Posted November 18, 2005
John Allen Reporting from Rome on the Issue of
Gays in the Seminary
Taken from the National Catholic Reporter
Last week I discussed the spate of leaks about the upcoming document on the
admission of homosexuals to seminaries. As if on schedule, another such leak
arrived today in Il Giornale, written by Andrea Tornielli, that paper's
well-connected Vatican correspondent.
Tornielli writes that he has seen the document, the title of which he gives
as "Instruction on Criteria of Vocational Discernment regarding Persons with
Homosexual Tendencies in View of their Admission to the Priesthood and to
Holy Orders." Tornielli says that it's eight pages long, and gives the
publication date as Nov. 29.
NCR reported last week that the date would be late November.
Tornielli's piece confirms and adds details to previous NCR reports, to wit:
Rather than an outright ban on the admission of homosexuals, the document
will disqualify "those who practice homosexuality, who possess deeply rooted
homosexual tendencies, or who sustain the so-called 'gay culture.' "
To make the distinction between "deeply rooted tendencies" and transitory
behavior, the document indicates that a candidate should be celibate for at
least three years prior to ordination to the diaconate, which usually
precedes ordination to the priesthood.
It is up to bishops, seminary rectors and religious superiors, according to
this summary of the document, to ascertain the "affective maturity" of
candidates for the priesthood.
Tornielli reports that the document is signed by the prefect of the
Congregation for Catholic Education, Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, and dated
Nov. 4. He indicates the document received the approval of Pope Benedict XVI
on Aug. 31.
The document, according to the report, has three chapters:
Affective Maturity and Spiritual Paternity
Homosexuality and Ordained Ministry
Discernment of the Worthiness of Candidates on the Part of the Church
According to Tornielli, the document states that there is no right to
ordination, and that it's up to the church to determine a candidate's
worthiness. Spiritual directors are encouraged to determine if a candidate
has reached "affective maturity" and is free of "sexual problems
incompatible with the priesthood," though without violating confidentiality.
If a spiritual director feels a candidate cannot meet this standard, he
should try to dissuade the candidate from moving forward.
The document affirms, according to Tornielli's report, that homosexual
persons must be treated with "respect and delicacy."