October 10, 2005

What Will the Bishops Do Next?



Posted Sunday, Oct. 09, 2005
It no longer appears a question of if, but how the Vatican will try to restrict homosexuals from joining the priesthood. As 256 of the world's bishops gathered in Rome for a three-week synod--the first under Pope Benedict XVI--details filtered out to the Italian press that something a bit less draconian than a blanket ban was in the works. A long-shelved document providing specific admission instructions to seminaries is expected to be issued in November. The "instruction" from the Congregation for Catholic Education would add some teeth to a long-standing but often loosely enforced ban on the ordination of gays, but it would also allow seminary officials some leeway.

The new directive updates a 1961 document that bars from the priesthood "those who are afflicted with evil tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty." According to the leading Italian daily, Corriere della Sera, and other newspapers, the new instruction provides much more specific guidance on whom to exclude. First, it is said to eliminate from consideration anyone who has engaged in gay sexual relations in the previous three years. Second, it would bar those who openly declare their homosexuality or take part in gay life by, say, visiting gay-oriented websites and bookstores and gay-pride events. According to theAbuse Tracker , a third, more loosely defined strike would go against seminary candidates whose homosexual orientation is sufficiently "strong" and "permanent" as to make the all-male environment of a seminary a temptation to sexual activity. Gays already in the priesthood would not be affected by the new document, which was signed by Benedict in September, according to Corriere della Sera.

Posted by kshaw at October 10, 2005 09:59 AM