August 28, 2005
Gay priests and the Vatican
In 1999, when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was the Vatican’s guardian of doctrine, he ordered an American nun to stop ministering to gays and lesbians in the U.S. The world is just about to find out whether, as Pope Benedict XVI, his personal prejudices will also define his papacy:
The new Pope faces his first controversy over the direction of the Catholic church after it was revealed that the Vatican has drawn up a religious instruction preventing gay men from being priests.
The controversial document, produced by the Congregation for Catholic Education and Seminaries, the body overseeing the church’s training of the priesthood, is being scrutinised by Benedict XVI.
It been suggested Rome would publish the instruction earlier this month, but it dropped the plan out of concern that such a move might tarnish his visit to his home city of Cologne last week.
The document expresses the church’s belief that gay men should no longer be allowed to enter seminaries to study for the priesthood. Currently, as all priests take a vow of celibacy, their sexual orientation has not been considered a pressing concern.
… ‘It will be written in a very pastoral mode,’ Haldane said. ‘It will not be an attack on the gay lifestyle. It will not say “homosexuality is immoral”. But it will suggest that admitting gay men into the priesthood places a burden both on those who are homosexual and those they are working alongside who are not.’
The instruction was drawn up as part of the Vatican’s response to the sexual abuse scandal that surfaced in the American church three years ago, which has seen hundreds of priests launch lawsuits against superiors whom they accuse of abusing them.
… In a further sign of the instruction’s deeply controversial nature, it is expected the document would be signed by a cardinal rather than the Pope himself if the Vatican decides to publish it.
Which would be a pointless gesture, given that the instruction won’t see the light of day unless Benedict personally approves it.
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