Church ready to bar gays in priesthood

Ban would apply to new seminarians

September 22, 2005|By New York Times New Service

ROME -- Homosexuals, even those who are celibate, will be barred from becoming Roman Catholic priests, a church official said yesterday, under stricter rules soon to be released on one of the most sensitive issues facing the church.

The official said the question was not "if it will be published, but when," referring to the new ruling about homosexuality in Catholic seminaries, a topic that has stirred much recent rumor and worry in the church. The official, who has close knowledge of the new rules, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the church's policy of not commenting on unpublished reports.

He said that while Pope Benedict XVI had not yet signed the document, it would probably be released in the next six weeks.

In addition to the new document, which will apply to the church worldwide, Vatican investigators have been instructed to visit each of the 229 seminaries in the United States.

Although work on the document began years ago under Pope John Paul II, who died in April, its release will be a defining act for Pope Benedict, a conservative who said last spring that there was a need to "purify" the church after the deeply damaging sex scandals of the past several years.

The church official said the ban would pertain only to candidates for the priesthood, not to those already ordained. He also said the document did not represent any theological shift for the church, whose catechism considers homosexuality "objectively disordered."

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