Vatican will bar homosexual priests

Homosexuals, even those who are celibate, will be barred from becoming Roman Catholic priests under strict rules soon to be released.

The New York Times quoted a Church official "with authoritative knowledge of the new rules," as saying the question was not "if it will be published, but when," referring to the new ruling about homosexuality in Catholic seminaries.

He said that while Pope Benedict had yet to sign the document, it would probably be released in the next six weeks.

In addition to the new document, which will apply to the church worldwide, Vatican investigators have been instructed to visit each of the 229 seminaries in the United States.

The newspaper said that although work on the document began years ago under Pope John Paul, who died in April, its release will be a defining act in the young papacy of Benedict.

It noted that the Pope is a conservative who said last spring that there was a need to "purify" the church after deeply damaging sex scandals of the last several years.

The church official told the Times the ban would pertain only to candidates for the priesthood, not to those already ordained. He also said the document did not represent any theological shift for the church, whose catechism considers homosexuality "objectively disordered", Reuters reports.

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