Pope Benedict XVI has given his approval to a new Vatican policy document that bans men with homosexual tendencies from being ordained as priests, reports Catholic World News.
The policy statement is a direct result of the pope’s concern about the pedophilia scandal in the church – especially in the U.S.
The new document, prepared by the Congregation for Catholic Education in response to a request made by the late Pope John Paul II in 1994, will be published soon. It will take the form of an “Instruction,” signed by the prefect and secretary of the congregation: Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski and Archbishop Michael Miller, according to the report.
The report was first referenced on Joseph Farah’s nationally syndicated radio program last week by Raymond Arroyo, author of the new book “Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve and a Network of Miracles.” Arroyo has covered the papacy more than any other U.S. journalist.
The text, approved by Benedict at the end of August, says that homosexual men should not be admitted to seminaries even if they are celibate, because their condition suggests a serious personality disorder that detracts from their ability to serve as ministers, says the CWN report.
Priests who have already been ordained, if they suffer from homosexual impulses, are strongly urged to renew their dedication to chastity and a manner of life appropriate to the priesthood.
The “Instruction” does not represent a change in church teaching or policy, according to the Vatican.
Catholic leaders have consistently taught that homosexual men should not be ordained to the priesthood. Pope John XXIII approved a formal policy to that effect, which still remains in effect. However, during the 1970s and 1980s, that policy was widely ignored, particularly in North America.
The Congregation for Catholic Education prepared the “Instruction” after soliciting advice from all of the world’s bishops, from psychologists and from moral theologians. A draft was then circulated among the Vatican dicasteries concerned with the issue, notably including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The pending release of the “Instruction,” in the face of certain criticism from liberal forces in America and Western Europe, demonstrates the determination of the Vatican to improve the quality of priestly ministry and to protect the church from some of the scandals that have recently shaken the Catholic community – and no doubt deterred many men from entering priestly training.
Informed sources in Rome indicate that the “Instruction” probably will be made public after the Synod of Bishops, which meets in Rome Oct. 2 through 23.
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