German, Swiss Bishops Back Ban on Ordaining Homosexuals

Express Support for Forthcoming Vatican Document

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BONN, Germany, NOV. 25, 2005 ( German and Swiss bishops are supporting the conclusions of a leaked Vatican document that says men with strong homosexual tendencies should not be admitted to the priesthood or the seminary.

In two separate press communiqués, the prelates of both countries state that men who practice homosexuality, manifest deeply-rooted homosexual tendencies or support the “gay culture” should not be allowed to enter the seminary or to be ordained priests.

The German and Swiss bishops’ conferences commented on the version of the document that was published in its entirety Tuesday by the Italian agency Adista.

Press reports say the title is “Instruction Concerning Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with Regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in View of Their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders.”

The Holy See is expected to publish the document on Nov. 29.

The document ratifies the teaching of the Second Vatican Council’s decree “Optatam Totius” on priestly formation, and Pope John Paul II’s postsynodal document “Pastores Dabo Vobis,” in which he summarized the conclusions of the Synod of Bishops on the formation of priests.

Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski and Archbishop J. Michael Miller, prefect and secretary-general, respectively, of the Congregation for Catholic Education, signed the instruction Nov. 4. Benedict XVI approved the document Aug. 31.

The German bishops, in a press release issued Wednesday, highlighted that the document does not refer to “passing homosexual tendencies, or those that appear in youth, but rather to deeply rooted homosexual tendencies, which can lead to a situation that ‘gravely hampers a correct relationship with men and women.'”

Human formation

“The instruction underlines the particular significance of the human dimension of formation, which, together with the spiritual, intellectual and pastoral dimension, represents the ‘necessary foundation of all formation,'” wrote the German bishops.

For this reason, continued the statement, the bishop, major superior, seminary rector, the spiritual director and the rest of the formators have the duty to “make a morally certain judgment on the qualities” of the candidate, and “in the case of serious doubt, they must not admit him to ordination.”

The German bishops mentioned that the instruction, which urges respect for homosexual persons, also refers “to the responsibility of the candidate himself, which no one can take away from him.”

The Swiss bishops’ conference released a statement the same day, explaining that “whoever freely makes the decision to live celibacy at the service of the Church, cannot exhibit a lifestyle that is in opposition to that decision, or assume attitudes incompatible with the Church.”

“If homosexual tendencies make sexual abstinence impossible, admission to the priesthood is impossible,” wrote the Swiss prelates.

“The question of sexual orientation,” they added, “is not at the center of our reflections on access to the priesthood, but the willingness to follow Christ in a coherent manner.”

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