The Catholic Church has always had some difficulty solving the organic Rubix Cube that is the human body. For instance, how does sex work, hmm? The apostles never say, exactly, so its been left to the Church's clergy to piece some sort of palatable explanation together so that Catholics everywhere know best how to repent for those sinful excretions coming out of their privates. Needless to say, the effort has been largely unsuccessful, and the Catholic Church never quite seems ahead of or even close to the curve when discussing human sexuality.
That changed, sort of, on Sunday morning when Patrick Kearney, the head of media for the Catholic Church in Scotland, said during a radio interview that the Catholic Church in Scotland's lack of "compassionate and pastoral" support on issues of sexuality has been "unfortunate." Kearney was doing some more damage control for the scandal surrounding Cardinal Keith O'Brien, who'd been forced by the pope himself to resign after admitting that he'd been guilty of sexual misconduct throughout his career in the Roman Catholic Church. In tackling the many problematic ways in which the Church has addressed human sexuality, Kearney veered dangerously close to admitting that, you know, maybe the Church has been getting it wrong for long time:
If there's an area where the Church hasn't been seen - frankly because it's not present - it's in that area of compassionate, pastoral outreach to people who are struggling with same-sex attraction, or they're confused about it and would love the chance to talk to someone in a compassionate, pastoral context.
The truth of it is that that level of support really isn't there.
That's about as conciliatory as any arm of the Catholic Church, the institution that popularized the wipe-the-slate-clean way to tell God you're sorry, gets. Kearney went on to compare people seeking counsel on issues of sexuality to people suffering from drug or alcohol addictions, just in case anyone was starting to think that someone in the Church has realized that we're no longer living in Dark Ages. Still, the scandal that has engulfed the Church in Scotland has pretty much demanded the entire Church's attention, and, whether more Church figures will admit it or not, the next pope is going to have to figure out a way for a reliably reactive organization to actually offer the sort of compassion and empathy its dogma is built around.