Pope Francis said he was “worried” about the number of gay priests and religious, saying that the Catholic Church risked being won over by the “fashion” of homosexuality, in a Saturday interview book in Italy .
“Homosexuality is a very serious issue that must be properly discerned by candidates” to the priesthood and religious life, said the Argentine pontiff in this book entitled “The strength of a vocation,” which must be published in ten languages.
“In our societies, it even seems that homosexuality is fashionable and this mentality, in a way, also affects the life of the Church,” he added. “It’s something that worries me.”
Since his election in 2013, Pope Francis has adopted a more welcoming tone with homosexuals, launching his now famous “who am I to judge?” And receiving gay couples. But his position on homosexuality remains that of the Church.
An official 2005 document forbids access to the priesthood to any man with homosexual tendencies, even though many bishops choose to close their eyes, especially because of the drastic drop in vocations in much of the western world.
In the interview book, however, François asks seminary and novitiate leaders to keep their eyes open and to detect even those candidates likely to develop “later” these trends.
“In the consecrated life and the priesthood, there is no place for this type of affection. This is why the Church recommends that people with this type of deep-rooted tendency not be accepted in the ministry or religious life, “said the Argentine pontiff.
Homosexuals who are already priests or religious “must be encouraged to live fully celibacy, and above all to be fully responsible, seeking to never create scandal in their community or among the faithful by living a double life,” adds Pope.
“It is better for them to give up ministry or consecrated life than to live a double life,” he insists.
This summer, the Vatican was severely shaken by the resignation of 88-year-old Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, former archbishop of Washington, accused of sexual assault on a teenager dating back to the 1970s. The pope ordered a thorough investigation into the archives of the Holy See to understand how this man who regularly invited seminarians and young priests into his bed had been able to make such a prestigious career.