Saturday, May 29, 2004

Document Banning Homosexuals to Priesthood Still in the Works

As usual a good report from John Allen who also gives us the ways that bishops who want to ordain homosexuals will get around the document.

From John Allen and The Word From Rome May 28, 2004:

"In fact, however, the document is far from dead.

'The Holy Father wants it, so there will have to be a document,' a senior Vatican official told NCR in late May. This official offered no prediction, however, as to when the document might appear.

As to content, the official said the document would to some extent repeat the norms contained in a 1961 instruction of the Congregation for Religious, titled Religiosorum institution, which stated: 'Those affected by the perverse inclination to homosexuality or pederasty should be excluded from religious vows and ordination.'

One key is what exactly the term 'homosexuality' means. At one pole, a single same-sex attraction experienced years ago and never acted upon might mark someone as 'homosexual.' The other pole might restrict the definition of 'homosexuality' to active and on-going sexual behavior. Most people would probably reject the former as overly strict, and the latter as overly loose. The question, then, is where to fall in between.

The senior Vatican official told NCR the document would likely not settle this question.

'It's not reasonable to expect the Holy See to get into those details,' the official said. 'That's something that almost has to be determined on a case-by-case basis.'

It seems therefore probable that bishops will retain some flexibility in deciding how to apply whatever standards are set out in the document. Dioceses that have a strict policy against the admission of homosexuals will continue, but those who emphasize a candidate's capacity for celibacy, rather than sexual orientation in se, could argue that such a candidate is not 'homosexual' in the sense intended under the norms.

It's possible, therefore, that the thunderclap the document will cause in the press will not be matched by change."