News Analysis

The ‘gay network’ claims which reach far beyond Connecticut

The chapel at Holy Apostles

The day after the raid on Sante Fe, the rector of Holy Apostles College and Seminary in the Archdiocese of Hartford came forward to discuss the shocking conclusions of a 2012 investigation. The final report spoke of a gay subculture at the seminary, which it situated “in the context of a much wider homosexual network that spanned a number of US dioceses as well as some foreign countries”.

According to the National Catholic Register, Holy Apostles in Cromwell, Connecticut, came into possession of “forensic evidence of homosexual content on computers”. The investigation also considered the testimonies of several young men studying for the priesthood who observed “sexually inappropriate behaviour and sexually charged conversation in common areas”. Two others claimed to have witnessed “inappropriate contact” among a group of Colombian seminarians.

That such a “network” should exist between US and Latin American dioceses is not entirely surprising. It was only last July that 50 seminarians in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, signed a letter claiming to have “irrefutable evidence” of a homosexual network operating in the local seminary.

The question of how to deal with gay seminarians is more complicated than it may appear at first. With some independent studies claiming that 50 per cent of priests are attracted to members of the same sex, many argue that we cannot afford to jettison as many as half of our potential clerics – certainly not in the midst of a vocations crisis. They would prefer stronger measures against sexually active seminarians and clergy without reference to orientation.

Yet Pope Francis takes an unexpectedly blunt view on the ordination of gay men in a new book-length interview called The Power of Vocation. “The Church recommends that people with that kind of ingrained tendency should not be accepted into the ministry or consecrated life,” he says.

Is the interview an indication that the Vatican is preparing to enforce its 2005 prohibition on men who evince “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” from entering the seminary? We cannot rule it out, given Francis’s unpredictable style of governance. But whether bishops would enforce the stricture is another matter.