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 December 12, 2005 VOL. 43, NO. 21Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

Unjustly judged

Now it’s official that gays generally can’t be ordained priests.

The Church is so high on social justice I can’t see how they can justify this order. They are unjustly judging a whole group of people. It’s like assuming that all singles are automatically fornicators and all divorced people are adulterers. In 16 years of Catholic education I was taught that judging people IS a sin.
This judging for some reason isn’t sinful?

David Ross

Efforts to misinform

Father James Schexnayder (Forum, Nov. 21) says Jim Crowley’s observation (Forum, Nov. 7) that “81 percent of priest-abuse cases involve men who are homosexual” is “patently false.”

Greg Bullough, writing from New Jersey, wrongly alleges (and Schexnayder falsely implies) that Crowley misquoted the John Jay study. Bullough further accuses Crowley of “hate-speech veiled in feeble logic.” (Forum, Nov. 21).

In fact, Crowley didn’t mention the Jay report. But it does relate that “81percent of victims were male,” and that “Male victims tended to be older than female victims”(page 9).

The U.S. bishops’ National Review Board, examining the facts, affirmed that “the crisis was characterized by homosexual behavior” (www.usccb.org/nrb/nrbstudy/nrbreport.htm).

So it’s Father Schexnayder and Bullough who misdirect the faithful. Since 1994, the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay ministries, of which Father Schexnayder is resource director, has sought to normalize and affirm homosexuality in the Church and in society at large.

In contrast, the Church correctly recognizes homosexuality as “objectively disordered,” and homosexual acts as “contrary to the natural law”(Catechism of the Catholic Church, nn. 2357, 2358).

Father Schexnayder sometimes speaks through surrogates — for example, a NACDLGM conference presenter, featured on its website, recommending church-based “affirmation of gay behaviors and not just identities.”

Observing 1995’s Bay Area Network of Gay and Lesbian Educators (BANGLE) conference at Holy Names College, I witnessed Father Schexnayder’s apparent rationale: “It’s important to communicate the substance of our lives as gay and lesbian people,” he said.

Appropriately, Rome now prohibits Holy Orders for those “who practice homosexuality, show profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called gay culture.”

Michael Arata

Caution needed

Father Jim Schexnayder (Forum, Nov. 21) correctly states that the John Jay College report did not say that 81 percent of the priest abuse cases involved men who are homosexual. What the report did say is that 81 percent of the cases involved homosexual acts. There is an important distinction here, but the implication in the rest of Father Jim’s letter, that homosexual priests had little to do with the problem, is not supported by the balance of the report.

Homosexual men preying on adolescent boys 11 to 18 years of age is not limited to the clergy. In our society, this activity is common among some gay men, (though not all gay men). Boys in this age group are referred to as “twinks.” Entering this word into any search engine will reveal several websites devoted to this specific type of sexual activity. These men are not pedophiles, as is often reported, but homosexual men with a strong attraction to teenage boys.

For our bishops not to be hesitant to admit into our seminaries, candidates who have strong homosexual tendencies, would be highly irresponsible.

Jim Dempsey
Walnut Creek

Set same standards

In an ideal and fair world, The Voice article (Nov. 21) on the Vatican banning gays from the priesthood might have read, “The Vatican is set to release a long-awaited document that bars men from becoming priests if they are sexually active, publicly support a ‘sexually promiscuous culture,’ or exhibit ‘deeply rooted heterosexual or homosexual tendencies’...”

Such a document would not single out gays, but would set the same standards for straight and gay men considering the priesthood. Both groups of men would then be held to clearing up tendencies three years before being ordained.

Mark Gotvald
Pleasant Hill

An affront to gay priests

For the first time in my 60-year life as a Catholic I can state categorically I am truly ashamed to say I’m a Catholic. The recent articles in the newspapers about Rome’s decision to exclude gay men from entering seminaries because of the Church’s stand about homosexuality is obscene.

The underlying message from Rome is that the gay clergy are the reason for all of the pedophile lawsuits. This is an affront and an insult to the many fine gay priests who minister to us and who have dedicated their lives to God and have served the Church faithfully for many years.

The Church just doesn’t get it. The pope, the cardinals and the bishops are the reason for all of the pedophile lawsuits because they each chose to put our children in harm’s way by moving the pedophile priests around rather than take them out of ministry after one offense like they are supposed to do now.

The born-again Christians have a saying — “What would Jesus do?” Would Jesus look down on homosexuals?

He certainly didn’t look down on the prostitutes, lepers or tax collectors. He chose to be with the sinners and accepted them as his children and turned his back on the religious leaders of his day. He chastised the Sanhedrin, the Pharisees, and the Scribes about being too concerned with their rules and their religious rituals and not concerned enough about loving each other as God’s children.

Sue Spiersch

No place for group guilt

Jim Crowley’s letter (Forum, Nov. 7) commented on the upcoming Vatican audit of U.S. seminaries, designed to purge those with “deeply rooted” homosexual tendencies, those “supporting gay culture,” etc.

Crowley stated “the plain truth is that at least 81 percent of priest-abuse cases involve men who are homosexual”. What a remarkable claim, given the U.S. bishops’ report stating approximately 9200 (83%) of 11,000 abuse allegations covering 50 years were never investigated by anyone, clerical or lay. There is no way to determine guilt or sexual proclivities without investigation.

Bishops were obligated to investigate. They did not. They closed ranks. They facilitated abuse instead. They protected their organization, not our children.
Crowley allows that “There probably are priests with homosexual orientation who have never violated vows of celibacy in their lives.” Couldn’t one substitute ‘heterosexual’ with equal assertion?

Assigning group guilt for individual crimes cannot be accepted. Crowley’s comments look like an extremist SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) tirade where strident accusation seems enough and assumed innocence is an anachronism.

Shamefully, the U.S. bishops likewise refused due process for subordinates while collegially absolving brother bishops. They gave their mea maxima culpas for “mistakes” while depleting Church assets of $1 billion.

No bishop was fired. Remarkable. Sad. And Bishop Vigneron’s new abuse policy still refuses clerical due process.

Joe Moran

The issue is celibacy

A priest is a priest. He is celibate, no matter what his sexual inclination.
I don’t mean to disagree with the pope, but for over 65 years I have seen and known many priests from New York to California. Their sexual inclination never hindered them in their love and devotion to Jesus.

Sexual deviants in the Church have not all been homosexuals.

I have been fortunate that I have met priests who helped me in my times of despair in the most professional manner and were always inspirational to my family and me.

Lillian Silver
Walnut Creek

A night on the streets

On Dec. 1, I participated in an overnight vigil, sponsored by Religion Witness with the Homeless, founded and coordinated by Sister Bernie Galvan. It involved sleeping outdoors like the homeless in the San Francisco City Hall plaza.

I admire Sister Bernie, whom I got to know during an interview with her for “Street Spirit,” and I wanted to come to help out. Sister Bernie told the 20 of us participating that she hoped the weather would be cold, windy and rainy so we could have our consciousness raised about what homeless people go through every night.

I met a young woman named Allison who was participating in the vigil and was homeless herself. She had been a nurse and lost her job due to a conflict with her employer on principles. Her wealthy family, who were Catholic, has rejected her, saying she got what she deserved. She was soured on religion.

The weather cooperated with Sister Bernie’s wishes. During the night, rain came down heavily, and I was glad I had purchased a tarp to cover my sleeping bag. The wind almost blew the tarp off me and I was so cold and damp that I didn’t sleep a wink.

The next morning, a rabbi participant in the vigil led us in a Hebrew prayer about the equality of all people and the dignity of every human person.

My night convinced me of the great suffering of the homeless. Yet I was proud to be part of the struggle against Mayor Gavin Newsom’s Care Not Cash program that takes away most of the General Assistance check in exchange for housing (which is not always decent transitional housing, but a bed in a public shelter) and leaves the homeless person with $59 a month.
Maureen Hartmann

A Christmas reflection

As we await Christ’s birthday, may the following suggestions help prepare our hearts for this holiday season.

When you do something with candles – an Advent wreath, decorations, dinner table – remember that Jesus is the Light of the World.

When you unpack the Christmas decorations, think back with joy on the memories of Christmases past and the many things you are grateful for over the years.

When you are shopping, see the crowds not as faceless masses of people, but see individuals as Jesus sees them.

When you address your Christmas cards, think of the shepherds who first told the Good News and offer a prayer for the person to whom you are sending the card.

When you wrap presents, think of the gift that was wrapped in swaddling clothes so long ago and that each gift you give is a symbol of that Great Gift.

When you hear Christmas music, sing along with it either aloud or in your heart. Glory to God in the highest…

When decorating your Christmas tree, think and talk about your family tress. Go as far back as you can, remembering each person who is part of your heritage.

When company comes, remember Our Lord also comes to be a guest in our homes. How lonely it must feel when there is no room at the inn.

Enjoy his birthday as he blesses you and yours.

Marybeth Byrne

No to women priests

Barbara Hazzard, OSB, wrote, in reference to a recent picture of our diocesan priests that she hopes that “someday the picture will show an equal number of women priests.” (Forum, Nov. 21).

I would like to refer Sister Hazzard to the Apostolic Letter of John Paul II, “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis” (On Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone, May 22,1994), which reaffirms the teaching that “the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”

In his “Responsum ad Dubium” regarding this apostolic letter, (Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, October 28, 1995), then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger states that “this teaching requires definitive assent...founded on the written Word of God...it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterial...to be held always, everywhere, and by all, as belonging to the deposit of faith.” In other words, the teaching of “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis” is Church doctrine. It will never change and must be believed by all Roman Catholics.

There is even a warning to those who teach the contrary, found in the Presentation of the Apostolic Letter “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis” (Vatican Press, May 30, 1994): “...since it does not belong to matters freely open to dispute, it always requires the full and unconditional assent of the faithful, and to teach the contrary is equivalent to leading consciences into error.”

So it appears that Sister Hazzard’s hope for a picture with women priests can never be developed. It is curious, however, that a religious such as herself would not be familiar with “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.” In any event, my hope is that Sister Hazzard, as a faithful servant of our Mother Church and Holy Father, will read “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis” (maybe even the “Catechism of the Catholic Church”) and never lead any poor souls into error.

Thomas Graves
Castro Valley

Don’t call God our Mother

Julie McCarty (Voice, Nov. 21) rightly points out that all good qualities, including those of a mother, come from God. But from that it does not follow that God may be called our Mother.

With respect to humanity, God is unquestionably our Father, as we are on the receiving end of His amazing gift of life. Jesus called him “Father,” and he taught us to call him “Father.”

He has given us a perfect mother: the same beautiful mother he created especially for himself, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Catherine Norman

Appropriate dress

I do not think John Marquette (Forum, Oct. 17) is telling men they have to wear a tie and sport coat or suit and that women must ear a dress or skirt when they go to church. He is telling us to dress appropriately.

If you go to see the president of a large company, I do not think you would wear shorts and t-shirts into his office.

Some day if you go to San Francisco, stop at the Russian Orthodox cathedral on Geary Street and read the sign at the entrance. It states that men and women may not go into the church in shorts and women may no even wear pants or a pantsuit. This applies even when there is no service going on.

Let’s remember, this is God’s house.

William J. Beiriger


The opinions expressed in letters to Reader's Forum are the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Catholic Voice or the Oakland Diocese.

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