Vatican official writes antigay letter

BY Advocate.com Editors

December 06 2002 12:00 AM ET

The ordination of gay men into the priesthood is "imprudent" and "very risky," according to an article by a top Vatican official. The claim, by Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez, will likely fuel the debate about gays in the priesthood--a perennial issue that has gained new attention in light of the ongoing clergy sex abuse scandal in the United States and elsewhere. Medina Estevez, the recently retired prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, offered his thoughts about gays in the priesthood in a letter published in the congregation's magazine, Notitiae.

Ordination "of homosexual men or men with homosexual tendencies is absolutely inadvisable and imprudent and, from the pastoral point of view, very risky," Medina Estevez wrote. "A homosexual person or someone with homosexual tendencies is not, therefore, suitable to receive the sacrament of holy orders," he said in the letter to an unnamed cleric dated May 16 and published in the magazine's November-December editions.

The Vatican is drafting new guidelines for accepting candidates into the priesthood that are expected to address the ordination of gays. The document--being prepared by the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education--is not expected before next year. News reports in Italy and the United States in recent weeks have hinted that initial drafts of the new guidelines will recommend that seminaries bar men with gay tendencies.

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