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Vatican Document Bans Active Gays as Priests
LA Times
Tracy Wilkinson, Times Staff Writer
November 29, 2005

ROME -- The Vatican today formally released instructions that block active gay men from the priesthood, a long-anticipated document that has opened a divisive debate over how it will be applied and whether it will have a healing or detrimental effect on the Roman Catholic Church.

Church conservatives applauded the document for taking a strong stance against what many see as an immoral "gay subculture" within seminaries and church life, and for establishing clearer restrictions on who is suitable to become a priest.

Liberals said they feared that the rules would be used to keep qualified men out of a depleted priesthood because of their sexual identity, even when celibate.

This is the first major instruction to be issued by Pope Benedict XVI, and the fact that it focused on homosexuality reflected the German pontiff's concern over morals he sees eroded by Western secular culture.

Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, author of the eight-page document as prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, said today it was crucial for the church to speak out now.

"Many are defending a position in which the homosexual condition is considered a normal condition of the human being, almost like a third gender," Grocholewski told Vatican Radio. "That absolutely contradicts human anthropology and, according to the church, contradicts natural law."

The document, which was leaked in its entirety on a Catholic news website last week, says that men with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" or who sustain a "gay culture" may not become priests. But men who have "overcome" tendencies that were "transitory" and who have remained celibate for three years before joining the seminary are eligible.

Father Robert Gahl, a theologian, praised the document for establishing "more challenging expectations" for men who want to become priests. Homosexuals are clearly barred, he said, because the rules require a man with homosexual tendencies not only to have lived a celibate life but to have overcome those tendencies long before entering the seminary.

"Anyone who considers himself homosexual ought to realize that as such, the church is not calling him to the priesthood," said Gahl, who teaches at Rome's St. Cross Pontifical University, which is run by the conservative Opus Dei organization.

"The document is strong in that it restates in this time of crisis in the church what has always been the traditional teaching of the church, [that homosexuals] are objectively disordered," Gahl said. "It screens out candidates who suffer from emotional immaturity, especially in a sexual area."

Father Mark R. Francis, superior general of the Rome-based Clerics of St. Viator, said some of the language was so ambiguous that the guidelines would be interpreted and applied differently from diocese to diocese. For example, what is meant by "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" and by "transitory" homosexuality, he asked.

"There is a question of what the document says, and what good pastoral practice is," he said. "We have some very good gay priests who are gay in terms of their orientation, but who are celibate and chaste."

He added: "If the document is interpreted in a very strict manner, it would be an impoverishment for the church and would exclude excellent people. There will have to be prudential judgment on who is accepted into seminaries."

God calls a gay man to the priesthood. The Pope says God screwed up and says go away. Good grief. What a pompous self righteous jackass. How do Catholics put up with this imbecile?