Friday, September 16, 2005

Inquisition Starts At Home

Old habits may not die, at least among those in Vatican habits. Before becoming Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger headed the modern Roman Inquisition for 25 years. His offices just announced that a gay witch hunt has begun in its seminaries.

Benny the Rat, as we like to humanize him, has long been anti-gay and anti-same-sex marriage. On becoming Pope, he said that he would like a smaller church, comprising just the good guys. He seems intent on ensuring the smaller part at least.

Ironically of course, the Roman Catholic Church has clung to the artificial construct of chastity (introduced in the Fourth Century), while claiming that it focuses priests and is the right approach. Meanwhile other Catholic churches, as well as Anglicans and Episcopals, permit their priests to marry.

The Popes have long been adamant that chastity is not a problem and that there is no link between that vow and any child abuse, homosexual relations, or adultery committed by its clergy. Hmmm. Hmmm. Hmmm.

Today's Boston Globe does the fairness this-but-that take on the campaign to purify the seminaries. The hard-news view is available in the International Herald Tribune. The New York Times version includes some analysis.

Benny's boys are doing much belated damage control and reacting to findings that 80% of abuse by priests is of boys. The idea seems to be, as Barney Fife liked to say, to "nip it in the bud."

Yet, as the Trib notes:
Experts in human sexuality have cautioned that homosexuality and attraction to children are different, and that a disproportionate percentage of boys may have been abused because priests were more likely to have access to male targets - like altar boys or junior seminarians - than to girls.
However, the phrase and phase is PR here. The U.S. Military archbishop, Edwin O'Brien, who is supervising the seminaries seminal survey told The National Catholic Register, the rule against homosexuals in seminaries applies even to those who have not had any sexual contact of any type within the past decade.

The reviews will in a 12-page document going to all 229 seminaries, with about 4,500 students. Every faculty member and seminarian is to answer such questions as:
  • Is there evidence of homosexuality in the seminary? (This question must be answered).
  • Is the seminary free from the influences of New Age and eclectic spirituality?
  • Whether "faculty members 'watch out for signs of particular friendships'""
The Times reports that the last such review started 25 years ago and took six years. It also quoted a gay priest as asserting that the review "says to gay priests, many of whom are hard-working, faithful men who live their promises of celibacy with integrity, that you should never have been ordained,"

The attempt to purify the church is likely to backfire. It should lead to that smaller church the new Pope wants, but it also addresses symptoms, questionable ones at that, instead of causes.

We are likely to see even more regressive and oppressive actions from the Vatican.

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