Reactions in the U.S.

Source: FSSPX News


In the United States, an American association of priests active in the homosexual community denounced the new Vatican instruction, which judges homosexuals as unqualified for the priesthood, because they feel it will lead to more expulsions. This text “will cause gay priests and seminarians to be more secretive, which will lead to more personal and spiritual damage, both for them and for those they serve”, said Francis De Bernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry.

De Bernardo notably reproached the Vatican for “a terribly narrow and ignorant” conception of what homosexuality is. According to him, it goes well beyond a simple “desire to indulge in certain sexual acts”. The approach of the Vatican leads to a “hateful” attitude toward gay priests and seminarians, he thinks. New Ways Ministry is an American association created 28 years ago, which works for the “reconciliation” between the Catholic Church and the homosexual community.

In the same vein, a homosexual-rights group, The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), also condemned the Vatican directive, chastising the Vatican for making homosexuals “scapegoats” after the recent scandals caused by pedophile priests.

The president of the National Federation of Priests Councils, headquartered in Chicago, Father Robert Silva, affirmed that the ministry of these priests is “an inestimable gift to the Church and of immeasurable value for the People of God”. He thinks, in fact, that a homosexual orientation is not an obstacle to becoming a good priest. Father Robert Silva thinks that the new instruction will in fact have no impact on seminary recruitment. But he nevertheless thinks that it will cause harm to priests who live their celibacy in the context of homosexual tendencies.

“The first thing that occurred to me was that this document will cause much human suffering”, declared, for his part, Father Donald Cozzens, former superior and professor at John Carroll University in Cleveland.

As for Father Leonard Walker, a priest in Mesa, Arizona, he announced his resignation. He criticized the “aggressively anti-gay positions” of the Vatican and the American Church. This 58 year-old priest told The Arizona Republic newspaper that he could no longer stay in this institution if he wanted to preserve his integrity.

Several Catholic professors remarked that the real issue was the fixation of the Church on the question of priestly celibacy, a rule that only applies to priests of the Latin rite, not for those of the Eastern rites. Daniel Maguire, a professor of moral theology at Marquette, a Jesuit university in the state of Wisconsin, described celibacy as a “failed experiment in human control”.

As for the bishops, although Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago, explained that the criteria contained in the Roman document corresponded completely with the doctrine of the Church in the area of sexual morality and priestly celibacy, others were more circumspect. Several bishops, in fact, thinking the Vatican instruction confirms the current policy being used in the seminaries, praised the fact that it is left up to the ordinaries, superiors of congregations and seminary directors to put in practice the necessary criteria.

Bishop William S. Skylstad, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), affirmed to CNS that there has been no “empirical proof” that homosexuality had anything directly to do with the cases of sexual abuse of minors committed by members of the clergy. Trying to defuse the controversy aroused by the Roman document, Bishop Skylstad declared that priests having “homosexual inclinations” could also be good priests and should not be afraid of discussing this question.