Why Have Transitory Gay Seminarians?

by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  June 21, 2017   

If the clerical sex abuse crisis is perpetrated by gay priests, then why ordain gay men?

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The U.S. bishops have consistently reported since 2004 until present that the clerical sex abuse scandal was perpetrated predominantly by homosexual priests. Seeing the tremendous devastation that this has caused to the Church and society, why keep in the seminary those men who have homosexual tendencies?

According to an article published June 8 in Time Magazine titled "The God Squad," some modern seminarians "speak openly with their supervisors about their struggles with sexual orientation."

More importantly, the article quotes Fr. John Kartje, president of Mundelein Seminary, as seemingly giving approval to keeping such men with homosexual tendencies in the seminary. "I think they've embraced that sense of, 'I'm here to live a chaste life, whatever my sexual orientation might be,'" he said.

In 2004, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued their report on clerical sex abuse, which found 81 percent of the victims of clerical sex abuse were male and almost 90 percent of the victims were post-pubescent. These findings were repeated almost verbatim in 2011, 2016 and again in 2017.

In 2005, the Vatican issued its guidelines warning seminaries: "One must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies."

The guidelines told seminaries that they "cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called 'gay culture.'"

In 2008, the Vatican issued guidelines that went even farther, saying the prohibition on homosexual seminarians included even men who were questioning their sexual orientation. The 2008 guidelines direct seminaries to dismiss men who have not only "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" but also an "uncertain sexual identity." Of this latter group, the 2008 guidelines say of such men that their "path of formation will have to be interrupted."

The 2008 document said this in the context of speaking of psychological deficiencies in seminarians, pointing out, "Such immaturity would include ... uncertain sexual identity; deep-seated homosexual tendencies; etc. If this should be the case, the path of formation will have to be interrupted."

In December of 2016, the Vatican issued new guidelines that upheld the 2005 prohibition against forming seminarians with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" but walked back the 2008 guidelines to now allow in seminaries men with a "transitory problem" of "homosexual tendencies."

The 2016 guidelines state:

[T]he Church ... cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called 'gay culture.' ... Different, however, would be the case in which one were dealing with homosexual tendencies that were only the expression of a transitory problem — for example, that of an adolescence not yet superseded. ... [S]uch tendencies must be clearly overcome at least three years before ordination to the diaconate.

Watch the panel discuss the plight of modern seminarians in The Download—The God Squad.


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