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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."