A couple of weeks ago, Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, Washington, wrote in his diocesan newspaper that “There are many wonderful and excellent priests in the Church who have a gay orientation, are chaste and celibate, and are very effective ministers of the Gospel” as he prepared for the Instruction officially released today.
His apologia for homosexuality among priests thus does not leave me surprised at how weak his official statement on the new Instruction is. He referred to it as a “timely document.” Um yeah, that’s about as non-committal as you can get. He may as well have said it was written in black and white on paper. Of course it’s timely. All that means is that it addresses an issue of current debate and discussion.
He then says, “We live in an era when the issue of sexual orientation is much discussed.” No kidding. Very profound. The statement adds, “Bishop Skylstad said that the discussion in the media about this document raised the question ‘whether a homosexually- inclined man can be a good priest.’” Actually, the discussion in the media may raise, but the document itself answers it: No!
Bishop Skylstad urged “all bishops and major superiors to make this Instruction the occasion for a comprehensive discussion with seminary rectors and vocation directors about the affective maturity which every priesthood candidate must manifest.” He also urged a “prayerful and honest discussion of the norms presented in the Instruction by bishops and major superiors with their presbyterates, religious communities, and seminary candidates.”
We don’t need more “discussion”, i.e. dialogue. We need implementation. Bishops and major superiors should be ordering their seminary rectors and formators to implement the instruction, not just talk about it.
But then that’s I predicted before: The document itself is meaningless if implementation is left to those who have been minding the store (badly) all along.