Pope Benedict XVI on the Priesthood and Homosexuality



In his recent interview published as the book Light of the World, Pope Benedict XVI noted that the Vatican has repeatedly stated that men with a homosexual orientation should not be admitted to the priesthood even if they performed no homosexual acts. He stated that he did not want celibacy to be an excuse to attract people with a homosexual orientation. There are several reasons for this stance.

The priesthood is not a denial of the spousal meaning of the body which underlies marriage. This spousal meaning entails the fact that since man is a composite of body and spirit, the body is the physical self by which the gift of the soul which characterizes married love is finally ratified. The giving and receiving of sperm and ova expresses physically the prior giving and receiving of soul. This gift of self to another, for those who are called to it, can also be realized by the gift of self to God as is the case with virgins and religious. Though celibacy is a discipline, because of the all-encompassing concentration of forces necessary for the priesthood, realized especially in the consecration of the Eucharist, it is a fit means for carrying out this spousal meaning of the body. As a result, a priest must have the same ability to give the gift of himself totally as a married man does; only his gift is to the whole Church.

There is an argument as to whether homosexuality is a result of nurture or nature. In either case, as long as this condition remains, the total dedication of self-required of the priest would not be possible. If this is the result of nature, this cannot be changed; and the person could not contemplate a priestly vocation. If this results from nurture, then it could be changed; in which case after a person has changed it, he could pursue the priesthood.


Pope Benedict XVI on the Priesthood and Homosexuality
Fr. Brian Mullady, O.P., S.T.D. (Personal Website:

The Linacre Quarterly
Vol 78, Issue 3, pp. 294 – 305

First Published August 1, 2011