Breaking News Stories
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– Twenty-First Century Crusades?
The Pope laying even greater emphasis than John Paul II on both doctrine and
authority of the Church.
Vatican: Sexually Active Gays
The Vatican says homosexuals who are sexually active or support "gay
culture" are unwelcome in the priesthood unless they have overcome their
homosexual tendencies for at least three years, according to a church
document posted on the Internet by an Italian Catholic news agency.
The long-awaited document is scheduled to be released by the Vatican on
Nov. 29. A church official who has read the document confirmed the
authenticity of the Internet posting by the Adista news agency. He spoke
on condition of anonymity because the document has not yet been
officially released by the Vatican.
The document said that "the church, while deeply respecting the people
in question, cannot admit to the seminary and the sacred orders those
who practice homosexuality, present deeply rooted homosexual tendencies
or support so-called gay culture."
"Those people find themselves, in fact, in a situation that presents a
grave obstacle to a correct relationship with men and women. One cannot
ignore the negative consequences that can stem from the ordination of
people with deeply rooted homosexual tendencies," it said.
"If instead it is a case of homosexual tendencies that are merely the
expression of a transitory problem, for example as in the case of an
unfinished adolescence, they must however have been clearly overcome for
at least three years before ordination as a deacon."
Vatican prohibitions on active homosexuals becoming priests are not new.
A key 1961 Vatican document on selecting candidates for the priesthood
made clear homosexuals should be barred.
However, the sex abuse scandal among priests in the United States and
elsewhere has led some to call for new restrictions.
Estimates of the number of gays in U.S. seminaries and the priesthood
range from 25 percent to 50 percent, according to a review of research
by the Rev. Donald Cozzens, a former seminary rector and author of "The
Changing Face of the Priesthood."
The Vatican press office announced in November 2002, at the height of
the clergy sex scandal in the United States, that the Congregation for
Catholic Education was drawing up guidelines for accepting candidates
for the priesthood that would address the question of whether gays
should be barred. However, the document reportedly had been in the works
well before then.
The document, called an "Instruction" is only five pages, including
footnotes. It was signed by the prefect and secretary of the
congregation on Nov. 4 and says it was approved by Pope Benedict XVI on
The sex abuse scandals have forced an unprecedented introspection into
the clergy and how to train future priests.
In September, Vatican-directed inspectors started visiting all 229
American seminaries. Part of their mission is to seek any "evidence of
homosexuality" at a time when some Catholics have put forward the highly
contested premise that gay priests were more likely to be responsible
for criminal behavior such as serial, same-sex molestation.
The Vatican has often visited the issue of homosexuality, reflecting an
unbending theological opposition but also an acknowledgment that
discrimination based on sexual preference is not justified.
In 2003, homosexuality was described as a "troubling moral and social
phenomenon" in a document by the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine
of the Faith, then headed by German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who
became Pope Benedict this year.
Vatican teaching also holds that homosexuals are "intrinsically
disordered." The church, however, says gays and lesbians should be
treated with compassion and dignity.