VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — Father Timothy Radcliffe, OP, the prominent pro-LGBT Dominican tasked with giving spiritual guidance to the Synod on Synodality, has reissued his prior defense of admitting those with homosexual tendencies to the seminary.
Radcliffe made his comments to LifeSiteNews during a press briefing on October 27 and appeared to suggest also that homosexuals could happily be priests providing they did not make their sexuality “the most important part of their identity.”
Fr. Radcliffe was former Master of the Dominican order from 1992 to 2001 and a consultor for the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace from 2015.
He was anointed by Pope Francis to be one of the spiritual experts providing spiritual talks to the Synod on Synodality during the October 2023 meetings.
The move caused controversy given his past record on homosexuality and the priesthood.
Shortly before the Vatican issued its 2005 document reaffirming the ban on admitting men with “homosexual tendencies” into seminaries, Radcliffe publicly objected to the predicted ban. Writing to the London Times, Radcliffe argued that “[a]ny deep-rooted prejudice against others, such as homophobia or misogyny, would be grounds for rejecting a candidate for the priesthood, but not their sexual orientation.”
Radcliffe argued in 2005 that if the upcoming document “were to contain such a ban (on men inclined to homosexuality), which is highly unlikely, most Catholics, at least in the West, would find it unacceptable.”
Then in an article for The Tablet, he said, “I have no doubt that God does call homosexuals to the priesthood, and they are among the most dedicated and impressive priests I have met.”
Months later, he encouraged Catholics to “accompany” and even live with homosexuals. “We must accompany [gay people] as they discern what this means, letting our images be stretched open,” he said in a 2006 religious education lecture in Los Angeles. “This means watching ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ reading gay novels, living with our gay friends and listening with them as they listen to the Lord.”
Subsequently, while contributing to the 2013 Anglican report on human sexual ethics, Radcliffe argued that homosexuality was to be understood in light of Christ’s gift of Himself in the Eucharist. He stated that “not every marriage is fertile,” and that “surely it is in the kind and healing words that we offer each other that we all share in fertility of that most intimate moment.”
Expressing this stance, Radcliffe was one of the regular celebrants for the LGBT Masses held in London, the notorious “Soho Masses.”
He also advocates for the divorced and “remarried” to receive Holy Communion, particularly in light of Pope Francis’ controversial exhortation Amoris Laetitia.
In light of this, LifeSiteNews asked Radcliffe at an October 27 synod press briefing if he still stood by his former comments on homosexuals and the priesthood.
Radcliffe argued that those with homosexual tendencies have “never been banned by the Vatican,” but that it was those “people with deep rooted [tendencies], who made that the center of their identity” who had been banned.
He appeared to double down on his former comments, stating that “what I argued then, and what I argue now, is that if anybody is going to embrace a celibate lifestyle their sexual identity should not be the most important part of their identity – and that is true whether they are homosexual or heterosexual.”
As far as Radcliffe was concerned, the Dominican stated, the issue was never that “no homosexuals are allowed into seminaries,” but only about those who had an “unhealthy focus on their sexual orientation.”
He likened these instances to people with “unhealthy focus on their heterosexual orientation,” who “said ‘this is the center of what it means to be human,’” stating that in such instances “then we may have doubts whether they could really serve as a celibate priest too.”
SYNOD: At #synod2023 briefing I asked Fr Timothy Radcliffe if he stood by his prior support for admitting those with homosexual inclinations to seminary.
He appeared to argue that any such candidates could enter if homosexuality wasn’t “most important part of their identity.” pic.twitter.com/Ta3jh7y6sZ
— Michael Haynes 🇻🇦 (@MLJHaynes) October 27, 2023
Radcliffe’s full reply is produced below:
As I recollect the issue was not people with homosexual tendencies, they’ve never been banned by the Vatican – they’ve never been banned by the Vatican. The issue was people with deep rooted [tendencies] who made that the center of their identity, and what I argued then, and what I argue now, is that if anybody is going to embrace a celibate lifestyle their sexual identity should not be the most important part of their identity – and that is true whether they are homosexual or heterosexual.
And this interpretation was accepted by the cardinal and the bishops of England and Wales. So the issue was never as I understood it that ‘no homosexuals are allowed into seminaries.’ There was a question of people who had an unhealthy focus on their sexual orientation.
Now, if you had somebody who had an unhealthy focus on their heterosexual orientation and said ‘this is the center of what it means to be human,’ then we may have doubts whether they could really serve as a celibate priest too.
So I think that was the issue.
Radcliffe did not define what an “unhealthy focus” on sexual orientation would look like.
Catholic teaching on homosexuals in the seminary
The 2005 document that Radcliffe expressed fear about prior to its publication stated that “the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, presented deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called ‘gay culture.’”
It argued that those with only “a transitory problem” of experiencing “homosexual tendencies” could be admitted, but that they must be “clearly overcome at least three years before ordination to the diaconate.”
Reports and real-world evidence suggested that this document was largely ignored in practice.
The Vatican subsequently issued another document in December 2016, called “The Gift of the Priestly Vocation,” which reaffirmed and heavily quoted from the teachings of the 2005 text.
Commenting on this phrase of “deep-seated” tendencies, Msgr. Tony Anatrella from the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Pastoral of Health Care, wrote in 2005 that:
On the other hand, candidates that present a “deeply-seated homosexual tendency,” that means an exclusive attraction with regard to persons of the same sex (a structural orientation) – independently of whether or not they’ve had erotic experiences –They cannot be admitted into seminary nor have access to sacred Orders.
The problems that we face, as we mentioned, do not only refer to the risk to act sexually, rather the collateral effects inherent to this tendency that produce a behavior contrary to the diaconal and priestly ministry.
Indeed, a 1961 document from the Sacred Congregation for Religious prohibits the admission of homosexuals to the diocesan priesthood and religious orders. The document 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.”