Vatican urges psychological tests on future priests

Thu Oct 30, 2008 7:31am EDT
 
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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Candidates for the Catholic priesthood should undergo psychological tests to screen out heterosexuals unable to control their sexual urges and those with strong homosexual tendencies, the Vatican said Thursday.

A new document was the second in three years to deal with the effects of a sexual abuse scandal that rocked the Church six years ago.

It said the early detection of "sometimes pathological" psychological defects of men before they become priests would help avoid tragic experiences.

Seminary rectors and other officials should use outside experts if they cannot handle the screening themselves, it said.

"The Church...has a duty of discerning a vocation and the suitability of candidates for the priestly ministry," said the document from the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education.

"The priestly ministry...requires certain abilities as well as moral and theological virtues, which are supported by a human and psychic -- and particularly affective -- equilibrium, so as to allow the subject to be adequately predisposed for giving of himself in the celibate life," it said.

Vatican officials told a news conference the tests would not be obligatory but decided on a case-by-case basis when seminary rectors wanted to be sure a man was qualified for the priesthood.

The testing by a psychologist or psychotherapist should aim to detect "grave immaturity" and imbalances in the candidates' personality.   Continued...