Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Australasia Bishops back celibate gay priests
Thought that this small item from The Tablet (12/10/05) would be of interest to MOJ-readers.
Australasia Bishops back celibate gay priests.
AUSTRALIA’S CATHOLIC bishops have welcomed the Vatican’s instruction on homosexual men seeking ordination, while endorsing those priests who are homosexual and faithful to their vows of celibacy.
In a brief but carefully worded statement issued after their recent plenary meeting in Sydney, the bishops said that while the document – officially released last Tuesday but leaked to The Tablet the previous week – repeated matters previously addressed by the Vatican, “we welcome the clarification that the Church does not see as fit candidates for priestly ordination men who are homosexually active, those who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies and those who support gay culture.”
However, the bishops noted that the document did not call into question “the validity of the ordination and the situation of priests in whom homosexual tendencies emerged either before or after ordination. It makes clear that all priests are called to live a life of chastity.”
The president of the bishops’ conference, Archbishop Francis Carroll of Canberra and Goulburn, told The Tablet that the bishops wanted to reassure priests in the light of the Vatican’s instruction. “We had a pastoral concern for priests already ordained who may acknowledge that they are homosexual and certainly did not want them to feel in any way threatened,” he said. He added that he did not believe any priests would have felt any threat to their continuance as priests if they were doing their best to live celibate lives.
“Some of the earlier speculation would have had us believe that it would have been a severer document than it has turned out to be,” he said, adding that the document outlined what was already in place in Australian seminaries.
Michael Kelly, a gay Catholic writer and activist, wrote in Melbourne’s The Age newspaper on 29 November that the instruction was just the latest stage in the Vatican’s campaign to halt the progress of civil and spiritual liberation for gay people. “This campaign has revealed an ugly side of the Church, a side that rejects modern science and psychology, forbids dialogue, and uses power as a blunt instrument of control,” he said.
A poll earlier this year found that three-quarters of Australia’s Catholics do not believe homosexuality is immoral.
Mark Brolly, Melbourne