Bishop Conlon Statement Nov 05

Statement about Homosexuality and Priesthood





I welcome the instruction from the Congregation for Catholic Education, the department of the Holy See that deals with seminary training among other matters.  The instruction concerns admitting men who are homosexual to the seminary and priesthood.


The instruction offers clear guidance in an important and sensitive area, and it allows bishops and seminary administrators around the world to operate from a uniform position.


The whole point of the instruction is to help assure that the Church has suitable priests.  The call to priestly ministry, while obviously involving the good of the individual, is primarily about the good of the Church.  No priest is perfect.  But every priest must be able to serve as a spiritual father to a broad range of the Christian faithful and must himself be a faithful disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ.


There is nothing shrill about the instruction.  It is not a call to a witch hunt.  In fact, it places much of the responsibility for an honest assessment of one’s sexual status on the man himself who aspires to be a priest.  Presenting oneself for ordination is not like applying for a job.  The priesthood is a lifelong vocation that involves the entire person, including his sexuality.


The instruction may raise questions about those men who are already priests and who have “deep-seated homosexual tendencies”.  Insofar as they are able to live chaste lives and insofar as they are able to keep their sexual urges from impinging on their ministry, their service will continue to be valued.  They were trained and ordained at times when these matters were not addressed in the same way they are today.


Human sexuality is a powerful and complex force within our lives.  Sorting it out, especially within the framework of Christian discipleship and priestly ministry, is not easy or simple.  That sorting out process, including the application of the instruction from the Congregation for Catholic Education, requires much patience and much reliance on God’s grace.