Expert Answer Forum
Priests and Homosexuality QUESTION from Greg Neywick March 2, 2000 I recently read an article in our diocesan newspaper that was in answer to the question something like - Does the Church (ie: bishops) knowingly ordain homosexuals to the priesthood? The catechism didn't say anything specific about homosexuality and priests, and I could not find a particular canon that dealt with this issue. Are there any official Church documents dealing with this issue? The Priest who answered this question said that there was no reason a person who was homosexual could not be ordained if he was not actively participating in that lifestyle and remains celibate. It just doesn't strike me that this would be correct given that seminarians are called to be morally upright (I forget the exact wording of the canon that deals with that). Wouldn't a homosexual be in a near occasion of sin with a bunch of guys in the seminary?
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, O.L.S.M. on March 10, 2000 Dear Mr. Neywick:
The Priest who answered that question is right. There is no moral difference between a heterosexual man who is celibate and chaste and a homosexual man who is celibate and chaste.
Homosexuals can be morally upright if they practice chastity. The catechism says that homosexuals are called to a life of chastity. If they do this, they are just as morally upright as anyone else.
Yes, homosexuality in itself is disordered, but so is many other conditions. Some men have a particular liking of women. For them, to live chastely is just as much a trial as it is for any homosexual. And this over-lusting of women is just as disordered. Yet, we have no problem ordaining such men and even applaud them for thier courage to tkae their problem and give it to God and forsake their desires for the sake of the kingdom.
As for a homosexual being in the near ocassion of sin by begin in a seminary around other men; unless the man has a particular problem that requires he be cloistered to avoid sin, how is this different than single or married heterosexual men working along side women?
If homosexual men needed to automatically avoid being around other men as to an ocassion of sin, then heterosexual men should authomatically avoid being around women (except our wives and daughters).
Being around women in the workplace can be an ocasion of sin for a hetersexual male.
The arrangement in-and-of-itself is not an ocassion of sin unless the individual person, homosexual or heterosexual, has a sexual addiction or other serious impulse control problem.
Thus, on a case by case basis, men (homosexual or heterosexual) should be evaluated. It is just as sinful to have a womanizing priest as it is practicing homosexual priest. ANY man -- homoesexual or heterosexual -- who cannot control himself and accept the lifestyle of celibacy and perpetual chastity in perfect continence should not be ordained.
But if the man can accept celibacy and chastity, and he qualifies in all other areas, and God is calling him, then why not ordain him.
Remember, the Church teaches that homosexuality is NOT a sin in itself. It is the PRACTICING of homosexual sex that is a sin; as it is practicing any kind of fornication or adultery.
To my knowledge there is no Canon Law or other legislation barring homosexuals from the priesthood merely because they identify themselves as homosexuals. As long as they can be chaste and celibate, it isn't a problem.
I would suggest, however, that a bishop prohibit a homosexual priest from advertising that fact publicaly, especially in any manner that would facilitate the homosexual rights movement. That would be certainly inappropriate.
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