ROME, November 30, 2005 ( – A Vatican consultant, in an interview with the I Media news service, has observed that the Church has always taught that homosexuals should not become priests, since they suffer from a “structural incoherence” in their approach to human sexuality. The question of whether homosexual men should become priests has been raised repeatedly by Church leaders, and always answered negatively said Msgr. Tony Anatrella, a French Jesuit who is a consultant to the Pontifical Council on the Family. The French priest-psychologist cited decisions by the Council of Paris in 819, and the 3rd and 4th Lateran Councils in 1169 and 1215.

Writing in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, in an article that appeared alongside the newly released instruction on homosexuality and the priesthood, Msgr. Anatrella wrote that the new Vatican Instruction barring homosexuals from Catholic seminaries was necessary because “homosexuality has become an increasingly worrisome problem,” adding that the acceptance of homosexuality could have a “destabilizing” effect on the lives of individuals and on society at large.

Msgr. Anatrella said that homosexuality is “a tendency and not an identity.” The Catholic Church, he argued, has a duty to warn against the acceptance of an “incomplete and immature” approach to human sexuality.

In practice, Msgr. Anatrella said in the I Media interview, experience has shown that when homosexual men become priests—even if they are committed to chaste living—“pastoral relations are very much complicated, and sometimes the teaching of the Church is neglected.” Even if homosexual men struggle to live in accordance with the teachings of the Church, he explained, “the psychological effects of their tendency have repercussions on the pastoral level.” Thus the Church has recognized the “collateral effects” of same-sex attraction, and concluded that such men should not be ordained.

The French Jesuit conceded that the Instruction from the Vatican may provoke protests, particularly from homosexual men who are already serving in the priesthood. But he told I Media that such protests reflect the fact that “they have already put themselves in an uncomfortable situation.” Priests who experience same-sex attractions should redouble their efforts to remain chaste, he said. But in any case, Msgr. Anatrella stated: “Within the clergy, homosexuals do not represent an important proportion; they are a minority.”

When questioned as to whether the Church might be accused of “homophobia,” the French psychologist reacted quickly. The term “homophobia,” he said, is “a slogan of intimidation.” The Instruction insists on respectful treatment of homosexual persons, he pointed out; the Vatican is not encouraging or condoning hatred for those who suffer same-sex impulses.

Nevertheless, Msgr. Anatrella said, the Church has a duty to ensure that candidates for the priesthood are properly suited for pastoral ministry. Echoing an argument from the Instruction, he observed that “the priesthood is not a right.”