In a closed door meeting with Italian bishops, Pope Francis offered his take on the growing vocations crisis, saying that if there is any doubt about homosexuality it is better not to have candidates enter the seminary.
Pope Francis’ statements came during his time spent attending the plenary meeting at the
Paul VI Audience Hall during the Italian Episcopal Conference’s 71st General Assembly. In his public address, he addressed three concerns of his: the vocation crisis, evangelical poverty, and the merging of dioceses before the closed-door session took place.
In the closed-door dialogue, Pope Francis was markedly more straightforward with addressing his various concerns on vocations. He addressed the very delicate and intricate issue of admitting homosexuals or those with deeply-rooted homosexual tendencies into seminary.
He told the bishops not to be concerned with the quantity of future priests, but instead deal with the quality. He mentioned explicit cases of homosexual persons who enter seminary regardless, saying they must have “careful discernment” and if there is the slightest doubt “it’s better not to let them enter.”
Pope Francis said that “deeply rooted” tendencies and the practice of “homosexual acts” compromise seminary beyond the young man himself and his possible future priesthood. Such occurrences create “scandals” that disfigure the face of the Church. He denounced verified problems in seminaries where bishops and clergy have entrusted leadership to priests that are “suspected of practicing homosexuality.”
Pope Francis statements confirms what the Vatican has previously affirmed twice before. A document released by the Congregation for Catholic Education in 2005 about criteria for discerning vocations stated that those a candidate who “practices homosexuality or presents deep-seated homosexual tendencies” should be dissuaded from continuing further and are barred from the priesthood.
Eleven years later in 2016, the Congregation for Clergy released The Gift of the Priestly Vocation which reaffirmed that the Church “while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture.'”