April 24, 2017

For immediate release

Priests’ association: Persons living chaste lives can be admitted to the priesthood

 • What is required is integration of sexual identity with Catholic Christian faith and spirituality

 • Sexuality not a “tendency” but a “dimension” of personality

The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests is reacting to a vocations document from the Vatican that uses terms that are considered “ambiguous and disrespectful of the personhood of those who identify with a homosexual orientation.” These individuals and groups “are part of our family” and they “our brothers and sisters,” said a statement February 23, 2017 from the AUSCP.

The document, The Gift if Priestly Vocation, was issued by the Congregation for the Clergy, December 8, 2016. The priests’ group reported “serious concern” about the section on “Persons with Homosexual Tendencies.”

The AUSCP response to that document was publically distributed by means of an electronic newsletter to AUSCP members, April 19. The newsletter noted that “the AUSCP Leadership Team voiced its concerns to the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors, the USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life & Vocations, the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus, and the National Association of Hispanic Priests of the USA.” The statement was also included in a mailing to all U.S. bishops.

According to the priests’ group, the language of the congregation’s 2016 document seems to be contrary to the language used by the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Marriage and Family, in Always Our Children. That 1997 document sees sexual orientation not as “tendencies” or “deep-seated tendencies,” but rather as “a deep-seated dimension of one’s personality” and calls for recognition that sexual orientation is a “relative stability in a person.”

The priests’ group went on to say that Always Our Children stated that “homosexual persons who are living chaste lives should have opportunities to lead and serve the community.” That view is quite opposed to the recent Vatican document that implies that ordained priests with a homosexual orientation who serve the Church with distinction “find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women.” That section of the document is “unfounded and insulting,” the priests’ group said.

If the Congregation for the Clergy document had stated that heterosexual and homosexual persons who are living chaste lives can be admitted to ordination to the priesthood it would have been more respectful and inclusive, the document said. “The issue for discernment is whether the applicant or candidate has integrated his sexual identity with Catholic Christian faith and spirituality.”

The priests’ statement concluded by citing the 2017 World Day of Peace message from Pope Francis. The Jubilee of Mercy last year taught that the individuals and groups that are treated with indifference and subjected to injustice and violence “too are part of our family” and that “they too are our brothers and sisters.”

For more information or comment from the priests’ association, contact Father Bernard “Bob” Bonnot, auscpbonnot@gmail.com, or (330) 397-1257.

Or contact Sister Jacquelyn Doepker, executive secretary, AUSCP, office@uscatholicpriests.org, (872) 205-5862, 200 St. Francis Avenue, Tiffin, Ohio 44883.

On behalf of the AUSCP, Paul Leingang (812) 459-1374, prleingang@gmail.com

TEXT  2/23/17

As the Association of United States Catholic Priests (AUSCP), we are deeply committed to the support and encouragement of all diocesan and religious priests and the many ministries they fulfill with great dedication.  The Gift of Priestly Vocation document issued by the Congregation for the Clergy, datedDecember 8, 2016, causes us serious concern in the section on “Persons with Homosexual Tendencies” (aa.199-201).  

The terms “homosexual tendencies” and “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” are ambiguous and disrespectful of the personhood of those who identify with a homosexual orientation.  The 1997 statement from the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Marriage and Family, Always Our Children, states, “It seems appropriate to understand sexual orientation (heterosexual or homosexual) as a deep seated dimension of one’s personality and to recognize its relative stability in a person.” 

We find it also unfounded and insulting that the section implies that ordained priests with a homosexual orientation who serve the Church with distinction “find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women.”  Always Our Children also states that “homosexual persons who are living chaste lives should have opportunities to lead and serve the community.”  If the Congregation for the Clergy document had stated that heterosexual and homosexual persons who are living chaste lives can be admitted to ordination to the priesthood it would have been more respectful and inclusive. The issue for discernment is whether the applicant or candidate has integrated his sexual identity with Catholic Christian faith and spirituality.

In his World Day of Peace 2017 message Pope Francis wrote, “The Jubilee of Mercy that ended in November encouraged each one of us to look deeply within and to allow God’s mercy to enter there. The Jubilee taught us to realize how many and diverse are the individuals and social groups treated with indifference and subjected to injustice and violence. They too are part of our family; they too are our brothers and sisters.”