Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

Catholic World News News Feature

Vatican advises against homosexual seminary teachers December 02, 2005

Homosexual priests should not serve as teachers or administrators in Catholic seminaries, the Vatican has indicated.

In a letter to the world's bishops, accompanying the Instruction on homosexual seminary applicants that was made public this week, the Congregation for Catholic Education said that homosexual men "are not to be appointed as rectors or educators in seminaries."

The Vatican Instruction, barring homosexual men from admission to seminaries, has prompted a flurry of controversy. The cover letter, which only emerged in public view on December 1, seems sure to cause still more protests from homosexual clergy and their supporters. The letter was signed by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski and Archbishop Michael Miller-- the prefect and secretary, respectively, of the Congregation for Catholic Education-- who also signed the Instruction.

The letter emphasizes that the Instruction "does not call into question the validity of the ordination" of priests who have homosexual tendencies. However, the Vatican officials write, such priests should not serve in seminaries because of "the particular responsibility of those charged with the formation of future priests."

The cover letter also underlines the importance of the Vatican policy, stating that "it is clear that the aforementioned norms are to be faithfully observed by all superiors."

In their letter, Cardinal Grocholewski and Archbishop Miller trace the process that led to the publication of the new Instruction, beginning in 1996. They reveal that draft versions of the Instruction were prepared in 1998, 2002, and 2005, and circulated among several different Vatican dicasteries before the final document was approved by Pope Benedict XVI in August.

The Vatican officials note that the need for a clear policy regarding homosexual candidates for the priesthood had been "made more urgent by the current situation"-- an apparent reference to the sex-abuse crisis.

The cover letter, which was sent to bishops on November 4, tells them that the full text would be made public in the November 29 edition of L'Osservatore Romano. "Until that date, it remains strictly confidential," the letter says. Nonetheless, shortly after the letter was sent, excerpts began appearing in Italian newspapers, and on November 22 the entire document was posted on an Italian internet site.