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

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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