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Catholic priests must be straight men, and other new old guidelines from the Vatican

Catholic priests must be straight men, and other new old guidelines from the Vatican

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.’

From Crux:

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)

Social media.

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.


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Prof Christopher Seitz

Glad to see an acknowlegdment that there is not an association being made.

“…those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture'” is the language being used.

So there isn’t a more category ‘someone with a homosexual orientation’ more simply.

David Allen

There is no such thing as deep-seated homosexual tendencies, you are either gay or you aren’t. Period. Full stop.

So, regardless of how silly they wish to present themselves, they are denying men with a homosexual orientation the opportunity to become a Roman priest and giving no logical reason for their stand.

David Allen

And those statements are presented in the larger document in that exact order; keep out the homosexuals and in the next section, protect the children & vulnerable adults. But, no, there isn’t anything in the larger document that I can find that associates the two.

However, the document gives no logical rationale for why someone with a homosexual orientation should not become a Roman priest. It just makes the unsupported claim that “such persons find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly with men and women.”

Prof Christopher Seitz

Where does the document focus on gays as abusers? It seems to focus on the priests being trained.

Jeld Liko

Me too. The post presents third-party comments on “LGBTQ and Priesthood” and “Clergy sexual abuse” sequentially, but I don’t see a connection between the two issues except that the author of the post chose to present the information in that order. Am I missing something?

Paul Woodrum

When you say more molestations of children are committed by heterosexuals than homosexuals is that based on number of cases or percentage of cases. I would surmise that percentage of cases for each group would be about the same.

David Allen

No, that is from the reports of law enforcement agencies. Most sexual predators of children of either gender are men who self-identify as heterosexual.

Anne Bay

Talk about antiquated! Statistically almost all molestations are committed by heterosexuals! They should contact Dr. Patrick Carnes. There are experts available to help so that they wouldn’t make policy based on their misunderstanding/misinterpretation, and just plain ignorance of complex issues regarding human sexuality. It’s awkward that they say they just want “heterosexuals” -is there a litmus test for that?! Friends that I have known for many years, who were married, had children, and seemed “heterosexual” later came to terms with their being gay. In some cases this meant leaving a long-term marriage (and with their wife’s support) and entering into a new same-sex relationship. Human sexuality is complex-not something that stays the same for every person and is more like a continuum. It’s tragic that with all the degrees a lot of R.C. clergy get, no one seems to have a clue how human sexuality works! USC and UCLA, Yale University, Harvard school of medicine, all have programs with the latest information regarding these issues! Added onto the agreement of heterosexual clergy, why not go the extra mile and allow the priests to marry? It hasn’t hurt the Episcopal Church to have married clergy as the early church had. Archbishop Cramner was married among others. But the R.C. church to not allow gay/lesbian clergy or women clergy or married clergy, sure reduces the field! There’s little ability for their clergy to come from wider spectrums of background, interests, socio-economics, and human sexuality diversity. The older I get the more I realise how each person brings perspectives to their vocations, jobs, groups, government callings, etc. that if missed, lessens all of us. And that’s a shame. So, still waiting for the ‘old boys club’ to get some modernization. Bottom line: Staying the same prevents healthy growth-spirutal-psychological-physical. Surely the R.C. church can reach new heights of change with some thought!

leslie marshall

First & foremost, the Catholic Church is looking for men that value obedience to their Church’s laws.

They are looking for men that agree with the Catholic teaching that homosexuality is against God’s word, and they are looking for men that agree that celibacy (which is part of human sexuality) is a crucial aspect of the priesthood. [But those requirements are not related to rampant sex abuse cases in their church. ] At least, I don’t think they are.

It’s a given, (well, it should be!) that no Catholic Priest should ever commit any crimes at all. And if they do, they deserve defrocking and prison time.

David Allen

Catholic teaching is not that homosexuality is against God’s word, a crude way to state it, but that acting on one’s homosexual nature, by having sexual relations with someone of the same gender, is a violation of Catholic teaching. And that is predicated on the Catholic teaching that one is not to engage in sexual relations outside of marriage, which Catholic teaching states is only possible between one man & one woman.

If a man is committed to living the rule of celibacy required of Latin-rite secular priests or the vow of chastity required of religious priests, what difference should his sexual orientation make?

But these are the same looney folks that have taught that a loving sexual relationship between two men is more sinful than a man raping his step-daughter. The rationale being that the rape is at least a heterosexual relationship!

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