VATICAN CITY, NOV. 29, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See's new document on the admission of men with homosexual tendencies to seminaries and the priesthood does not contain any groundbreaking points, says a Vatican official. Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, the prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, was responsible for writing 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."
The document, published today, confirms that it is not possible to admit to the priesthood men "who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called 'gay culture.'"
"The newspapers have talked about this document as if it were something extraordinary," said the Polish cardinal when presenting the text on Vatican Radio.
"But it is not strange that our congregation publishes specific documents regarding priestly formation because we have published some 20 documents since the [Second Vatican] Council concerning the different aspects of formation in seminaries," he observed.
"There has been a document on celibacy, on priestly chastity, talks on different impediments for the priesthood," the 66-year-old cardinal said. "Now this document has nothing extraordinary because, on the problem of homosexuality, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has pronounced itself many times.
"And it has pronounced itself many times because in this area in the world of today, there is a certain disorientation. Many defend the position according to which the homosexual condition is a normal condition of the human person, something like a third gender; instead, this absolutely contradicts human anthropology. It contradicts, according to the thought of the Church, the natural law, and what God has marked in human nature."
Cardinal Grocholewski explained that the new Instruction takes up again the distinction presented by the Catechism of the Catholic Church between "homosexual acts" and "homosexual tendencies."
"Homosexual acts are considered in sacred Scripture, both in the Old as well as the New Testament, from St. Paul and later in the whole Tradition of the Church [and] by the Councils as grave sins, contrary to the natural law," the cardinal said. "Therefore, these acts can never be approved."
Different, however, are "the inclination or deep-seated homosexual tendencies. This homosexual tendency is considered in the Catechism of the Catholic Church as an objectively disordered inclination," he added.
"Why?" asked the cardinal. "Because an inclination as such is not a sin, but it is a more or less strong tendency toward an intrinsically evil conduct from the moral point of view."
"These persons therefore are in a situation of trial; they need understanding but must not be discriminated against in any way whatsoever," he added. "On the part of the Church they are called, as everyone, to observe the divine law although, perhaps for some of them, it will cost more."
The Vatican prefect continued: "We have adopted as principle three categories of people who cannot be admitted either to the seminary or to priestly ordination: those who practice homosexuality; those who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies, and those who support the so-called gay culture.
"In regard to people who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies, we are profoundly convinced that it is an obstacle for a correct relationship with men and women, with negative consequences for the Church's pastoral development."
"Obviously, if we speak of deep-seated tendencies, this means that there can also be transitory tendencies, which do not constitute an obstacle. But in these cases, they must have disappeared three years before diaconal ordination," specified the cardinal.
Regarding priests with homosexual tendencies, Cardinal Grocholewski clarified that "these priestly ordinations are valid, because we do not affirm their invalidity."
"A person that discovers their homosexuality after priestly ordination, must obviously live the priesthood itself, must live chastity," he observed. "Perhaps he will have greater need of spiritual help than others, but I think he must carry out the priesthood itself in the best way possible."