What the Instruction says

What the Instruction says

Here’s the crux of the document as leaked by the Italian news agency. It says pretty much what we’ve known all along.

According to the quick translation a friend did for me, it still says: “The Church, even while deeply respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to Seminary or Holy Orders those who are actively homosexual, have deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called gay culture.” And then later on, “When dealing, instead, with homosexual tendencies that might only be a manifestation of a transitory problem, as, for example, delayed adolescence, these must be clearly overcome at least three years before ordination as a deacon.”

That’s pretty much what we heard before word for word. The document also reiterates that only baptized men may be ordained, that they must have an affective maturity, that they must be able to relate to men and women as spiritual fathers.

It says that the mere desire to become a priest is not sufficient cause and that no one has a right to ordination. It is up to the Church to determine any individual man’s suitability. Specifically, the bishop or superior general have that responsibility and it falls upon them alone to be accountable for who they ordain. To do so, they rely on seminary rectors and spiritual directors.

Respecting the internal forum, a spritual director or confessor who finds the seminarian is homosexual or has deep-seated homosexual tendencies has the duty and responsibility to dissaude him from continuing to seek ordination. By implication, because of the internal forum, they can’t “out him” to authorities.

In the end, the absence of a reliable “gay detector” at the doors to the seminary means that bishops and rectors will have to rely on psychological testing before admission, frank discussions with the candidate, relilability of spiritual directors, and in the end, the honesty of candidates about who they are. It is conceivable that a homosexual could make it all the way through seminary and be ordained, while hiding his sexual preference and then starts sashaying around the diocese afterward. But what are you going to do otherwise?

I’m curious how “affective maturity” and “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” will be interpreted. I’m also curious how this instruction will be formulated as a rule for US seminaries. I suppose what will happen is that seminaries that are gay friendly will close their eyes and play dumb, while those that are not will continue to do what they have been doing.

Once again we come to the conclusion that the most important tool for renewal of the institution of the Church is strong bishops willingly to do what’s right whatever the personal cost.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli

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