1. People make mistakes, and society should recognize that such mistakes are, as often as not, the result of tensions and ambivalences and confusions and inequalities in the society that has nurtured them.
2. Some people are homosexual, some people have red hair. It is a lingering prejudice of a society not yet secure against the call of cultural atavism that homosexuals are thought of as in any way different from heterosexuals, save obviously in the matter of whom they elect to have sex with. Prejudice against homosexuals, qua homosexuals, is on the order of prejudice against women, Jews and blacks.
3. It has never been established that the culture in which sexual appetites are indulged in newspapers, magazines, movies and books is, on that account, a society mandated to sexual promiscuity. The same First Amendment that preserves the right to exercise one's own religion preserves also the right of the sensualist and the pornographer to display his wares, and of the Hollywood actor to observe his marriage vows only for as long as it is convenient for him/her to do so.
Now, even if the libertine imperative can be resisted by normal men and women, people who don't translate rampant sexual indulgences of others into a license to personal promiscuity, the Catholic priest is different. The priest, by the rules of the Church, is a male, and has to be required to observe civil standards of appropriate behavior. There are not many instances of Catholic priests abusing girls, but a good many, as we have seen, of Catholic priests abusing boys. This is not to be translated into the suggestion that homosexuals have a greater propensity than heterosexuals to violate their vows to celibacy. It means merely that the Church has to take stronger measures to guard against rule-breaking. But such measures must not call for any prejudice against ordaining homosexuals.
But can we talk about such things? Monsignor Eugene Clark, the rector of St. Patrick's Cathedral, is a radiant light of eloquence, evangelical charm and courage. In his renowned sermon of last week he elaborated on five "grim influences" that have taken their toll. He spoke of a flawed moral theology, an attack on celibacy, the fear to exclude homosexuals from the priesthood, a weakening of high standards in choosing candidates for the priesthood, and an understanding of the influence of our pagan culture.
Somebody walked out of the church after hearing the homily. Where will he go, one wonders?