Just days after appearing to affirm LGBTQ people, Pope Francis allegedly told leadership in the Vatican to reject gay priests.
“Keep an eye on the admissions to seminaries,” the Church’s highest-ranking official reportedly said during a closed-door meeting, according to the Vatican Insider service at the La Stampa newspaper in Turin, Italy. “Keep your eyes open. If in doubt, better not let them enter.”
The comments were made in response to a series of molestation scandals which have rocked the Catholic Church since a Boston Globe investigation in 2002 revealed rampant sexual assault in the priesthood.
Blaming the problem on the presence of gay men within Catholic leadership would seem to be a striking about-face from earlier comments reportedly made to a gay sexual abuse survivor which broke earlier this week. During a three-day visit with the Vatican in April, Juan Carlos Cruz claimed that the Pope told him that God “made [him] like this.”
“God loves you like this,” Pope Francis reportedly said. “The Pope loves you like this and you should love yourself and not worry about what people say.”
Although the apparent reversal on LGBTQ rights might come as a surprise in light of the Pope’s famous “Who am I to judge?” statement on homosexuality, the reality is thatFrancis’ remarks are very much in line with previous rhetoric on the inclusion of gay priests in the Catholic Church.
A 2005 document from the Vatican claimed candidates for the priesthood with “homosexual tendencies” must overcome their same-sex attractions “at least three years before ordination.” It added that the Catholic Church “cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture.’”
The memorandum was issued under the tenure of Pope Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict. Also in 2005, Benedict infamously claimed the LGBTQ community has “a strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil” and said marriage equality threatens the “future of humanity.”
Over the past half-decade, Pope Francis has been lauded for softening the Catholic Church’s stance toward queer and trans people.
On the subject of whether LGBTQ individuals will be allowed to enter heaven, Francis claimed in 2016: “When a person arrives before Jesus, Jesus certainly will not say: ‘Go away because you are homosexual.’” He has also added that homosexuals cannot be banished to hell because “it doesn’t exist.”
But one thing that has not changed under Francis is the Vatican’s position on gay priests. A document published three years after his papacy began is nearly identical to earlier rhetoric.
“If a candidate practices homosexuality or presents deep-seated homosexual tendencies, his spiritual director as well as his confessor have the duty to dissuade him in conscience from proceeding towards ordination,” claimed the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy in the 2016 document, “The Gift of the Priestly Vocation.”
As INTO previously pointed out, Francis’ inflammatory statements on transgender people has far outstripped his predecessor in extremity.
The Pope has compared the movement for trans rights to nuclear holocaust and mass murder, saying that affirming the identities of transgender youth is “causing a world war against marriage.” He further claimed that so-called “gender theory” is “terrible” and “nasty.”
Pope Francis has yet to make a public statement on either the La Stampa report or Juan Carlos Cruz’s comments.
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