Friday, September 23, 2005


As another storm bears down on the Gulf, we New Englanders have had some of the nicest weather of the past couple of months. Sunny, breezy days and warm, quiet evenings illuminated by a September moon worthy of a Marc Moritsch print.

Here at the parish we just sent our second truckload of donated supplies with the Catholic Charities convoy down to New Orleans. Folks have been generous thus far, but if Rita does great damage I'm afraid their giving spirit may wane...

Still, I too long for the days when the evening news will no longer dedicate 48 of 60 minutes to disheveled reporters telling us breathlessly how strong the wind blows, how wet the rain feels and how much plywood Home Depot has sold in the last half hour. I'm as interested as anyone in helping the people affected by the storm, but surely there must be some other newsworthy topic on a national or international level.

Anyway, I was reading the report published this week by the Philadelphia grand jury that led an investigation into incidents of sexual abuse by clergy. Quite unsavory. The document leaves little to even the most sordid imagination and focuses quite intensely on the abuses of Catholic priests, when the investigation was supposedly conceived in much broader terms.

The hierarchy's response, though true in both its admissions and rebuttals, sounds hoplessly lame and saturated with self-pity. The media, meanwhile, continues to enjoy its trashing of the Catholic Church and there is really nothing - on a public relations level - that the Church can do except keep quiet and pursue its long term internal renewal.

I perceive a bit of confusion - or perhaps intentional misstatement - in some media sources over the visitation process to be initiated next month in USA seminaries and the pending Vatican document on homosexuality and the Catholic priesthood.

In the instrumentum laboris prepared for the visitators only one question in 56 dwells on the topic of homosexuality. The reading of some press reports leaves one with the idea that the visitation is a poorly disguised gay witch hunt.

As for the topic of homosexuality and the priesthood... well, even the Exorcist has second thoughts about opening that can of worms. Certainly ordination to the Catholic priesthood is nobody's right and the Church can enforce whatever selection policy it deems appropriate. Can a homosexual man live virtuously his whole life in an atmosphere where male companionship and cohabitation is not only a fact, but the norm? I assume it is possible. Easy? Desireable? Hmmm... Does the fact that 90% of all incidents of clergy abuse have involved males necessarily mean there's a connection between homosexuality and abuse? Maybe not, but if this were any other topic I don't think we'd feel as obliged to split hairs and look for other types of explanations. Political correctness makes idiots of us all...

I read a piece in an English paper about this today. By the end of the article I was on the verge of writing the Vatican and demanding that homosexuality be a mandatory requisite for entering the priesthood...