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New Vatican Document on Homosexuality and the Priesthood Coming Before Fall 2005

New Vatican Document on Homosexuality and the Priesthood Coming Before Fall 2005

December 13, 2004

VATICAN CITY, December 13, 2004 (LifeSiteNews.com) - John Thavis, the Vatican correspondent for the Catholic News Service, an agency of the US Bishops Conference, reports that the Vatican will soon publish a document concerning homosexuality and the priesthood. The report notes that Vatican officials are preparing an inspection (or visitation) of US seminaries to commence in the Fall of 2005 and the document is expected prior to the visitation.

Bishop John C. Nienstedt of New Ulm, Minn., chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Priestly Formation, said in an interview in Rome, "I think they intend to have it out by the time the visitation begins."

The Vatican has confirmed several times that men with homosexual sexual orientations should not be ordained. The December 2002 bulletin of the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments contained a letter signed by Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez, who has since retired as the head of the Congregation, which said ordaining such men would be imprudent and "very risky."

A prominent Vatican document dealing with the issue was released as early as 1961. The 1961 document from the Sacred Congregation for Religious prohibits the admission of homosexuals to the diocesan priesthood and religious orders. The document states: "Those affected by the perverse inclination to homosexuality or pederasty should be excluded from religious vows and ordination," because priestly ministry would place such persons in "grave danger".

The document is being prepared by the Congregation for Catholic Education in consultation with several other Vatican agencies, including the doctrinal congregation. In a report earlier this year, the education congregation described it as an "instruction on the criteria and norms for the discernment in questions regarding homosexuality in view of the admission of candidates to the seminary and to sacred orders."

Commenting on the coming document which has been more than five years in the making, Bishop Nienstedt said, ""I think it's going to be a balanced document, because the whole question of homosexuality not only has psychological dimensions but also has varying degrees of a person acting out or not acting out." He added, "So the whole question has to be nuanced considerably: 'What is homosexuality?' 'What are the homosexual attractions?' and that sort of thing. I think this document will be helpful because it is going to address those questions."

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