Vatican: Screen for possible gay priests
The Vatican on Thursday recommended that Catholic seminaries test certain applicants for psychological traits — including "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" — that could render them unsuitable for the priesthood.
Religion News Service
VATICAN CITY — The Vatican on Thursday recommended that Catholic seminaries test certain applicants for psychological traits — including "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" — that could render them unsuitable for the priesthood.
The statement appears in a new document, "Guidelines for the Use of Psychology in the Admission and Formation of Candidates for the Priesthood," published by the Congregation for Catholic Education, which supervises Catholic seminaries around the world.
While they do not mandate psychological testing as an automatic part of the seminary admission process, the guidelines call for expert evaluations "whenever there is a suspicion that psychic disturbances may be present."
The document states that such evaluations can help diagnose any of several "possible problems that block the vocational journey," including excessive aggression, inability to trust others, and a "sexuality identity that is confused or not yet well defined."
The guidelines place particular emphasis on the requirement of priestly celibacy.
The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts are sinful, but not homosexual orientation. Nevertheless, homosexuality is a "deviation," "irregularity" and "wound" that conflicts with the "spiritual paternity" essential to the nature of the priesthood, said Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, head of the Congregation for Catholic Education.
The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests said the Vatican needs to go beyond screening seminarians to end what the group calls the church's "virtually unchanged culture of secrecy and unchecked power in the hierarchy" that left dangerous priests in parishes.
"Every barrel will always have some bad apples," the Survivors Network said. "Real change requires effectively reforming the barrel and those who oversee it."
The clergy sexual-abuse scandal began in 2002 after allegations were made in Boston and later spread to dioceses across the country. The scandal, in which thousands of victims alleged they had been molested or raped by priests, has cost the church more than $2 billion in legal settlements to date, bankrupted five dioceses, including Spokane's, and shattered families and parishes across the country.
The church is struggling to provide enough priests for parishes in many parts of the West because of waning vocations. But Pope Benedict XVI has said it is more important to have good priests than a greater number of priests.
Vatican officials conducted an evaluation of U.S. Roman Catholic seminaries in response to the abuse crisis to look for anything that contributed to the scandal. The evaluation was completed in July of 2006, but the results have not been made public.
The bishops and seminary staff who conducted the on-site reviews gave special attention to what seminarians are taught about chastity and celibacy. The Vatican also directed the evaluators to look for "evidence of homosexuality" in the schools.
A 2005 Vatican document said men with "deep-seated" homosexual tendencies shouldn't be ordained, but that those with a "transitory problem" could become priests if they had overcome them for three years.
Additional information from The Associated Press and Seattle Times archives
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