In new guidelines on the priesthood, the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy has reiterated that men with “deeply rooted homosexual tendencies” shouldn’t be admitted into seminaries and, therefore, shouldn’t become priests, reports Crux.
That position was initially stated by the Congregation for Catholic Education in 2005, but it was re-stated in a document released on Wednesday.
The new document is by no means restricted to the question of gay priests. It deals with much more, from the value of indigenous and immigrant vocations to the importance of inoculating future priests against infection by “clericalism.”
The new text, titled The Gift of the Priestly Vocation, was dated Thursday, December 8, feast of the Immaculate Conception, and a public holiday in Italy.
The section regarding accepting men who experience same-sex attraction draws most of its content from an Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders, released by the Congregation for Catholic Education in 2005 shortly after the election of emeritus Pope Benedict XVI.
“If a candidate practices homosexuality or presents deep-seated homosexual tendencies, his spiritual director as well as his confessor have the duty to dissuade him in conscience from proceeding towards ordination,” the document released this week says, in a direct quote from the text of eleven years ago.
Just like the previous document was approved by Benedict XVI, the one released this week was approved by Pope Francis. However, in neither case were the documents signed by the pontiff, but by the heads of the Vatican department behind it.
In this case, that means Italian Cardinal Benamino Stella, prefect of the congregation, Archbishop Joel Mercier, Archbishop Jorge Carlos Patron Wong, and Monsignor Antonio Neri.
The document says when it comes to gay men who want to enter the seminary, or discover they have “homosexual tendencies” during the formation years, the Church, “while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture.’”
It also says that the Church can’t overlook the “negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies.”
Photo: Pope Francis (third from right) arrives to lead a Mass for the Jubilee for Priests at St Peter's Square at the Vatican in June (Reuters)
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