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.