- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Vatican’s long-awaited new guidelines on homosexual seminarians were released yesterday, barring even celibate homosexuals from seminary.

“Those who are actively homosexual, have deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called gay culture” should be barred, the nine-page document said, chiefly because the priest represents Jesus Christ as “head, shepherd and spouse” of the church.

It was termed “a purge” by some Catholics and given faint praise by others who called on bishops to enforce it.

“Some bishops will use this document to do the right thing, and some others will ignore it,” said Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute.

“Where you’ll see its enforcement is where you’ll see increases in vocations. When the priesthood is shown to be manly, sacrificial and orthodox, you’ll see young men willing to step forward and become priests.”

The Vatican held no press conference to introduce “Concerning the Criteria of Vocational Discernment Regarding Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in View of their Admission to Seminaries and Holy Orders.”

The Vatican also released yesterday in L’Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican daily, an interview with Monsignor Tony Anatrella, a French Jesuit and psychologist. He called homosexuality “an incomplete and immature part of human sexuality.”

Liberal Catholic groups said they got the message and accused the Vatican of starting a witch hunt.

“How did the pope decide that God has stopped inviting gay men to the priesthood after 2000 years?” said Chicago-based Call to Action.

“This edict will not stop gay men from entering the seminary but will force them back into the closet, which will foster secrecy, deceit and unhealthy sexual maturation.”

Known as an “instruction,” the document is considered canon law. Pope Benedict XVI signed it Aug. 31, barely four months after his election.

The document said homosexuality was more a state that one can mature out of or overcome and allows an exception for those men whose “delayed adolescence” led to homosexual acts. Even those candidates must have been celibate for three years.

“My guess is … it would refer to late adolescence where maybe there were homosexual tendencies or some experimentation when they were 18 to 19 years old,” said Monsignor Steven Rohlfs, rector of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.

By the time a man is in his mid-30s, “you’re not going to adjust their sexual orientation,” he said.

The document pointedly instructed bishops, rectors of seminaries and spiritual directors or confessors to weed out a homosexual candidate, saying they have “the duty to dissuade him, in conscience, from proceeding towards ordination.”

The Rev. James Haley, a priest in the Diocese of Arlington who was silenced by his bishop in 2001 for saying large numbers of Arlington pastors are homosexual, said the instruction “needs something with teeth” to enforce it.

“Seminary rectors and many of the bishops have either been homosexual or homosexually tolerant to an extreme degree,” he said. “There needs to be some sort of consequence for those who do become priests knowing they are gay or spiritual directors who know the seminarians are gay but do not dissuade them from the priesthood.

“We do know there’s a lot of priests out there who are gay and who see nothing wrong with it. And a lot of these guys are chancellors, vocation directors, seminary rectors and vicar generals.”

The Archdiocese of Washington said the document affirms its “long-held practices” on seminary candidates.

Monsignor Rohlfs said nothing would change at his 156-student institution.

“There’s absolutely nothing new in this document but a restatement of policies that should have been followed for years,” he said. “It’s a reminder to take care of this character disorder.”


Key points from the Vaticans new official rules dealing with homosexuality in Catholic seminaries:

“The Church, even while deeply respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to seminary or holy orders those who are actively homosexual, have deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called gay culture.”

“The negative consequences that can result from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies should not be obscured.”

“When dealing, instead, with homosexual tendencies that might only be a manifestation of a transitory problem, as, for example, delayed adolescence, these must be clearly overcome at least three years before diaconal ordination.”

“It would be gravely dishonest for a candidate to hide his own homosexuality, regardless of everything, to arrive at ordination.”

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