The Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy is releasing a new document (dated December 8, 2016) entitled “The Gift of the Priestly Vocation,” which is a set of guidelines for priestly formation. The document notes, “The Holy Father Francis has approved the present General Executive Decree and has ordered its publication.”
“This document is extremely disappointing in its approach to gay men called to be priests,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director of DignityUSA, an organization of Catholics committed to equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the Church and society. “It is not at all what anyone expected from the ‘Who am I to judge?’ Pope.”
“These guidelines are a tremendous insult to the thousands of gay men who have served and continue to serve the Church with honor and dedication. They undermine decades of commitment by these men, and they fail to acknowledge that God calls a great variety of people to the priesthood,” said Duddy-Burke.
Duddy-Burke continued, “The document does a great deal of damage in four short paragraphs dealing with gay people. It trivializes our identity by referring to ‘homosexual tendencies.’ 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. It even says that people who support the ‘gay culture,’ whatever that is, are unfit for priesthood.
“All of this reinforces a sense of gay people as flawed, unfit for ministry, and as second- or third-class members of the Church,” said Duddy-Burke.
“Our Church is struggling with a tremendous shortage of priests to serve even the basic sacramental needs of Catholics. The hierarchy’s exclusion of people that God has called to ministry exacerbates this problem to the detriment of the people of God,” said Duddy-Burke.
“DignityUSA believes that God calls people to serve the Church regardless of gender, sexual orientation, relationship or marital status, age, or any other human attribute,” continued Duddy-Burke. “We will continue to uphold the ministry of people whose vocations our communities validate.”