Here’s my problem. Recently I attended a vocation weekend with a community of the Order of Preachers. I’ve been discerning religious life, and during the weekend I was blown away by the life the friars lead. It felt so right to me. I expressed my excitement to the vocation director, and we agreed to do an application interview.
This interview involved talking about myself, my relation to Christ, His Church, my family, etc. It also involved a detailed discussion of my sexuality. The vocations director asked if I had viewed pornography, or if I had ever struggled with same-sex attraction.
I was honest with him. Without getting into too much detail, almost 4 years ago I had been quite promiscuous with other men. I had also viewed pornography. Right after I answered his questions about sexuality he told me I didn’t have a vocation to the province.
First I will argue for his case, because there are valid points. I have read the Vatican directives concerning homosexuals and the priesthood/religious life. They all suggest people who are active homosexuals and have “deep-seated” homosexual tendencies or support the “gay lifestyle” should not enter seminary or the novitiate.
This vocation director told me, “I’d love to give you a chance, but we live in a climate of paranoia concerning these types of things.” Perhaps with my spotted history of sexual sins, it sounded to him like I wouldn’t be able to live the evangelical virtue of chastity. And well these days any man with a history of sexual sins raises certain red flags in the eyes of vocation directors.
Another argument he gave me was that it was the policy of this particular province of Dominicans that they don’t accept candidates like me. They have accepted men who may have experimented once or twice with homo-genital activity, but for someone like me, who has committed such sins more than only once or twice, it would seem I am beyond hope vocation-wise.
Now I will try to express what I think of all this. It has been heart-breaking and extremely frustrating. I accept my past promiscuity. It was a time in my life when I wasn’t listening to the voice of God, where I put my selfish desires first. But though I sinned gravely against chastity years ago, it is not a part of my life anymore. I am a Catholic first, not a homosexual first. All I want is to do God’s will, show His love to the world and serve His Church. And thus I feel called to religious life.
I’ve been reconciled with the Church, I’ve repented and I’ve been trying to persevere in living a chaste life. But I feel as if I’ve been dismissed just because I haven’t always led a blameless life. Just look at the lives of saints like St. Augustine of Hippo. He exemplifies the old saying, “Every saint has a past…and every sinner has a future.” So if my sexuality is not part of my major identity anymore, and if I am striving to live chastely, why can’t I enter the novitiate?
Concerning the Vatican directives, they do bar men with deep-seated homosexual tendencies from entering seminaries (cf. Section 2 of “Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies
in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders”. However, the same document contains the following in the next paragraphs:
One must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies.
Different, however, would be the case in which one were dealing with homosexual tendencies that were only the expression of a transitory problem - for example, that of an adolescence not yet superseded. Nevertheless, such tendencies must be clearly overcome at least three years before ordination to the diaconate.
I would argue, based on this passage, that my past promiscuity was the result of not only lack of good moral judgment, but also a lack of sexual maturity. I was about 17 or 18 years of age when I committed those sins against nature, and so I think that since then I’ve obtained quite a bit of affective maturity, and that I have a better grasp on living chastely. And I’m confident I would be able to perfect myself in regards to chastity before ordination to the diaconate.
In the end, this vocation director told me to try looking at other orders or provinces of Dominicans who “may be more accepting of me.” Go somewhere else, homos need not apply, it seemed he was saying. He also said he would bring my case up to the council who votes on who gets accepted into the novitiate. I’m thinking of writing a letter to the council explaining my situation to them. I think it would help give a human face to the questionnaire answers, which can be clinical and don’t always give the whole perspective of an issue. What do you think about taking this course of action?
Another option would be to ask for some clemency from the council. Maybe the Dominicans could give me a year or two to prove to them I can live chastely, and that this would be no obstacle to my entering the novitiate. Deep down I feel this is the right place for me. Please try to understand my frustration.
I realize no one has a human right to be a priest, a nun or a friar. But I still feel a strong call to be a Dominican in this particular province when I pray about my vocation, and I am ready to accept my past history, my past sins. I have taken all these faults to confession, and God has forgiven me for my sins with His awesome mercy. I think the important question now is: *Can this vocation director forgive me? *
What’s the best course of action to take from here? I still feel God is calling me to serve as a religious, but I think my past is a stumbling block.
A Hopeful Aspirant