Pope warns ‘Italian bishops not to accept gay applicants to the priesthood’
Pope Francis has apparently warned bishops in Italy to reject any applicants to the priesthood who they suspect might be gay.
“Keep an eye on the admissions to seminaries, keep your eyes open,” the pope is reported to have said, according to the newspaper La Stampa’s Vatican Insider service.
“If in doubt, better not let them enter.”
The comments were reportedly made at a private meeting on Monday.
The Vatican has not yet responded to a request for comment.
The news comes after Pope Francis reportedly told a gay man that “God made you like this” – a comment believed by many to be a sign of acceptance of LGBT+ people by the leader of the Roman Catholic church.
Juan Carlos Cruz, a survivor of clerical sexual abuse, said he had spoken to the pope about his homosexuality during recent meetings at the Vatican.
Pope Francis had invited Cruz and other survivors of clerical abuse to discuss their cases in April.
“He told me, ‘Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like this and loves you like this and I don’t care,” Cruz told Spanish newspaper El Pais.
“The pope loves you like this. You have to be happy with who you are’.”
It is not the first time Pope Francis has appeared to show a more tolerant stance on homosexuality.
In 2013, the pope reportedly told a journalist: “If someone is gay and is looking for the Lord, who am I to judge him? You should not discriminate against or marginalise these people.”
In an interview with America Magazine in the same year, Pope Francis said: “A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality.
“I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.”
In 2015, the pope also privately met several LGBT+ people including a Spanish transgender man who had been shunned from his parish community.
As a result, Pope Francis’ actions have been seen as a signal that the church is more open and welcoming of LGBT+ people, compared to those of his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI.
In 2005, Pope Benedict said men with “deep-seated” gay tendencies should not be prohibited from joining the priesthood.
He also strongly opposed same-sex marriage, commenting in 2012 that it was a threat to “the future of humanity itself.”