Vatican gay ban "bigoted and hypocritical"

December 01, 2005

Pope Benedict
LONDON — The Vatican's new policy aimed at excluding gay men from the priesthood is "bigoted and hypocritical," said Peter Tatchell of the gay human rights group OutRage!.

"It will encourage dishonesty, fuel homophobia and lead to Vatican sex spies snooping on trainee priests.

"If these rules had existed in the past, many existing Archbishops and Cardinals would have never been allowed to enter the priesthood. Given the high proportion of gay clergy in senior positions in the Vatican, this new policy is rank hypocrisy.

"Instead of paving the way for witch-hunts and purges of gay seminarians, the church should concentrate on rooting out child sex abusers.

"The fundamentalists in the Vatican have protected paedophile priests, while hounding gay clergy. This is an immoral policy from an immoral church.

"Given that about a third of Catholic clergy in Britain are gay, the new rules are an own goal that could result in hundreds of churches being left without priests," Mr Tatchell added.

OutRage!'s response follows the Vatican's announcement that the Catholic Church "cannot admit to the seminary and the sacred orders those who practice homosexuality, present deeply rooted homosexual tendencies or support the so-called gay culture."

The new policy, simply entitled "Instruction", has been decreed by the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education and approved by Pope Benedict.

The Vatican document repeats past prejudice, stating that homosexual acts are "grave sins" and also "objectively disordered", "intrinsically immoral" and "contrary to natural law."

It says men with "transitory" homosexuality must have overcome their sexual tendencies for at least three years before entering the clergy.

"How does the Vatican propose to prove that trainee priests have overcome 'transitory' homosexuality?, queried Mr Tatchell.

"What bizarre tests will it use to confirm that they are 100 percent heterosexual? Will the heads of seminaries authorise pretty priests to test the sexuality of new recruits?"

"This policy will discourage gay seminarians from being honest about their sexual orientation," added Mr Tatchell.

Estimates of the number of gays in Catholic seminaries and the priesthood range from 25 percent to 50 percent, according to a review of research in the US by the Rev. Donald Cozzens, author of "The Changing Face of the Priesthood". A similar proportion of priests is thought to be gay in the UK and Europe.

In 2003, homosexuality was described as a "troubling moral and social phenomenon" in a document by the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then headed by German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict this year. – OUTRAGE !

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