Italian paper reveals details of gays in priesthood document

A long-awaited Vatican document says that the church cannot ordain as priests those who are active homosexuals, who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies or who support the "gay culture", according to Il Giornale.

CLICK HERECatholic News Service reports that the paper revealed what it said are key excerpts from the eight-page document, on Wednesday. Vatican officials refused to comment on the accuracy of the newspaper report.

The document, which is expected to be formally released later this month, was approved by Pope Benedict XVI on 31 August, the newspaper said. It was signed by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, which prepared the instruction for use by bishops, religious superiors and seminary rectors around the world.

The document said the church should welcome homosexuals with respect and sensitivity and avoid discrimination.

But, the newspaper said, the document added that "the church, while deeply respecting these persons, cannot admit to the priesthood those who practice homosexuality, who present deeply rooted homosexual tendencies or who support the so-called gay culture."

For a priest, homosexuality represents "a situation that impedes the building of correct relationships with men and women," it said.

The document said seminary directors may have to distinguish between entrenched homosexual tendencies and more fleeting traits, according to the newspaper.

"The tendencies that may only be the expression of a transitory problem, such as those of an adolescence that is not yet completed, must be clearly overcome at least three years before diaconal ordination," it quoted from the document.

The document reportedly gave special attention to the role of spiritual directors in seminaries. Spiritual directors must respect their relationship of confidentiality with a seminarian, but they also must try to verify that the candidate practices chastity, has reached emotional maturity and "does not have sexual disturbances incompatible with the priesthood," it said.

In the case of homosexual seminarians, it said, spiritual directors have an obligation to persuade the candidate against pursuing or continuing seminary formation, appealing to the candidate to renounce a priestly vocation.

The document said there was no right to ordination, and it was the church's responsibility to choose proper candidates for the priesthood. In cases of serious doubt about suitability, a candidate should not be ordained, it said.

The newspaper said the full title of the document was "Instruction on the Criteria of Vocational Discernment Regarding Persons With Homosexual Tendencies in View of Their Admission to the Priesthood and to Sacred Orders."

It said the document was divided into three chapters: "Affective Maturity and Spiritual Paternity," "Homosexuality and the Ordained Ministry" and "Discernment of the Suitability of Candidates on the Part of the Church."

The Vatican has been working on the document since 2001. Church officials cautioned that because of the complexity of the issue the exact wording of the document is key to its interpretation.

For several years the education congregation also has been working on a document on psychological testing for priesthood candidates. It was expected to be ready in late 2002 but has not yet been published.

Vatican document bars active gays from priesthood, says newspaper (Catholic News Service 11/11/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Congregation for Catholic Education (for Seminaries and Educational Institutions)
Homosexuality and the Priesthood (Beliefnet)

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 restricts gays in priesthood: paper (Reuters 11/11/05)
Italian daily publishes excerpts from long-awaited Vatican document on homosexuals in the seminary (Catholic News Agency 11/11/05
Details emerging on Vatican gay-seminarian ban (Catholic World News 11/11/05)
Gay Priests Struggle With Vatican's Rules (Associated Press/Leading the Charge 12/11/05)
John L. Allen: More on the gays in the seminary document (National Catholic Reporter 11/11/05)
On eve of new Vatican rules, gay priests struggle with serving a church that considers them `disordered' (Associated Press/Newsday 12/11/05)
Vatican Document Said to Ban Gay Priests (New York Times 12/11/05)
Church view on homosexuality can't be called phobic (The Times 1/11/05)
A gay priest receives the sacrament of acceptance (Boston Globe 7/11/05)
John L Allen: Update: homosexuals in seminaries (National Catholic Reporter 4/11/05)
Gay bishop attacks Catholic stand (BBC 6/11/05)
Bishops to review gay-couple adoptions from Catholic agencies (Catholic News Service 4/11/05)
Jesuit University says support to gay organizations is "the Catholic thing' to do (Catholic News Agency 4/11/05)
Seminary document: not yet (Catholic World News 4/11/05)
Gay theology pioneer trusts 'God's shrewdness' (National Catholic Reporter 11/11/05)

14 Nov 2005