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May 25, 2018 ( – Pope Francis has reportedly told the bishops of Italy that they are to exercise more discretion regarding candidates for priestly studies in diocesan seminaries, instructing them to exercise an “attentive discernment” regarding cases of possible homosexual orientation

“If there is even the slightest doubt, it is better not to let them enter,” the Pope told them.  

The statements come in the wake of a widely-reported private conversation between Francis and a Chilean sex abuse victim who identifies as “gay,” in which Francis reportedly said, “God made you gay.”

According to the Italian newspaper La Stampa’s “Vatican Insider,” webpage, the statements were made behind closed doors to the members of the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI), who were meeting with the Pope on Monday. 

Vatican Insider reports that Francis asked the bishops to focus more on the quality of priests than on the quantity of candidates they admit, and then mentioned the problem of homosexuals entering seminaries.

The statements follow on a private communication of the Pope to the Chilean bishops published by Chile’s Channel 13 last week, in which the Pope rebukes the bishops for corruption, and in a footnote specifically denounces the presence of practicing homosexuals in the seminaries.

“Along the same line and to be able to corroborate that the problem does not belong to only one group of people, in the case of many abusers grave problems had already been discovered during the period of their formation in the seminary or novitiate,” the Pope wrote to the bishops. “In fact, in the acts of the “special Mission” [from the Vatican to Chile] there is the confirmation of grave accusations against some Bishops or Superiors who had entrusted the aforementioned educational institutions to priests suspected of active homosexuality.”

The Pope’s statements to the Chilean bishops followed on a “special mission” sent by the Holy See to Chile to investigate accusations of complicity in child sex abuse on the part of Bishop Juan Barros, whom Francis had appointed to lead the Diocese of Osorno in Chile several years earlier. The investigation appears to have concluded that corruption is rife in the Catholic Church in Chile in general, and all of Chile’s bishops’ have responded by offering their resignations to the Pope. 

The Catholic Church has long prohibited active homosexuals from serving in the priesthood, and a prohibition against admitting seminaries with homosexual tendencies was decreed by Pope John XXIII in 1961. After bishops had ignored the decree for decades, the Holy See reiterated the same prohibition in a new document titled “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,” in 2005.

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy recently reiterated the same prohibition in 2016, in the document “The Gift of the Priestly Vocation,” which quotes extensively from the 2005 instruction, stating that “the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practise homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture.’”

“Such persons, in fact, find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women. One must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies,” the Congregation for the Clergy reiterated. 

However, Pope Francis has sent mixed signals regarding the gravity of the sin of homosexual behavior. He has famously stated, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” In 2014, he approved an interim report of that year’s Synod of Bishops, which spoke of the “gifts and qualities” that homosexuals bring to the Catholic Church.  The Vatican has also not denied the recent claim made by a homosexual man that Francis told him that God “made” the man gay.  

The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls homosexual behavior “acts of grave depravity” which are “intrinsically disordered,” and calls homosexual tendencies, “objectively disordered.” The 

Pope also approved the 2016 reiteration of the Holy See’s prohibition on ordaining homosexuals to the priesthood.