CORPUS, the National Association for an Inclusive Priesthood (www.corpus.org), wants to take this opportunity to say thank-you to the multitude of gay priests in the United States, and throughout the world, for their generous ministries they continue to share within their Roman Catholic faith communities.
CORPUS is frankly embarrassed by the recent Vatican document that singles out gay seminarians and priests for exclusion from the presiding role at Christ's Eucharistic table. Jesus came into the world to bring peace, as opposed to division. Actions by Catholic bishops this month can only serve to fracture sensitive relations, at a time when our communities of faith are already facing division as a result of the non-inclusive behavior of those we entrust with our leadership.
CORPUS fully recognizes that sexual orientation and sexual immaturity are two separate categories. Yet, our bishops would like for us to believe that gay orientation equates to sexual immaturity, which in turn can lead to sexual abuse. The Board and Staff of CORPUS absolutely rejects this hypothesis, and we therefore wish to voice our support for countless dedicated gay priests, and for the many gay women religious and gay laity who also give generously of their time.
CORPUS wishes to apologize for the insensitive and reckless wording in the Vatican document that was released two weeks ago. Why an apology? Although we had nothing to do with the document that discriminates against gay clergy, we nevertheless recognize ourselves as being part of the Roman Catholic Church that is supposed to be united in faith. However, as a matter of policy, we totally reject the Vatican document in question.
Jesus stood with the marginzalized and he stands firmly with our gay priests of integrity today. CORPUS wishes to simply say thank-you for all that they do for Roman Catholics around the world. There is no place in our church for discriminatory documents that single out good people who are doing God's work on earth.
On January 8, 2003, CORPUS was one of the first reform groups in the United States to address discrimination against gay priests. Here is the press release we issued:
PRESS RELEASE: January 8, 2003
Corpus supports gay priests and seminarians.
Scapegoating gay priests will not fix the systemic problems of abuse of power we've seen facing our Church today.
Since January 6, 2002, a whole year ago, we've read reports of the sexual scandal of abuse of minors surfaced in the national press. At the very time when Christians celebrated the revelation of God as a child, we heard of the assault on our own children by Catholic priests and the cover-up by many bishops.
The greatest crisis in the history of the American Catholic Church continues to unravel. All of us want this sick behavior controlled, want our children to be safe, and want to know what caused this horror. It is also clear that American Catholics are deeply disturbed at the abuse of power by their bishops, the silence, the secrecy, the intimidation of victims, the protection of pedophile priests (and bishops) from prosecution. That this was done in the name of Christ and for the sake of his Church makes the abuse of power all the more corrupt.
This is no time to seek scapegoats to blame for the failure of the bishops themselves. It is not the media or dissent from the policies of John Paul II that caused this crisis. It is the bishops. It is certainly not homosexual priests. It is the bishops.
We in CORPUS believe that Church leaders and laity have the right to monitor the ministerial performance of a priest but not the marital status or sexual orientation of a priest. For twenty-nine years CORPUS has worked for reform and renewal of sacramental priesthood in our Church. We continue to work for an inclusive priesthood... one that is open to women and men, married and single, gay and straight who choose to answer the call to ministerial service from the Spirit of God and their local church community.
Banning celibate gay men from the priesthood does not address the underlying real problems of this crisis. Priests who abuse their calling and status, who take advantage of those in their care, especially vulnerable and innocent and trusting children are not fit for ministry. Sexual orientation is not the issue; sexual assault is.
We in CORPUS support our gay brothers in the priesthood and in the seminary. We struggle as they to be true to what it means to be committed, called and faithful.
We affirm the sacred presence of all those touched by God's grace. We deplore the attempt to declare that God's grace discriminates in terms of sexual orientation.
We look forward to the day when gospel values become the norm for all sacramental ministry, not sexual orientation, not gender, not marital status.
We look forward to the day when the way God's People are served becomes the test for all priestly ministry.
We look forward to the day when the Church is catholic enough to be truly inclusive.
We look forward to the day when the Church becomes a home and a haven for all those whose hearts are committed to Christ.