The following excerpts from the document issued by the Vatican on November 29 were translated into English by Catholic World News
I. Emotional Maturity and Spiritual Fatherhood
According to the constant tradition of the Church, baptized males alone may validly receive Holy Orders. By means of the sacrament of Orders, the Holy Spirit configures the candidate to a new and specific role, Jesus Christ: the priest, in fact, sacramentally represents Christ, Head, Shepherd, and Bridegroom of the Church… The candidate for ordained ministry, therefore, must reach emotional maturity. That maturity renders him able to put himself in the proper relation with men and women, developing in him a true sense of spiritual fatherhood toward the ecclesial community entrusted to him.
II. Homosexuality and Ordained Ministry
From Vatican II until today, several documents of the Magisterium—and especially the Catechism of the Catholic Church— have confirmed the teaching of the Church on homosexuality. The Catechism differentiates between homosexual acts and homosexual tendencies. Regarding acts, it teaches that, in Sacred Scripture, these are presented as grave sins. Tradition has constantly considered them to be intrinsically immoral and contrary to natural law. These, consequently, may not be approved in any case.
Concerning profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies, that one discovers in a certain number of men and women, these are also objectively disordered and often constitute a trial, even for these men and women. These people must be received with respect and delicacy; one will avoid every mark of unjust discrimination with respect to them… In light of this teaching, this department, in agreement with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, holds it necessary clearly to affirm that the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, may not admit to the seminary and Holy Orders those who practice homosexuality, show profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called gay culture.
The above persons find themselves, in fact, in a situation that gravely obstructs a right way of relating with men and women. The negative consequences that may derive from the Ordination of persons with profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies are by no means to by ignored. If, however, one is dealing with homosexual tendencies that may be simply the expression of a transitory problem, such as for example an adolescence not yet complete, such tendencies must be overcome at least three years before Ordination to the diaconate.
III. Discernment of Qualification of the Candidates on the Part of the Church
Vocation is a gift of divine grace, received through the Church, in the Church, and for the service of the Church… The desire alone to become a priest is not sufficient and there is no right to receive Ordination. It is the duty of the Church—in Her responsibility to define the necessary requisites for the reception of the Sacraments instituted by Christ—to discern the qualification of he who wishes to enter the seminary, to accompany him during his years of formation, and to call him to Holy Orders, if he be judged to be in possession of the requisite qualities… To admit a candidate to the Ordination to the diaconate, the Church must verify, among others, that he has reached the emotional maturity of a candidate for the priesthood.
The call to Orders is the personal responsibility of the bishop or the major superior… In the case of a serious doubt in this respect, they must not admit him to ordination…
In the discernment of qualification for Ordination, there is a grave duty for the spiritual director. While being bound by secrecy, he represents the Church in the internal forum. In meetings with the candidate, the spiritual director must especially remember the demands of the Church regarding priestly celibacy and the emotional maturity specific of a priest, as well as help him to discern if he has the necessary qualities. He has the obligation to assess all the qualities of the personality and to ascertain that the candidate does not present sexual troubles incompatible with the priesthood. If a candidate practices homosexuality or presents profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies, his spiritual director, like his confessor, must dissuade him, in conscience, from proceeding towards Ordination.
It remains understood that the candidate himself has the first responsibility for his own formation… It would be gravely dishonest if a candidate were to hide his own homosexuality to enter, notwithstanding everything, to Ordination. An attitude so inauthentic does not correspond to the spirit of truth, allegiance, and availability that must characterize the personality of he who believes to be called to serve Christ and His Church in the priestly ministry.
This Congregation confirms the necessity that the bishops, the superior generals, and all the responsible involved fulfill a painstaking discernment regarding the qualification of candidates for Holy Orders, from the admission to the seminary until Ordination… The bishops, the episcopal conferences, and the superior generals must be vigilant that the norms of this instruction be observed faithfully for the good of the candidates themselves and always to guarantee to the Church suitable priests, true pastors according to the Heart of Christ.
The Sovereign Pontiff Benedict XVI, August 31 2005, approved this Instruction and ordered its publication.
Rome, November 4, 2005, Memorial of Saint Charles Borromeo, Patron of Seminaries
Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect
Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB; Secretary