In the April 30 issue of the Remnant, Christopher Ferrara cites a priest in New York who claims that the percentage of seminarians within his diocese who are homosexual may be conservatively estimated at 60 percent.  If this is what Bishop Thomas Doran of Rockford (quoted in “De Profundis,” The Rockford Files, June) refers to as high scrutiny, I can’t even imagine what “relaxed standards” would resemble.  Apparently, the post-conciliar standard has been (and will continue to be) that pyromaniacs are O.K., but there must be no evidence of their having set fire to buildings.

Dr. Philip Jenkins’ attempts to analyze the sexual scandals (“The Crime of Consistency,” Breaking Glass, June) seem strangely acontexual as he prescinds them from canon law, the Church’s moral teaching, etc.

We are confronting the same old thing: a Vatican that talks sternly and does nothing—at least as long as we’re not confronting really serious stuff, like “Lefebvrism,” in which case we have to bring the ax down.  This is precisely the “laxity” Scott P.?Richert mentioned in his June column.  However, it’s a bit more severe than this.  Basically, the Vatican II documents talked about an explicit attempt to reconcile the Church’s teaching with science.  Fine.  But then the Church decided that psychology was science and intimated that the Church’s stance on homosexuality could be amended by the “discoveries” of the therapeutic industry.  And there we have a postconciliar pose apotheosized: vague, gauzy, and, frankly, asking for trouble.  And we’ve got it, in spades.

        —Phil Earvolino
Chicago, IL

Mr. Richert Replies:

Dr. Jenkins is more than capable of defending himself, and he has done so on numerous occasions, including on Chronicles’ website (  I am saddened, however, by the willingness of my good friend Phil Earvolino (and many other traditionalist Catholics) to base their arguments on anecdotal estimates of the percentage of homosexuals in Catholic seminaries (or in the priesthood) while dismissing Dr. Jenkins’ arguments, which are based on actual studies.  (During a recent interview on a local radio talk show here in Rockford, a well-known writer on Church sexual scandals claimed that homosexuality is a necessary condition for employment in the chancery offices of every diocese in the United States, a ridiculous statement that is easily disproved.)  These attitudes simply confirm that far too many Catholics, frustrated (as I am) by the turmoil in the Church over the past 35 years, are willing to believe almost anything, as long as it reflects poorly on those whom they blame for the Church’s woes.  (That same willingness extends to traditionalist arguments that Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was not validly excommunicated and that the See of Peter may soon be vacant.)

The disagreement between Mr. Earvolino and myself is not over questions of liturgy (for the past decade, I have attended the Eastern Rite Divine Liturgy and the Tridentine Mass almost exclusively) but over our respective attitudes toward the Church.  Like many other traditionalists, he has trouble distinguishing between the statements or actions of certain priests and bishops (and the even the Pope) and Church teaching.  This is illustrated by his statement (not backed up by citation) that “the Church decided that psychology was science and intimated that the Church’s stance on homosexuality could be amended by the ‘discoveries’ of the therapeutic industry.”  But under the heading of “Homosexuality and Chastity,” the Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 2357) states that the “psychological genesis [of homosexuality] remains largely unexplained.  Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’  They are contrary to the natural law.  They close the sexual act to the gift of life.  They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity.  Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

The Catechism goes on to state (in paragraph 2358) that homosexuals “are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition” and then explains (in paragraph 2359) how they can fulfill God’s will: “Homosexual persons are called to chastity.  By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”

This seems rather straightforward.  That certain bishops—for reasons of ideology, bureaucracy, or just plain human sinfulness—have acted in ways that contradict it does not mean that the Church’s teaching has changed.

Finally, Mr.?Earvolino is right: We do have trouble, in spades.  That is precisely why he and other traditionalists should be engaging more actively in the life of the Church rather than pulling away from it.  The Church Herself—with all of Her problems—is the saving remnant, not any one group of Christians.