Men with deep-rooted homosexual tendencies should not be admitted to the Catholic clergy, and it would be better for priests who are actively gay to leave, Pope Francis says in a new book.
While he has previously spoken of the need for better screening of candidates for the religious life, the Pope’s comments on actively gay priests are some of his clearest to date.
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.
Francis said in the book that homosexuality in the church “is something that worries me”.
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,” he said.
The interview was conducted in August, less than two weeks before former Vatican ambassador Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano alleged a “homosexual network” existed in the Vatican whose members helped promote each other’s careers in the church.
Vigano also accused the pope of having ignored alleged sexual misconduct with adult male seminarians by former American cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
The Vatican said Vigano’s accusations were riddled with “calumny and defamation”.
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 July, McCarrick became the first cardinal to resign in nearly 100 years, after allegations he sexually abused a 16-year-old boy.