A much-anticipated Vatican document barring homosexuals from the priesthood was issued Tuesday.
The new Vatican document is short but there are no surprises in its position regarding gays entering the priesthood. It makes it very clear that what it refers to as disturbances of a sexual nature are incompatible with the priesthood.
It bars practicing homosexuals, those with deep-seated homosexual tendencies and those who support a gay culture from becoming priests or entering seminaries.
The document says only men who have clearly overcome homosexual tendencies for at least three years can be admitted to the priesthood.
The document restates church teaching that deep-seated homosexual tendencies are objectively disordered and that homosexual acts are grave sins.
It also says candidates for the priesthood must not hide their homosexuality as this would be gravely dishonest and deceitful.
The document makes no reference to existing gay priests in the Catholic Church. But it says gays must be treated with respect and sensitivity and must not be discriminated against.
Gay groups say the church is using homosexuals as scapegoats to deflect attention from its sexual abuse scandals. The document had been in the works for years, but its existence came to light in 2002 at the height of the sex abuse scandal in the United States.
Pope Benedict XVI approved the document, known as an Instruction on August 31, just four months after his election. Because it was issued as an instruction and not in forma specifica, it could mean there is room for further interpretation or revision. Homosexuals had already been barred from priesthood in a 1961 document.