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Vatican's gay
probe of American seminaries begins

Vatican's gay
probe of American seminaries begins

A Catholic seminary in St. Louis will be among the first in the country to be visited by Vatican officials seeking evidence of homosexuality. Bishop Michael Burbidge of Philadelphia will lead a five-member team that will visit Aquinas Institute of Theology September 25-29, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Friday. The purpose, according to the Vatican, is to "examine the criteria for admission of candidates and the programs of human formation and spiritual formation aimed at ensuring that they faithfully live chastely for the Kingdom."

Seminaries across the United States will be visited through next spring. St. Louis archbishop Raymond Burke and Belleville, Ill., bishop Edward K. Braxton will be among the 117 bishops and seminary staff sent to the seminaries. Visits will involve interviews with faculty, staff, seminarians, and recent alumni and will be overseen by the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education.

On Monday, Archbishop Edwin O'Brien, who oversees the evaluation effort, said most gay candidates for the priesthood struggle to remain celibate and that the church must restrict their enrollment. O'Brien said the church "really must stay on the safe side.... The same-sex attractions have gotten us into some legal problems." He said that the church is not "hounding" gays out of the priesthood but wants to enroll seminarians who can maintain their vows of celibacy.

The catechism of the Roman Catholic Church calls homosexual acts "acts of grave depravity" and "intrinsically disordered" because they "close the sexual act to the gift of life." But the catechism also says that although the inclination to homosexuality is "objectively disordered," gay men "must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity."

The Vatican ordered the seminary review three years ago in response to the clergy sex abuse crisis to look for anything that contributed to the scandal, which has led to more than 11,000 abuse claims in the last five decades. (AP)

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