Sometime in the next few months, the Vatican will issue a much-anticipated document addressing the issue of whether gay men can be ordained priests. The policy is being written by the Congregation for Catholic Education in preparation for the upcoming Vatican “apostolic visitation” of seminaries in the United States, the in-depth review that is part of the Vatican’s response to the sexual-abuse crisis.
Exactly what Rome will say is unclear. Some observers predict an outright ban on admitting homosexuals to seminaries and religious orders; others foresee less drastic restrictions. No one, however, expects the Vatican to issue a warm welcome to gay men who feel called to the priesthood. But while banning or severely restricting gay men in orders would surely delight those U.S. Catholics who blame gay priests for the sexual-abuse crisis or have been railing against the “gay subculture” in the clergy, to a gay priest like myself, the imminent release of this document looms like terrible, if not entirely unexpected, news from the doctor.
It is also represents a serious moral error.
Few doubt that the impetus behind the Vatican’s proposed statement is the sexual-abuse crisis that has convulsed the Catholic Church in America for the past three years. And if American Catholics took note that the crimes overwhelmingly concerned priests preying on young boys and adolescent males, those in Rome drew...