Vanity of Vanities — There is Nothing New Under the Sun...
++ Michael Callahan
Presiding Archbishop, The Catholic Church in America
Greetings, in the Name of the +Father, and of the +Son, and of the +Holy Spirit.
It is my prayer in writing this document that those reading will recognize a loving spirit and intention. This writing is intended to prayerfully, gently, and firmly present our position regarding a very controversial subject — human sexuality in the context of the sacramental priesthood.
The Church, in this post-Christian era, is besieged by the winds of change. Primary among the changes that are being demanded is that sexual sin, of virtually every sort, is of no consequence. There is a growing movement afoot to normalize both homosexuality, and heterosexual sexual sin, not only in the world at large but also within the Church of God.
At the outset of this discussion, it is important to note that God calls all of his people to love one another. We are not “called” to marginalize or condemn any class of individuals. Therefore when we use the phrase that we are “not inclusive and affirming,” we are not making the distinction that “gays” and homosexuals are somehow discouraged from worship or entering into ministry within the Church. Hopefully, our position of love and acceptance will be better clarified below. This document is not intended to be a commentary on so-called “gay rights” or the trend of modern societal norms. Our concerns here-in are strictly concerning Christian teachings and morality as we view, within the context of the CCIA, not any other ecclesiastical jurisdiction.
(following the body of this article I am including a few pages of documentation and foundation materials)
In this context, it is especially cogent to present a clear understanding of our position regarding human sexuality in general, and homosexuality in particular, for those within the ordained ministry. The basic position of the Catholic Church in America (CCIA) is three-fold:
All have sinned and have fallen short of God’s ideal,
All are called to reconciliation with God, and
All people who are reconciled with God and understand the need for traditional biblical morality may be considered for holy orders.
This basically translates to our position that while not being particularly “gay friendly” (with what this implies in mainstream culture, in our teachings, "sexual orientation" in and of itself is not a negative consideration for “holy orders.”
The sin of “Modernism” is inculcating much of the “church” now, in the twenty-first century. New age theologians posit that theology and church teachings are fluid, and must bend and change with the dictates of cultural expectations. In this theological understanding, an abundance of modern church leaders feel empowered to not only disregard huge swaths of scripture but also about two thousand years of teachings and tradition. Some of this has to do with the resurgence of Gnostic teachings, where things done in the flesh, have little to no impact on the spiritual, as well as new age scholastics which minimizes or disregards the spiritual importance and inspiration of our Holy Texts.
Nowhere is the sin of modernism more prevalent than in the realm of human sexuality and more specifically — homosexuality. One only needs to tune into the mainstream media, both news and entertainment to witness the social engineering that is virtually transforming the morality of this age into something patently anti-Christian.
Christian theology has always been focused on both reconciliation with God through the blood of Christ, and personal transformation (sanctification) to holiness. Reconciliation with God has always required recognizing our personal sinfulness and sinful actions, seeking forgiveness, and having those “sins” washed away through the vicarious sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Modernism is seeking do just the opposite — transform the church in its own image of propriety. Our modern, politically correct culture finds the need for reconciliation with God and transformation to holiness to be foolishness.
Modernist culture warriors are virtually denying even the concept of sin. Those within the homosexual/Christian paradigm are teaching that the authors of scripture were simply men, and had no understanding of the concept of homosexuality as an “orientation.” This teaching takes God and “inspiration” out of the equation. Without a view of the bible as carrying the inspired imprimatur of an all-knowing God, we are left with a book that has virtually no authority for either faith, morals, or salvation.
The CCIA rejects the tenets of modernism. We continue to conform our theological polemic to Holy Scripture and the teachings of the primitive Church (see article below on teaching of the Church Fathers). We recognize that we live in a sinful, and yes, “fallen world.” The “fact” that certain people may have an “orientation” to homosexuality (and thus an affinity to homosexual sin), is virtually equivalent to those, who being heterosexual succumbing to sexual sins of fornication and adultery. Modernists view their position as enlightened, and morally superior to that which has gone before. In the book of Ecclesiastes, we read that the pride of man is nothing more than “vanity,” and that "there is nothing new under the sun."
We recognize that humanity was created with a biological sexual drive. The requirement and history of certain churches and religious orders of celibacy and commitment to remaining unmarried are littered with failure. The sexual urge is strong and not limited to heterosexual individuals. Scripture tells us that it is a good thing to remain single and celibate. However, if we cannot control our lusts, we are instructed that it is better to be married. Those discerning a calling to Holy Orders, who also see themselves as ‘homosexual” need to be particularly concerned with their ability to conform or their dedication to being transformed by the Holy Spirit, in a commitment to a perpetual state of celibacy.
The problem which we are presented in the context of this writing is that Christian moral theology limits marriage and thus sexual activity to what we view as the norm — between one man and one woman. Persons who believe that they are homosexual don’t, in the Christian context, and wishing to be reconciled with Jesus Christ, have the option of being married (to a same-sex partner).
Both homosexual and heterosexual priests within the Roman Catholic Church have abandoned their priestly faculties because of their desires for sexual intimacy. Likewise, historically, sexual sin within the celibate clergy and religious has not been limited to one particular sexual orientation.
Prayerful discernment is key to priestly formation for any person. Both so-called “straight” and “gay” postulants to the priesthood need to have a clear understanding of God’s requirements for sexual relations. Within the CCIA, fidelity to biblical and traditional sexual morality is of great importance. This is not only for personal piety and holiness, but also to maintain a priesthood that is committed to teaching traditional spiritual truth.
The modern sexual abuse scandals within the Roman Catholic give light to the difficulties that have been encountered by a “gay” friendly episcopacy and their approach to admitting homosexuals into the ministry. The link between homosexuality to the sex scandals in the church has been largely ignored by the media and the church. However, research does indeed cast light on gay priests as at the core of the scandal. (read the article below)
The CCIA takes the position that ministers of word and sacrament have a particular calling to be faithful in teaching the truths that we find in the deposit of faith — Scripture and Holy Tradition. It is in this light that we take particular care and discernment in considering whom we elevate to any office in ministry — regardless of professed sexual orientation. Those within the Episcopate, Priesthood, and Diaconate, in particular, are especially admonished to inculcate traditional exegesis and maintain moral orthopraxy.
Those who are either incardinated into the CCIA, ordained into Holy Orders, or elevated to the Episcopacy, who succumb to sexual sin (regardless of “orientation”) will be subject to correction and discipline according to the CCIA constitution and canon law.
The Catholic Church in America