If a man's primary self-identity is as a homosexual, he has no business being ordained a Roman Catholic priest, Cardinal Francis George said Tuesday -- the day a long-awaited Vatican document about gays in the priesthood was officially released after being widely leaked last week. "While every person is to be respected, men cannot be admitted to Holy Orders who 1) practice homosexuality; 2) have 'deeply rooted' homosexual tendencies; or 3) support the so-called 'gay culture,' " according to George's statement, which echoed some of the Vatican document titled "Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with Regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders."
"In other words," George said, "if one's self-identification as a 'gay man' is the most important component of a man's personality, he is not a candidate for Holy Orders." While a nearly identical version of the Vatican document was leaked to an Italian Catholic Web site last week and then reported around the globe and its contents were hardly a surprise by Tuesday, the official delivery of the nine-page "instruction" about gay seminarians and priests drew strong reactions from many Catholics.
"The criteria of the Instruction are also entirely consistent with the teaching of the church for the past 2,000 years. To portray the Instruction as 'gay bashing' or 'gay banning' is to misrepresent it," the cardinal said at the conclusion of his statement.
But one priest of the Chicago archdiocese, asking that his name not be used, said, "It's an insult to the gay deacons, priests, bishops, archbishops and cardinals .. . and it creates a caste system in the clergy."
The Vatican document, which reportedly has been in the works for a number of years and was begun at the urging of the late Pope John Paul II, says church leaders "believe it necessary to state clearly 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.' . . . One must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies."
But, said the gay Chicago priest, what about all the homosexuals who have and continue to serve in the priesthood?
"In a nutshell to say, 'It's OK to be homosexual as long as you don't think like a homosexual, talk like a homosexual, act like a homosexual, hang out with homosexuals, or go to places that are known to be hangouts of homosexuals,' well, that's ludicrous on its surface. And I don't say that flippantly. Sometimes the cardinal says, 'Oh, that's flippant.' This isn't flippant. That's what the document says," the priest said, adding that he believed the "right wing" of the Catholic church had decided to make homosexuals "their scapegoats and whipping boys, " reports the AP. I.L.