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Vatican decree gets mixed U.S. response

Associated Press
Published November 24, 2005

A new Vatican decree against gays in the priesthood has brought mixed reactions from U.S. Roman Catholic observers, with some seeing notable benefits and others predicting morale problems and a worsening clergy shortage.

The decree, approved by Pope Benedict XVI, is set for release next week. The Italian text was leaked Tuesday, and a Vatican official confirmed its accuracy to the Associated Press.

The decree says men should not be admitted to seminaries or ordained as priests if they practice homosexuality, have "deeply rooted homosexual tendencies" or "support so-called gay culture." Those with only "transitory" homosexual tendencies must be celibate three years before being ordained as deacons, the step before priesthood.

Some observers said it will be difficult to define "deeply rooted" or "transitory" tendencies.

"I have no idea how they will apply it. It will just be a nightmare," said the Rev. Eugene Lauer of National Pastoral Life Center of New York.

"Our seminaries are likely to be depopulated to a significant extent," said the Rev. Donald Cozzens of John Carroll University. He cited estimates that put gay priests at 25 percent to 50 percent; Lauer guessed that 10 percent is closer to the mark.

But Brian Saint-Paul of Crisis magazine predicted little effect on the number of priests because, he said, seminaries and younger priests have become much more conservative the past two decades and moral liberalism is declining. "That generation is passing," he said.

[Last modified November 24, 2005, 00:19:08]

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