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HOMOSEXUALS-LOSSERVATORE Nov-29-2005 (850 words) With photo. xxxi

Vatican newspaper says homosexual men not suitable for priesthood

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Even if they have never had a gay sexual experience and are fully committed to celibacy, homosexual men are not suitable candidates for the priesthood, said a long article in the Vatican newspaper.

Titled "Reflections on the Document," the article was published Nov. 29 with the text of the Congregation for Catholic Education's new instruction on accepting homosexuals as candidates for the priesthood.

The article -- the only explanatory text the Vatican published with the document -- was written by French Msgr. Tony Anatrella, a psychoanalyst and consultant to the Pontifical Council for the Family.

"Candidates who have 'deep-seated homosexual tendencies,' that is, an exclusive attraction to persons of the same sex -- independently of whether or not they have had erotic experiences -- cannot be admitted to the seminary or to holy orders," he wrote in the newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.

Msgr. Anatrella said the Vatican felt it "necessary to recall once again that homosexuality always has been one of the difficulties that impedes access to holy orders."

In cultures where homosexuality increasingly is seen as a "normal quality" rather than as "a problem in the psychic organization" of a person's sexuality, he said, the church's teaching needed to be reaffirmed.

Homosexuals have a place in the church just like any other baptized person, Msgr. Anatrella said. They are to be welcomed, supported and helped "to live in fidelity to their baptism and to assume all the moral consequences of the Christian life, but they cannot be called to holy orders."

"Unfortunately, for many years in some countries a permissive attitude has allowed people to think that candidates (for the priesthood) who have this tendency could be ordained as long as they assumed perfect continence," or remained celibate, he said.

Problems and scandals have proven that a permissive attitude "lacked lucidity and wisdom," the monsignor said.

While "sexual transgressions" are a particular concern, he said, there are "collateral effects inherent" in accepting gay men into the seminary and ordaining them to the priesthood because of "typical behaviors and expressions on the part of these personalities."

He said they tend to have few friends, to close themselves off from others in "a clan of persons of the same type," to resent the claims on their time made by parishioners, to encourage other gay men to enter the priesthood and to deal with authority predominantly as a matter of "seduction and rejection."

At the same time, he said, the church affirms the validity of the ordination of its priests, including those who may have homosexual tendencies.

While such priests may need special support, he said, the Catholic Church is committed to ensuring that they are not attacked and do not become the objects of gossip.

"One vigorously must oppose denunciations and all forms of suspicion and innuendo which could attack the personal dignity of ordained ministers," he said.

Nevertheless, Msgr. Anatrella wrote, "One must free oneself from the idea that leads one to believe that, insofar as a homosexual person respects his commitment to continence lived in chastity, there will not be problems and he can therefore be ordained a priest."

A "commitment in holy orders presupposes that the candidate has attained a sufficient affective and sexual maturity coherent with his masculine sexual identity," the article said.

"He must, in principle, be suitable for marriage and able to exercise fatherhood over his children. And it is under those mature conditions that he renounces exercising them in order to give himself to God in the priesthood," the monsignor wrote.

Msgr. Anatrella repeatedly affirmed the need for a priest to be heterosexual in order to see himself and for others to see him as the "bridegroom of the church" and as a "spiritual father" to those to whom he is ministering.

"A homosexual person would have difficulty incarnating this symbolic reality of the spousal bond and spiritual paternity," he said.

Because the priest acts in the "person of Christ," Msgr. Anatrella said, the church calls only "men mature in their masculine identity" to the diaconate and priesthood.

"The church has the right to refuse holy orders to those who do not have the requested attitudes or who, in one way or another, are not in harmony with the teaching it has received from its divine master," he wrote.

"The church has the right to recall once again that the homosexual tendency is a counterindication to the call to holy orders," he said.

Msgr. Anatrella provided a long list of warning signs that should alert seminary rectors and staff members to the possibility that a seminarian is homosexual.

Among worrying signs, he listed: students who had trouble relating to their fathers; are uncomfortable with their own identity; tend to isolate themselves; have difficulty in discussing sexual questions; view pornography on the Internet; demonstrate a deep sense of guilt; or often see themselves as victims.

A man with homosexual tendencies, he said, "should not be accepted for formation or, if he was accepted before being aware of his situation, his formation must be interrupted."


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