CHICAGO, Ill., June 20, 2005 ( – The American Conference of Catholic Bishops is being accused of ‘side-stepping’ the issue of whether or not homosexuals ought to be permitted to be ordained. At a recent meeting of the conference, the bishops voted by a wide majority to extend for another five years a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy for admitting sexual abusers into the seminary, or allowing them to continue serving in the priesthood. This policy has been in place since 2002.

However, some, including Don Lattin of the San Francisco Chronicle, have complained that “The new 84-page report on seminary admission makes only one reference to homosexuality.” The reason for concern about an alleged lack of closure on the matter is the results of a study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice which has indicated that homosexuality and not pedophilia has been the underlying cause of the abuse scandal.

The one reference to homosexuality contained in the document, however, concisely lays down the long-held teaching of the Catholic Church. “With regard to the admission of candidates with same-sex experience and/or inclinations,” says the report, “the guidelines provided by the Holy See must be followed.”

Lattin claims that this isn’t sufficient as the bishops are still waiting for the latest document from the Vatican (The Holy See) on the issue of the admission of homosexual candidates into the priesthood. However, such a document can only further clarify what has already been clearly stated Church teaching. A decision on the matter has been firmly in place and promulgated since as early as 1961.

A 1961 document produced by the Sacred Congregation for Religious states: “Those affected by the perverse inclination to homosexuality or pederasty should be excluded from religious vows and ordination,” because priestly ministry would place such persons in “grave danger”.

Over the past weekend, with the American bishops converging in Chicago to vote on the new policies, Cardinal George spoke for the whole conference, stating that homosexuals, as per the universal teaching of the Church, are not to be ordained into the priesthood.

Cardinal George’s proclamation on the matter is perfectly in line with a more recent Vatican declaration dating from May 16, 2002, which once again clarified the Church’s long-held teaching.

In this more recent statement Cardinal Estevez of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments stated: “Ordination to the deaconate and the priesthood of homosexual men or men with homosexual tendencies is absolutely inadvisable and imprudent and, from the pastoral point of view, very risky. A homosexual person, or one with a homosexual tendency is not, therefore, fit to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders.”
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See’s Chruch Abuse Crisis page with numerous articles and significant quotes on this issue