CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 23 March 2019

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Consecrated life with a hopeful realism

HONG KONG (SE): “In our societies it even seems that homosexuality is fashionable and this mindset, somehow, also affects the life of the Church,” Pope Francis said during a four-hour-long interview for a book on August 9 at Casa Santa Marta with Claretian Father Fernando Prado, director of the Claretian Publications, Madrid. 
 
The pope expressed grave concern over the issue of homosexuality among the clergy and stressed on the need to “discern adequately” the candidates for priesthood. 
 
The book, The strength of the vocation, consecrated life today, was released on December 3 and is being translated into 10 languages, including Chinese. 
 
In his conversation with Father Prado, the pope deliberated on thec of “those consecrated persons who have no pretensions” and engage in “the theology of the consecrated life by living it, praying it.”
 
Pope Francis said he discovered the strength of the consecrated life in the joy of living his own vocation. “To live with joy and commitment the consecration to God and to the brothers, feeling at ease in one’s own skin as consecrated is something that radiates truth and smell of the gospel,” he said. 
 
Through the three chapters of the book: Looking at the past with gratitude; Living the present with passion; and Looking to the future with hope, the pope outlines the topics of the process of renewal under the guidance of the Church. 
 
The pope points out that one of the necessary, important keys to looking toward the future is to not disconnect from the roots. He explains that the consecrated life is like a tree: everything that is flowering in its branches does so thanks to deep and healthy roots.
 
Pope Francis noted that the Catholic Church has been slow to recognise the presence of homosexual men in the priesthood, which is why superiors must exercise care in helping gay candidates prepare for a life of celibacy or leave the seminary.
 
A 2016 decree on training Roman Catholic priests stressed the obligation of sexual abstinence as well as barring gay men and those who support “gay culture” from the holy orders. Therefore, the Church recommended that people with that kind of ingrained tendency should not be accepted into the ministry or consecrated life.
 
In 2013, Pope Francis told reporters, “If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has goodwill, then who am I to judge him?” However, in his new interview the pope made it clear that among priests and religious who make vows of chastity and celibacy, there is no room for homosexual activity. 
 
“In consecrated life or that of the priesthood, there is no place for this type of affection,” the pope said. 
 
“Homosexual priests, religious men and women should be urged to live celibacy wholly and, especially, to be perfectly responsible, trying to never create scandal in their communities or for the holy people of God by living a double life,” Pope Francis said. 
 
“It would be better if they left the ministry or consecrated life rather than live a double life,” he said.
 
The pope said that seminary and religious formation programmes must be updated to take the issue seriously, help seminarians and aspirants understand themselves and the obligations of celibacy, promote maturity and enable discernment about whether a candidate is ready and able to live a celibate life. 

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