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Catholic Culture Liturgical Living
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Vatican confirms ban on homosexual candidates for priesthood

December 07, 2016

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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  • Posted by: rjbennett1294 - Dec. 08, 2016 4:15 AM ET USA

    "Thorough intellectual training." "Strong spiritual formation." Under those conditions, it may be difficult for seminaries to exclude "rigid" candidates, but that will just have to be done somehow, won't it?

  • Posted by: hibee - Dec. 08, 2016 3:48 AM ET USA

    No need for the Holy Father to judge when there are obviously so many others to do so. Abuse, "evil advice",impropriety is obviously wrong done by any person, especially one of the cloth. Such has been done by practising men and woman with deep seated heterosexual and homosexual tendencies. One can love and serve the Lord and his people in a pure and true way no matter how ones gift of sexuality is manifested.

  • Posted by: rfr46 - Dec. 08, 2016 3:38 AM ET USA

    I only hope that the so-called human rights commissions in various Western countries will not attack the Church for this (for example by revoking the Church's tax exempt status.

  • Posted by: Mike in Toronto - Dec. 07, 2016 8:01 PM ET USA

    Can we hope that those who abuse the Pope's "who am I to judge" will now shut up?

  • Posted by: feedback - Dec. 07, 2016 7:52 PM ET USA

    This is great news! Giving new hope for the future.

  • Posted by: geoffreysmith1 - Dec. 07, 2016 7:45 PM ET USA

    I have always considered homosexuality to be a diriment impediment to receiving holy orders, much like femininity bars women from the priesthood.

  • Posted by: JimKcda - Dec. 07, 2016 6:16 PM ET USA

    Now if we could just get rid of the ones that are already there! What destruction they have done! And how many holy young men have been driven out of seminaries by these wolves in sheep clothing. How many of our children have received evil advice in the confessional from these perverts. At the very least they ought to be removed from schools, parishes, publications and other influential positions.

  • Posted by: brenda22890 - Dec. 07, 2016 4:41 PM ET USA

    This is a wonderful document and gives hope to the Church's sometimes bleak outlook!

  • Posted by: ElizabethD - Dec. 07, 2016 3:45 PM ET USA

    As someone who has tangled with a religious order novice master priest who insisted that men with homosexual tendencies must be encouraged to own and affirm the sexual identity as homosexual and form their spirituality based on it, I extremely much welcome this being reiterated under Pope Francis' pontificate. That religious order suffered great harm because of homosexual priests and their ways of thinking. This was in the Milwaukee diocese that suffered much from a homosexual bishop (Weakland).