A new Vatican document has reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s ban on gay men, and anyone supporting “gay culture”, from becoming priests.
The 100 page document, The Gift of the Priestly Vocation, is a set of updated guidelines for priestly formation, and has been officially approved by Pope Francis.
It states: “The Church, while deeply respecting the people concerned, cannot admit to a seminary or into holy orders those who practice homosexuality, show deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support what is called gay culture.”
The Vatican warns of the “negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies”.
The document goes on to say that, “Such persons, in fact, find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women.”
The guidelines do allow for those who may experience a “transitory problem” (i.e. a “phase”) with their sexuality to enter the priesthood, as long as they have “clearly overcome” this at least three years before ordination.
Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director of DignityUSA, an organisation of LGBT Catholics, described the document as “extremely disappointing in its approach to gay men called to be priests”.
“It is not at all what anyone expected from the ‘Who am I to judge?’ Pope,” she said.
“These guidelines are a tremendous insult to the thousands of gay men who have served and continue to serve the Church with honour and dedication,” said Duddy-Burke.
“The document does a great deal of damage” and “trivialises our identity by referring to ‘homosexual tendencies,'” she continued, noting that it will have the effect of “forcing people deep into unhealthy closets”.
“All of this reinforces a sense of gay people as flawed, unfit for ministry, and as second- or third-class members of the Church,” explained Duddy-Burke.
“Our Church is struggling with a tremendous shortage of priests to serve even the basic sacramental needs of Catholics. The hierarchy’s exclusion of people that God has called to ministry exacerbates this problem to the detriment of the people of God,” she said.
While Pope Francis has hinted at a willingness to be more accepting of gay people he remains deeply opposed to same-sex relationships and especially gay marriage, describing these as threats to the family. The church has campaigned in a number of countries in a bid to stop the spread of marriage equality.
According to Catholic dogma, gay sexuality is defined as “acts of grave depravity”, as “intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to the natural law”.