The nurturing of holy, healthy and humble priests requires prayers for vocations and the careful selection and training of candidates, the Congregation for Clergy has said.

Updating guidelines on preparing men for the Latin-Rite priesthood, the congregation released “The Gift of the Priestly Vocation”.

The document draws heavily on St John Paul II’s 1992 apostolic exhortation on priestly formation, as well as on the teaching of and norms issued by Benedict XVI and Pope Francis and by Vatican offices.

The text reaffirms an instruction approved by Benedict XVI in 2005, which said that: “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’”.

The document says that through courses in pastoral theology, the example of priests and practical experience, candidates learn that priestly ministry involves being “shepherds ‘with the smell of the sheep’, who live in their midst to bring the mercy of God to them”.

Citing lessons learned over the past 30 years from the abuse scandal, the guidelines state: “The greatest attention must be given to the theme of the protection of minors and vulnerable adults, being vigilant lest those who seek admission to a seminary or to a house of formation, or who are already petitioning to receive holy orders, have not been involved in any way with any crime or problematic behaviour in this area.”

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