Roman Catholic thinking on homosexuality – “a type of wound”

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Further details have emerged on the use of psychological testing by Catholic authorities to exclude “deviant” people from entering the priesthood.

A translation of a new Vatican document Guidelines for the Use of Psychology in the Admission and Formation of Candidates for the Priesthood, published in the Catholic Herald last week, provides an insight into Church thinking on homosexuality.

“The candidate does not necessarily have to practice homosexuality,” wrote Cardinal Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education.

“He can even be without sin. But if he has this deeply seated tendency, he cannot be admitted to priestly ministry precisely because of the nature of the priesthood, in which a spiritual paternity is carried out.

“Here we are not talking about whether he commits sins, but whether this deeply rooted tendency remains.

“It’s not simply a question of observing celibacy as such. In this case, it would be a heterosexual tendency, a normal tendency.

“In a certain sense, when we ask why Christ reserved the priesthood to men, we speak of this spiritual paternity, and maintain that homosexuality is a type of deviation, a type of irregularity.

“Therefore it is a type of wound in the exercise of the priesthood, in forming relations with others. And precisely for this reason we say that something isn’t right in the psyche of such a man. We don’t simply talk about the ability to abstain from these kinds of relations.”

Despite the fact that Roman Catholic priests are celibate, the church under Pope Benedict XVI has become hostile to people with homosexual desires being ordained.

Candidates for the priesthood must also demonstrate: “a positive and stable sense of their own masculine identity and a capacity to form mature relationships with other people or groups of people.”

In May a senior Vatican official wrote to every bishop of the Roman Catholic Church reiterating that the ban on gay men entering seminaries to train for the priesthood applies to all such institutions.

Pope Benedict XVI approved the letter from the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

It confirms that candidates from the holy orders and missionary seminaries and all houses of formation for the priesthood, including those under the “Dicasteries for Eastern Churches, for the Evangelisation of Peoples, and for the Institutes of Consecrated Life” are subject to the gay ban.

The Cardinal said he was responding to various queries about the rules, which were set out under Benedict in the 2005 document Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocation with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders.