December 14, 2016
SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain – A new low for the Catholic Church in Spain has been reached with the ordination of a homosexual couple to the priesthood by Archbishop Julian Barrio of Santiago de Compostela. These men, part of an ordination class of six, are not only active homosexuals but are in a public relationship with each other. According to the original story by InfoVaticana, the parishioners of Santiago were presented with their ongoing relationship in some form of “coming out” ceremony. Their ordination has caused consternation among the faithful congregation and clergy at this major center of European Catholicism.
The setting of the Cathedral of Santiago for this travesty is the source of tremendous irony. Santiago is the destination of the Camino of St. James, a path walked by Catholic pilgrims from all over Europe for centuries in penance for their sins. It is a path for those who acknowledge their sinfulness before God, and strive to become more like Him through the discipline of their bodies. St. James himself, whose bones lie under the Cathedral, was the first Apostle to die for the faith, a man who refused to give up orthodoxy even to death. Now two men who are not qualified to receive Holy Orders, and are in open defiance of the authority they have claimed to submit to, have been enlisted into the Church’s service in this place of penance, obedience and sanctity.
The Archbishop cannot claim to have been unaware either of the status of the two or of the Church’s clear teaching on this question. Even Pope Francis, whose moderate tone on homosexuality is widely known, has just expressly approved the new Vatican document on seminary formation, which explicitly reiterates that homosexuals cannot be ordained as priests. Regarding the men themselves (whose identities are undisclosed), InfoVaticana further reports that one of the Archbishop’s vicars had visited the house in which the two men are cohabiting, only a few days before the ordination. This, and the fact that they had publicly declared their orientation and relationship to the local community, indicate that the Archbishop was well aware of what he presided over. The incident has not passed over quietly and is rumored to have already reached the ears of the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy, who may cause the early retirement of Archbishop Barrio from the Archdiocese of Compostela.
This is only the latest in a long series of LGBT-related incidents which have come out of Spain in the past few months. The Spanish public climate is currently dominated by the LGBT cause, with programs of indoctrination at school widely implemented and draconian hate speech laws recently established. In the face of this violent, militant movement, the Church in Spain has been repeatedly rocked by homosexual scandals even as it tries to put up some resistance. The bishop of Saragossa, Manuel Urena, was relieved of his post in 2014 for a scandal involving a deacon.
Barrio himself was involved in another 2014 scandal, a tabloid affair in which an electrician stole the priceless Book of St. James from the Cathedral and hid it at his house. At trial, the worker revealed the existence of a series of notebooks which contained anecdotes of widespread and institutionalized sexual abuse in the Archdiocese, recounted to him by local seminarians and priests. This stunning revelation, also documented by InfoVaticana, was entered into court evidence and subsequently dropped into obscurity. No further investigation appears to have taken place. At the time, InfoVaticana alleged that such incidents were part of the reason why the bishops of Spain had not taken any stance on the LGBT censorship law – still under consideration at the time – when it seemed clearly their duty to oppose it, not only from the standpoint of sexual morality but also from that of religious freedom.
What can justly be inferred from these incidents, and this latest in particular, is that the Spanish Church has a problem confronting homosexuality as required by the teachings of Catholicism. It remains to be seen what the consequences of ordaining both members of a homosexual couple to the priesthood will be – for the Archbishop, for the complicit clergy in the diocese, for the new priests themselves, and for the innocent Catholics among whom these two have been set loose.
December 14, 2016