Holy See: more on admission of homosexuals to seminaries – “What part of ‘No’ didn’t you understand?”

A friend sent me something from L’Osservatore Romano which you may find very interesting.

What follows was a Rescriptum ex audientia.  This means that someone went in to meet with the Pope, asked a question which was also a written question probably submitted ahead of time, and obtained the response to that question in the meeting.  A rescript was usually something written on the same piece of paper with the query and then sent back, for the sake of brevity.  Simple things are handled simply.  The obvious doesn’t need a complicated process – thus the rescript.

In this case the rescript is a note from the Secretariate of State.  So, someone very high up, perhaps Card. Bertone, goes into the Pope to discuss their usual stack of stuff, and this question comes to the surface.

So what does the rescript say?

Here is the Italian first:

In riferimento al Documento della Congregazione per l’Educazione Cattolica ‘Istruzione circa i criteri di discernimento vocazionale riguardo alle persone con tendenze omosessuali in vista della loro ammissione al Seminario e agli Ordini sacri’, pubblicato dal menzionato Dicastero il 4 novembre 2005, e in seguito a numerose richieste di chiarimento giunte alla Sede Apostolica, si precisa che le disposizioni contenute in detta Istruzione valgono per tutte le Case di formazione al sacerdozio, comprese quelle che dipendono dai Dicasteri per le Chiese Orientali, per l’Evangelizzazione dei Popoli e per gli Istituti di Vita Consacrata e le Società di Vita Apostolica.

Il Sommo Pontefice, il giorno 8 del mese di aprile dell’anno del Signore 2008, ha approvato tale precisazione

Here is my translation:

In reference to the Document of the Congregation for Catholic Education, ‘Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders‘, published by the aforementioned Dicastery on 4 November 2005, and in consequence of numerous requests for clarification which have reached the Apostolic See, it state precisely that the dispositions contained in said Instruction are in force for all the houses of formation for the priesthood, including those which [juridically] depend on the Dicasteries for Oriental Churches, for the Evangelization of Peoples, and for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

The Supreme Pontiff, on the 8th day of April of the year of the Lord of 2008 approved this clarification.

Interesting no?

What does the rescript really say? 

First, a "house of formation" is basically a seminary.

Obviously some people out there didn’t want to accept the clear meaning of the the document from the Cong. for Catholic Education which says that men with deep seated homosexual tendencies, not just fleeting ideas, etc., should not be admitted to seminary. 

So, they wrote to the Holy See, "But Holy Father! But Holy Father!", I am sure they wrote, "This document from the Congregation can’t possibly apply to uusss!  After all, our seminary isn’t a diocesan seminary.  We have a _________ seminary!" 

Fill in the blank with

1) "seminary for Eastern Catholic priests, run by an eparchy, etc." – which falls under the jurisdiction of the Cong. for Oriental Churches
2) "seminary run not by a diocese, but one for priests destined for missionary service" – under Propaganda Fidei
3) "seminary for a religious order or institute"  – under the Cong. for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life

Basilically, what this clarification from the Pope does is day, there is no seminary in the world where this does not apply.

Homosexuals must not be admitted to any seminary in the world.  Period.

The aforementioned document from the Congregation for Catholic Education must be applied to all seminaries everywhere.  Just do it.

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24 Responses to Holy See: more on admission of homosexuals to seminaries – “What part of ‘No’ didn’t you understand?”

  1. John says:

    I wonder if it also applies to religious houses that do in house formation.

  2. William Byrd says:

    This “issue” is a complicated one. If one considers the sexual studies of the 20th Century, namely those conducted by Alfred Kinsey and others, one can’t deny the fact that many, if not most of us, are neither completely heterosexual or homosexual. Most persons are somewhere in between. This document fails makes no mention of bi-sexuality, only those with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies.” The fact remains that many, many Catholic clergy, for whatever reason, are homosexuals. I have been told by a dear friend that most priests in London (U. K.) are homosexuals, a few of them even practicing. While I am not condoning priests breaking their vow of celibacy, I think this issue is not over.

  3. Watching and waiting says:

    Surely a commitment to celibacy is the most important aspect of ‘sexual orientation’ to be discerned and determined in the process of formation? Who can sit in judgment of another’s ‘deep seated’ tendency? And how many good priests would the Church have been denied if the implications of the above had been strictly enforced throughout the ages? How more beautifully can one be ‘driven from the snare of the enemy’ than by a vocation to the celibate priesthood – ‘And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil’.

  4. Brian2 says:

    William — you are not really citing Kinsey are you? His studies had many many methodological problems — most importantly his lack of a truly representative sampling. At the time he did his most important studies, few people were willing to discuss sex very frankly. So most of his data came from a small segment of American society: most notably convicts, drifters and homosexuals ‘in the life’ as it were. Sometimes the subjects were paid for testimony. All of this runs in the face of statistical and methodological rules followed by the best in social science.

  5. From the Instruction from the Cong. for Catholic Education:

    2. … [T]he Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, believes it necessary to state clearly that the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders [1] those who practise homosexuality, [2] present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or [3] support the so-called “gay culture”.

    Such persons, in fact, find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women. One must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies.

    Different, however, would be the case in which one were dealing with homosexual tendencies that were only the expression of a transitory problem – for example, that of an adolescence not yet superseded. Nevertheless, such tendencies must be clearly overcome at least three years before ordination to the diaconate.

  6. Sissy says:

    Kinsey’s Secret: The Phony Science of the Sexual Revolution
    http://www.catholicculture.org/library/view.cfm?id=6036&repos=1&subrepos=&searchid=243563

  7. Chironomo says:

    Would it, or could it follow from this, that any Priest ordained after this proclamation went into effect, who was perhaps found later to have said tendencies or support the “gay lifestyle” could then be removed from the Priesthood? This is the only way I can understand this type of restriction to be effective….

  8. Cosmos says:

    Watching and waiting,

    “Surely a commitment to celibacy is the most important aspect of ‘sexual orientation’ to be discerned and determined in the process of formation?”

    Perhaps, but nevertheless it seems implicit in this document that a committment to celibacy is built on certain necessary physical, psychological, and spiritual foundations. To be homosexual is not to be in all ways equivalent to a heterosexual except for one small detail (I happen to be attratcted to these sexual characteristics instead of these…); rather, it is to have an extremely integral part of one’s personality fundamentally perverted and disordered. It is a great irony that many modern Catholics claim that the ancient Church was repressed and did not place enough emphasis on the power and centrality of sexual expereince in human life, but those same modern Catholics turn around and pretend that sexulaity it totally under control and a merely secondary concern when it comes to homosexuality. Granted, not all homosexuals are great sinners, nor do all have extreme proclivities, but they all do share a very deep-seated problem which makes celibacy difficult and leads to particularly grave scandals. It also cuts at the heart of being a pastor and a symbol of the preisthood. I think we can all agree that a heterosexual person might be committed to fidelity in marraige but have conditions or tendencies that make that desire difficult or impossible to realize– the situations are analogous.

    “Who can sit in judgment of another’s ‘deep seated’ tendency?”

    First of all, the document seems to assume that the candiate for the seminary is going to be honest with his superiors during his foundation. Even so, are you implying that one’s deep-seated sexual tendencies are beyond the grasp of spiritual advisors, psychiatristsm, and friends? I think the document is referring to “deep-seated” as somthing that is recurring and persistent or permanent as opposed to temporary and fleeting. I do not think it is referring to it as somthing in the deep netherworlds of the sub-conscious.

    “And how many good priests would the Church have been denied if the implications of the above had been strictly enforced throughout the ages?”

    I think that you think that the answer to this question is a lot. I am not sure that anyone knows. Similarly, there are lots of married men who think they have what it takes to be good priests, but the Church, in her wisdom, does not let them. We trust that even this is part of the divine plan.

    “How more beautifully can one be ‘driven from the snare of the enemy’ than by a vocation to the celibate priesthood – ‘And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil’.”

    The whole problem is that this does not seem to reflect the reality on the ground. By pretending that homosexuality is something so easily dealt with, overcome, or supressed the devil has done incredible damage to the Church. The idea that homosexuaols enter seminaries and start battle with the devil is simply ludicrous in light of the scandals we hear about all the time.

  9. Bill says:

    I thank God again and again for Pope Benedict. This reaffirms my faith that he will clean all houses, and finally bring us an end to the presence of predatory homosexuals in the priesthood.

  10. Larry says:

    I see this rescript as reaffirming the earlier document and I note that the Holy Father in speaking about the issue in the US mentioned not ordaining pediophiles. I was wondering if he was backing away from the all incluseive ban on homosexual entering the seminary. This is good news. However, the document makes no mention of those already ordained and I believe that would involve individual cases brought to the Roman Rota or other Canonical body. It may be taht this problem will not go away for many many years because of homosexuals who have been ordained. What we can pray for is that they like any other priest will abide by their vow of celibacy. Rember it is the action that is sinful. This rule simply recognizes that homosexuality is a serious disorder that precludes the Church from ordaining them as priests. Let us pray as well that seminaries will be obedient to the directive of the Holy See.

  11. RBrown says:

    This “issue” is a complicated one. If one considers the sexual studies of the 20th Century, namely those conducted by Alfred Kinsey and others, one can’t deny the fact that many, if not most of us, are neither completely heterosexual or homosexual.

    Kinsey himself was a switch-hitter. Gee, I wonder whether that affected his “scientific” findings.

    Most persons are somewhere in between. This document fails makes no mention of bi-sexuality, only those with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies.”

    Bisexuals are homosexual.

    Your error consists in assuming that there is something sexual in all human friendships–an approach that contradicts reality. I have several male friends and am sexually attracted to none of them. I also have several female friends (some married to the male friends) and am sexually attracted to only a few of them.

    It is low grade flim-flam to say that friendships between persons of the same gender are homosexual.

    The fact remains that many, many [Fr. Z adds: B as in B. S as in S.] Catholic clergy, for whatever reason, are homosexuals. I have been told by a dear friend that most priests in London (U. K.) are homosexuals, a few of them even practicing. While I am not condoning priests breaking their vow of celibacy, I think this issue is not over.
    Comment by William Byrd

    If there are homosexuals in the clergy, it is proof not only that there has been incompetent formation for some years but also that the spirituality of the priesthood has been trivialized.

    And, no, the issue is over.

  12. drew says:

    I keep reminding myself and those around me that the numbers speak for themselves. The vast majority of predators in the priesthood have been homosexuals going after teen boys. Call it ephebophilia if you wish, or don’t talk about it at all if you wish to be politically correct, but facts are facts. Faithful celibate homosexual men will suffer not for who they are or what they have done, but for the sins of a number too large to be dismissed. Sin will be with us until the Second Coming, even in the priesthood, but lets try to put this nightmare to rest. No, means no.

    I once heard a man say that it is his homosexuality that is the root of his vocation and why God is calling him to the priesthood. You want him hearing your son’s confession in the “reconciliation room”? He was not admitted to seminary.

  13. I think had better close the com box for the times I cannot watch it. Save your comments up and, if I open it again, don’t even think of posting something you haven’t really thought about or something that contradicts the teachings of the Church.

  14. avecrux says:

    This is an excellent article, originally posted on Zenit, which provides an excellent analysis by Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons as to why homosexuals cannot be admitted to any seminary. I would encourage anyone to read it – http://www.narth.com/docs/tendencies.html

    God bless.

  15. Caper says:

    “Most persons are somewhere in between. This document fails makes no mention of bi-sexuality, only those with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies.” ”

    William Byrd, I think you misunderstand what the document is about. The
    document does not need to treat bisexuals as a separate group, as the
    authors are not concerned about different categories of people with
    deep-seated homosexual tendencies but rather *everyone* with those tendencies.
    A “deep-seated” bisexual would have both deep-seated heterosexual and
    homosexual desires, I assume. Well, the deep-seated heterosexual desires
    are of absolutely no concern to the authors of the document — they expect
    and indeed want priests to have heterosexual desires. Only the homosexual
    component of bisexuality concerns the Church. Ergo, by referring to
    people with deep-seated homosexual desires, the document authors clearly
    had “bisexuals” in mind as well as people with exclusively same-sex desires.

  16. Angelo says:

    Bella Dodd, a former high-ranking Communist & NYC teacher, (later re-converted to the Catholic Faith by Archbishop Fulton Sheen), told how as an agent she encouraged more than a thousand Communists or fellow travelers to enter Catholic seminaries in the 1930s. Dodd testified: ‘In the 1930’s, we put eleven hundred men into the priesthood in order to destroy the Church from within,’ and the chief tactic devised, once these men came to power, was to label the Church ‘of the past’ as oppressive, authoritarian, full of prejudices, arrogant and closed to the world.”
    Other research shows that many of these liturgical experts do not believe in the Catholic Faith and do not believe in the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. They do, however, believe in the deconstruction of the Latin Liturgy. Their sympathies lie with Marxists, radical feminists, pro-homosexualists and New Agers. These things seem difficult to credit, yet Mr Likoudis of The Wanderer states:
    “The nurturing of the homosexual/paedophile network in the Catholic Church in modern times, which parallels similar networks in governments, business and educational circles, may, some suggest, date back to the late 1920s and early 30s when the ‘Cambridge Apostles’ that elite clique of homosexual Marxists under the direction of Anthony Blunt (and including such notorious spies as Kim Philby), determined to seize control of the major institutions, especially the churches, newspapers, cinema and radio (and, later, television), universities, museums and governmental cultural agencies.
    Above excerpts taken from “Amchurch Comes Out” by Paul Likoudis

    http://www.thecatholic.org/2002_November/Amchurch_Comes_Out.htm

  17. Bro. AJK says:

    Dear Fr. Z.,

    I respectfully disagree with you over one small point. A house of formation is not a seminary, basically or otherwise. In a house of formation (novitiate, for example), the candidate is formed in and by his or her religious congregation. Postulants, novices, etc, learn about Church teachings, but also about their congregations’ history, spirituality, rule, etc. Since women cannot be ordained, it stands to reason that houses of formation cannot equal seminaries. It is that last bit that makes them separate, distinct, and not the same.

  18. The real issue appears to be that even our bishops don’t seem intent on defending the general teaching of the Church on this subject, which is surely a pre-requisite for enforcing it in seminaries and elsewhere. The Adelaide (Australia) Archdiocese, for example, is apparently about to give a media award for a program on the problems of ageing homosexuals (and let’s just say it ain’t exactly about the struggle to maintain chastity). An official who tried to uphold the Church’s teaching was apparently overruled by the hierarchy…You can read more about it on my blog (or Cath News).

  19. michigancatholic says:

    If only the Holy See would enforce this. The Church is in a major position of internal conflict over this issue. And I’m very afraid this is yet another of those “pay now or pay later” situations we’ve seen.

    As an example, there was a ruling in California this past week over the legal status of gay marriage and yet I heard not a word in Church and I don’t expect that I will. Those in positions of authority in the Church may be in a personal bind if they speak about this openly. There are huge conflicts of interest for many priests, who are, after all, homosexual. And priests who are not homosexual are in political situations with others where they could be hurt.

    And yet, can we just be silent over such an outrage? Isn’t it the Church’s place to preach about what Scripture says about homosexual acts? Where do we go from here?

    BTW, Sooo, Br. AJK,
    Even if a house of formation isn’t a seminary, your point is what exactly??

  20. Bro. AJK: Good point.

  21. Bro. AJK says:

    Dear MI Catholic,

    Peace be to you.

    My point was merely that a house of formation is not a seminary. They should not be conflated. I said this was the one small point on which I disagreed. My point was for clarification as one who may or may not enter seminary.

  22. Cerimoniere says:

    While it’s true that the terms “house of formation” and “seminary” are not equivalent, a house of formation of a clerical institute, in which the formation that takes place is for the clerical state as well as for the particular life of the institute concerned, surely IS a seminary for the purposes of this document?

  23. Father Z,

    It is this sort of thing that makes me so very proud to be a Catholic. Way to go, Papa Bene!

    Gordo the Byzantine

    PS: You wrote: “seminary for Eastern Catholic priests, run by an eparchy, etc.” – which falls under the jurisdiction of the Cong. for Oriental Churches”

    A small point, but I do not believe it is proper to refer to an Eastern Catholic Church (especially those which are regarded as sui juris) as “under the jurisdiction” of a Vatican Congregation. Our Eastern Churches are under the immediate jurisdiction of a validly appointed/elected hierarch, and in certain cases a full synod of bishops in union with a Patriarch, and not dependent upon a Vatican Congregation for its direction. To phrase things in this manner may give our Orthodox brethren an improper view of our canonical place in Catholic communion of Churches. You may have only intended the use of the term “jurisdiction” in some secondary or tertiary sense, but as you can imagine there is more than a high degree of sensitivity surrounding the use of this term among Orthodox and Eastern Catholic jurisdictions.

    According to the Vatican website:

    “As an institution this Dicastery received from the Supreme Pontiff the mandate to be in contact with the Oriental Catholic Churches for the sake of assisting their development, protecting their rights and also maintaining whole and entire in the one Catholic Church, alongside the liturgical, disciplinary and spiritual patrimony of the Latin Rite, the heritage of the various Oriental Christian traditions.”

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/orientchurch/profilo/rc_con_corient_pro_20030320_profile.html

  24. Bro. AJK says:

    Dear Cerimoniere,

    For congregations whose members are all priests, then you could essentially be correct. For those congregations whose members are lay and cleric religious, a distinction is made. The translation Fr. Z. provides states “all the houses of formation for the priesthood”. It gives this distinction.

    The more curious question that has not been addressed is if this is an oversight or intentional. This could easily have applied to the evangelical counsels as well as holy orders but only the latter is clearly discussed. Common sense would say that it applies, but we all know how common sense isn’t all that common.