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Fighting In The Francis Era

Ross Douthat, on the war between conservative and liberal factions within the Catholic Church under this pontificate: [1]

In fact the conflicting inquisitions, liberal and conservative, are the all-but-inevitable result of the pope’s decisions to stir the church’s tensions into civil war again, and then to fight for the liberal side using ambiguous statements and unofficial interventions rather than the explicit powers of his office. Indeed, when Professor Faggioli complains about a “Catholic social media that has completely bypassed” the way the “Catholic Church has worked for centuries,” he might just as easily be describing Pope Francis, whose personalized style has made the lines of authority within the church maddeningly unclear.

On issues large and small, Francis has decentralized authority informally while retaining all the formal powers of his office and encouraged theological envelope-pushing without changing the official boundaries of what counts as Catholic teaching and what does not. This has effectively created two different versions of that teaching — the one on the books versus the one that the pope offers in his winks and nods — to which different Catholics can appeal.

In this environment, anyone who wishes to know what the pope really thinks is better off ignoring official Vatican offices and instead listening to the coterie of papal advisers who take to Twitter to snipe against his critics.

Douthat says the way institutions on both sides are conducting themselves in this disputatious era for the Church — trying to stay above it all by forestalling controversies — is “foolish”:

When the Supreme Pontiff is allowing argument to flourish and public division to increase, it does no good for institutions to pretend that none of this is happening — as though the average Catholic will somehow not notice that the leaders of the church are increasingly opposed to one another. (The poison of online debate is itself partially a reaction to this public pretense of tranquillity.)

Instead the only serious course is to invite serious argument and encourage respectful debate. Have the Dominicans and Jesuits bring their online debates into university auditoriums and parish halls; let Catholic students and laypeople understand the stakes.

He concludes by saying that there’s really no way to know if the Catholic Church is heading to an Anglican-like future, with very different theologies existing under the same umbrella, or if a reactionary backlash is brewing. Whatever the case, he says, “there is no way forward save through controversy.”

Later, on Twitter, Douthat extended his explanation for why debate, even without reasonable prospect of resolving things, is pretty much the only option the Catholic Church has right now:

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I agree with that. On the Catholic Right, where I used to hang my hat, it is generally understood that the Church has been in a de facto schism for quite some time. Francis is (perhaps inadvertently) heightening the contradictions, making the pretense of theological unity within the Roman church even more unsustainable. So why not recognize reality and deal with it? I suppose the answer might be, “Because what if we do discover a schism-necessitating lack of common ground? What then? Schism?” The idea is that better to muddle through for the sake of a messy unity than to endure the severe clarity that comes with schism. That strategy, however, has not worked out well for the Anglicans.

I sometimes think to people who aren’t engaged with the goings-on in the Catholic Church — both Catholics and non-Catholics — this all must seem like so much vanity and silliness. It’s really not, though. Read Steve Skojec’s thoughts on what it means [4] that Pope Francis has just cleaned out and refounded the institute Pope St. John Paul II established for the study of marriage and the family. I can’t help but read that in light of what Archbishop Chaput writes in First Things this month about JP2’s encyclical Veritatis splendor [5] (“The Splendor of Truth”) as we near its 25th anniversary. The Archbishop of Philadelphia writes that the encyclical

reminds us forcefully that truth, including moral truth (what we owe our neighbor; what leads us to or away from God), has an objective dimension. It’s not purely a function of cultural and personal circumstances. Of course, throughout history, and throughout our individual lives, many things do change. But some truths do not change.

If Skojec’s fears prove out, it is hard to understand how the Catholic Church avoids a schism — a formal schism, I mean — because at stake are matters of fundamental truth and Church authority. But we’ll see.

I despair over all this (and the same things happening on the Evangelical side; I am under no illusion that the tiny world of American Orthodoxy will escape them) because there really is no way to resolve these fundamental issues in a world in which everyone thinks he is his own pope or patriarch. I think a lot about one of the most frustrating conversations I ever had. It was with a fellow Catholic (as I was at the time), and indeed a fellow Republican (ditto). We were arguing over same-sex marriage, back when it was just starting to become a political issue. He was for it, I wasn’t. We were arguing as two Catholics, but nothing I said mattered to him. I quoted the Catechism, but he didn’t accept the Catechism as authoritative. He didn’t accept any magisterial church teachings as authoritative. Yet he didn’t understand what was wrong with this, and took umbrage at the idea that he was in any sense out of order as a Catholic.

He was, in effect, Protestant — but then, many Protestants at least take the Bible seriously as the source of authority to which they must submit. I am pretty sure that my friend would not have done that either, except insofar as the Bible coincided with what he preferred to believe. And this is what Evangelicalism is dealing with now too. All Christian churches are. There’s no place to hide. Liquid modernity is the universal solvent of revealed religion.

To return to Douthat’s point, yes, I’m for debate, in favor of a full and civil airing of arguments. But as I wrote the other day (“The Dangers Of Dialogue” [6]), one has to be very careful about how one approaches these exchanges.

28 Comments (Open | Close)

28 Comments To "Fighting In The Francis Era"

#1 Comment By Liam On September 20, 2017 @ 4:29 pm

“This has effectively created two different versions of that teaching.”

Douthat is cherry picking here, and his elision of inconvenient recent past doesn’t do him credit.

This pattern predates the Francis papacy, though outside this specific topic area. And it’s not restricted to the sinister side, as it were.

Remember Douthat’s friend, George “Gold Pen/Red Pen” Weigel, who fisked B16’s encyclical letter Veritate in Caritas in record time to tell his reader which parts were “real” teaching and which ones weren’t? And a variety of folks who hold forth at Acton Institute and its ilk, some with roots back to the 1980s at least?

Douthat really needs to grapple with the legacy of that side of the ledger here if he wants his sermon to be more credible. He’s capable of it, but this one’s a swing and a miss.

#2 Comment By Gromaticus On September 20, 2017 @ 5:00 pm

Liquid modernity is the universal solvent of revealed religion.

I envision an ornate glass case, in a dusty corner of the Vatican, with faded letters that read “Break in Case of Emergency” (in Latin of course). Inside is the cure, waiting only for a courageous Roman Pontiff to set it free again.


#3 Comment By DEC01 On September 20, 2017 @ 5:23 pm

If the Catholic Church schisms between progressive and traditional sides, which get the Vatican and presumably gets to say they are the rightful RCC?

The same could be asked about the Evangelical world, between the Nashville Statement signers and those that repudiate it, which will ultimately prevail?

Much like those of us in the traditional side consider the progressives to be in error, and to be at best heterodox if not outright heretical. I don’t doubt the progressive Catholics, Protestant/evangelicals, and Orthodox would love to ultimately prevail in their institutions and use that power to cast traditionalists as heretics. Not just heretics of secularism, or MTD, but heretics of proper Christianity.

The stakes are indeed high, and the lack of pursuing clarity for the sake of some kind of unity seems to me to only help the progressives entrench themselves in positions of leadership in the existing Christian institutions that have the most authority to say what Christianity is.

#4 Comment By MattinTX On September 20, 2017 @ 5:52 pm

I don’t know if I agree that self-segregation isn’t the answer. It’s not like it’s a big secret which parishes, colleges and religious orders are more conservative and which are more liberal. If a parish isn’t to your liking, go to the one down the road. If you are looking for orthodoxy, avoid Jesuit colleges; if you are looking for social justice, avoid colleges like Franciscan University.

It’s not like the American church and even individual parishes aren’t already segregated by language. What’s so wrong with a little ideological segregation among the English speakers?

#5 Comment By John On September 20, 2017 @ 6:11 pm

Well, this de facto schism predates Pope Francis. Religious groups have every right to determine what disagreements are important and worth avoiding and which disagreements are fundamental, subjecting one to separation from the body, and the burden is on the religious groups who face these internal debates to issue a response and enforce it.

The “crisis” in faith, however, was inevitable as soon as man, woman, and everyone in between was allowed to question it and ultimate reject it in favor of another declared belief.

Technology does not help. Exposure to those with different beliefs does not help as well. Interreligioys marriages does not help either. Each of these changes undermine the claim that a given religion has special knowledge about the truth. And to be quite honest, that is a good thing, because there is no way of knowing who is right or who is wrong. These matters are settled as a matter of faith – Assumptions based on one’s confidence in the religious teachers who handed down their articles of faith from one generation to another. But that’s all they have to go by, as there is no way of proving any of it.

#6 Comment By Anne On September 20, 2017 @ 7:19 pm

As a Catholic who’s old enough to have been pigeonholed on all sides of Church politics, right, left and inbetween, all I can say is I thank God every day for this Pope. We needed him. I just hope he can do enough in the short time a man pushing 80 can count on. Against all odds, he’s been trying to implement some of the key reforms relating to ecclesial power sharing proposed at the Second Vatican Council, reforms that were placed on hold for the 30-year reign of Pope John Paul II and his successor Benedict XVI. Say what you will about their attempts to rein in any and all theological dissent, they ruled as autocratic monarchs, albeit without disturbing the various fiefdoms that had been created among the Vatican’s Curia long before their time. That’s not what the Council fathers had envisioned, by a long shot. The primary reforms they had proposed were to end one-man rule and return primary authority to the world’s bishops as a whole with Pope as head,
and local churches taking responsibility for local problems;in other words, decentralization and, to some extent, democratization, with more opportunity for ordinary Catholics to have a say in matters that affect them. For 30-some years nothing remotely like that happened, and local bishops often complained — silently, of course, at least as far as the world knew. And the Curia went about business as usual, which might or might not have been in accordance with papal thinking; those things weren’t of major importance to the popes in charge.

Then, suddenly, a bishop “from the provinces” gets elected, a man seemingly too old to effect much change, and voila, his attempts to “let voices be heard” strike some as downright revolutionary, even dangerous (!). And ironically, this one group making the loudest demands, even as they question this Pope’s authority, are the most conservative, or as they call themselves “small-o orthodox,” among Catholics. Clearly, it’s not only doctrinal dissenters who think they know better than the Pope. Conservative converts like Douthat believe they’re more doctrinally correct than Francis, who used to teach dogmatic theology on the university level. Why? As far as I can tell, because he once said he wouldn’t judge gay Christians and then went on to try to open discussion at a synod of bishops on the possibility of finding a more merciful solution to the problem of divorced Catholics who have remarried. Yet opening up synods for other bishops’ input, and including laypeople whenever appropriate, are both reforms that were supposed to go into effect 30 years ago. Pope John Paul II called a few synods in his day, but all were closed to the press and public and ended up merely rubber-stamping whatever he said. That’s not the way the synod system is supposed to work. The loud goings-on at the first synod Francis called actually is. And for all their fear and loathing, conservatives have contributed more than their fair share of the noise, and continue to wield more than their fair share of the influence…and power. Just not all of it.

#7 Comment By Dan R On September 20, 2017 @ 7:29 pm

Rod, I am assuming you don’t know Steve Skojec’s work. He is a total hack. He published a story about a thirdhand account of a confrontation between Cardinal Muller and Pope Francis where the Pope asked Muller to assent to heresy, which the folks at One Peter Five had to difficult believing, even though it was a based on an anonymous source alleging something he overheard at a neighboring table. Muller’s people found out and denied the rumor, saying that it never happened. Skojec STILL stuck to the story, even though it was directly denied by one of the participants, and the alleged victim at that. He is a dishonest person.

Also, I share many of your other readers’ confusion about why we would beheading towards an Anglican future. I am pretty sure that the Church was a lot more divided in the 70s, 80s, and maybe even 90s than it is now. Aside from his dislike of Francis, I’m not sure why Douthat is so convinced this is going to happen

#8 Comment By P On September 20, 2017 @ 7:37 pm

I was about to say that if the Church could survive the Diocletian persecution, the Pornocracy, Borgia popes, the Reformation, etc. etc. then a conservative vs. liberal war in the Francis era isn’t much of a much.

But while the Church “survived” each of these crises and made gains and reforms of varying degrees, there was still something that was lost along the way. Wars of religion, loss of public confidence, etc.

Pope Francis is not Pope Alexander VI. What happens in online comment sections is not the Thirty Years War. But I do wonder what we’ll lose.

#9 Comment By Jeremy Austin Kee On September 20, 2017 @ 8:41 pm

This grieves me. I left Evangelicalism, among other reasons, because of the inherently fractured disposition. I hate seeing this, truly. But I am not just leaving Evangelicalism – I am also entering the Catholic Church, because I have been compelled by the truth and the authority found therein, and in that compulsion I have found a Church that I truly love. To see the Church fight with itself – I believe it was Cardinal Dolan who called this infighting a cancer – is truly painful.

#10 Comment By charles cosimano On September 20, 2017 @ 10:27 pm

“I sometimes think to people who aren’t engaged with the goings-on in the Catholic Church — both Catholics and non-Catholics — this all must seem like so much vanity and silliness. It’s really not, though”

It really is silliness, entertaining silliness, but silliness as it deals with authority that only exists in the minds of the believers. If I were not a follower of this blog I would never even hear about any of this stuff.

#11 Comment By dominic1955 On September 21, 2017 @ 2:05 am

In saner times, the liberal/modernist faction would have been heavily censured or excommunicated as the case may be, and that would be that.

Contra Pope Francis, most of what the Magisterium need deal with does have pretty black and white answers-it can be no other way. There is nothing new under the sun, just because more and more people have become tolerant of sin does not mean there has been some sea change in marriage and sexuality.

What one of our main problems is we are now reaping what we’ve allowed to be sowed. Some teachings that did stand against the approaching horde of godless ideology like Humanae vitae become dead letters, the folks in the trenches (lay and cleric alike) trying to hold the line against secularism and modernism were too often at best disinterestedly left to their own devices or at worst actively stabbed in the back by chanceries and prelates and “experts” more interested in being trendy rather than upholding the truth. Too many of the men robed in even the Sacred Purple were the ones who stood by while generations were left uncatechized in even the basics of the Faith only to leave in droves soon after.

Now, after all of this self-inflicted confusion of souls and neglect of right order, we wonder what can be done (read: changed) to accompany these poor lost people who have screwed themselves out of a proper Catholic life? Who do you think bears some responsibility in getting them there? You bet your ass it is those milquetoast prelates who, when they were just curates, taught the kiddos nothing but coloring book Jesus and felt banner craft time. Why did they do it that way? Some were just naive and ate it up from the commissars in the seminary, some were dyed in the wool revolutionaries, some were too busy with sinful double lives and could really care less about the care of souls anyway.

But now, will any of them face any sort of censure or reprimand on this side of eternity? Ha!…Please. For all the people like Anne who thought JP II or BXVI ruled the Universal Church like autocrats, they didn’t seem to know who half the clerics they chose to be bishops were men who now work to unravel what they did and what the Church has constantly done.

I know of one reigning prelate who, as a priest, was a yes-man to the dominant mushy headed theology of the 70s and 80s and a authoritarian to boot but no worries as he was never in a parish very long before he was made rector and presided over a seminary during its gayest time all the while destroying its beautiful old chapel, was made a bishop of Podunk, Flyovercountry and procedes to pick a fight (more of a pissing match) with the TLM community there and then gets made Cardinal Archbishop of a major metropolitan city.

Only a divine institution could be run in such a sh!tty manner by all sorts of horrible people seemingly hell bent on destroying it, yet miraculously it survives-even thrives at times.

#12 Comment By Wes On September 21, 2017 @ 3:05 am

Conservative and innovative impulses always active in the Church – and we need them both; without the former, we would have theological chaos as in Protestantism; without the latter we wouldn’t have the capability to speak to a changing world.

Ole Francis can’t change Dogma or contradict doctrine; he can only tinker with “practices” here and there; and his personal theology matters not at all. So Jeremy above, relax and try not to get caught up in all the infighting we would have never heard about in a previous age.

#13 Comment By Uncle Billy On September 21, 2017 @ 8:36 am

Yes, the Church has been in a de facto schism since the 1960’s. The right wants the liberals to leave the Church if they don’t buy into the party line, but they are not going. 90+% of the laity uses contraception and that is not going to change no matter how much the traddies scream and threaten.

After the clerical sexual abuse of minors scandals and Maciel, you would think that the hierarchy would declare a moratorium on pontificating about contraception and divorce, but no, they are still fighting that losing battle.

Francis understand that rules are a means to an end, not an end in and of themselves. he is a pastor, not a cop. John Paul II for all his vaunted “intellect” never understood modern man, especially the Anglosphere. He had an essentially medieval view of Catholicism. The clergy as the aristocrats and the laity as serfs. That doesn’t work anymore. Yes, yes the Church is not a democracy, but if the laity has no voice, and they are commanded by autocrats who do not listen, they will not obey. Francis understand this, John Paul did not.

#14 Comment By ginger On September 21, 2017 @ 9:48 am

Schism is for the wealthy. Don’t expect the vast majority of the world’s Catholics, who are poor, downtrodden, and often truly persecuted (unlike us, here in the privileged Western world), to leave the barque of Peter anytime too soon. You really think the devout Africans (or South Americans, or Indians), who love Pope Francis and rely on the Church for education and healthcare, are going to go storming out the Church because some divorced and remarried couple down the street receives communion? I wouldn’t hold my breath.

#15 Comment By MRG On September 21, 2017 @ 9:49 am

dominic1955: +1000

You said it all.

#16 Comment By Joe M On September 21, 2017 @ 10:56 am

“The laity” in the Church includes sheep and goats, wheat and tares. You’ll never make them all happy, but that’s not the assignment anyway. As for Benedict XVI and JPII being less than Vatican II-true, they were actually present at the council and helped shape it. All the other voices, not so much… On to James Martin, he is an advocate for New Ways Ministries. Enough said.

#17 Comment By Wes On September 21, 2017 @ 11:58 am

Here is a much more coherent articulation of what I attempted above…by Karl Adam and in his “Spirit of Catholicism” circa 1929:

“..Connected with this, is that third and last series of conflicts which arises from the nature of Catholicism. We shall refer to it only briefly. It is the conflict between living piety and Church authority, between the enthusiasm of Pentecost and the rigidity of Church law. This conflict is vividly represented in the life of St. Francis of Assisi. Both these factors are necessary for the life of the Church. The Spirit of Pentecost must always and will always awaken new life. Ever and anon it will touch the depth of the Church’s soul and set free mighty impulses and stirring movements. But so that these movements may not come to nothing, but may be permanently fruitful, they must be guided by Church authority by means of rules and laws, fixed ordinances and regulations. So personal piety requests that the Church regulate it, and define it and give it strict form, if it is not to ebb uselessly away. But on the other hand the form needs the flow of life and experience if it is not little by little to become rigid and crusted over. It needs it the more, the older and more vulnerable it is.

In the right co-ordintaion of these two factors lies the secret of the Church’s vigorous life. When this co-operation is not maintained, or not sufficiently maintained, then “the Spirit groaneth.”. And there is no pain that a Catholic may endure so profound and permeating, yet so sacred and pure, as this is.

#18 Comment By Tim Brandyberry On September 21, 2017 @ 12:19 pm

Agree, Dominic, in saner times, a lot of these clerics and theologians on the left/sexual revolution side would and should have been excommunicated. What we are seeing, if we are not afraid to “see exactly what we see”, is possibly “apocalyptic”, in the words of Card. Burke. The reigning pope’s changes in practice on divorced Catholics (how you personally feel about sin is more important than the doctrine) can and will be applied to every aspect of the sexual revolution: homosexuality, contraception, living together outside marriage. All of Catholic truth and doctrine is in danger of being blown up by this pontiff and his allies throughout the Church. That prospect, if we look intently at it, is horrifying and demands we speak up–and also pray fervently for Our Lady’s help.

#19 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On September 21, 2017 @ 12:33 pm

My heart bleed thinking that the Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, founded by John Paul II and by the late Cd. Caffarra is now led by a man who had himself portrayed in a homoheretic fresco.

[NFR: At Francis’s will. Incredible. — RD]

#20 Comment By Ben H On September 21, 2017 @ 2:27 pm

There won’t be a schism Douthat does not understand that the Church does not function like American politics. Not even close. It’s more like a massively dysfunctional family.

#21 Comment By Mr. Jones On September 21, 2017 @ 2:53 pm

It’s sometimes uncomfortable for me to occasionally agree with der cosimano, but in this case I have to agree. All of this really is silly. It’s over, or will soon be, for big organized religion. In 100 years, the kids won’t care about these esoteric differences anymore than than most of us care about the heated arguments between swing jazz fans and bebop jazz fans.

#22 Comment By Joan Swan On September 21, 2017 @ 5:14 pm

Rod, forgive me, but I think you’re wasting your time on this. I see two alternatives: schism or capitulation. Please pay more attention to what is going on in the Orthodox Church. I have thought for a long time: “As goes Rome, so goes Constantinople”. I hope I am wrong, but the signs are here.

[NFR: It’s hard to know what’s going on in the Orthodox Church. It’s so small in the West, and there’s not a lot of reporting on it, unlike the RCC. — RD]

#23 Comment By Loudon is a Fool On September 21, 2017 @ 6:01 pm

@Uncle Billy

Francis understand that rules are a means to an end, not an end in and of themselves. he is a pastor, not a cop. John Paul II for all his vaunted “intellect” never understood modern man, especially the Anglosphere. He had an essentially medieval view of Catholicism.

You should really read Chaput’s article about Veritatis Splendor in the current issue of First Things for a different perspective. Chaput rightly views progressives as being as rule obsessed as the manualists. JPII (and Benedict) were correctives to that mindset. Both the progressives and the manualists say “Here are the rules and they obligate us, and over here is human freedom; Human freedom can be exercised but only in this area not taken up the the rules.” For the manualists the rules take up a lot of the space, for the progressives the rules take up a little less of the space. Talk of conscience, talk of mercy, those are just ways of talking about the areas in which human freedom can push up against the rules.

So JPII turns to the rich young man in the gospel. The young man who obeys all the rules. Why isn’t he happy? Christ asks him where his heart is and the young man goes away sad. JPII doesn’t jettison objective moral norms, but he does jettison the tension between law and freedom; he reformulates the question as “What is it that Christ wants for us to be happy.” Contrary to your bizarre notion that JPII viewed the laity as serfs, his concept of human freedom is as amazing robust as you would expect from a person who lived his life under an oppressive progressive totalitarian regime. In fact, I kind of think you might have more of a aristocrats vs. serfs mentality if you received your religious training in, oh, I don’t know, a secretive and militaristic religious order?

#24 Comment By James C On September 21, 2017 @ 8:11 pm

The reigning pope’s changes in practice on divorced Catholics (how you personally feel about sin is more important than the doctrine) can and will be applied to every aspect of the sexual revolution: homosexuality, contraception, living together outside marriage.

“For a teaching to be really authoritative, it is expected that it will be received by the people of God, by the faithful. So you look at something like say, the Assumption. So the Assumption is declared and people accept that. They go to the feast of the Assumption, they believe in the Assumption, it’s received.

“The teaching that LGBT people must be celibate their entire lives, has not been received.”

Fr James Martin, SJ, September 2017

#25 Comment By Uncle Billy On September 22, 2017 @ 6:57 am

Note to Loudon is a Fool:

John Paul was a right wing autocrat, and the EWTN Catholics who revere him don’t seem to notice how during his watch Maciel and other perverts were allowed to run wild, so long as they espoused right wing Catholic viewpoints. He tried to drag the Church back to the middle ages and it won’t work with most Catholics.

The attitude of the EWTN or Taliban Catholics is that either you obey all of the rules (especially on sexuality) or you must leave. Also, you had better shut up and not rock the boat. Well, we are not shutting up and we are not leaving. Get used to it.

I am old enough to remember the “good old days” and they were not so good. Indeed, for many Catholics they were unpleasant with rule obsessed priests minding everyone’s business. Do you want to return to that?

The laity, especially those of us in the Anglosphere are not stupid serfs who are into blind obedience. We will cooperate if it makes sense, but if some diktat does not make any sense, such as contraception, we will not cooperate.

The vast majority of Catholics and priests (after a few drinks) know this, but the Bishops must play the game to gain advancement and keep their jobs. Francis is trying to work through this and bring us together. Again, he is a pastor, not a cop.

#26 Comment By ochrid On September 22, 2017 @ 9:48 am

The Orthodox Church will not escape. Notice, the website, Public Orthodoxy, which is touting its horn for LGBT (whatever) full acceptance in its publication of weak articles promoting that point of view. It gets louder and louder in its pronouncements.

#27 Comment By MP On September 22, 2017 @ 5:38 pm

Douthat is right on this; however, I’m not sure why I ought to listen to Skojec’s increasingly paranoid and bizarre thoughts on any matter concerning the pope.

#28 Comment By JONF On September 25, 2017 @ 9:27 pm

Re: “The teaching that LGBT people must be celibate their entire lives, has not been received.”

Nor should it be. Celibacy cannot be imposed by force on people– it must be chosen freely, or it is no more a virtue than poverty that in imposed not chosen by vow.
Again (and again, and again) the confusion about celibacy is rampant. The word we want here is not “celibate” but “chaste”– a virtue for everyone, gay and straight, lay and cleric and monastic, married and single, young and old…