Pope Francis Meets Privately with Priests and Reportedly Cautions that Seminary is Not Appropriate for those with Homosexual Tendencies

Pope Francis met about 160 priests who have been ordained for between 11 and 39 years at the Salesian Pontifical University. The pope was welcomed at the Salesian Pontifical University on Tuesday afternoon to the sound of singing and guitar.

The meeting, behind closed doors, took place in the University’s auditorium.  It was the third and final such encounter with priests of the Diocese of Rome.

It followed a similar meeting with senior priests with over 40 years of ordination at the parish of Sainr Joseph al Trionfale on May 14, and one with the youngest priests, up to 10 years of ordination, at the House of the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master, on May 29.

The some 160 priests, including parish priests, prefects, chaplains, and directors of Curia offices, were greeted by the Pope with the invitation to freely ask their questions. Those present were described by Bishop Michele Di Tolve as "Pillars" of the Diocese, with their roles in fields of charity, but also in schools, prisons, and hospitals.

Bishop Di Tolve is the delegate for the care of the diaconate, clergy, and religious life, and it was he who introduced the assembly to the Pope after a prayer and the reading of the day's Gospel.The Pope entered the Salesian auditorium after spending about fifteen minutes outside greeting members of the academic community: professors (including a 96-year-old priest), students, and collaborators.

The question of people's suffering emerged, to be accompanied with closeness, compassion and tenderness, three qualities of God to be experienced - said Francis - particularly "for the old". Important in this sense are hospital pastoral care and the difficulties of the city of Rome, such as the housing emergency for which the Pope invited religious congregations equipped with structures to be generous, or the spread of drugs, the tragedy of loneliness, of the many who live one's pain in invisibility. “In the life of a priest the invisible is more important than the visible, because it is denser, more painful” said the Pope. And he added: “Our job as priests is to go and look for these people” because “the Church is either prophetic or clerical: it is up to us to choose."

Vatican News reported that in concluding, the Pope spoke of the danger of ideologies in the Church and returned to the theme of the admission of people with homosexual tendencies into seminaries, reiterating the need to welcome and accompany them in the Church and the prudential indication of the Dicastery for the Clergy regarding their entry into the seminary. 

The instruction published in 2005 by the former Congregation for Catholic Education — now known as the Dicastery for Culture and Education — the Church “cannot admit to the seminary and Holy Orders those who practice homosexuality, present deeply rooted homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called ‘gay culture.’” (SEE: https://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccatheduc/documents/rc_con_ccatheduc_doc_20051104_istruzione_en.html)

According to Reuters and ANSA, Pope Francis has reportedly again used a derogatory term against gay people, saying "there is an air of faggotry in the Vatican" during a meeting with Roman priests. "It was better that young men with a homosexual tendency not be allowed to enter the seminary," he added.

Outside the University gates, local residents formed a line to welcome the Pope who took time to wave and smile at everyone.

Speaking briefly to journalists, the Holy Father said that at the G7 - where he will participate on June 14 - he will talk about Artificial Intelligence and peace, and will have bilateral talks with leaders present at the Summit taking place in Borgo Egnazia, in the southern Italian Puglia region.

After shaking hands with the students who had been waiting to greet him along the entrance to the venue, he exchanged cordial words with Don Cesare and joked with a group of Argentinians.

In the courtyard, he was welcomed by the Vicegerent, Monsignor Baldo Reina and Cardinal Ángel Fernández Artime, the major rector of the Salesian Congregation, who introduced him to some of the attendees.

Pope Francis entered the meeting with the priests at around 4.20 pm local time to reflect on the difficulties of the time  - marked by the consequences of the pandemic, increasing poverty, war, and migrations, youth emergencies – transforming the very city into "mission territory."