Men who aspire to the priesthood may face psychological tests to check whether they are homosexual.

Despite the fact that Roman Catholic priests are celibate, the church under Pope Benedict XVI has become hostile to people with homosexual desires being ordained.

The Vatican has approved psychological tests to weed out those with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” or “uncertain sexual identity” in a new document, Guidelines for the Use of Psychology in the Admission and Formation of Candidates for the Priesthood.

“In all too many cases psychological defects,sometimes of a pathological kind, reveal themselves only after ordination to the priesthood.

“Detecting defects earlier would help avoid many tragic experiences,” according to the guidelines, which were issued by the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education.

“Those who today ask admittance to the seminary reflect in a more or less accentuated way the unease of an emerging mentality characterised by consumerism, instability in family and social relationships, moral relativism, erroneous visions of sexuality and a systematic negation of values, especially by the media.”

The tests must be voluntary, but refusing to undergo one would likely bar you from the priesthood.

In May a senior Vatican official wrote to every bishop of the Roman Catholic Church reiterating that the ban on gay men entering seminaries to train for the priesthood applies to all such institutions.

Pope Benedict XVI approved the letter from the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

It confirms that candidates from the holy orders and missionary seminaries and “all houses of formation for the priesthood, including those under the “Dicasteries for Eastern Churches, for the Evangelisation of Peoples, and for the Institutes of Consecrated Life” are subject to the gay ban.

The Cardinal said he was responding to various queries about the rules, which were set out under Benedict in the 2005 document Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocation with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders.

“The Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practise homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture’.

“Such persons, in fact, find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women.

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

“Candidates who show a homosexual tendency will not be allowed into the priesthood unless they can demonstrate that they have been able to remain chaste for at least three years.”

The Vatican’s current stance on homosexuality dates back to 1961 where a ruling said that being gay was a “perverse inclination.”