Rorate Caeli

IMPORTANT: Instruction on "Homosexuals in seminaries"
Official version reduces power of Superiors

The "Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders", released by the Congregation for Catholic Education last November, was not the most strict of documents. Most importantly, it has been simply rejected, in practice, by most interpreters in an exercise of "creative hermeneutics".

It could at least be said that those Diocesan ordinaries and regular Superiors who wished to follow the letter of the Instruction would now have a new and vigorous instrument to pursue the much-desired cleansing of seminaries.

Alas, a last-minute alteration of a note to the document, whose official version has only recently been published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis (AAS), the official Register of the Vatican, has considerably limited the power of bishops and other superiors to detect those seminarians who hide their "intrinsically disordered" condition behind behavioral façades, in the name of the seminarian's "right to intimacy". Il Foglio reports the modification in its Tuesday edition:
Relatively to the original [version], released in the end of 2005, the definitive and official version contains an added paragraph to note 19:

"It remains always forbidden to Ordinaries, Superiors, and authorities in general to induce, in any way, the candidates to Orders to manifest their own conscience, since it is not licit to anyone to violate the right that every person has to defend his own intimacy."

Il Foglio also reports that this alteration was especially desired by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, "to avoid the use of psychological and psychoanalytical techniques to discover eventual 'deep-seated homosexual tendencies' present in seminarians". The first version of the document, still available in the Vatican website (and sent to the bishops and superiors in late October/early November) included only this text in note 19 (which refers to the text, "The discernment of a vocation and of the maturity of the candidate is also a serious duty of the rector and of the other persons entrusted with the work of formation in the seminary. Before every ordination, the rector must express his own judgment on whether the qualities required by the Church are present in the candidate."):

[19] Cf. CIC, can. 1051: "The following prescripts regarding the investigation about the qualities required in the one to be ordained are to be observed: ...there is to be a testimonial of the rector of the seminary or house of formation about the qualities required to receive the order, that is, about the sound doctrine of the candidate, his genuine piety, good morals and aptitude to exercise the ministry, as well as, after a properly executed inquiry, about his state of physical and psychic health"
This was the note whose official version, as published in the AAS, includes the new addendum.


  1. I think that one thing to keep in mind is that---however unfortunate the wording about "one's own intimacy"---Canon Law forbids Superiors and Ordinaries from using information from the internal forum when making decisions about whether a man should be ordained. They are only permitted to use information from the external forum, and a seminarian or Religious cannot be compelled to reveal matters of the internal forum to the Superior or Ordinary. It would be good to know the original Latin, in order better to understand what is meant here.

    Besides, the homosexuals are noted for lying about their proclivities to those in authority over them, anyhow. So even a more invasive type of questioning would not solve matters. Proh dolor!

  2. I doubt very much that the Latin original text differs considerably from our translation...

    The paragraph, nevertheless, clearly intends to limit the power of superiors in a most important area -- and, while an "invasive type of questioning" MIGHT not solve matters, it would certainly be very helpful.

    Canon Law allows bishops to forbid ordinations for undisclosed motives (see, v.g., Can. 1030), which could very possibly be unearthed by aspects discovered with the techniques which are forbidden in the added paragraph.

  3. What does discovering "eventual deep seated homosexual tendencies" have to do with the manifestation of conscience? The first does not in and of itself involve sin (assuming there are such tendencies), but the second does. Manifestation of conscience properly belongs in the sacrament of penance, it seems to me, and therefore is not to be demanded outside that sacrament. The addendum, despite what Il Foglio says, seems to be advising superiors not to intrude upon a sacrament in obtaining the knowledge they need to make a good recommendation. Techniques to reveal hidden tendencies would seem to be an altogether different matter from means taken to reveal another's conscience.

  4. Psychological testing can be a help in assessing ones proclivities but the tendency is to use them not as diagnostic tools but as infallible sources of truth.They can be intrusive (thus violating ones intimacy or ones privacy) and not be accurate.A clinical psychologist told me that these tests are not in themselves foolproof and can be wrong.It is a flawed science.Rome has always been uneasily cautious about their use.

  5. I agree, Chrysostomos, the matters (discovering signs; and conscience proper, that is, the "internal forum" displayed in sacramental confession) are not directly related.

    The importance of this, Sacerdos, it that it will be given wide interpretation, as all protective rules -- and will considerably reduce the power of those superiors who may be willing to strictly enforce the Instruction, especially regarding the wily seminarians, who are the most dangerous.

  6. It's like this.

    Before, being a homosodomite was a prerequisite for seminary entrance (the nomenclature needs a cleaning up - we're all homosexuals in that we are men and as such are sexual beings).

    After the "Instruction" it's merely mandatory.

  7. St Thomas Aquinas considered it a sin for a superior to demand a "manifestation of conscience" of occult faults. The Instruction is merely iterating something that was always taken for granted, but has recently been forgotten. It is not taking away from the discretion of seminary Rectors because they never had this power.

  8. According to the standard "articulated" by Ephraem, abusing the meaning of the Great Doctor in the process, no one could be examined for that which should be, and until now has been, necessary to discern in order to keep sex offenders out of Catholic seminaries.

    My being a murderer could just as well fall under the category of a "manifestion of conscience." And, what in bloody tarnation can "occult faults" be defined as? Can there be any doubt that Jack the Ripper had them? At least, ostensibly, he didn't contribute to sending his victims to Hell.

    When I served in the military , not even the Army had problems weeding out the poofters - it was the first question on the list. If one slipped by, and many did, upon discovery he was Court-martialed and given a dishonorable discharge.

    You'd better believe that Rectors have always exercised said "discretion." Anyone having that "problem" has no business being in a place where he makes it morally dangerous for someone to bend over to pick up the soap in a shower.

    "Recently forgotten," is it. Which bridge would you be after selling this week, brother Eph?

    What we're seeing here is a manifestation of egregious amphibiology. Read Macbeth and find out where he places the "grand equivocator."

  9. In occultis non est homo judex.
    De Secreto 3

  10. It is not "demand", Ephraem, it is to induce, by various investigative tools. It is, in fact, a "don't ask, don't tell" rule. Depending on the interpretation of this procedural guarantee, it could severely limit, or even block, the discovery power of Superiors, especially in the most delicate situations.

    It is always the intimacy of the future flock which is forgotten! Nobody ever remembers the "right to intimacy" of those whom the "intrinsically disordered" will shepherd...

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  12. If the Italian translation is accurate, it is in my opinion a clear an explicit declaration that the individual has a right to be a sodomite. For modern Italian certain can say that one has a right not to manifest one's conscience or internal forum. Intimacy, means something else.

    I agree, superiors can and must ask directly their subjects if they are homosexuals; if they lie and deny it, any latter manifestation should be taken as grounds for immediate dismissal for reasons of fraud.

    A confessor cannot violate the seal of confession; however he is gravely bound in conscience before God, when a seminarian confesses a sin of impurity, in a all male setting, to counsel the seminarian to leave the seminary if being a homosexual he is sexually tempted by his peers or superiors.

    No confessor or superior in seminary worthy of the name, is going to site by twiddling his thumbs, when he comes to know of seminarians who are bodybuilders, collectors of images of male athletes or fans of men who dress immodestly. As all these are possible tell-tale signs of a secret sodomitic proclivity, which when indulged will lead to moral delicts in the public forum against the 6th and 9th commandments.

    Once again, we need to get back to the basic and fundamental principles of Christianity, that no man who has a vice is fit to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which must be offered purely, by a pure priest, and all Sacraments likewise are unworthily received by anyone who has an unrepented vice, especially that of impurity.

    Purity in the priesthood then is connected by the same principle as the requirement for purity in the laity, that is, to the Sacraments. To even condone for a second the idea that the vice of sodomy can be tolerated in the priesthood, is to nullify the whole truth of the Catholic Religion, that nothing impure is worthy of God or of Heaven.

    What is needed is a call to repentance for all clergy religious and bishops, and laity; and those who refuse to repent ought without mercy to be expelled from office.

    But if the Pope won't do this, then what Our Lady said at Akita perhaps will then befall us, as the Lord will cleanse His House, if His Vicars refuse to act.

  13. Br. Alexis is, of course, right. I am not trying at all to defend the indefencible. However, I think New Catholic and some others are over-the-top with their desire for what amount to interrogations (which, by the way, have been used effectively by the Modernists against good, decent Catholics).

    Aside from issues of the internal forum, to my recollection, Canon Law also expressly forbids the use of psychological testing to determine a candidate's fitness for Holy Orders. That being said, it is quite clear that any Rector or Superior has the right and duty to use knowledge gained from the external forum, in order to decide whether a man should be ordained or not (or whether a Religious should be admitted to vows). That is also one reason why seminaries and Religious houses traditionally had strict Rules. When one allows the men (or women) too much freedom and free time, it is not only harmful to their formation, but an hindrance to supervising their behaviour, including any tell-tale signs of moral unsuitability.

  14. However they word the document really doesn't matter. Only a handful of bishops or formation directors are going to screen these guys out to begin with.

    Most will ignore it no matter what Rome says.

    But it's still disheartening that Rome can't even bring itself to state that these guys don't belong.

  15. Tradgrind thanks Simon-Peter and all those others who fleshed out the central meaning of what he said.

    As for the apologists for sodomites, I hate to confirm the bad news that, as one commentator intimated, they, too, are Hell-bound. "Down the primrose path to the everlasting bonfire" is how Shakespeare said it.

    In occultis non est homo judex. In the present context (get it?) that's the equivalent of what it was I used to step in when, as a lad, I was sent to muck out the cow stalls. What homosodomites do is occult precisely because evil loves darkness. Homosodomy, as a matter of fact, has no business remaining "occult". As one of the commentators pointed out, it must be brought to light in order to protect the future innocent.

    Ephraem's pathetic justification could be classified as sophistry; except sophistry, by definition, must bear some resemblance to sense. The "lady" begins to protest too much, methinks.

    As one fellow pointed out, and he is absolutely right, it doesn't matter what Rome says because nobody who doesn't want to pays any attention to anything that comes out of that wolf den; yet it is quite telling to find out where the Vatican's head is as it spins.

    As the old folk song put it: "Which side are you on, boys, which side are you on."

    In this case: either Christ's or Lucifer's.

  16. Simon Peter writes: “Is there a difference between a faithful, orthodox Catholic in a state of grace cross-examining a prospective seminarian, and a sodomite bishop / chancery official / seminary superior dead in his sins sending an orthodox priest or seminarian to be pyschlogically abused by a jew-freemason shrink? I think so. What's with the moral equivalency?”

    Nicely stated, which puts the lie to the entire reason for the instructions as currently written. Further, as a practical matter, does anyone think the sodomites will likewise desist from one of their favorite methods for culling out Catholics from their seminaries?

    Of course not. This is tantamount to being sold down the river without remuneration.

  17. "Has God called active and unrepentant sodomites to the priesthood?"

    Are we talking about these guys or about chaste and repentant men, struggling with those tendencies?
    Are they both the same?

  18. I think that "Tradgrind" has exceeded the limits of charity, and possibly of justice, with his rash judgements against those whom he falsely presumes to be defending sodomy in seminaries.

    He is like William Roper in "A Man for All Seasons", who would cut down all laws to get at the devil. How will he stand in the winds which then blow, when the devil turns on him to attack? It is the saintly Thomas More who seeks the protection of the Law, i.e., in those laws which are founded in Natural Law and Divine positive Law. The protection of the internal forum, which---as Tradgrind and some others seem to have forgotten---is absolute. The use of very fallible psychological profiles (which are themselves often immoral in nature, at least in part) often does injury to the natural, God-given dignity of the human person. That is why they are forbidden for discerning vocations. It is not permissible to use evil means to achieve a good end.

    One must remember that homosexualism is a pathology, as well as a deep-seated vice which literally enslaves the guilty person to the devil, even at times to the extent of demonic oppression or possession. That is one reason it is so difficult for those who want to turn from it, to do so, and why the Church's Sacraments and Sacramentals are so important. Homosexualists are involved in one of the four sins crying to Heaven for vengeance. They certainly do not scruple at bald-faced, pathological lying. So how does Tradgrind realistically propose to find them out, unless it is by direct observation of their public or quasi-public behaviour?

    Yelling and screaming about how evil these people are may make the writer feel good, but it does not remove the problem individuals from the Church's society. Homosexualists need a great deal of vicarious prayer and suffering on their behalf, as an aid to their conversion. Is Tradgrind willing to offer it? As for discovering their presence and amassing sufficient evidence to remove them from seminaries and Religious houses, that requires a great deal of wisdom and ingenuity on the part of Ordinaries and Superiors. Needless to say, most such authorities lack both qualities entirely, being themselves complicit in the homosexualist evil. So we are again thrust onto the Providence of God, and must implore Him by our prayers and fastings to deliver us from such wicked men and women.

  19. There is no possibility of sensible debate on this forum on this subject. I really object to having my motivations questioned for defending a traditional juridical maxim. Tradgrind's foaming at the mouth about sodomy illustrates precisely why the Holy See in her wisdom has restated these ideas.

  20. Readers, please calm down. I do not have the time to monitor these comment boxes all day.