Pope expresses concerns about gays in priesthood
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.