Catholic World News

Rochester bishop ‘happy to receive’ celibate gay seminarians

March 03, 2011

In an interview with a local newspaper, Bishop Matthew Clark of Rochester appeared to take issue with a 2005 Vatican document that reaffirmed that men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” should not be ordained.

“I know some magnificent gay priests,” said Bishop Clark, who has led the upstate New York diocese since 1979. “If they are openly gay in terms of living a lifestyle that is incompatible with their basic commitments, we have to intervene. But I have always tried to be open to such candidates.”

In 2005, the Congregation for Catholic Education stated 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.’”

Bishop Clark added:

There was, as you know, a lot of attention given to that by the Holy See over the years, and one of their statements left the impression that under no circumstances could a person of gay orientation be ordained a priest. And that's not so.

If a person's sense of himself as a gay individual inevitably leads him to campaign against the Church's formal teachings or live a lifestyle that is upsetting to the community or scandalous, such a person would not be an apt candidate for the priesthood. But if a person understands that and lives a lifestyle that is compatible with what we ask of all of our priests, then I'm happy to receive them.

Bishop Clark’s comments echo those he made in late 2005, when he criticized the Congregation for Catholic Education’s document.

“The fundamental concern of formation for a life of celibate chastity is for sexual maturity, not sexual orientation,” he said at the time. “Good seminary formation needs to provide an environment in which both heterosexual and homosexual candidates can grow to commit themselves wholeheartedly, even joyfully, to chaste and faithful celibacy.”

A recent Catholic World Report article found that in 2008, the Diocese of Rochester ranked 175th out of the 176 Latin Rite US dioceses in its ratio of seminarians to Catholics.

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Show 7 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Mar. 04, 2011 12:51 AM ET USA

    At the very least, the good Bishop should watch his word choice. "Homosexual" denotes just an orientation. On the other hand, "gay" now denotes one who is not only actively homosexual in his personal life, but supports the agenda of gay activism and gay rights. It's nonsense, then, for the Bishop to say "I know some magnificent gay priests." He might as well say, "I know some magnificent atheist priests." Or maybe that's next.

  • Posted by: Frodo1945 - Mar. 03, 2011 10:24 PM ET USA

    This is Rochester. This is Bishop Clark. No news here.

  • Posted by: parochus - Mar. 03, 2011 5:41 PM ET USA

    July 15, 2012, for those of you who are wondering.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 03, 2011 3:33 PM ET USA

    Who among us have a pastor who in bent towards homosexuality and at the same time fatherly?

  • Posted by: pauljworthington637024 - Mar. 03, 2011 10:19 AM ET USA

    Fundementally, a priest is to have a masculine nature, such that Christ had. The priest is married to the Bride of Christ, the Church. This in itself not only precludes women from becoming priestesses, but homosexual men from becoming priests. Homosexuals by their very nature have their orientation as their distinguishing factor. It's funny that when the Pope appeared to allow condom use to prevent AIDS all the libs took it as gospel, but not when he puts something in an encyclical.

  • Posted by: samuel.doucette1787 - Mar. 03, 2011 8:19 AM ET USA

    When can this wolf is sheep's clothing retire?

  • Posted by: - Mar. 03, 2011 8:14 AM ET USA

    So, some of us appear not to have learned from the scandal. Society segregates the sexes sometimes. Priests don't live in convents with nuns. Nuns don't live in rectories with priests. The examples are countless even in secular society if it is healthy. The assumption is that we have thereby bypassed the issue of sexual temptation in intimate circumstances: homosexuality throws a curve ball into that equation. It will always be a problem.