If you want to see where the future of Iraq war politics is, check out Hillary Clinton’s evolution. My take in the Sunday Times.

DOUTHAT CONCEDES: Ross now agrees that the new Vatican policy is a ban on all gay priests, celibate or not, and that this is a “mistake”. But he says he doesn’t “agree with Andrew’s interpretation of the document’s implications.” I’d be grateful if he could spell that difference out. The shift away from the distinction between homosexual acts and homosexual personhood seems very clear when you compare the current document and its quasi-official interpretation in “L’Osservatore Romano.” John Allen reports that many bishops in many countries are simply saying that the instruction doesn’t say what it says. I’m relieved that they will be directly disobeying Benedict’s ban on all gays, but that doesn’t mean the ban doesn’t exist. Allen then quotes a Vatican insider, saying that we’re not supposed to take any of this seriously; and that mature, adjusted gay priests and seminarians will continue to be ordained and serve God. Here’s hoping. I should say, perhaps, that in so far as any new Instruction is genuinely and narrowly aimed at preventing heterophobic networks among gay priests, or seminaries where cliquishness rather than seriousness is the norm, then it is a very good thing. But part of what may have contributed to disturbing sub-cultures in clerical contexts is the kind of closet and secrecy that expresses itself in camp and irony. Take the secrecy away and you can clear the air.

TWO SEMINARIAN CANDIDATES: Let me put that another way. You have two seminary candidates in front of you. One seems uptight, and says he may have had transitory gay feelings a while back, but they’re gone now, or briskly denies any same-sex attraction at all and says he finds gayness repulsive. The other is a young man who clearly tells his superiors that he is indeed gay, but understands the Church’s teachings on sexual expression, and has no more intention of violating his commitment to celibacy than if he were straight. Which one is less likely to act out sexually in self-destructive or immature ways? It seems to me that if the Vatican were really serious about its own doctines about gay sex, it would want many openly gay priests. Those priests would serve as role models of chastity, while also being the least likely to act out from some repressed impulse. They could also help gay Catholic lay people grapple with the Church’s teachings on sexuality. Wouldn’t that be a much healthier situation than the one we have today? And a more Christian one?


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