Does the Church forbid homosexual men from becoming priests?

Does the Church forbid homosexual men from becoming priests? In determining a priestly candidates worthiness, are bishops required to query whether the candidate is gay or is it the practice of bishops to “don’ ask, don’t tell”?

Dear O,

This matter is usually dealt with on a diocese by diocese basis. Most and probably all dioceses and religious orders ask candidates to state their sexual orientation. If they are living a celibate life-style, at this time most dioceses and religious orders do accept them (all things being equal).

While most of the examples of clergy abuse appear to be homosexual in nature and such abuse is truly reprehensible, it is important to recognize that there are many, many people in the Church who live daily with the cross of such sexual orientation in a quiet, chaste manner. Further, many of these people are faithful clergy and religious.

The knowledge that there are any homosexually-oriented clergy and religious can be very disturbing to some people—regardless that such clergy and religious are chaste. From what I as a priest have seen, such sexual orientation is far more disturbing to those individuals who are themselves burdened with it. Because of the fidelity of such faithful clergy and religious, Rome has been reluctant to make a blanket restriction. After all such people are chaste because of the Lord’s favor. Without the favor of His grace, no one can be chaste regardless of sexual orientation.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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