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Gay rights group hits Vatican on psych test for seminarians

Posted at | Updated as of 11/07/08 8:31 PM

A group advocating gay rights on Friday rejected a Vatican ruling to conduct psychological tests on young men who are about to enter priesthood amid cases of sexual abuse involving homosexual priests and minors.

"Kasi yung parang sinasabi nila diyan, ang psych test para makita kung may sakit, na ang homesexual tendencies ay sakit (It seems what they want to happen here is to designate homosexual tendencies as an ailment)," Danton Remoto of the Ang Ladlad organization told ABS-CBN's morning show, "Umagang Kay Ganda" Friday morning.

Remoto, however, said that the truth runs counter to the Catholic Church's position.

"Eh 1973 pa sinabi ng American Psychological Association na hindi iyan sakit. Pati World Health Organization nagsabi, hindi iyan sakit so paano mo mada-diagnose ang isang tao kung hindi sakit (The American Psychological Association said in 1973 that its not an ailment. Even the World Health Organization issued a similar verdict. So if it's not an ailment, how can you diagnose it?)," he added.

Remoto, also a university professor, said the claim that homosexuality is an ailment come straight from the era of dinosaurs.

"Jurassic na iyan. Paano mo mada-diagnose hindi naman sakit (That's from the Jurassic. How can you diagnose it if it's not an ailment?)."

He said that homosexuality is part of the human nature that need to be understood and not judged upon by others. He added that there are gays among plants or crabs, for that matter.

"That's part of nature, there are gay papayas, gay crabs," he said.

Remoto cited loopholes in the Church's stand on the issue.

He said that cases of sexual abuse allegedly done by priests on young boys and even on women have not been investigated properly.

"Maraming ganyan sa Cebu. Nalilipat lang ang pari na may kaso ng pangmomolestiya (Cases abound in Cebu where the accused priest only get to be transferred to other areas)," he said.

Stricter screening needed?

Remoto suggested that instead of a psychological test, the Church should implement a stricter screening for would-be priests.

"[Kailangan] stricter screening na mas scientific at hindi psycho test (What they need is a stricter screening done scientifically and not a psycho test)," he said.

Based on the Vatican order, young men who will enter the seminary will undergo a psychological test to determine if they are capable of being celibate. Another aspect of the test aims to gauge their homosexual tendencies.

"Gaya sa anumang kompanya, gusto mo naayon sa criteria 'yung mga empleyado mo (Like in any company, you would want that your employees follow a certain criteria)," said Bishop Honesto Ongtioco, a member of the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines' Commission on Seminarians.

The order, however, clairified that the test is voluntary since this would determine if the would-be priest had psychological trauma that may trigger acts of sexual abuse later on.

If a seminarian is found to be suffering from this condition, he would be treated and evaluated if he is still fit to continue the vocation.

But according to the University of the Philippines' Center for Women's Studies, the Church's position on the issue is not based on reality.

It said that in the Philippines, most cases of sexual abuse allegedly committed by priests involved women as victims, not young boys, prompting the center's Sylvia Claudio to say that the Church's ideology as "junk."

"Ang siyensiya ng Simbahan ay extreme, ideological at junk (The Church's science is extreme, idelogical and junk)," she said.

The Church, however, countered by saying that it would not hinge its test solely on a person's psychological capacity. It said that prayers and the person's capability to change would also play a big part. With a report from Joey Villarama, ABS-CBN News