Posted October 6, 2005
Recently there has been much speculation about a “witch hunt” to eliminate
anyone who is a homosexual from the seminary. One reason for the flurry of
interest in this issue was a statement made by Archbishop Edwin O’Brien. The
following Catholic News Service story adds clarification to the proposed
visitations of church officials to U.S. seminaries ordered by Rome. In a day
and age in which “hot issues” immediately make the press, prudence would
dictate to wait before jumping to conclusions and to seek out as many sides
to an issue as possible. Hopefully the following information connected with
other information on our website will help to get to the truth of the
Archbishop says he's not speaking for Vatican
on gays in seminaries
Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The archbishop overseeing a Vatican-run inspection of
U.S. seminaries said that he was not speaking for the Vatican or the U.S.
bishops when he said he opposed admitting to seminaries men who have engaged
in homosexual activity in the past or who have strong homosexual tendencies.
"I was reflecting my personal opinion and offering a prudential practice
based on 12 years experience as rector (president) of two U.S. seminaries,"
said Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien, head of the U.S. Archdiocese for the
Military Services, in a Sept. 30 statement.
Msgr. Francis J. Maniscalco, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops'
spokesman, told Catholic News Service Oct. 3 that currently in the United
States, decisions regarding the admission of homosexuals into seminaries
"are made at the diocesan level and at the level of religious superiors."
Archbishop O'Brien is coordinator of the apostolic visitations of more than
220 U.S. seminaries and houses of formation that began this academic year
under the supervision of the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education
and with the cooperation of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
His statement was posted on the USCCB Web site. It did not retract his
position regarding the suitability of homosexual candidates for seminary
"I do not speak in an official capacity for either the Holy See or the USCCB
on this matter," he said regarding the admission of gays into seminaries.
"It is an extremely serious error for the media or any segment of the public
to reduce the visitation to one issue," he said.
The archbishop added, however, that homosexuality will be an important issue
investigated in the seminary visitations because the current cultural
environment has created ambiguities about it.
"There can develop, even among men preparing for the priesthood, an
ambiguity both about the church's teaching with regard to homosexuality and
even whether some homosexual activity could be compatible with celibacy," he
"Such ambiguity is not consistent with helping men to develop a mature
commitment to living out celibacy every day for the rest of their lives,"
the archbishop said.
Archbishop O'Brien criticized linking the visitations to news reports that
the Vatican may soon issue a document about the admission of homosexuals to
seminaries. He noted that the news reports said the document has been in
preparation for several years and is aimed at the entire church.
"Connecting the possible release of this document to either the visitation
or the sex abuse crisis in the United States in 2002 ignores these facts,"
"The visitation is an assessment of institutions, and not of individuals, to
see whether our seminaries and houses of formation are doing the work they
were established to do -- to train men to be Catholic priests who accurately
and fully convey the church's teachings to their people and who live out
their lifelong priestly commitments, especially with regard to celibacy," he
The archbishop said his role in the visitations is limited to overseeing the
logistics of the inspections. He added that he will not see the reports the
teams of visitors send to the education congregation and that the
congregation has the responsibility of writing the final evaluation.
Archbishop O'Brien made his remarks about homosexuals in an early September
interview with the National Catholic Register.
"I think anyone who has engaged in homosexual activity, or has strong
homosexual inclinations, would be best not to apply to a seminary and not be
accepted into a seminary," he told the Register.
He added that "the Holy See should be coming out with a document about
The visitations were organized after the child sex abuse scandals involving
clergy erupted in 2002 to check on the training future priests were