Can someone with HIV be admitted to the priesthood?


#1

Can someone with HIV be admitted to the priesthood?


#2

Don't really know..

Seems like for health reasons the answer should be "No".. There is a lot of person to person contact as a Catholic Priest which would cause a spread of the disease.. But, then there may be a way to be a "limited priest" and not pass on the HIV.

I'm sure if there is a dean of seminary reading this thread he will give you the proper answer. (???)


#3

[quote="Will_B, post:2, topic:207247"]
Seems like for health reasons the answer should be "No".. There is a lot of person to person contact as a Catholic Priest which would cause a spread of the disease.

[/quote]

HIV does not spread by person-to-person contact, HIV can only spread by exchange of bodily fluids, something which I highly doubt your run-of-the-mill priest will have to do.


#4

True on how HIV is spread… The one big sacrament that separates a priest from deacons and lay person is the celebration of the Mass… Unless a lot of precautions are taken, and a lot of understanding from the people receiving; HIV could be spread during this sacrament…

I’m not sure if priest are allowed to wear surgical gloves while celebrating the Eucharist.


#5

i don't see why a priest would need to wear surgical gloves as HIV is not transferred that way. a complication here is that bread crumbs may attack to the gloves, so the priest would have to purify that as well

HIV isn't even transferred via a small amount of saliva. although i can imagine if a priest does have HIV, he'll probably need a second chalice all the time if anyone else would want to receive the Blood of Christ


#6

Of course! It should be no problem - he’ll have to look after his health though, the strain of the workload might be trying.


#7

Having recently applied to the seminary, and having been tested for HIV as part of this, I can say that it is complicated. It just depends.

There are several cases in which it could disqualify you. First, it may be because you simply will die soon. If you are going to do within a decade, there is not much point in ordaining you, is there? Education for a priest lasts at least 8 years, so if your deadline for life is around that period of time, there would be no point in training you. So that could disqualify you. Another thing could be that it might point to you being a homosexual. Homosexuals have significantly higher rates of HIV infection than heterosexuals, so this might be a hint that you have sexual preferences that would not be good in a priest. If they were able to find out that you are in fact a homosexual, that could disqualify you.

On the other hand, it might not disqualify you. HIV can only really be transmitted through bodily fluids, so it is possible for you to consecrate bread and wine without infecting anyone. Granted, it is hard to transmit HIV through saliva, but I would not allow anyone to drink from your chalice, just to be safe. And if you did not get it through homosexual activity, then you most certainly won't be disqualified for that. Finally, if you still have many years to live (which modern medicine can allow for) then you could perhaps be allowed to become a priest, because you will not simply die before ordination, or soon after.

So really, it depends on why you got the disease, and how far along you are in it.


#8

[quote="Biedrik, post:7, topic:207247"]
Having recently applied to the seminary, and having been tested for HIV as part of this, I can say that it is complicated. It just depends.

There are several cases in which it could disqualify you. First, it may be because you simply will die soon. If you are going to do within a decade, there is not much point in ordaining you, is there? Education for a priest lasts at least 8 years, so if your deadline for life is around that period of time, there would be no point in training you. So that could disqualify you. Another thing could be that it might point to you being a homosexual. Homosexuals have significantly higher rates of HIV infection than heterosexuals, so this might be a hint that you have sexual preferences that would not be good in a priest. If they were able to find out that you are in fact a homosexual, that could disqualify you.

On the other hand, it might not disqualify you. HIV can only really be transmitted through bodily fluids, so it is possible for you to consecrate bread and wine without infecting anyone. Granted, it is hard to transmit HIV through saliva, but I would not allow anyone to drink from your chalice, just to be safe. And if you did not get it through homosexual activity, then you most certainly won't be disqualified for that. Finally, if you still have many years to live (which modern medicine can allow for) then you could perhaps be allowed to become a priest, because you will not simply die before ordination, or soon after.

So really, it depends on why you got the disease, and how far along you are in it.

[/quote]

That doesn't sound right - if someones heavenly divine calling is to the priesthood what difference does it make if they die today, tomorrow or in 30 years... the POINT is to serve God 100 ¨per cent until we die.

No I cannot believe this is church policy it must be your persona opinion which I respect but since you didn't quote anythign official I have to dismiss it as such.

Our holy church would never ever refuse someone just because they are sick it is unthinkable to me so I reject this totally.

No disrespect intended

God bless


#9

[quote="choy, post:5, topic:207247"]

HIV isn't even transferred via a small amount of saliva. although i can imagine if a priest does have HIV, he'll probably need a second chalice all the time if anyone else would want to receive the Blood of Christ

[/quote]

There has never been a documented case of HIV transmission via saliva. While it is true that a small amount of HIV is present in saliva (quickie tests use saliva), there is no reason to think that it is a risk. However, parishioner fears may be an issue. There is a great deal of misunderstanding among the general public regarding HIV, and excessive concern is not uncommon.


#10

[quote="Cashue, post:8, topic:207247"]
That doesn't sound right - if someones heavenly divine calling is to the priesthood what difference does it make if they die today, tomorrow or in 30 years... the POINT is to serve God 100 ¨per cent until we die.

No I cannot believe this is church policy it must be your persona opinion which I respect but since you didn't quote anythign official I have to dismiss it as such.

Our holy church would never ever refuse someone just because they are sick it is unthinkable to me so I reject this totally.

No disrespect intended

God bless

[/quote]

It's logistical. If someone has late stage AIDS (remember, there is a difference between HIV and AIDS too) then they're going to die soon. The Church has to be practical.

There are also other ways to serve God besides the priesthood. It's often an argument from those proponents of women "priests" that they can't "serve God without being a priest", which is false. A lay person can be an example of holiness just as a priest or a religious can. They could run for office and attempt to bring Catholicism into politics, or in whatever their profession is. They could do charitable or philanthropic work.

To say that not being a priest is an obstacle to serving God is absolutely false though.


#11

[quote="Cashue, post:8, topic:207247"]
That doesn't sound right - if someones heavenly divine calling is to the priesthood what difference does it make if they die today, tomorrow or in 30 years... the POINT is to serve God 100 ¨per cent until we die.

No I cannot believe this is church policy it must be your persona opinion which I respect but since you didn't quote anythign official I have to dismiss it as such.

Our holy church would never ever refuse someone just because they are sick it is unthinkable to me so I reject this totally.

No disrespect intended

God bless

[/quote]

As someone who has gone through the experience of applying to religious communities, I can tell you health is certainly an issue that could keep you out. I don't know how the diocesan priesthood does it, or if it's the same. However, I have known people who have had to leave religious life for medical reasons, and if they couldn't get better, or at least somewhat better, they couldn't make vows. It actually makes sense, when you think about it, since a person needs to be able to perform the tasks of the community. Just like there are age limitations for entrance in some communities, so there are considerations with health. This doesn't mean they won't take someone who's sick, but it's a very serious situation. I don't know how this would work w/the question of HIV - I doubt if religious communities would have that, since there is such close quarters being shared and while infection is only through bodily fluids, there is the possibility that it could be an issue. The bottom line is if a person has a vocation, God has to give them the grace to live it - and if the community requires you to be at a certain stage of health (or at least not terminally ill), then it's not God's will for you, at least not in that community. I'm sure it's a similar thing with the priesthood - we respect Holy Mother Church in how She works through the authority of Her members, particularly her priests and religious.


#12

[quote="Cashue, post:8, topic:207247"]
That doesn't sound right - if someones heavenly divine calling is to the priesthood what difference does it make if they die today, tomorrow or in 30 years... the POINT is to serve God 100 ¨per cent until we die.

No I cannot believe this is church policy it must be your persona opinion which I respect but since you didn't quote anythign official I have to dismiss it as such.

Our holy church would never ever refuse someone just because they are sick it is unthinkable to me so I reject this totally.

No disrespect intended

God bless

[/quote]

Actually, when they die is a big deal. Simply, why accept a man to the seminary, if he is going to die in 4 years? In our times, training for priesthood takes about 8 years. If someone is to die before that, then what purpose is there in putting them in seminary? The Church must be practical, so it cannot accept those who will die before their ordination. This is not personal opinion. The vocation director of the Archdiocese of Boston told me that the reason for why they wanted my medical information was to in fact make sure that I wasn't going to die very soon. While I have no official document that says so, I imagine that if you asked any vocation director of a diocese if they would accept into the seminary a person who would not be able to complete their training, they would tell you no. In the end, it is just a matter of practicality. The Church is in no way "holding back" such a person, because this person will not be able to achieve priesthood anyways.


#13

[quote="Cashue, post:8, topic:207247"]
That doesn't sound right - if someones heavenly divine calling is to the priesthood what difference does it make if they die today, tomorrow or in 30 years... the POINT is to serve God 100 ¨per cent until we die.

No I cannot believe this is church policy it must be your persona opinion which I respect but since you didn't quote anythign official I have to dismiss it as such.

Our holy church would never ever refuse someone just because they are sick it is unthinkable to me so I reject this totally.

No disrespect intended

God bless

[/quote]

No one has a right to ordination.

The Church is the one that calls one forward. If the Church does not call then there is no vocation.

No one has a right. Any diocese or religious order/community can use any criteria they wish in determining who they will accept and who they will not.

Health is a good one as it can be expensive. Also, at this date, there are many, if not most, health care plans that exclude preexisting conditions so if a man enters with HIV it may not be covered by the insurance of the diocese/religious order/community and they will have to figure out a way to cover the cost of the drugs which are not cheap.


#14

Interesting that in the US at least some dioceses test for HIV. I was accepted in the UK for seminary training (I didn't begin it though, for reasons I won't go into here) and while I had a health assessment I didn't have an HIV test, just a urine sample to cover things like drug use, diabetes, etc.

Medical science has moved on such that HIV is fast becoming a chronic condition rather than an acute and fast death sentence. That doesn't mean to say it's any less serious or even that the treatment for it is remotely pleasant, but one shouldn't automatically assume that a person newly diagnosed with HIV is going to be dead within 10 years. Doctors are now suggesting that for most patients a lifespan relatively equivalent to healthy people should be expected. In such a case priesthood should still be a possibility, sensible public health precautions notwithstanding.

Apart from anything else, an HIV+ status need not be read as a person being a promiscuous homosexual. It could have been contracted in any number of ways, not least infected needles (not just drugs, but an accidental needle stick in an operating theatre from someone unknowingly a carrier), tainted blood transfusion, infected plasma in the case of haemophilia, etc. One cannot justly jump to conclusions about such things.


#15

Is your favorite word ‘simply,’ by any chance?

Nice blog, btw.


#16

Thank you. And I don’t have favorite words so much as ones that I unintentionally re-use a lot. Finally, simply basically, in the end, etc.


#17

[quote="DexUK, post:14, topic:207247"]
Medical science has moved on such that HIV is fast becoming a chronic condition rather than an acute and fast death sentence. That doesn't mean to say it's any less serious or even that the treatment for it is remotely pleasant, but one shouldn't automatically assume that a person newly diagnosed with HIV is going to be dead within 10 years. Doctors are now suggesting that for most patients a lifespan relatively equivalent to healthy people should be expected. In such a case priesthood should still be a possibility, sensible public health precautions notwithstanding.

[/quote]

While it is true that some view it as a "chronic" condition there is still no cure and it is fatal. The cost of medication can also be an issue.

Also there has been an upsurge in the reported cases of drug resistant HIV.

Apart from anything else, an HIV+ status need not be read as a person being a promiscuous homosexual. It could have been contracted in any number of ways, not least infected needles (not just drugs, but an accidental needle stick in an operating theatre from someone unknowingly a carrier), tainted blood transfusion, infected plasma in the case of haemophilia, etc. One cannot justly jump to conclusions about such things.

While this is true it can be seen as a red flag and necessitate more questions in certain areas of ones life.


#18

Wow!...1st of all as far as health risk and it's spread...HIV can not live out side of the body! The reason why there is little to no HIV detected in saliva is because the oral cavity simply isn't a hospitable environment for the virus! Anti retroviral medication/therapy allows for longevity and relative survivability. As someone mentioned early on...The medication is Very costly...Regarding one's sexuality, its absolutely wreckless;unless someone is an active homosexual, to disqualify an individual based on this criteria. THERE ARE HOMOSEXUAL AND "PEDOPHILIAC" (not sure that's spelled correctly) PRIESTS!!! We are not a perfect church and we never claimed to be...we were built on the Rock; i.e Peter, who many times fell short of God's grace! (cutting slave's ear in the Garden....Denying our Lord)...Yet it was his desire to know and love God more...Through admitting;in humility, his faults and shortcomings!

The priesthood is not the only way to serve GOD! but for some....It is! Some may have to go through hell to get to Heaven! Where i am from we say "who feels it...KNOWS"...in short someone who may have battled sexual conflict and perversion of God's Design for human sexuality can better MINISTER to the community than someone who lived in prudence! Someone infected with HIV knows what its like to hope and pray they wake up the next morning....Realizing that their body may be stained but in God's eyes their soul can be cleansed and redeemed...Their testimony can bring as much and yes, MORE consolation to the sick, downtrodden and despondent!

I understand limitation of resources and the safeguarding of this vocation (let's be real....people may molest/misuse the priesthood so as to obtain medication or coverage and a live-in community with other men may definitely not be an ideal situation for someone battling homosexuality), but let's give our Church a little bit of credit, I am certain there are there are psychological assessments that are performed! Further to this, shouldn't our Church take these troubled souls and maybe put them in areas where there skills and experiences can be used for the Glory of God!? Jesus came to give the Good news to the Poor...To tell prisoners that they are prisoners no more....tell blind people that they can see...and Set the Down trodden free!(love that hymn btw) Jesus said those who are well aren't in need of a physician! He ate and drank with tax collectors and sinners!

I pray that one's health status, sexuality, and past misdeeds are not grounds for automatic disqualification...because it then begs the question of what are WE as a Church ; THE BRIDE of CHRIST, doing about reformation, healing and Vocation!

Peace and God Bless You

Your Brother in Christ


#19

[quote="Cashue, post:8, topic:207247"]
That doesn't sound right - if someones heavenly divine calling is to the priesthood what difference does it make if they die today, tomorrow or in 30 years... the POINT is to serve God 100 ¨per cent until we die.

No I cannot believe this is church policy it must be your persona opinion which I respect but since you didn't quote anythign official I have to dismiss it as such.

Our holy church would never ever refuse someone just because they are sick it is unthinkable to me so I reject this totally.

[/quote]

I don't think this is true. Religious orders have certain criteria for admission. The Church can and does refuse to accept certain people based on physical and/or mental illnesses. The criteria may vary based on which order one is trying to enter. I assume the priesthood's requirements are quite strict compared to other orders, although I am not sure what they are. They may vary based on each person trying to enter.


#20

If the calling to the priesthood is really what God wants for someone. Nothing will prevent it, not even illness/HIV. God can do whatever He wants!


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