Ministry guidlines for US gay Catholics awaits blessing from bishops

Troy Espera | November 14, 2006

BALTIMORE — America's Roman Catholic bishops may approve new guidelines this week that would absolve gay Catholics of any obligation to try to alter their sexual orientation, reports the Chicago Tribune.

The guidelines for ministering to homosexuals, to be reviewed by bishops in Baltimore at their annual fall meeting, also will urge clergy to baptize the adopted children of same-sex couples who agree to raise them Catholic.

"We are trying to find a language that does not betray the teaching of the church, but will perhaps express it in ways that are not so offensive," Cardinal Francis George, vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in an interview, reports the Tribune.

The documents on ministering to gay people, drafted by conference committees, could encounter opposition from some conservative bishops. Recent Vatican directives bar most gay men from pursuing ordination and prohibit priests with "homosexual tendencies" from teaching or running seminaries.

The document on Holy Communion urges Catholics to receive the sacrament frequently, but says they should first examine their consciences about whether they truly follow church teaching and confess any sins. As has been the policy in the past, individual dioceses will decide whether a parishioner should be denied Communion.

According to the Associated Press, the statement "Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination" encourages parishes to welcome and support gays, while explaining that the church considers gay sex "disordered" since it is outside of man-woman marriage and is not geared toward creating life.

"Many people today don't understand the church's teaching and don't understand the rationale behind it so this is a moment to help them to embrace the teaching," said Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., a member of the bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities, to the AP.

The bishops also are expected to channel funds toward a study on the causes and context of the clergy sex abuse crisis. George said bishops expected to generate the most comprehensive data in the nation on the issue and hoped to garner additional financial support from outside sources for the multimillion-dollar study.

The meeting runs through Thursday, but the bishops are conducting more business than usual behind closed doors. This week, public sessions will end Tuesday. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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