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Pope Francis tells gay man rejected from seminary to ‘go ahead with your vocation’
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Pope Francis has reportedly encouraged a 22-year-old gay man to continue to pursue a vocation to the priesthood after he was not accepted into a Catholic seminary.

According to the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, the pope responded to an email from Lorenzo Michele Noè Caruso, telling him to “go ahead” with his vocation, just days after the Vatican issued an apology for the pontiff’s use of a slur in reference to seminarians who identify as gay.

The pope’s handwritten note was sent June 1 as an email attachment. According to news reports, it condemned clericalism and worldliness and said: “Jesus calls all, all.”

According to Il Messaggero, Pope Francis told the 22-year-old that “some people think of the Church as a customs house, and this is terrible. The Church should be open to everyone. Brother, go ahead with your vocation.”

 

Caruso told Il Messaggero that he had sent a lengthy email to Pope Francis on May 28 in which he wrote that he wanted to draw attention to his story and the stories of many who, “like me, live at the margins of the Church, often forced to hide themselves to be included by the community or forced to pay the high price of refusal for being sincere.”

The 22-year-old from La Spezia in northern Italy reportedly told the pope about his belief he has a calling to the Catholic priesthood and how he was not accepted into seminary after revealing his sexual identity. He also asked the Church to reconsider its prohibition on admitting homosexual people to the seminary as stated in a 2005 instruction from the Congregation for Catholic Education.

“This letter gave me hope,” Caruso said. “Now the seminary remains a not-dismissed dream.”

The pope, in his note, also said he was struck by an expression Caruso used in his own email: “toxic and elective clericalism.”

“It’s true!” Francis continued. “You know that clericalism is a scourge? It’s an ugly ‘worldliness.’”

He added that “worldliness is the worst thing that can happen to the Church, worse even than the era of concubine popes,” attributing the quote to “a great theologian,” by whom he likely meant Jesuit Father Henri de Lubac.

The pontiff has frequently quoted or paraphrased de Lubac on spiritual worldliness.

“My whole story,” Caruso said, “has been studded with these responses, when a religious person discovered my sexuality, no matter how much he had appreciated my person and my faith up to a minute before, he would retreat, saying things like, ‘There are so many ways to decline a vocation.’ I was effectively denied the possibility of having a priestly vocation. ‘Continue,’ urges Pope Francis.”

This article was originally published on Catholic News Agency.


Author Name

Hannah Brockhaus is Catholic News Agency's senior Rome correspondent. She grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and has a degree in English from Truman State University in Missouri.

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