November 29, 2005

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

The following, in it's entirety, is a copyrighted transcript of the Vatican Information Service.

SUMMARY:

- Plenary Indulgence for Solemnity Immaculate Conception
- Admission to the Priesthood and Homosexuality
- Other Pontifical Acts

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 PLENARY INDULGENCE FOR SOLEMNITY IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

 VATICAN CITY, NOV 29, 2005 (VIS) - According to a decree made public today, Benedict XVI will grant the faithful a Plenary Indulgence for the forthcoming Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (December 8, 2005). The decree is signed by Cardinal James Francis Stafford and Fr. John Francis Girotti, O.F.M. Conv., respectively penitentiary major and regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary.

   "December 8," the text reads, "will mark 40 years since Servant of God Paul VI, Supreme Pontiff, who had already proclaimed the Virgin Mary as Mother of the Church, in closing Vatican Council II dedicated great praise to the Virgin who, as Mother of Christ, is Mother of God and spiritual Mother to us all.

   "On this Solemnity, the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI, when he renders public homage of praise to Mary Immaculate, has the heartfelt desire that the entire Church should join with him, so that all the faithful, united in the name of the common Mother, become ever stronger in the faith, adhere with greater devotion to Christ, and love their brothers with more fervent charity. From here - as Vatican Council II very wisely taught - arise works of mercy towards the needy, observance of justice, and the defense of and search for peace."

   For this reason, the decree continues, the Holy Father "has kindly granted the gift of Plenary Indulgence which may be obtained under the usual conditions (sacramental Confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer in keeping with the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff), with the soul completely removed from attachment to any form of sin, on the forthcoming Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, by the faithful if they participate in a sacred function in honor of the Virgin, or at least offer open testimony of Marian devotion before an image of Mary Immaculate exposed for public veneration, adding the recitation of the Our Father and of the Creed, and some invocation to the Virgin."

   The document concludes by recalling that faithful who "through illness or other just cause," are unable to participate in a public ceremony or to venerate an image of the Virgin, "may obtain a Plenary Indulgence in their own homes, or wherever they may be, if, with the soul completely removed from any form of sin, and with the intention of observing the aforesaid conditions as soon as possible, they unite themselves in spirit and in desire to the Supreme Pontiff's intentions in prayer to Mary Immaculate, and recite the Our Father and the Creed."

 

ADMISSION TO THE PRIESTHOOD AND HOMOSEXUALITY

 VATICAN CITY, NOV 29, 2005 (VIS) - Made public today was the document: "Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders." The document is dated November 4, memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, patron of seminaries, and bears the signatures of Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski and of Archbishop Michael J. Miller C.S.B., respectively prefect and  secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education. On August 31, 2005, Benedict XVI approved the Instruction and ordered its publication.

   Given below are some extracts from the document, which has been published in English, French, Italian, Spanish, German and Portuguese.

 

INTRODUCTION

 "In continuity with the teaching of Vatican Council II and, in particular, with the Decree 'Optatam Totius' on priestly formation, the Congregation for Catholic Education has published various documents with the aim or promoting a suitable, integral formation of future priests, by offering guidelines and precise norms regarding its diverse aspects. In the meantime, the 1990 Synod of Bishops also reflected on the formation of priests in the circumstances of the present day. ... Following this Synod, John Paul II published the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation 'Pastores Dabo Vobis'."

   "The present Instruction does not intend to dwell on all questions in the area of affectivity and sexuality that require an attentive discernment during the entire period of formation. Rather, it contains norms concerning a specific question, made more urgent by the current situation, and that is: whether to admit to the seminary and to holy orders candidates who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies."

 

AFFECTIVE MATURITY AND SPIRITUAL FATHERHOOD

   "According to the constant Tradition of the Church, only a baptized person of the  male sex validly receives sacred ordination. By means of the Sacrament of Orders, ... the priest, in fact, sacramentally represents Christ, the head, shepherd and spouse of the Church. Because of this configuration to Christ, the entire life of the sacred minister must be animated by the gift of his whole person to the Church and by an authentic pastoral charity.

   "The candidate to the ordained ministry, therefore, must reach affective maturity. Such maturity will allow him to relate correctly to both men and women, developing in him a true sense of spiritual fatherhood towards the Church community that will be entrusted to him."

 

HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE ORDAINED MINISTRY

   "The Catechism of the Catholic Church distinguishes between homosexual acts and homosexual tendencies. Regarding acts, it teaches that Sacred Scripture presents them as grave sins. The Tradition has constantly considered them as intrinsically immoral and contrary to the natural law. Consequently, under no circumstances can they be approved.

   "Deep-seated homosexual tendencies, which are found in a number of men and women, are also objectively disordered and, for those same people, often constitute a trial. Such persons must be accepted with respect and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."

   "In the light of such teaching, this dicastery, in accord with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, believes it necessary to state clearly that the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called 'gay culture'."

   "One must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies.

   "Different, however, would be the case in which one were dealing with homosexual tendencies that were only the expression of a transitory problem - for example, that of an adolescence not yet superseded. Nevertheless, such tendencies must be clearly overcome at least three years before ordination to the diaconate."

 

DISCERNMENT OF THE CHURCH CONCERNING THE SUITABILITY OF CANDIDATES

   "The desire alone to become a priest is not sufficient, and there does not exist a right to receive sacred ordination. It belongs to the Church - in her responsibility to define the necessary requirements for receiving the Sacraments instituted by Christ - to discern the suitability of him who desires to enter the seminary, to accompany him during his years of formation, and to call him to holy orders if he is judged to possess the necessary qualities.

   "The formation of the future priest must distinctly articulate, in an essentially complementary manner, the four dimensions of formation: human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral. In this context, it is necessary to highlight the particular importance of human formation, as the necessary foundation of all formation."

   "Bearing in mind the opinion of those to whom he has entrusted the responsibility of formation, the bishop or major superior, before admitting the candidate to ordination, must arrive at a morally certain judgement on his qualities. In the case of a serious doubt in this regard, he must not admit him to ordination.

   "The discernment of a vocation and the maturity of the candidate is also a serious duty of the rector and of the other persons entrusted with the work of formation in the seminary. Before every ordination, the rector must express his own judgment on whether the qualities required by the Church are present in the candidate."

   The spiritual director, though bound to secrecy, "represents the Church in the internal forum. In his discussions with the candidate, the spiritual director must especially point out the demands of the Church concerning priestly chastity and the affective maturity that is characteristic of the priest, as well as help him to discern whether he has the necessary qualities. The spiritual director has the obligation to evaluate all the qualities of the candidate's personality and to make sure that he does not present disturbances of a sexual nature, which are incompatible with the priesthood. If a candidate practices homosexuality or presents deep-seated homosexual tendencies, his spiritual director, as well as his confessor, have the duty to dissuade him in conscience from proceeding towards ordination.

   "It goes without saying that the candidate himself has the primary responsibility for his own formation. ... It would be gravely dishonest for a candidate to hide his own homosexuality in order to proceed, despite everything, towards ordination. Such a deceitful attitude does not correspond to the spirit of truth, loyalty and openness that must characterize the personality of him who believes he is called to serve Christ and His Church in the ministerial priesthood."

 

CONCLUSION

   "This Congregation reaffirms the need for bishops, major superiors, and all relevant authorities to carry out an attentive discernment concerning the suitability of candidates for holy orders, from the time of admission to the seminary until ordination. This discernment must be done in light of a conception of the ministerial priesthood that is in accordance with the teaching of the Church.

   "Let bishops, episcopal conferences and major superiors look to see that the constant norms of this Instruction be faithfully observed for the good of the candidates themselves, and to guarantee that the Church always has suitable priests who are true shepherds according to the heart of Christ."

 

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

 VATICAN CITY, NOV 29, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Bishop Norbert Trelle, auxiliary of Cologne, Germany, as bishop of Hildesheim (area 30,000, population 5,700,000, Catholics 659,500, priests 426, permanent deacons 81, religious 484), Germany.

 - Fr. Pierre Nguyen Van De S.D.B., professor at the mayor seminary of Hanoi, Vietnam, as auxiliary of Bui Chu (area 1,350, population 1,336,400, Catholics 380,130, priests 58, religious 475), Vietnam. The bishop-elect was born in Tri Buu, Vietnam in 1946 and ordained a priest in 1973.

 

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