The Italian news agency Adista has leaked the complete text of the long-awaited Instruction from the Congregation for Catholic Education which definitively excludes the admission of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies to the priesthood.
The Instruction “Concerning The Criteria Of Vocational Discernment Regarding Persons With Homosexual Tendencies In View Of Their Admission To Seminaries And Holy Orders” will be officially released next week at the Vatican, but Adista—which calls itself a “progressive” Catholic news agency—leaked the Italian-language document.
The Congregation says it does not intend the document to address “all the issues in the affective or sexual realm that require attentive discernment throughout the entire period of formation,” but rather to offer norms regarding the particular question of whether or not to admit to the seminary or to Holy Orders candidates who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies.
The six-page document, which appeared on the internet Tuesday, maintains that a candidate to the priesthood should attain affective maturity that will allow him to “to relate properly” with men and women, “developing in him a true sense of spiritual fatherhood for the ecclesial community that will be entrusted to him.”
It also reiterates that the Catechism of the Catholic Church distinguishes between homosexual acts and homosexual tendencies. Regarding acts, it teaches that “these are presented grave sins” and are considered “intrinsically immoral and contrary to the natural law. As a consequence, they can never be approved under any circumstance.”
Regarding “deep-seated” homosexual tendencies, the Instruction points out that they “also are objectively disordered and are often a trial for such people.” Nevertheless, such individuals “should be must be accepted with respect and sensitivity,” as they “are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter.”
Thus, the document states, “while deeply respecting the persons in question,” the Church “cannot admit to Seminary or Holy Orders those who are actively homosexual, have deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called gay culture.”
“Such people, in fact, find themselves in a situation that seriously obstructs them from properly relating to men and women,” the Instruction continues. “The negative consequences that can result from the Ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies should not be obscured.”
At the same time, the Instruction notes that in the case of persons with homosexual tendencies that “might only be a manifestation of a transitory problem, as, for example, delayed adolescence, these must be clearly overcome at least three years before diaconal Ordination.”
No question of rights
In Chapter 3 the Instruction reiterates the “two inseparable aspects of every vocation: the free gift of God and the responsible freedom of man.” In this sense, “the mere desire to become a priest is not sufficient and there is no right to receive sacred Ordination.”
“It rests with the Church – in her responsibility to define the necessary requirements for reception of the Sacraments instituted by Christ – to discern the suitability of the one who wishes to enter the Seminary, to accompany him during the years of formation, and to call him to Holy Orders, if he is judged to possess the required qualities,” the Instruction states.
It goes on to affirm that the “formation of the future priest must articulate, in an essential complementarity, the four dimensions of formation: human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral. In this context, it is important to recall the particular importance of human formation as the necessary foundation of all formation. To admit a candidate to diaconal Ordination, the Church must verify, among other things, that the candidate for priesthood has attained affective maturity.”
Although “the candidate himself is primarily responsible for his own formation,” the Instruction makes note of the responsibility of the bishop or superior regarding the suitability of the candidate, and “in the case of a serious doubt,” he should not be admitted to ordination.
It also mentions the role of the spiritual director in the formation process, who “must clearly recall the Church’s demands regarding priestly chastity and the specific affective maturity of the priest.”
The spiritual director should help the candidate “discern if he has the necessary qualities,” and it is his “obligation to evaluate all the qualities of the personality and assure that the candidate does not have sexual disorders that are incompatible with priesthood.”
“It would be gravely dishonest for a candidate to hide his own homosexuality, regardless of everything, to arrive at ordination. Such an inauthentic attitude does not correspond to the spirit of truth, loyalty, and availability that must characterize the personality of one who considers himself called to serve Christ and his Church in the ministerial priesthood,” the document states.
In its conclusion, the Instruction reaffirms the need for bishops, superiors and all those responsible to “carry out an attentive discernment regarding the suitability of candidates to Holy Orders, from the admission to Seminary to Ordination. This discernment must be done in light of a concept of ministerial priesthood that is in conformity with the teaching of the Church.”
According to the version published by Adista, Pope Benedict XVI approved the Instruction and ordered its publication on August 31. Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, signed it in Rome on November 4, 2004, the feast of St. Charles Borromeo, Patron of Seminaries.
The complete text can be found at: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/document.php?n=98