confusing. I’ll try again; what I meant to say was this: men with SSA are not forbidden from marrying women. I think there are men with SSA who realize their attractions are disordered and, despite those disordered attractions, still desire a real family of their own - i.e., a wife and family. So what I was saying was, based on that observation, it is also possible for a man with SSA to be sacrificing the prospect of a family by entering the priesthood. I guess I am just describing a man who, by today’s standards, would be called “bisexual”. To be honest, I’m speaking from my own perspective in this particular case. I realize I have SSA, but I also am 100% positive that I would be fine in a normal, male-female marriage (but of course, only as “fine” as I would be committed to make it and with the grace of God that any other married couple would need). Anyway, does that make more sense as to what I’m trying to say?

So I guess that’s another related question: if the man is not truly giving up the option of getting married to a woman - i.e., he is not sexually attracted to women at all - is that a good reason for him to not be admitted to the priesthood? I.e., he is not making the same sacrifice as a man without SSA who is becoming a priest. I agree that this observation is correct, but I haven’t decided whether or not I think that’s why a man with SSA should not be allowed to be a priest. I mean, I realize this would be a not-too-common situation, but what about a man who really wanted to join a monastic community, but realized he was called to be a diocesan priest instead? That is, if he did not become a diocesan priest, he would become a monk? I just spoke to a priest in this situation. In this case, he was not necessarily primarily giving up marriage, but perhaps he was more giving up the prospect of entering a monastic community, not marriage. My point being, I realize that a priest must be celibate, but I am wondering whether or not making a promise of celibacy has to be a big sacrifice. That is, is one of the actual criteria for being a priest “celibacy as a big sacrifice”? Some priests find it a rather small sacrifice, I think, while others find themselves struggling more with it.

I’m really just kind of thinking “out loud” (well, in words…haha) and trying to generate discussion.


#14

OK, so again, for a quick summary regarding what is meant by “deep-seated homosexual tendencies”, it seems most/all of the posters thus far have thought that “deep-seated” refers to the man making his SSA a “big deal” or a big part of their identity, and the problems associated with that.


#15

Yup, I gotcha now. I think it’s a case for a very wise spiritual director. I would think it would be very hard to tell the difference between a real call to priesthood versus the similarly difficult decision to trust God and choose celibacy instead of what the world is telling SSA people is “just as good as what heterosexual married people have.” As far as I can tell, ALL homosexual people (bisexual is different) are called to that latter difficult decision. If someone has both sexual attractions, that may indeed be a different issue. Worth thinking about, thanks!


#16

Ultimately it comes down to what’s called “affective maturity” which, in very basic terms, is about committing to living a celibate life. This obviously applies to all candidates to the priesthood regardless of secual orientation. What’s required of a candidate for priesthood is that they balance and integrate their feelings into their thoughts and values so that instead of being driven by their feelings, their lives are enriched by them. This in turn enables them to form healthy relationships with members of both sexes. A person with deep seated homosexual tendencies isn’t going to be able to do this anymore than a heterosexual person without the capacity for healthy intimacy.

As far as the supposed link between homosexuality in the priesthood and the sexual abuse crisis, all that needs to be said is that the John Jay Report into sexual abuse in the Church explicitly rejected any such link.


#17

Simple response: the phrase obviously means that some one with"deep-seated homosexual tendencies" is a person who was born gay. Instead of using terms that try to alienate and make those who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies less than human, just using the term gay seems to be a easier word to use. Of course, those who adamantly refuse to believe that LGBTQ people deserve respect will never “get” it anyhow…


#18

Most gay men I’ve met do find marriage to a woman appealing, but they have a hard time imagining it being successful. So it would be more like a person who likes to eat beans, but has problems with indigestion.

To reduce man’s desiring for a wife and family to mere sexual desire is very problematic.


#19

I think your statement regarding gay men imagining marriage to a woman is certainly a factor in whether or not a man truly has deep-seated homosexual tendencies. In fact, I just spoke to a vocations director about this, since this SSA deal of mine is the primary thing keeping me from diving fully into applying to seminary. And I think that was basically one of the questions he asked me - whether I think about marriage to a woman and how I feel about the thought. So I guess by “gay men” in your statement you would mean “men with deep-seated homosexual tendencies”, perhaps.

In any case, I appreciate everyone who has replied. My mind has been more or less put at rest on this matter, after meeting with the vocations director yesterday, but also because of the responses on here.


#20

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