Pope Francis has claimed there’s ‘no place’ for gay priests in the Catholic church.
The head of the Catholic church was quoted from four hours of conversations with Spanish-born missionary priest Fernando Prado, which took place in August in the Vatican.
The conversations formed the basis for a book titled The Strength of Vocation, which is set to be published next week.
The Pope offered somewhat contradictory opinions in the interview, arguing we must never forget the perspective that gay people ‘are persons who will live in the service of the church, of the Christian community, of the people of God’, but also saying there is ‘no place’ for them in ‘priestly life’.
The website of Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera printed excerpts from the book, where Francis was quoted as saying:
The issue of homosexuality is a very serious issue that must be adequately discerned from the beginning with the candidates.
In our societies, it even seems homosexuality is fashionable. And this mentality, in some way, also influences the life of the church.
This is something I am concerned about, because perhaps at one time it did not receive much attention.
The book also quotes the 81-year-old as having expressed that having gay people in the clergy ‘is something that worries’ him and describing homosexuality in seminaries, convents and other religious places clergy live as ‘a very serious question’.
He also reiterated past Vatican pronouncements explaining how when selecting men for admission to seminaries and training future priests, ‘we must very much take care of human and sentimental maturity’, and claimed candidates with ‘neuroses or strong unbalances’ should not be accepted ‘to the priesthood nor to (other forms of) consecrated life.’
Italian news agency ANSA printed other quotes from the Pope in which he was responding to a clergyman who said having gay people in Catholic religious housing like seminaries and convents ‘isn’t so grave’ because it is ‘only an expression of affection.’
Francis reportedly responded saying the clergyman’s reasoning was ‘in error’, adding:
In consecrated life and priestly life, there is no place for this kind of affection.
Therefore, the church recommends that people with that kind of ingrained tendency should not be accepted into the ministry or consecrated life.
The ministry or the consecrated life is not his place.
According to The Guardian, a 2016 decree on training for Roman Catholic priests stressed the obligation of sexual abstinence and the barring of gay men and those who support ‘gay culture’ from holy orders.
The barring of people who present homosexual tendencies was first stipulated by the Catholic church in 2005, but just months after he was elected as Pope in 2013, Francis seemed to offer a more liberal view on homosexuality, saying:
If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?
The Pope’s controversial comments in The Strength of Vocation are sure to be met with criticisms.
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