Pope Francis said that men with “deeply rooted” homosexual tendencies or who “practice homosexual acts” should not be allowed to enter the seminary, in a meeting with the Italian bishops’ conference (CEI) on Monday.
The remarks follow closely on similar reflections the pope made in the aftermath of the most recent sexual abuse scandal in Chile, which resulted in the entire body of bishops handing in their resignations so Francis could deal with them as he saw fit.
In a ten-page report that the pope distributed to the Chilean bishops he noted that problems with sexual abuse can be traced all the way back to seminary.
“In the case of many of the abusers,” Francis said, “serious problems had already been detected in them during their training in the seminary or novitiate.”
Referring to an in-depth report drawn up on the Chilean situation, he continued: “There are grave accusations against bishops and superiors who had entrusted these educational institutions to priests suspected of active homosexuality.”
In his words to the Italian bishops Monday, Francis said that his greatest concern is Europe’s vocational crisis, with fewer and fewer young men and women entering the priesthood and consecrated life.
“How many seminaries, churches and monasteries and convents will be closed in the next few years due to the lack of vocations? God knows,” the pope told the assembly.
According to Vatican Insider, Francis invited the bishops to focus more on the quality than on the quantity of future priests, and explicitly mentioned the cases of homosexual persons who wish to enter the seminary. He said the bishops ought to discern carefully, adding: “If you have even the slightest doubt, it is better not to let them in.”
Homosexual tendencies, when they are “deeply rooted,” and the practice of “homosexual acts” can compromise the life of the seminary as well as that of the young man himself and his possible future priesthood, the pope reportedly said.
The pope’s words echoed a 2016 document of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy updating the norms regarding admission to seminary.
While profoundly respecting the persons in question, the text states, the Church, “cannot admit to the seminary and to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called gay culture.”
The pope’s words also follow on 16 years of experience in analyzing the situation of abuse in the Church, after the 2002 clerical sex abuse crisis in the United States.
The comprehensive 2004 John Jay report on the U.S. crisis found that 81 percent of the victims of abuse were male while only 19 percent were female. Whereas sexual abuse in the larger culture is overwhelmingly heterosexual, the vast majority of cases of clerical sex abuse were homosexual in nature.
Moreover, although the media insisted on speaking of pedophilia, the majority of cases were not pedophilia at all, since pedophiles, by definition, seek sexual gratification from pre-pubescent children and most of the boys who were molested were sexually developed. Sixty-seven percent of the victims, in fact, were over the age of 12.
In its 2011 follow-up report, the John Jay College Research Team found that same-sex sexual behavior in the seminary “was significantly related to the increased likelihood of a male child victim.”
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