NEW YORK (AP) — Allegations that disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick engaged in sex with adult seminarians have inflamed a long-running debate about the presence of gay men in the Roman Catholic priesthood.

Some conservatives are calling for a purge of all gay priests, a challenging task given that they are believed to be numerous and few are open about their sexual orientation. Moderates are urging the Church to eliminate the need for secrecy by proclaiming that gay men are welcome if they can be effective priests who commit to celibacy.

In 2005, the Vatican stated that even celibate gays should not be priests, saying church leaders cannot accept seminary applicants who "practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called 'gay culture.'"