Bishop John M. D'Arcy of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese in Indiana says the church must improve its screening process for accepting seminarians to keep gay men from being ordained into the priesthood. "We must be very careful of who we accept in the seminary and who we ordain as priests," D'Arcy, a former auxiliary bishop of Boston, said Sunday. "It's time to ordain men of quality, not to just look for numbers." D'Arcy, who was in Boston to attend Mass at Our Lady of the Presentation Church, the parish where he grew up, said he hopes the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will discuss screening policies for the seminary when it meets this fall and will take a firm stance against homosexual men serving as priests.
The Reverend Christopher J. Coyne, spokesman for the Boston archdiocese, said that although there has been some discussion among members of the archdiocese and the Vatican about the possibility of barring homosexuals from the priesthood, no decisions have been made. "The main issue is celibacy," Coyne said, adding that D'Arcy's concerns about gay priests are not necessarily shared by others. Coyne said that only 20% of the applicants for priesthood in the archdiocese of Boston are accepted by the church. "I don't see the need here in Boston," he said of a possible overhaul of the screening process. "I can say the process in Boston is a good one."
In an interview with The Boston Globe after the morning Mass, D'Arcy said that while only heterosexual men should be allowed to become priests, they must embrace celibacy. D'Arcy, who in private letters to other church officials as early as 1978 questioned the reassignment of Boston archdiocese priests accused of sexual misconduct, said that to put a gay man in the mostly male environment of the priesthood is unfair. "We don't put these [heterosexual] men in with attractive women," he said, referring to seminarians. "You're putting him in with men. It's not fair to him,
it's not fair to them, it's not fair to the church." D'Arcy said priests with the right temperament for the job will attract more good men to work for the church. "If we ordain men with pathologies and difficulties, they will draw the same kind," he said. "Don't just pray for priests, pray for priests of good quality."
D'Arcy has written previously about his concerns regarding the church's failure to remove abusive priests from the ministry. In one letter, written in 1984, he warned Cardinal Bernard Law about the Reverend John Geoghan's "history of homosexual involvement [with] young boys." Geoghan was killed in prison, allegedly by a fellow inmate, last year. He was accused of abusing 150 children and was a key figure in the clergy sex abuse scandal that has engulfed the Boston archdiocese.