Every now and then a news item leaves me sputtering unintelligibly. This is one. I truly have no words… As I spot eloquent retorts on other blogs, I’ll have to link to them.
Investigators appointed by the Vatican have been instructed to review each of the 229 Roman Catholic seminaries in the United States for “evidence of homosexuality” and for faculty members who dissent from church teaching, according to a document prepared to guide the process.
The Vatican document, given to The New York Times yesterday by a priest, surfaces as Catholics await a Vatican ruling on whether homosexuals should be barred from the priesthood.
In a possible indication of the ruling’s contents, the American archbishop who is supervising the seminary review said last week that “anyone who has engaged in homosexual activity or has strong homosexual inclinations,” should not be admitted to a seminary.
Edwin O’Brien, archbishop for the United States military, told The National Catholic Register that the restriction should apply even to those who have not been sexually active for a decade or more.
American seminaries are under Vatican review as a result of the sexual abuse scandal that swept the priesthood in 2002. Church officials in the United States and Rome agreed that they wanted to take a closer look at how seminary candidates were screened for admission, and whether they were being prepared for lives of chastity and celibacy.
The issue of gay seminarians and priests has been in the spotlight because a study commissioned by the church found last year that about 80 percent of the young people victimized by priests were boys.
Experts in human sexuality have cautioned that homosexuality and attraction to children are different, and that a disproportionate percentage of boys may have been abused because priests were more likely to have access to male targets – like altar boys or junior seminarians – than to girls.
But some church officials in the United States and in Rome, including some bishops and many conservatives, attributed the abuse to gay priests and called for an overhaul of the seminaries. Expectation for such a move rose this year with the election of Pope Benedict XVI, who has spoken of the need to “purify” the church.
It is unknown how many Catholic priests are gay. Estimates range widely, from 10 percent to 60 percent.
The catechism of the Catholic Church says people with “deep-seated” homosexual tendencies must live in chastity because “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”
Read the whole thing here.