Monday, November 03, 2008

Vatican on Seminaries: The "Gay Ban" Stands

Soon to come from the Congregation for Catholic Education: the final report on the Apostolic Visitation of US seminaries, which was conducted at each of the nation's 229 houses during the 2005-6 academic year.

In the meantime, however, the Roman dicastery responsible for universities and priestly formation issued a 15-page text last week on the role of psychology in the training of clergy. Yet in a follow up on its controversial 2005 document barring "those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called 'gay culture'" from the long black line, the congregation's head returned to the theme at Thursday's press conference for the release of the new instruction:
The “Guidelines for the Use of Psychology in the Admission and Formation of Candidates for the Priesthood” states that psychological evaluation should be used when there is a suspicion of “psychic disturbances” or “grave immaturity” in a candidate — such as uncertain sexual identity or deep-seated homosexual tendencies.

It also said that in judging a candidate’s capacity for living the charism of celibacy with joy and faithfulness, his sexual orientation must be evaluated....

One lingering doubt about the homosexuality document was whether a homosexually oriented man who was nevertheless committed to celibacy could be ordained a priest. At Thursday’s press conference, Cardinal [Zenon] Grocholewski gave a rather forceful “no,” and here are the essential parts of his answer:

“The candidate does not necessarily have to practice homosexuality (to be excluded.) He can even be without sin. But if he has this deeply seated tendency, he cannot be admitted to priestly ministry precisely because of the nature of the priesthood, in which a spiritual paternity is carried out. Here we are not talking about whether he commits sins, but whether this deeply rooted tendency remains.”

Cardinal Grocholewski was then asked why, if a man with strong heterosexual tendencies but who is celibate can be ordained, the same could not be true of a man with homosexual tendencies? His answer:

“Because it’s not simply a question of observing celibacy as such. In this case, it would be a heterosexual tendency, a normal tendency. In a certain sense, when we ask why Christ reserved the priesthood to men, we speak of this spiritual paternity, and maintain that homosexuality is a type of deviation, a type of irregularity, as explained in two documents of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Therefore it is a type of wound in the exercise of the priesthood, in forming relations with others. And precisely for this reason we say that something isn’t right in the psyche of such a man. We don’t simply talk about the ability to abstain from these kinds of relations.”