The Vatican & Gay Priests

William McDonough


The Christian church begins its new year with the first Sunday of Advent, and this year, on the same weekend, Americans kicked off a month of holidays, extending from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. Both observances are meant to foster a sense of hope and new beginnings. Yet this Advent, I was struck by the sad irony that on November 29, two days into the church’s season of hope, the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education chose to release its Instruction on the admission of homosexuals to seminaries and to holy orders.

Several years ago, in a talk on Advent, the great German Reformed theologian Jürgen Moltmann pointed out that some languages (German and Latin, for example) have two words for the English word “future.” In Latin, futurus is that which develops in a predictable way out of the present. Moltmann said that to think of the future only in this way is a failure of hope; by itself this is “the planner’s future,” a way of trying to control life and thus a way of posing as God. The other Latin word for future, adventus, indicates the future as coming toward us from God, as breaking into our plans and making a claim on our lives. We are not in charge of this future, but seek to embrace it as part of...

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About the Author

William McDonough is assistant professor of theology at the College of St. Catherine, St. Paul, Minnesota.