Evangelical seminary leaders applauded a Vatican document that forbids those with deeply rooted homosexual orientation from entering seminary. The statement also requires a three-year waiting period for those with "transitory" homosexual tendencies.

"The Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question," the document states, "may not admit to the seminary and Holy Orders those who practice homosexuality, show profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called gay culture."

"The Vatican doesn't have any other choice if it is to be responsible," said Maxie Dunnam, chancellor of Asbury Theological Seminary. The Roman Catholic Church is trying to correct problems exposed by the abuse scandal. "I hope the Catholic and Protestant world will see this as a redemptive thing, not as oppressive," he said.

The Vatican allows spiritual directors and others who guide future priests into ministry to lead those struggling with their sexuality into maturity. The teaching is "both wise and biblical," said Walter Kaiser Jr., president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. If a candidate's homosexual orientation is deep-rooted, Kaiser said, church officials can determine that he does not have a call to the priesthood.

Despite their support for the Vatican instruction, evangelical seminary leaders do not see the need to act similarly. Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said his school and most others forbid all sex outside of marriage, as well as viewing pornography. Behavior, rather than orientation, is the operating factor.

"The [Vatican] document deals with orientation," Mohler said. "We assume human-being sinners struggle with sexuality."

Dunnam concurred: "There is more latitude in ...

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