Local theologian says gays ruling will have 'little impact'
Professor Neil Ormerod of the Australian Catholic University has said that the instruction banning practising homosexuals from admission to Catholic seminaries is not as radical as earlier drafts and would likely have little impact on recruitment practices.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Pope Benedict has approved the instruction, which was leaked early yesterday on the internet before next week's official release and will be sent to seminaries around the world.
"Most of all it still seems to me a negative response to the sexual abuse crisis in our church," Professor Ormerod told the paper.
"What it is doing is presenting a position consistent with the church's teaching on homosexuality," he said. "They are asking for a commitment on the part of seminary candidates to respect the church's teaching."
In Australia's seminaries "chaste celibacy", not necessarily latent sexual orientation, is a prerequisite for priesthood.
The document, the work of the Congregation for Catholic Education, says: "The church, while deeply respecting the people in question, cannot admit to the seminary and the sacred orders those who practice homosexuality, present deeply rooted homosexual tendencies or support so-called gay culture. Those people [are] in a situation that presents a grave obstacle to a correct relationship with men and women. One cannot ignore the negative consequences that can stem from [their] ordination."
The document is a reaction to the sex abuse scandals that have rocked the church. Since 1990, about 20 bishops have resigned either for alleged sexual misconduct or their mishandling of complaints.
But Jane Anderson, an honorary research fellow at the University of Western Australia, who spent 10 years researching the private lives of priests, told the Herald that the ban would likely drive gay priests further underground.
However, Neil Ormerod, professor of theology at the Australian Catholic University, said the ruling was not as radical as earlier drafts and would likely have little impact on recruitment practices.
Meanwhile author and former priest Fr Paul Collins told The Australian: "It does not exclude people with homosexual tendencies from the priesthood... They have moved to a much more sophisticated understanding of homosexuality."
Fr Michael Kennedy, chairman of the Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, said the document would receive wide acceptance, especially in the US, where the issue of sexual abuse had been much more prominent.
He said most Australian seminaries already conduct psychological tests of candidates, which included their sexuality.
Gays not welcome: new rules for the priesthood (Sydney Morning Herald 24/11/05)
Priests must prove celibacy (The Australian 24/11/05)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Concerning the Criteria of Vocational Discernment Regarding Perosns With Homosexual Tendencies In View of Their Admission to Seminaries and Holy Orders: English translation courtesy of The Tablet (New Oxford Review 22/11/05)
Circa i criteri de discernimento vocazionale riguardo alle persone con tendenze omosessu... (Congregation for Catholic Education)
Congregation for Catholic Education (for Seminaries and Educational Institutions)
Gay seminarians document leaked (CathNews 23/11/05)
Italian paper reveals details of gays in priesthood document (CathNews 14/11/05)
Document to prescribe caution, not ban, on gay seminarians (CathNews 10/10/05)
Gay seminarian ban imminent (CathNews 30/9/05)
US seminary visitation "mired in controversy" (CathNews 26/9/05)
Vatican document bans most gays from priesthood (National Catholic Reporter 23/11/05)
Amy Welborn: Document, Redux (Open Book 23/11/05)
Vatican gay stance: 3-year test (CNN 23/11/05)
Survivor: Vatican (The Advocate 22/1/05)
Vatican: Priests cannot be active homosexuals, support gay culture (Catholic News Service 23/11/05)
U.S. Vatican ambassador says new document on homosexuality will make Church stronger (Catholic News Agency 23/11/05)
Vatican to deny gays entry into seminaries (Washington Post/ContraCosa Times 23/11/05)
Vatican document on homosexuals and seminaries-- full text (Catholic World News 23/11/05)
Vatican Rejects Actively Gay Priests (The Guardian/Associated Press 22/11/05)
Vatican Speaks Against Gay Seminarians (The Guardian/Associated Press 23/11/05)
Vatican Issues a Qualified Ban on Gays in Priesthood (Los Angeles Times 23/11/05)
Jesuits to host forum about gay Catholics (Newsday 18/11/05)
Catholic Document on Priests And 'Gay Culture' Stirs a Debate (New York Sun 23/11/05)
In Strong Terms, Rome Is to Ban Gays as Priests (New York Times 23/11/05)
Gays in the priesthood (PBS NewsHour 15/11/05)
Vatican paper excludes gays from priesthood (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 23/11/05)
Joe Dignan: Cross purposes (San Francisco Bay Guardian 23/11/05)
Taking a good first step with its new document, Vatican must now remove those who disobey guidelines on gays (Spirit Daily 23/11/05)
Vatican sets gay sunset period (The Age/Reuters 23/11/05)
Vatican closes door to homosexual priests (The Courier Mail/Reuters 24/11/05)
Vatican demands celibacy in new gay priest doctrine (The Times 23/11/05)
24 Nov 2005