In an interview Pope Francis addressed the topic of homosexuality within the clergy, saying those with deep seated tendencies cannot be accepted into consecrated life or ministry.
The Holy Father’s comments are taken from excerpts of a book-length interview given back in August discussing his upcoming book The Strength of Vocation: Consecrated Life Today. Pope Francis stressed his concern with the presence of homosexual men within the clergy, that seminary and formation programs must exercise great care in helping candidates either prepare to leave seminary or live a life of celibacy.
“Homosexuality is a very serious matter, which must be discerned adequately from the beginning with candidates, if it is the case. We must be demanding. We have to take great care during formation in the human and affective maturity. We have to seriously discern, and listen to the voice of experience that the Church also has.”
Pope Francis makes the distinction between those with and without “deep-seated tendencies,” and that the Church cannot allow those who do have such tendencies to be accepted into the priesthood.
“In consecrated life or that of the priesthood, there is no place for this type of affection. For that reason, the church recommends that persons with this deep-seated tendency not be accepted for ministry or consecrated life. The ministry or the consecrated life is not his place.”
For those without, Pope Francis emphasized the importance of celibacy and avoiding scandal.
“Homosexual priests, religious men and women should be urged to live celibacy wholly and, especially, to be perfectly responsible, trying to never create scandal in their communities or for the holy people of God by living a double life. It would be better if they left the ministry or consecrated life rather than live a double life.”
Those that do leave seminary or the path to consecrated life must not abandoned, but instead be guided and cared for as a child of God.
“They should be helped to take another direction, but they should not be abandoned. They should be guided, but they should not be admitted. Let us always bear in mind that they are persons who are going to live in the service of the Church, of the Christian community, of the people of God. Let’s not perspective. We have to care for them so they are psychologically and affectively healthy.”