Recently, the news was filled with the Pope’s apparent change of mind regarding the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. But few reported that the Pope said in the same book of interviews that he believes that the priesthood should be closed to all homosexuals.
Apparently, the Pope is just like those Marines who are afraid that openly gay service members will feminize combat units. The Pope assumes that gay men can’t be sufficiently paternal to be celibate.
According to the interview, what’s important about celibacy is not just that the priest is refraining from sex, but that the hetero male priest, in refraining from making babies, emphasizes his paternal role to the congregation. (Speaking of paternity, former Roman Catholic and now Episcopal priest Alberto Cutié has become a dad, but I digress.)
Phil Lawler writes at Catholic Culture:
If you want to drum up controversy on the basis of one quote pulled out of the Pope’s book-length interview Light of the World, how about this one, found on page 152:
Homosexuality is incompatible with the priestly vocation.
Unlike the now-famous quotation about condom use, this sentence isn’t pulled out of context. The Pope isn’t merely speculating. He isn’t raising a possible objection or exception to his own argument. His point is clear.
Pope Benedict reminds his interviewer: “The Congregation for Education issued a decision a few years ago to the effect that homosexual candidates cannot become priests…”
Oh, sure; we all remember that decision. As soon as it came out, American seminary administrators rushed to “clarify,” saying that the Vatican intended that rule to apply only to active homosexuals. The Pope thinks otherwise; he speaks of homosexual orientation, not homosexual activity. He explains that homosexuals cannot become priests “…because their sexual orientation estranges them from the proper sense of paternity, from the intrinsic nature of priestly being.”
This isn’t a trivial concern, the Pope adds:
The greatest attention is needed here in order to prevent the intrusion of this kind of ambiguity and to head off a situation where the celibacy of priests would practically end up being identified with the tendency to homosexuality.
So behind Benedict’s view of celibacy there is a public relations problem. It seems that Benedict is afraid that the public will equate priesthood with homosexuality. So I guess the faithfulness of the priest is secondary. It is how macho he appears.