The document, or Instruction, was published today by the Congregation for Catholic Education, and signed by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski and Archbishop J. Michael Miller, president and secretary, respectively, of the Vatican dicastery.
The Instruction \"Concerning the 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\" was approved by Benedict XVI on Aug. 31 and dated Nov. 4. Its contents were leaked to the press in recent weeks.
The document, which is respectful of people with homosexual tendencies, does not contain extraordinary novelties.
The document makes the distinction, established by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, between homosexual \"acts,\" which Scripture teaches are \"grave sins,\" and deep-seated homosexual \"tendencies,\" which are found in a number of men and women.
The latter \"are also objectively disordered and, for those same people, often constitute a trial,\" states the Instruction.
\"Such persons must be accepted with respect and sensitivity,\" it says. \"Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. They are called to fulfill God\'s will in their lives and to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord\'s Cross the difficulties they may encounter.\"
According to the Instruction, men with deep-seated homosexual tendencies cannot be admitted to the priesthood because they \"find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women. One must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies.\"
\"Different, however, would be the case in which one were dealing with homosexual tendencies that were only the expression of a transitory problem -- for example, that of an adolescent not yet superseded. Nevertheless, such tendencies must be clearly overcome at least three years before ordination to the diaconate,\" clarifies the Instruction.
The document stresses the responsibility of bishops, major superiors (in the case of religious candidates to the priesthood), seminary formators and spiritual directors to help in the discernment of the suitability of the candidates to the priesthood.
\"In case of serious doubt,\" the Instruction states, such candidates must not be admitted to ordination.
\"It goes without saying that the candidate himself has the primary responsibility for his own formation,\" and must be the first to try to apply this discernment called for by the Church, stresses the document.