While Pope Francis has been regarded as the most gay-friendly Pope, he recently approved a new Catholic Church document reaffirming the ban on the ordination of gay and bisexual men and others who support “gay culture.”
The December 8 document, “The Gift of the Priestly Vocation,” outlines the what the Church believes to be the damaging impacts “homosexual” men being allowed to enter the priesthood, and of aspiring priests lying about their “homosexual inclinations” in order to be ordained:
[T]he Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to seminary or holy orders those who practice 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 now way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies.
Pope Francis had previously espoused a more laissez-faire attitude toward the subject of gay priests, suggesting it was not his place to judge them.
“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis asked back in 2013.
The recent document is prompting calls for clarification on the Pope’s position on gay priests.
“It is not at all what anyone expected from the ‘Who am I to judge?’ Pope,” Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, told the Washington Blade in a statement. “The writers of the document seem to have closed their eyes to the fact that thousands upon thousands of gay men are already serving faithfully and effectively in the Catholic priesthood. Indeed, without gay men, the church would not be able to operate.”
Duddy-Burke noted that the policy is damaging both to the Church and to gay and bisexual men called to the priesthood.
“It trivializes our identity by referring to ‘homosexual tendencies,’” she said. “It claims gay men cannot have healthy relationships with either women or men. It encourages those who experience a call to priesthood to avoid having any same-sex relationships for at least three years, forcing people deep into unhealthy closets.”