Monday, December 5, 2005

James Alison writes to his friends

From "Letter of response to friends in the aftermath of the Vatican Instruction of 29 November 2005":
....I must say that I am most struck by something about which I’ve seen little comment. The instruction appears to regard “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” not only as an objective disorder (with which empirical judgment I disagree). Much more strikingly, and I think rightly, its authors appear to regard such tendencies as an objective fact about a person. But this means that someone who hides the fact that he is gay, instead loudly proclaiming his undying loyalty to the current magisterium of the Church, is no more suitable to be a seminarian or a seminary rector or instructor than the visibly gay person who expresses some reservations as to the sanity of agreeing with everything the magisterium says all the time.

In other words – and this does seem to me to be important – the document has bitten the bullet of the fact that we are talking about what people are and not about their ideological position. This means that the instruction cuts at least as far to the right as it does to the left. I’m rather afraid that in recent years many, many young men of a conservative bent have been swept up into places of very conservative formation where piety and an ability to hold and defend implausible magisterial positions were the true hallmark of the John Paul seminarian. Such people were given the impression that the rigorous maintenance of ideological correctness would trump inconvenient details concerning who they might be.

Well, that impression was false. Who you are is an objective truth about you which, irrespective of your ideological standpoint or your delicacy of conscience in admitting to it, bars you from being a seminarian or teaching in a seminary. Heretofore a capacity for a certain dissemblance about who you are was a sign of suitability in conservative circles, as though being gay were properly a subjective matter of the internal forum. But that is no longer tenable. Now that same dissemblance about who you are merely compounds an already insuperable and objective unsuitability.

Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan.

Another very interesting to note about this is that at last, people are starting to recognize that "gay" is an essential characteristic. ("Essential" in the sense that it is part of who a person is, that is.) That has been a long time coming, actually! And BTW, once it's acknowledged that there is such a thing as "a gay person" - how can there not be such a thing as "gay culture," and how can the Church denigrate it per se, or forbid it to "gay people"?