Rome to forbid ordination of homosexuals
BY SIMON CALDWELL
HOMOSEXUAL men may soon be barred from entering the Catholic priesthood under new regulations being drafted by the Vatican.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and the Congregation for Education have produced a policy document which states that homosexuals should neither be admitted to the seminary nor be ordained.
According to reports, the document is currently being considered by the Pope and has also been circulated among canon lawyers, theologians and other experts before it is published, possibly in the next few weeks.
Though the Vatican has frowned upon the ordination of gay seminarians for a number of years, it is understood that the new norms have been prompted by the clerical abuse scandals that have swept the United States since February.
Church officials have observed that most cases involved offences against young men and teenage boys rather than pre-pubescent children, concluding that homosexuality was at the heart of the problem.
Sources suggest that new psychological tests could be introduced to screen out gays from the seminaries.
The new rules are expected to stop short of a blanket ban on the admission of homosexuals, but will make it difficult for any to enter seminaries unless they can demonstrate exceptional psychological maturity.
They would be supported by the teaching in The Catechism of the Catholic Church that homosexual orientation was "objectively disordered".
But Dr Timothy Potts, chairman of Quest. a pastoral support group for gay and lesbian Catholics, said such measures could reduce the intake of seminaries by half "overnight". since he believed many candidates for the priesthood were gay.
"The curial officials are looking for a scapegoat," said Dr Potts, who himself spent four years at seminary in Ushaw, Durham. "The attack on gay people here is an attempt to deflect from the real issue which is the behaviour of the bishops."
He added: 'The vast majority of gay priests have never interfered with children sexually ... the vast majority have done nothing of that sort at all."
The first signs that the Vatican planned to take a stern new line on homosexual candidates for the priesthood came in March when the Pope's spokesman, Dr Joaquin Navarro-Valls told the New York Times that "people with these inclinations just cannot be ordained".
His views echoed those of Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of the CDF, who had earlier described a homosexual inclination as "a temptation that, for whatever reason, has become so predominant in a person's life as to become a force shaping the entire outlook of the person".
Archbishop Bertone, who was last week appointed to the mixed commission to revise the US bishops' child protection charter, which had been rejected by the Vatican, said: "Persons with a homosexual inclination should not be admitted to the seminary."
As the crisis in the US escalated thic year prominent American Church leaders have emerged to blame homosexuals for their problems.
In April, Cardinal Francis Stafford, who is based in the Vatican, said paedophilia formed a "significant minority" of the clerical abuse cases and that most in fact involved homosexual abuse. Then, on the eve of the US bishops' child protection meeting in June, Jesuit Cardinal Avery Dulles said many bishops wanted to screen out gay seminarians "given the large proportion of offences against adolescent boys".
The most significant developments came in September, however, when the Pope instructed the Brazilian bishops not to ordain men with "obvious signs of affective deviations".
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