Vatican official condemns gay priests

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com September 20 2002 11:00 PM ET

A staff member of an influential Vatican office has published an article arguing that gays should not be ordained as priests in the wake of the clerical sexual abuse scandal.

Monsignor Andrew Baker of the Congregation of Bishops wrote that if a man is gay, "then he should not be admitted to holy orders, and his presence in the seminary would not only give him false hope but it may, in fact, hinder the therapy he needs."

Baker said Friday that he sought permission from no one to write the article, which appears in an upcoming issue of the Jesuit magazine America, due out Monday. Vatican observers see Baker's arguments as evidence of the Holy See's views on homosexuality at a critical time for the Roman Catholic Church.

"The Congregation for Bishops is one of the most important offices in the Vatican because it deals with bishops' conferences and it also recommends names to the pope to appoint bishops around the world," said the Reverend Thomas Reese, editor of the New York-based magazine. "I think the article helps us understand the thinking of at least some people in the Vatican on the question of ordaining gay men."

Baker frames the article by noting that "the church and society have focused partly on the role of homosexuality" in the clerical sex abuse scandal. Most of the victims of molestation by priests have been adolescent boys. Experts on sex offenders say there is no credible evidence that homosexuals are more likely than heterosexuals to abuse children, but several church leaders have concluded that gay clergy are to blame for the scandal that has plagued the American church this year.