Vatican to address question of gay priests

THE Vatican said yesterday it is drafting new guidelines for accepting candidates for the priesthood that will address the question of whether gays should be barred.

The brief statement by the Vatican’s Press Office gave no indication to a conclusion, despite news reports that the document will include directives against the admission of homosexuals.

Vatican congregations have been studying the issue for several years, but the question has received renewed attention after the clerical sex abuse scandal in the United States.

Most of the victims of molestation by priests have been adolescent boys. Experts on sex offenders say there is no credible evidence that homosexuals are more likely than heterosexuals to abuse children, but several church leaders have argued that gay clergy are to blame for the scandal.

The Press Office said the Congregation for Catholic Education has begun drafting the document, but no publication date has been set. It will not be published at least until next year, the office said.

A Vatican official, requesting anonymity, said the question of admitting homosexuals and other issues will be addressed in a letter to seminaries.

The Press Office issued the statement after the Rome newspaper La Repubblica published an article yesterday saying an initial draft had concluded seminaries should bar men with “homosexual tendencies” and that Vatican officials were rushing to complete the document because of the US scandal.

As an indication of the debate going on, an American staff member of the Congregation for Bishops, the Rev. Andrew Baker, published an article in September in the Jesuit magazine, America, arguing that gays should not be ordained.

If a man is gay, “then he should not be admitted to holy orders, and his presence in the seminary would not only give him false hope but it may, in fact, hinder” the therapy he needs, Baker wrote.

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