Changes to “The Instruction”

Changes to “The Instruction”

Rorate Caeli notes that a change has been made to the official version of the “Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders”, or more specifically to one of the footnotes. The original, unaltered version is still available on the Vatican web site as of this writing.

They quote an Italian media source as saying that a paragraph has been added to footnote 19.

Il Foglio reports the modification in its Tuesday edition:

    Relatively to the original [version], released in the end of 2005, the definitive and official version contains an added paragraph to note 19:

    “It remains always forbidden to Ordinaries, Superiors, and authorities in general to induce, in any way, the candidates to Orders to manifest their own conscience, since it is not licit to anyone to violate the right that every person has to defend his own intimacy.”

The original footnote says:

[19] Cf. CIC, can. 1051: “The following prescripts regarding the investigation about the qualities required in the one to be ordained are to be observed: ...there is to be a testimonial of the rector of the seminary or house of formation about the qualities required to receive the order, that is, about the sound doctrine of the candidate, his genuine piety, good morals and aptitude to exercise the ministry, as well as, after a properly executed inquiry, about his state of physical and psychic health”

and it is connected to this text in the main body of the document:

“The discernment of a vocation and of the maturity of the candidate is also a serious duty of the rector and of the other persons entrusted with the work of formation in the seminary. Before every ordination, the rector must express his own judgment on whether the qualities required by the Church are present in the candidate.”

So what does it mean?

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1 comment
  • I think Dom has got it just right.  There is a licit and good reason for something to be in the document to protect potential candidates from abuse of the internal forum and from an overreliance on psychological results, which must be treated as unreliable and untrustworthy in themselves.

    Yet the wording is vague enough that it can legitimately be read as meaning “Don’t try to get people to tell you about their urges and their past practices—and if they lie to you to protect themselves, it’s understandable (though wrong) since you were trying to get them to ‘manifest their consciences.’”

    This is the danger—that the new wording will essentially provide “cover” for homosexuals who want to hide their homosexuality and will stymie or frighten authorities who want to FIND OUT whether someone is homosexual, but won’t rely on a simple “Yes” or “No” answer, one time.

    Still, if authorities can just be got to use the information they CAN gather and act on new information that comes their way during formation, there will be immense change.  Bishop Carlson of Saginaw—once of Sioux Falls—is a model and pattern here.  It’s not really very hard to make the seminary a homosexual-UNfriendly environment, rather than a homosexual-friendly one.  It’s the people in charge—the bishops and rectors—that make the difference.