ROCHESTER, New York, March 7, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The bishop of the New York diocese of Rochester has dismissed a statement from the Vatican banning individuals with “deep-seated” homosexual tendencies from entering the priesthood, saying that he has “always tried to be open” to such persons.

“I know some magnificent gay priests,” said Bishop Matthew Clark, according to the Rochester City Newspaper. “If they are openly gay in terms of living a lifestyle that is incompatible with their basic commitments, we have to intervene. But I have always tried to be open to such candidates.”

Clark referenced a Vatican document, presumably the 2005 document discussing homosexuals and the priesthood put out by the Congregation for Catholic Education (CCE), saying that it “left the impression that under no circumstances could a person of gay orientation be ordained a priest.” He added that “that’s not so.”

“If a person’s sense of himself as a gay individual inevitably leads him to campaign against the church’s formal teachings or live a lifestyle that is upsetting to the community or scandalous, such a person would not be an apt candidate for the priesthood,” said the bishop. “But if a person understands that and lives a lifestyle that is compatible with what we ask of all of our priests, then I’m happy to receive them.”

While stating that persons with homosexual tendencies “must be accepted with respect and sensitivity” and that “every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided,” the CCE document stated that “this dicastery, in accord with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, believes it necessary to state clearly that the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture.’”

Catholic World News notes that Bishop Clark had criticized the CCE document shortly after its release.

“The fundamental concern of formation for a life of celibate chastity is for sexual maturity, not sexual orientation,” Clark had said. “Good seminary formation needs to provide an environment in which both heterosexual and homosexual candidates can grow to commit themselves wholeheartedly, even joyfully, to chaste and faithful celibacy.”

In 2004 Bishop Clark was named one of the most “gay friendly” bishops in the United States by the Rainbow Sash Movement, members of which challenge Catholic Church leaders by approaching the Communion rail while wearing a symbol of solidarity with the homosexualist movement. The bishop has in the past welcomed members of the movement in his diocese.

Contact information:

Diocese of Rochester
1150 Buffalo Rd.
Rochester, NY 14624
585.328.3210
585.328.3149 fax