Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 19, 2004
Local seminarians tested for HIV
By GLEN ARGAN
Testing for HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS, has been done at St. Joseph Seminary for about four years, but has raised no objections from seminarians, says the seminary rector.
Sulpician Father Louis-Paul Gauvreau said the HIV test is one of a series of medical tests seminarians must undergo. They are tested for hepatitis, diabetes and other diseases as part of a normal check of their health.
"It's important to know their health," he told the WCR.
HIV testing made national headlines when Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte of Montreal said the Grand Seminaire there will institute the testing next fall.
Seminary rector Father Marcel Demers said if an applicant is found to be HIV positive, he'll be asked how he contracted the virus. If it came through a homosexual relationship, "we will try to see what is the person's real calling," he said.
In Edmonton, Gauvreau said the testing is not done to root out men who may have practised homosexual activity in the past. He noted that a person can contract HIV through ways other than homosexual activity.
"For us the problem is to know if a man can be happy all his life as a priest," he said. "The first question is not his (sexual) orientation but his capacity to live happily as a priest."
Many men come to the seminary at around age 40 and have already lived a life in the world, he said.
Gauvreau said no seminarians at St. Joseph have ever objected to the test and none have tested positive for HIV.
HIV testing has become common for many careers such as police, military and medical professions, as well as being used in nearly all seminaries in the United State, he said.
Turcotte told reporters Jan. 12 that the tests are an attempt to ensure resources are spent wisely on developing priests who will be in good health.
The priesthood "is not only a profession, a job that we take for a few months or a few years," the cardinal said. "For me, HIV is a sickness like all the others. It's a serious disease."
However, in Quebec City, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, a former rector of St. Joseph Seminary, said he will not seek HIV tests from those who want to enter the seminary there.
"The matter was studied in the past and the seminary team decided not to use the test," Ouellet said.