Calls on Seminaries to Continue to Welcome Gay Students
Washington, DC – The leaders of DignityUSA strongly condemn new Vatican admissions instructions which discourage gay men from applying for admission to Catholic seminaries worldwide, citing several problems with the forthcoming communication. The official document, expected early next week, has been reported in the New York Times and other news outlets to advise seminary directors against admitting any candidates for the priesthood “who are actively homosexual, have deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called ‘gay culture.’”
Statement of Debra Weill
Executive Director, DignityUSA
The Vatican continues to erroneously focus on gay men as the cause of the Church sexual abuse crisis while neither addressing the root causes of the crisis nor disciplining in any fashion the bishops who share responsibility for it, instead choosing to issue a blanket repudiation of gay priests and gay seminarians.
These instructions discuss sexual orientation in ways which contradict contemporary understanding of human sexuality and clearly indicate Church leaders are ill-informed on the subject. This willful ignorance of human knowledge about sexuality by anyone claiming to be a moral teacher is morally dishonest and incredibly harmful to the entire Church and must be condemned. Gay men have served the Church well as priests and bishops since the early days of the Church and will continue to do so. This new instruction will lead to a more secretive, hostile environment in some seminaries and throughout the Church which will be harmful in many ways, including driving gay men even deeper into the closet.
The continuing inability of seminary preparation to help our future priests and bishops integrate an understanding of their own sexuality into a mature emotional and spiritual life is another example of the Church’s adolescent understanding of all sexuality. Catholic seminaries should be looking at the sexual maturity of the seminarian not the sexual orientation and should apply the same criteria to everyone regardless of perceived sexual orientation.
We look to the Church for leadership regarding sexual theology and there is none. The Vatican is taking another misguided, self-destructive step at this very critical time. The priest shortage is severe not only in America but also in many other countries. Discouraging gay seminarians and telling all gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Catholics—including gay religious and currently ordained priests and bishops—how little we are valued further harms the entire Church. The Church will lose many good priests and members in the future because of this statement.
In the face of this latest move by the Vatican, we remain hopeful that many Catholic seminaries will continue to admit and provide a welcoming environment for gay candidates for the priesthood. Many American bishops recognize the outstanding contributions faithful gay priests and bishops have made and continue to make in service to the Church. We encourage gay men who have been called by God to courageously respond to their calling and apply for seminary admission. It would be another step backward for our Church if the antiquated Vatican views and fear of human sexuality kept well qualified and sexually mature gay men from serving the Church as God has called them to serve.
Congregation for Catholic Education: "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," dated 4 Nov 2005, and released 29 Nov 2005
DignityUSA is the nation’s foremost organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics, their families, friends and supporters. Founded in 1969, it is an independent nonprofit organization with members and chapters across the country.
DignityUSA works for full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in the life of the Church and Society. www.dignityusa.org