The letter accompanying the Instruction

The letter accompanying the Instruction

The Instruction released to the public a couple of days ago was actually sent to dioceses, religious orders, and seminaries several weeks ago and was accompanied by a letter from Cardinal Grocholewski and Archbishop Miller that gives more of the context of the Instruction and removes some of the wiggle room that these same bishops and rectors and major superiors have been claiming. It also adds a new detail or two, including that homosexual priests should not be on the faculty of seminaries. Also, the ordination of men who, under this Instruction would not be allowed to be ordained but have been ordained previously, is still valid. The ordination of men who “discover” they have same-sex attraction afterward is also not in question (although I’m curious how one discovers this only after, especially given the intense scrutiny and/or pressures in seminary for just these sorts of things.)

We are happy to present you with the enclosed ‘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.’

The new document is the result of a long process of preparation. Already in 1996, in fact, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith invited this congregation to prepare an instruction concerning the criteria for the discernment of vocations with reference to those with homosexual tendencies. Subsequently, the same congregation forwarded abundant documentation on the question.

The draft versions of the document were submitted, for examination, to the fathers of this congregation at the plenary sessions held in 1998, 2002 and 2005. Furthermore, the texts were sent for evaluation to the following dicasteries: the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Congregation for the Clergy, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. In the plenary assembly of 2005 the fathers approved the instruction, acknowledging it to be helpful and very useful.

The Holy Father Benedict XVI, on Aug. 31, 2005, approved and ordered the publication of the present document, which had been presented to him by the prefect of this congregation.

The instruction is based on the conciliar and post-conciliar texts concerning the priesthood, as well as on those texts that refer to the problem of homosexuality, such as the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the documents of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli