The National Catholic Review reports on the Vatican’s release of The Gift of the Priestly Vocation, “a detailed set of guidelines and norms for priestly formation” released yesterday. The document (PDF link here) addresses a number of topics, including:
LGBTQ and the priesthood.
It reaffirms an instruction approved by Benedict in 2005, which said, “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.’
The section regarding accepting men who experience same-sex attraction draws most of its content from an Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders, released by the Congregation for Catholic Education in 2005 shortly after the election of emeritus Pope Benedict XVI.
Clergy sexual abuse.
“The greatest attention must be given to the theme of the protection of minors and vulnerable adults, being vigilant lest those who seek admission to a seminary or to 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 behavior in this area.” (CNS)
The document also recommends seminary and continuing education regarding abuse, and careful evaluation of candidates who have been turned down by others.
Climate change and the environment.
Reaffirming the requirement that seminarians study Catholic social teaching, the document says the education must include a study of climate change and other environmental threats.
“Protecting the environment and caring for our common home — the Earth — belong fully to the Christian outlook on man and reality,” the document says. Catholic priests must be “promoters of an appropriate care for everything connected to the protection of creation.” (CNS)
Seminarians should be encouraged to use social media to build relationships and for evangelization, the guidelines say, but seminary personnel will need to help the students use the media wisely and in a way that is healthy. (CNS)
The role of women.
The Congregation for Clergy recommends that women be on the staff of seminaries or teach at the universities where the candidates study and that seminarians’ ability to relate to and work with women be considered in the candidate’s evaluation, since the majority of parishioners with whom the future priest will work are women. (CNS)
Some background on the document itself, in Crux:
Just like the previous document was approved by Benedict XVI, the one released this week was approved by Pope Francis. However, in neither case were the documents signed by the pontiff, but by the heads of the Vatican department behind it.
In this case, that means Italian Cardinal Benamino Stella, prefect of the congregation, Archbishop Joel Mercier, Archbishop Jorge Carlos Patron Wong, and Monsignor Antonio Neri.
…and on its development and application:
The first draft of the document was written in the spring of 2014, and since then modified with the feedback received from several bishops conferences around the world, that read and reviewed it, along with that of Vatican departments such as the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic life, and so on.
Although there are a handful of exceptions, the new guidelines have a global scope, meaning, they’re to be implemented not only by bishops’ conferences but also by religious orders and personal prelatures. However, each country is also expected to produce their own national guidelines grounded in The Gift of the Priestly Vocation.