The American prelate overseeing a sweeping Vatican evaluation of every seminary in the United States said Monday that most gay candidates for the priesthood struggle to remain celibate and the church must ``stay on the safe side'' by restricting their enrollment.
Archbishop Edwin O'Brien made the comments as Roman Catholics await word of a much-anticipated Vatican document on whether gays should be barred from the priesthood. O'Brien and several other U.S. bishops have said they expect that document to be released soon.
O'Brien, who leads the Archdiocese for the Military Services in Washington, told The Associated Press that ``there are some priests, I don't think there are many, some ordained people with same-sex attractions and they've done very well'' remaining celibate.
``But generally speaking, in my experience, the pressures are strong in an all-male atmosphere,'' he said. ``And if there have been past failings, the church really must stay on the safe side. ... The same-sex attractions have gotten us into some legal problems.''
O'Brien had told the National Catholic Register, an independent newsweekly, that ``anyone who has engaged in homosexual activity, or has strong homosexual inclinations, would be best not to apply to a seminary and not to be accepted into a seminary,'' even if they had been celibate for a decade or more. O'Brien told The AP that the church is not ``hounding'' gays out of the priesthood, but wants to enroll seminarians who can maintain their vows of celibacy.
Read the complete article U.S. Prelate: Gays Shouldn't Be Ordained from Guardian Umlimited.
The rest of the article is a recap of the situation. An expert is quoted as saying that Archbishop O'Brien's comments cannot be dismissed due to his position and his connections. The document in question has been floating around for some time and reports are contradictory as to if or if not it will be released.
The question is why is O'Brien speaking out now? He could simply be fulfilling his mission in talking about an issue that he sees as something than needs to be addressed for seminaries to function, regardless of any official position by the Vatican. O'Brien could be the point man as far as the initial soundings before the document is finally released. Or he could just be expressing his personal opinion.
Regardless, only time will tell how this will all shake out.