How the Catholic Church Weeds Out the Gays During the Priest Interview Process

When you’re interviewing prospective job candidates, your goal as an employer is usually to find the most qualified, likable, and competent candidate. When you’re the Roman Catholic Church, you also want to make sure those faggots don’t accidentally wind up priests.

The Church’s interview process for priests is like nothing you’ll see at Goldman Sachs, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, or Starbucks, relays the NYT.

“When was the last time you had sex?” all candidates for the seminary are asked. (The preferred answer: not for three years or more.)

“What kind of sexual experiences have you had?” is another common question. “Do you like pornography?”

Depending on the replies, and the results of standardized psychological tests, the interview may proceed into deeper waters: “Do you like children?” and “Do you like children more than you like people your own age?”

Funny, the guy at Wetzel’s Pretzel’s asked me the same thing about kids. Well, not that second question. To be sure, the Church has more reason to be concerned than your average employer: It’s you gay sinners out there who’ve been ruining the Church’s good name.

But let’s not forget perfectly acceptable invasive questions!

But many of the questions are also aimed at another, equally sensitive mission: deciding whether gay applicants should be denied admission under complex recent guidelines from the Vatican that do not explicitly bar all gay candidates but would exclude most of them, even some who are celibate.

All the more important since 2005’s Vatican decision to bar gay men — “practicing homosexuals” — from seminaries.

In 2005, the Vatican sidestepped that ideological debate, but seemed to appease conservatives by issuing guidelines that would strictly limit the admission of gay men to Catholic seminaries. The guidelines, which bolstered existing rules that had been widely unenforced, defined homosexuality in both clear-cut and ambiguous ways: Men who actively “practice homosexuality” should be barred. But seminary rectors were left to discern the meaning of less obvious instructions to reject candidates who “show profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called gay culture.”

Though some Catholics saw room in that language for admitting celibate gay men, the Vatican followed up in 2008 with a clarification. “It is not enough to be sure that he is capable of abstaining from genital activity,” ruled the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, which issued the initial guidelines. “It is also necessary to evaluate his sexual orientation.”

Some seminary directors were baffled by the word “orientation,” said Thomas G. Plante, a psychologist and the director of the Spirituality and Health Institute at Santa Clara University, who screens seminary candidates for several dioceses in California and nationwide.

Then again, if you’re asking an adult man to begin a life where he wears a robe all day and hangs out with other dudes, you’re basically placing a job listing in the back of Frontiers.