Pope ex­presses con­cerns about gays in priest­hood

San Francisco Chronicle - Late Edition (Sunday) - - WORLD -

VATICAN CITY — Pope Fran­cis has been quoted in a soon-to-be pub­lished book as say­ing that hav­ing gays in the clergy “is some­thing that wor­ries me” and re­mark­ing that some so­ci­eties con­sider ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity a “fash­ion­able” life­style.

Ital­ian daily Cor­riere della Sera’s web­site on Satur­day ran ex­cerpts of the book in the form of an in­ter­view that Fran­cis gave about re­li­gious vo­ca­tions. Fran­cis was quoted as de­scrib­ing ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity within the walls of sem­i­nar­ies, con­vents and other re­li­gious places where clergy live as “a very se­ri­ous ques­tion.”

“In our so­ci­eties, it even seems ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity is fash­ion­able. And this men­tal­ity, in some way, also in­flu­ences the life of the church,” Fran­cis was quoted as telling his in­ter­viewer, a Span­ish-born mis­sion­ary priest, Fer­nando Prado.

The book, based on four hours of con­ver­sa­tions the two had in Au­gust at the Vatican, will be pub­lished in 10 lan­guages. Its Span­ish ti­tle is “La Fuerza de la Vo­ca­cion” (“The Strength of Vo­ca­tion”).

Fran­cis re­it­er­ated past Vatican pro­nounce­ments about the at­ten­tion that must be given to se­lect­ing men for ad­mis­sion to sem­i­nar­ies, say­ing “we must very much take care of hu­man and sen­ti­men­tal ma­tu­rity” when train­ing fu­ture priests.

Sep­a­rately, the Ital­ian news agency ANSA quoted Fran­cis in the book as com­ment­ing on a cler­gy­man who had told him that hav­ing gays in Catholic re­li­gious hous­ing “isn’t so grave” be­cause it’s “only an ex­pres­sion of af­fec­tion.”

That rea­son­ing “is in er­ror,” Fran­cis said. “In con­se­crated life and priestly life, there is no place for this kind of af­fec­tion.”

He said can­di­dates with “neu­roses or strong un­bal­ances” should not be ac­cepted “to the priest­hood nor to (other forms of ) con­se­crated life.”

Still, Fran­cis, as he has in the past, stressed that gay Catholics con­trib­ute to the life of the church. He said the church must al­ways re­mem­ber that “they are per­sons who will live in the ser­vice of the church, of the Chris­tian com­mu­nity, of the peo­ple of God. Let’s never for­get this per­spec­tive.”

Fran­cis in his pa­pacy has sought to stress that while obey­ing church teach­ings, the faith­ful must also be com­pas­sion­ate and open to oth­ers with dif­fer­ent views.

Catholic teach­ing con­sid­ers ho­mo­sex­ual ac­tiv­ity sin­ful, and that ev­ery­one, ex­cept mar­ried het­ero­sex­ual cou­ples, should ab­stain from sex.

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