Gay men and supporters of ‘gay culture’ cannot be priests – Vatican
New document reiterates position outlined following election of Pope Benedict in 2005
Document also emphasises the need for dioceses to guard against admitting potential sex abusers to the priesthood. Photograph: Osservatore Romano/EPA
The Vatican has reiterated that men with “deeply rooted homosexual tendencies” should not be admitted to seminaries or become Catholic priests.
A new document The Gift of the Priestly Vocation by the Congregation for Clergy and approved by Pope Francis, has restated the position outlined by the Vatican in 2005 following the election of Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI.
It has repeated that “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’”.
“Such persons, in fact, find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women. One must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies.”
However, critics have asked how this latest document can be consistent with Pope Francis’s response, when asked in 2013 by the media about gay people, during a flight from Rome to Brazil, where he had attended a World Youth Day event.
“If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?” Pope Francis said. “The catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. It says they should not be marginalised because of this (orientation) but that they must be integrated into society,” he said to the media.
The document also emphasises the need for dioceses and religious orders to guard against admitting potential sex abusers to the priesthood.
“The greatest attention must be given to the theme of the protection of minors and vulnerable adults,” it said, “being vigilant lest those who seek admission to a seminary or a house of formation, or who are already petitioning to receive holy orders, have not been involved in any way with any crime or problematic behaviour in this area.”
An innovation in the document is the introduction of a “propaedeutic period upon entrance to the seminary.” It is proposed this introduction to further study be for “not less than one year or more than two” and is meant to validate the vocation of candidates.”
In an interview Cardinal Beniamino Stella, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, said the document was meant to provide guidelines for the formation of priests, which “needed to be revamped, renewed, and restored to the centre.”
Inspiration was drawn from Pope Francis’ teachings and spirituality, especially regarding “temptations tied to money, to the authoritarian exercise of power, to rigid legalism, and to vainglory,” he said.