Benedict, It's The Way You Tell Them
Say what you like about the Catholic Church - and I frequently do - it provides us with excellent entertainment.
On the weekend that the British Army were recruiting at Manchester's gay festival and joining in the march through the city, we learn that the Pope is to prevent anyone who is gay from entering the priesthood.
One of the greatest crises threastening the Catholic Church in Western Europe is that hardly anyone is entering the priesthood. Logically, the response should be to relax the criteria, something the police have sometimes done in the past to improve recruitment.
But the intellectual Benedict reasons as follows:
Fewer people are entering the priesthood.
It has always been the case that a significant proportion of entrants have been gay.
So let's stop anyone who is gay entering the priesthood!
In the past, because of the rule of celibacy, a person's sexuality was deemed not to be an issue. Of course, many priests argue that celibacy means not marrying rather than not having sex and have had active but discreet sex lives. Indeed, I think it was a priest who explained this convenient theory to me as we were enjoying a post-coital cigarette.
And how is the Church going to enforce this ban on gay people? When people join seminaries today they don't say "Oh, by the way, I'm gay."
Are they going to wire people up to sensors and make them watch gay videos and measure the result on some kind of penile Richter Scale?
"Oh come on, Father! It was only a semi."
Sorry, young man. That's not the meaning of 'seminarian'. But you might be allowed to be a Deacon, once the Bishop has studied the print-outs and the Polaroids."
[Incidentally, it was a similar scientific test that recently found that homophobic straight men produced a greater response to gay porn than non-homophobic straight men. Now there's a surprise!].
According to the Observer article, the new instruction will seek to avoid controversy by eschewing a moral line (What?) and argue that the presence of gay men in seminaries is unfair to straight ones because it will subject the latter to temptation.
"Get thee behind me, gay boy. No, on second thoughts."
Sweet Baby Jesus and the orphans! I never thought I'd write a gag like that. You see how corrupting it can be to muse on Catholicism?
Anyway, according to this theory, all my valued straight male readers should delete this blog from their Favourites folder immediately before they start registering with Gaycom and ordering Pet Shop Boys albums from Amazon.
At least I managed to get through this without writing the line: 'Ve have vays of making you straight.'