Sunday, December 11, 2016

Vatican confirms ban on homosexual candidates for priesthood

The Vatican has confirmed that homosexual men should not be ordained to the priesthood.

In a new instruction for the training of seminarians, entitled The Gift of the Priestly Vocation, the Congregation for the Clergy says that the Church “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 new Vatican document quotes the policy set forth in a 2005 statement from the Congregation for Catholic Education: “If a candidate practices homosexuality or presents deep-seated homosexual tendencies, his spiritual director as well as his confessor have the duty to dissuade him in conscience from proceeding towards ordination.” 

That 2005 directive has been widely ignored in many dioceses, with seminary directors claiming that the caution applies only to openly practicing homosexuals.

The clear confirmation that homosexuals should not be ordained to the priesthood comes in a sweeping document that sets new standards for the training of priests throughout the world. 

In releasing the document, which carried the approval of Pope Francis, the Congregation for the Clergy explains that the last directive governing priestly formation was released in 1970 (and later amended in 1985), and more recent papal teachings called for a new set of standards. 

This new document constitutes a model for priestly formation—a Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis—and the Congregation for the Clergy instructs the episcopal conference of each country to prepare its own new local standards based on this Ratio Fundamentalis.

The Vatican guidelines emphasize the need for thorough intellectual training for seminarians, and also a strong spiritual formation. The document stresses the importance of training young men to dedicate themselves to Christ and the Church. 

“Priestly ordination requires, in the one who receives it, a complete giving of himself for the service of the People of God, as an image of Christ the spouse,” the document says.

The document also says that priests should be trained to guard against “clericalism” and against the temptation to seek popularity; they should be warned not to “think about the Church as a merely human institution.”

In an interview posted by the Congregation for the Clergy along The Gift of the Priestly Vocation, Cardinal Benjamin Stella, the prefect of the Congregation, called particular attention to the document’s focus on the character of candidates for the priesthood. 

Cardinal Stella observed that “one cannot be a priest without balance of mind and heart and without affective maturity, and every unresolved lacuna or problem in this area risks becoming gravely harmful, both for the person as well as for the People of God.”

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