Expert Answer Forum
Ordaining Homosexuals to the Priesthood QUESTION from Mark April 21, 2000 I have heard that when a priest is ordained he makes a sacrafice through living a celibate life. When one enters some religious orders the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience maybe required.
If one is naturally attracted to the opposite sex but discerns a calling to the priesthood he may sacrafice having a wife, family and licit and healthy sexual relations.
I thought that this is the true meaning of sacrafice. Although I understand your point that it is just as wrong for a man to fornicate with women as with men, what is the homosexual sacraficing in the area of chastity when he is ordained.
After all aren't we all called to obey the 6th commandment. I thought the churches teaching on chastity when considering the priesthood has to do with giving up or sacraficing licit and moral sexual behavior. In other words we are all asked to refrain from fornication, adultery, and homosexual behavior whether we are married, single or an ordained priest.
So then what makes the homosexual priest's vows any different from any other married or single person in regard to celibacy? Everyone is supposed to refrain from that type of behavior. If this is the case why take this particular vow of celibacy. we are all called to celibate in that way, by the 6th commandment.
I thought the vows refered to the sacraficing of good, healthy, and licit behavior (namely marriage) for a higher calling.
If this is the case what is the homosexual ordained person actually saying when he takes his vow of celibacy? That he will not have a homosexual affair?
On the other hand the heterosexual person taking the vow of celibacy would be saying I am giving up my chance to be married, have sexual relations with my wife, and have and raise children.
When I took my marriage vows I clearly made a sacrafice by saying I do to for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer.... Again what is the homosexual sacraficing when he takes his vows that is diferent from any married or single heterosexual person?
Please help me on this since there seems to be a big difference to me.
In Domino- Mark
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, O.L.S.M. on April 30, 2000 Dear Mr. Mark:
Your idea of the sacrifice of the Evangelical Counsels for Religious or the vows of celibacy and obedience and simplicity for diocesan priests is skewed.
We all sacrifice in our own way and to varying levels of intensity.
I have vowed to the evangelical counsels which includes the vow of poverty. What have I sacrificed? Not much. I owned next to nothing before I vowed and after I vowed I owned nothing. There was little sacrifice for me since I have always lived without material goods and have always had a spirituality of poverty. Is my vow not legitimate because it didn't involve much specific sacrifice?
Of course it is legitimate. It is legitimate because I am making a FORMAL declaration to God to give up all material goods, not just now, but forever.
There are heterosexual single men who may have injures (from war perhaps) making it impossible for them to have sex. These men cannot validly get married according to Canon Law. The issue of sex and marriage is not in the picture. Are their vows of celibacy which is forced upon them by injury anyway invalid?
The sacrifice, Mark, is the sacrifice of giving ourselves over to God COMPLETELY. To die to self. To give God ALL aspects of our humanity and soul. That is the sacrifice.
The commitment we make is to give our sexuality (whatever it is) to God -- the vow of Chastity; to give our will to God -- the vow of obedience; and to give our wealth and material lives to God -- the vow of poverty.
When the vow of Chastity is given by a Priest or Religious it means a vow to live it out in perfect continence. It means celibacy, but it means MUCH more. It means the giving of our sexuality completely to God. Even if we are stranded on a island with no one else on the island, we still have our sexuality. Even then, in complete isolation in which marriage and sex with another person is impossible, the vow of chastity still has meaning because we still have that part of our humanity which is sexual that we need to give to God.
One other thing. When a homosexual priest or religious vows to this chastity in perfect continence (which includes celibacy) it means that they FOREVER give up the right to marriage. A homosexual CAN get married to a person of the opposite sex, many in fact do. A homosexual person CAN be healed of their homosexuality, many in fact have been healed. But a person who vows to celibacy can NEVER get married even if they are healed of the homosexuality, even if they desire to marry someone of the opposite sex.
So when a homosexual vows to celibacy they are vowing: Even if I am healed of this homosexuality and thus come to desire the opposite sex, I GIVE ALL THAT UP, dear Lord, and give my sexuality to You, no matter what form it takes, and Vow Chastity FOREVER.
A homosexual celibate must also struggle JUST AS A HETEROSEXUAL celibate does, with the chastity of the mind. The vow of chastity is not just for the body, but also for the mind. In fact the chastity of the mind is by far the most difficult to deal with and is a struggle with ALL celibates.
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