Vatican Cardinal Says Gays Shouldn't
By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, 12/6/2002
VATICAN CITY - A top Vatican official, Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina
Estevez, has advised against bringing gays into the priesthood,
saying their ordination would be imprudent and ''risky.''
Medina Estevez's letter, reproduced in a church publication, comes
as the Vatican is drafting new guidelines for accepting candidates
for the priesthood. The guidelines are expected to address whether
gays should be barred.
His position reflects what appears to be the Vatican's emerging
public stance on the issue. Medina Estevez was the prefect for the
Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
when the letter was written, although he retired in October.
Ordination ''of homosexual men or men with homosexual tendencies
is absolutely inadvisable and imprudent, and from the pastoral point
of view, very risky,'' Medina Estevez wrote in a letter to an unidentified
cleric that was reprinted in the congregation's main publication,
''A homosexual person or someone with homosexual tendencies is
not, therefore, suitable to receive the sacrament of holy orders,''
he said in the letter, which was dated May 16 and published in Notitiae's
Medina Estevez's letter will probably fuel the debate about homosexuals
in the priesthood - a perennial Vatican issue that has received
new attention following the clergy sex abuse scandal in the United
News reports in Italy and the United States in recent weeks have
said that according to initial drafts of the new guidelines under
consideration, the Vatican has decided that seminaries should bar
men with homosexual tendencies.
That document is being prepared by another Vatican office, the
Congregation for Catholic Education, and isn't expected to be released
until next year.
A leader of an American organization of gay Catholics accused some
Vatican officials of using the scandal to further an antigay agenda.
''What proponents of this policy are playing into is an old, long-disproven
belief that gay men are more promiscuous and molest children,''
said Marianne Duddy, executive director of Dignity/USA. ''That's
it, plain and simple.''
''There's nothing that says that gay men are any more sexually
active than their straight counterparts or that their ministry is
in any way compromised by their sexuality,'' she said by phone from
In another indication of Vatican thinking, a member of another
Vatican congregation, the Rev. Andrew Baker, an American in the
Congregation for Bishops, argued in a September article in the Jesuit
magazine America that gays should not be ordained.
If a man is gay, Baker wrote, ''then he should not be admitted
to holy orders, and his presence in the seminary would not only
give him false hope but it may, in fact, hinder'' the therapy he
The magazine issued an editorial a few weeks later saying healthy
and dedicated gay priests make an important contribution to the
Yesterday, the Italian gay rights group Arcigay condemned Medina
Estevez's position, saying the Vatican was using gay priests as
a scapegoat in the sex abuse scandal. The Vatican is ''hiding behind
restrictive measures against gay seminarians and their own incapacity
to resolve the scourge of pedophilia in the clergy,'' Sergio Lo
Giudice, president of Arcigay, said in a statement. The group also
said a ban on gay priests would amount to a ''hemorrhage'' in the
priesthood, since it's already battling a drop in vocations.
The issue of gays in the priesthood has gained attention following
accusations, especially in the United States, that priests molested
children, and that church leaders tried to cover up wrongdoing.