Vatican Consultant Defends New Document on Homosexuality

The Vatican had always made it clear to bar homosexuals from the priesthood. However, the recent Instruction on homosexuality needed to be published, said a Vatican consultant, as the issue posed to be a greater problem of concern.

Msgr. Tony Anatrella, a French Jesuit who is a consultant to the Pontifical Council on the Family, drew attention to the question of accepting homosexual men into priesthood that had been repeatedly raised. Council decisions had always rejected admitting men who were homosexual. A 1961 Vatican document had also affirmed their being barred from the priesthood.

"Homosexuality has become an increasingly worrisome problem," Anatrella wrote in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano. Accepting homosexuality could have a "destabling" effect on the lives of the individuals and on society, he added.

In an I Media interview, Msgr. Anatrella, who labeled homosexuality as a "tendency and not an identity," said homosexual men who become priests create complications even when chaste.

"Pastoral relations are very much complicated, and sometimes the teaching of the Church is neglected," he said. "The psychological effects of their tendency have repercussions on the pastoral level."

While protests may rise over the Vatican Instruction, especially from homosexual men who are already serving as priests, Msgr. Anatrella said, "Within the clergy, homosexuals do not represent an important proportion; they are a minority."

Although the Instruction restricts homosexual men from seminary training and priesthood, it still insists on respectful treatment of homosexual persons, the French psychologist noted.

The contents of the Instruction were first released last week through a source leak and the document made its official public debut on Nov. 29.