The Vatican on Thursday recommended that Catholic seminaries test certain applicants for psychological traits — including “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” — that could render them unsuitable for the priesthood.
The statement appears in a new document, “Guidelines for the Use of Psychology in the Admission and Formation of Candidates for the Priesthood,” published by the Congregation for Catholic Education, which supervises Catholic seminaries around the world.
While they do not mandate psychological testing as an automatic part of the seminary admission process, the guidelines call for expert evaluations “whenever there is a suspicion that psychic disturbances may be present.”
The document states that such evaluations can help diagnose any of several “possible problems that block the vocational journey,” including excessive aggression, inability to trust others, and a “sexuality identity that is confused or not yet well defined.”
The guidelines place particular emphasis on the requirement of priestly celibacy.
The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts are sinful, but not homosexual orientation. Nevertheless, homosexuality is a “deviation,” “irregularity” and “wound” that conflicts with the “spiritual paternity” essential to the nature of the priesthood, said Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, head of the Congregation for Catholic Education.
The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests said the Vatican needs to go beyond screening seminarians to end what the group calls the church’s “virtually unchanged culture of secrecy and unchecked power in the hierarchy” that left dangerous priests in parishes.
“Every barrel will always have some bad apples,” the Survivors Network said. “Real change requires effectively reforming the barrel and those who oversee it.”
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