A Response to the Instruction from the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education

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A Response to the Instruction from the Vatican

The Staff of the 8th Day Center for Justice -- a center impelled by the belief that all creation is sacred
and inter-related and imbued with the principles of nonviolence, mutuality and cooperation -- strongly
objects to the Congregation for Catholic Education’s Instruction concerning the ordination of “gay”
priests. As a center rooted in a thirty-year history of challenging systems of oppression, we oppose this
instruction because of its discriminatory nature and false claims.

The instruction, in brief summary, draws a connection between emotional immaturity and
homosexuality. The instruction states that a person who is homosexual is “objectively disordered” and
therefore incapable of being able to provide appropriate pastoral care. In light of this, then, the Church
must deny homosexual men entry into ordination as a way to protect and preserve the Church
community. It notes in particular that this instruction is made “more urgent by the present situation.” We
believe the present situation refers to the scandal of the sexual abuse of children that has unfolded in the
Catholic Church.

The instruction provides no insight into how the Congregation for Catholic Education came to
understand homosexuality as a sign of emotional immaturity. The document only references natural law,
the Church’s Tradition, and Scripture, according to the Magisterium’s narrow interpretation. It also
provides no substantiation of a link between homosexual orientation and a propensity for sexually
abusing children. In fact, the disciplines of biology, psychology, and anthropology do not support the
claim that homosexuality is disordered or leads to sexual abuse of children.

This instruction flows from a worldview that names heterosexuality as normative, and it broadens the
centuries old discriminatory practice barring women from ordination. Our sisters and brothers who are
gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender live each day in a society and culture that judges their sexuality,
rejects their family units and denies them access to basic civil liberties. This instruction furthers this
climate of prejudice and oppression and it attempts to justify discrimination with moral language.

We reject an understanding of Tradition, Scripture and Church that harms or discriminates against any
individual person or group. We reject a worldview wherein heterosexuality is normative and
homosexuality is “objectively disordered” and therefore excluded from the rich diversity of human
experience and love. We reject the false connection between sexual orientation and sexual abuse. And
we reject the use of our homosexual brothers as scapegoats in the sexual abuse crisis. Further, we
reject an understanding of community which permits a powerful elite to name “norms” that are divisive
and exclusionary.

We believe that “placing the onus on those who love to defend their love, is an odd and unjust demand
in a religious tradition that teaches love as its highest value,” as Mary Hunt says. We believe that all
members of the Church should have equal access to Sacraments regardless of gender or sexual
orientation. We believe, as a staff that is rooted in Christian faith principles especially those of inclusivity
and nonviolence, that we are called to stand in solidarity with those who are oppressed and
marginalized - in this case our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender sisters and brothers. Finally, as
stated in the “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” in regard to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender
individuals, we believe that “they must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign
of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” (Par. 2358)

THEREFORE –

WE CALL for a community where “all are welcomed, where the gifts of all are recognized and
received, and where the rights of all are defended and promoted” as said Rev. Paul Sherry, former
head of the United Church of Christ.

WE CALL for a worldview that embraces the complexity of the human person and celebrates that
diversity rather than creating false and prejudiced norms.

WE CALL for an examination of heterosexism as a force in our culture that builds and sustains systems
of discrimination against persons of different sexual orientations.

WE CALL for an understanding of Tradition, Scripture, Church and a cosmology that honors and
enacts a call to justice where we challenge oppression, instead of enacting oppression against anyone,
especially our own members.

WE CALL for true accountability in regard to the sex abuse scandal. We call the institutional Church to address the power disparities between leaders and lay people in the Church and acknowledge the need for a new
understanding of relationships that are rooted in ideals of mutuality and equality.