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Task Force denounces Vatican guidelines barring gay men from the priesthood; Calls upon gay priests to come out and for Catholic

Date: 
November 29, 2005

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Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications
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Nov. 29 — Today, the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Vatican department in charge of seminaries, officially announced a new “instruction” ordering seminaries to bar candidates who "practice homosexuality, present deeply rooted homosexual tendencies or support so-called gay culture.” The new document was approved by Pope Benedict XVI on August 31. It does not call for the removal of gay men who are already serving as priests.

Statement by Matt Foreman, executive director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

"Today, the Vatican made it official: gay men should not be priests. This is appalling on two levels. First, it defames all gay people because it is part of a calculated campaign to blame gay men for the Church’s own criminal conduct in fostering and covering up decades of sex abuse of children and young people. Second, in stating that, ‘One cannot ignore the negative consequences that can stem from the ordination of people with deeply rooted homosexual tendencies,’ the Vatican is saying to the thousands of gay priests who have given their lives to serving the Church that they should never have been ordained in the first place.

"For years, the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has been fixated on attacking lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, pouring its vast institutional resources into attempts to block basic civil rights protections for our community. Even today, with parishes and schools closing and church property being sold to pay off sex abuse claims, bishops find millions of dollars in their budgets to promote state constitutional amendments that bar same-sex marriage.

"Over this same period, there has been broad silence from gay and bisexual priests and the thousands of Roman Catholics who know and love them. This was understandable given Vatican crackdowns on priests and nuns who have spoken in support of equal rights for LGBT people, the ambiguity of seminary admission and ordination policies, and a simple but stubborn conviction on the part of many Catholics that the Church is really made up of the ‘people of God,’ not pronouncements from the hierarchy.

"Today, that silence must end. We urge gay priests and seminarians to come out and denounce this affront to their faith, vocation and dignity. We call upon all other priests and bishops of good conscience to stand up for their brothers. And, most importantly, we call upon Catholics to vociferously reject this shameful instruction."

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.