- The Washington Times - Monday, September 12, 2005


The American prelate overseeing a sweeping Vatican evaluation of every seminary in the United States told a weekly newspaper that men with “strong homosexual inclinations” should not be enrolled, even if they have remained celibate for years.

Archbishop Edwin O’Brien made the comments to the National Catholic Register newspaper as Roman Catholics await word of a much-anticipated Vatican document regarding whether homosexuals should be barred from the priesthood. Bishop O’Brien and several other U.S. bishops have said they expect that document to be released soon.

“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 to be accepted into a seminary,” Bishop O’Brien told the independent newspaper. He said that even homosexuals who have been celibate for a decade or more should not be admitted, the Register reported in its Sept. 4-10 edition.

Bishop O’Brien, who leads the Archdiocese for the Military Services in Washington, declined to comment.

The Vatican ordered the seminary review three years ago in response to the clergy sex-abuse crisis to look for anything that contributed to the scandal. The evaluation is set to begin later this month, and much of the focus is expected to be on sexuality, including what seminarians are taught about maintaining their vow of celibacy.

The Vatican agency overseeing the evaluation — the Congregation for Catholic Education — also reportedly is drawing up guidelines for accepting candidates for the priesthood that could address the question of homosexual seminarians. The Catholic Church considers homosexual relationships “intrinsically disordered.”

A senior Vatican official had suggested previously that the document might have been shelved, but told the Associated Press yesterday that he cannot rule out that a Vatican office might issue such a document. Bishop O’Brien told the Register that, “The Holy See should be coming out with a document about this.”

James Hitchcock, an expert in church history at St. Louis University, said that while it is impossible to know what Pope Benedict XVI has decided regarding the document, the archbishop’s comments should not be dismissed as simply one man’s view.

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