Bishops adopt Vatican's guidelines on gay priests

29th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

29 November 2005, BRUSSELS — The Vatican has published guidelines reaffirming that active homosexuals may not become priests — and Belgian bishops have defended the new instructions.

29 November 2005

BRUSSELS — The Vatican has published guidelines reaffirming that active homosexuals may not become priests — and Belgian bishops have defended the new instructions.

And despite the censure of gay priests, the Vatican treats homosexuality as a "tendency", not an orientation. It said those who have overcome it can begin training to take holy orders.

It said at least three years must pass between "overcoming [a] transitory problem" and ordination as a deacon. All Catholic priests take a vow of celibacy, regardless of orientation.

The guidelines — which follow a series of sex scandals in the church — make no reference to current priests, but only to men about to join a seminary.

In turn, Belgian bishops said the guidelines could be translated as the church asking whether candidate priests possessed the "necessary psychological liberty to take on the priesthood".

The bishops said the priesthood is reserved for men who wish to live a celibate life, newspaper 'De Standaard' reported.

"The authorities of the seminary have to therefore examine the affective and sexual maturity of every candidate to ascertain whether he is able to develop in this life without relational derailments," the bishops said.

Every candidate who encounters difficulty of living a celibate life may not become a priest.

This can be due to the fact he cannot live without intimate contact; if his sexual perception does not include trust, respect and durability or that his sexual desires are so deeply rooted that they eventually possess him.

The bishops said those criteria are applied in every Belgian seminary and govern all priests, regardless of their sexual disposition. 

"However, the authors of the present instruction give a reminder that these guidelines also apply to candidate priests with a homosexual disposition," they said.

The organisation Vlaamse holebipastores (Flemish gay and lesbian priests) said the Vatican's text was "incomplete and awkwardly formulated", but also that it gave gay candidates the chance to become a priest if they could show sexual maturity.

"This is the first recognition of the fact that present priests and religious leaders who are homosexual can function well and carry out their church duties in a balanced manner," a press release said.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news

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