Seminary Reviews Not Just About Homosexuality, Says Prelate

Archbishop O’Brien Clarifies Issues in U.S.

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WASHINGTON, D.C., SEPT. 30, 2005 ( It is «an extremely serious error» to reduce the apostolic visitation U.S. seminaries and houses of formation to the single issue of homosexuality, says the coordinator of the visitation.

Military Services Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, who is coordinating of the visitation by the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education of the Holy See, emphasized that point in a statement posted today at the U.S. bishops’ Web site.

«The Visitation does take up the issue of homosexuality,» said the U.S. prelate. «It is one of the issues of our times. Within this cultural environment, there can develop, even among men preparing for the priesthood, an ambiguity both about the Church’s teaching with regard to homosexuality and even whether some homosexual activity could be compatible with celibacy.

«Such ambiguity is not consistent with helping men to develop a mature commitment to living out celibacy every day for the rest of their lives.»

The archbishop continued: «It is an extremely serious error for the media or any segment of the public to reduce the visitation to only one issue.

«The visitation is meant to look at the life of each institution as a whole to see whether it is helping to form men who, from a human, intellectual and spiritual point of view, will be faithful to their commitments as Catholic priests and worthy leaders of the communities for which they will eventually be responsible.»

His own comments

Archbishop O’Brien clarified the context of his own recent, high-profile remarks in the media.

«With regard to comments of my own which have appeared in the media about not admitting to candidacy for the priesthood adult men who have engaged in homosexual activity or who have strong homosexual inclinations,» he said, «I was reflecting my personal opinion and offering a prudential practice based on 12 years experience as rector […] of two U.S. seminaries. As visitation coordinator, I do not speak in an official capacity for either the Holy See or the USCCB [U.S. bishops’ conference] on this matter.»

The 66-year-old archbishop added: «Recent news stories claim that the Holy See may soon issue a document on the admission of homosexual candidates to the seminary. Such a document has been said to be in preparation for several years as a policy directive for the whole Church.

«Connecting the possible release of this document to either the visitation or the sex abuse crisis in the United States in 2002 ignores these facts.»

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