Pope Francis urges homosexual priests and nuns to be celibate, or leave

Pope Francis pictured against white wall of St Peter's Square ahead of his weekly audience with followers

In his clearest comments on the subject yet, Pope Francis says active homosexuals in the Catholic Church should leave, rather than live a “double life”.

Key points

  • Pope makes remarks in new book discussing challenges of religious life
  • He says candidates must be “humanly and emotionally mature”
  • Church teaches homosexuality not sinful, but homosexual sex is

While he has previously spoken of the need for better screening of candidates for the religious life, his comments, in a new book, suggesting priests who cannot keep their vows of celibacy should leave are some of his clearest to date.

Pope Francis made the comments in a book-length interview with Spanish priest Fernando Prado, called The Strength of Vocation, in which he discusses the challenges of being a priest or nun today.

Pope Francis said in the book that homosexuality in the Church “is something that worries me”.

It is due to be published this week in several languages.

“The question of homosexuality is a very serious one,” he said, adding that those entrusted with training men to be priests must be certain candidates are “humanly and emotionally mature” before they can be ordained.

This also applied to women who wanted to enter female religious communities to become nuns.

In the Catholic Church, priests, nuns and monks all take vows of celibacy.

Francis says ‘no room’ for people with ‘this rooted tendency’

The Church teaches that homosexual tendencies are not sinful in themselves, but homosexual acts are.

Francis said there was “no room for this” in the lives of priests and nuns, adding that the church had to be “demanding” in choosing candidates for what is known as the consecrated life.

“For this reason, the church urges that persons with this rooted tendency not be accepted into [priestly] ministry or consecrated life,” he said.

He urged homosexuals who are already priests or nuns to be celibate and responsible to avoid creating scandal.

“It is better that they leave the priesthood or the consecrated life rather than live a double life,” Pope Francis.

Conservative Archbishop speaks of Vatican ‘homosexual network’


The Pope’s interview was conducted in mid-August. Less than two weeks later, on August 26, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the Vatican’s former ambassador to the US, threw the church into turmoil with a bombshell statement against the Pope and Vatican officials.

Archbishop Vigano said a “homosexual network” existed in the Vatican, whose members helped promote each other’s careers in the church.

He also accused the Pope of having ignored alleged sexual misconduct with adult male seminarians by former American cardinal Theodore McCarrick, 88.

The Vatican said Archbishop Vigano’s accusations were riddled with “calumny and defamation”.

In July, Mr McCarrick became the first cardinal to resign in nearly 100 years after US church officials said allegations made in a separate investigation that he had sexually abused a 16-year-old boy almost 50 years ago were credible and substantiated.

Mr McCarrick has said he had no recollection of the alleged abuse of the minor, but has not commented on the allegations of misconduct with the seminarians, which allegedly took place decades ago.

The Catholic Church has been haunted for more than two decades by evidence of thousands of cases of sexual abuse of minors by clergy around the world, in countries ranging from the United States to Australia, Ireland, Belgium, Germany and Chile.

In 2017, RMIT University published a landmark report into the findings of 26 royal commissions and other enquiries from Australia, Ireland, Canada, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

It found the risk of sexual abuse was much higher in institutions where priests and brothers had minimal contact with women, citing that about 7 per cent of all clergy abused children between 1950 and 2000 — about one in 15 priests globally.

The authors noted many men who were ordained were, “psychosexually immature, psychosexually maldeveloped and sexually deprived and deeply frustrated male priests and religious, particularly those who had not satisfactorily resolved their own sexual identity”



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