CANDIDATES for the Catholic priesthood should undergo psychological tests to screen out heterosexuals unable to control their sexual urges and men with strong homosexual tendencies, the Vatican said.
In a document — the second in three years to deal with the effects of a sexual abuse scandal that was first uncovered in the US in 2002 and then spread throughout the world involved mostly abuse of teenage boys by priests — the Vatican said the early detection of “sometimes pathological” psychological defects in men before they become priests would help avoid tragic consequences.
“The Church has a duty of discerning a vocation and the suitability of candidates for the priestly ministry,” said the document from the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education.
Vatican officials told a news conference the tests would not be obligatory but decided on a case-by-case basis when seminary rectors wanted to be sure a man was qualified for the priesthood.
The testing by a psychologist or psychotherapist should aim to detect “grave immaturity” and imbalances in the candidates’ personality. At a news conference, Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, head of the Vatican department that prepared the document, was asked why a man with deep-seated homosexual tendencies could not become a priest while one with deep-seated heterosexual tendencies could.
He said homosexuality was “a deviation, an irregularity and a wound” that did not allow priests to carry out their mission properly.
SNAP, a US-based group of victims of sexual abuse, said the document did not go far enough.
Gay groups have accused the Church of using homosexuals as scapegoats for the abuse scandals.
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