Celibate Priests, Continent Homosexuals
What the exclusion of gay (and gay-friendly) men from priesthood reveals about the political nature of the Roman Catholic Church
Département de sciences sociales, École normale supérieure (Paris); Institut de recherches interdisciplinaires sur les enjeux sociaux (CNRS / EHESS)
In 2005, for the first time in the history of the Catholic Church, the Vatican explicitly excluded homosexuals from its holy orders. Why now? And why extend the ban on homosexuality, despite the distinction drawn in the Catechism, from acts to tendencies? The logic of this Instruction is clearly political. It reveals that while pedophilia may be a burning social issue, homosexuality is considered the real ecclesial problem. Reading the various pronouncements of the Vatican on homosexuality since 1975 and the ‘sexual liberation’ shows how and why, with the rise of ‘gay marriage’, this became a defining issue for the Church. Sexual democracy is the key, with its rejection of any transcendent foundation of norms. The Vatican’s answer is a naturalization of the sexual order that explains its attacks on ‘gender’: man is made for woman. At the same time, the Church maintains the ‘unnatural’ definition of its priests as celibate males. While heterosexual Catholics are thus encouraged to marry, continence is now expected only from priests and from homosexuals. In the end, the risk that the latter should fill the ranks of the former accounts for the 2005 Vatican Instruction.
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