Statement of Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I.
Re: The Instruction from the Holy See 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.
November 29, 2005
This Instruction has been over five years in the writing, and many more years have been given to the discussion of its topic among bishops, seminary rectors and formators and the dicasteries of the Roman Curia. The topic is ever more important, given the role that sexual identity plays in establishing personal identity in contemporary culture. The priest’s sense of self-identity should never create obstacles for his ministry, his teaching and his caring. The priest must be a man capable of correct and loving relationships to men and women of all ages. His life is totally given to Christ in serving, even to the point of self-sacrifice, all those given to his care in Christ’s Church. In this sincere gift of self, the priest lives free of himself in chaste friendship with Christ and his people.
The document is a timely help to those responsible for the preparation of priestly candidates in the Latin Catholic Church. It speaks of affective maturity as a requirement for exercising the spiritual fatherhood essential to the priestly vocation. The document therefore encourages special consideration of those candidates for ordained priesthood whose personal identity includes homosexual tendencies. While every person is to be respected, men cannot be admitted to Holy Orders who 1) practice homosexuality; 2) have “deeply rooted” homosexual tendencies; or 3) support the so-called “gay culture.” In other words, if one’s self-identification as a “gay man” is the most important component of a man’s personality, he is not a candidate for Holy Orders. In all cases, the final decision about a candidate’s calling is the responsibility of the seminary rector and the ordaining bishop, whose prudent judgment the Church relies upon.
The criteria of the Instruction are entirely consistent with the present policies of the Chicago Archdiocesan seminaries, which have been in place for more than ten years. The criteria of the Instruction are also entirely consistent with the teaching of the Church for the past two thousand years. To portray the Instruction as “gay bashing” or “gay banning” is to misrepresent it.