Father Tony

Why weeding out the Gay is a good thing for the Roman Catholic Church

Filed By Father Tony | March 28, 2009 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Catholic church, Catholic priests, gay priests, Roman Catholic

In the 1980s, I contacted the local seminary to recruit some CCD and Confirmation-prep teachers for my parish. (CCD is Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, a program of afterschool Catholic education for kids.) Who better to interact with a bunch of inner-city youths none of whom had any gay priest-thumb-200x239.jpgdesire to be in church on a weeknight than a fresh-faced, optimistic, energetic and inspirational fellow just a few years their senior who himself, a model of faith, would share with them the grace of God and the love of Jesus (while I stayed in the rectory next door and drank Dewars)?

I had the seminarians in for a late dinner each week after they had taught their classes. I liked getting them loosened up with a little wine so that I could get the inside gay view of the next generation of clergy. Did I mention they were all gay?

Unlike my generation, they actually had admitted to each other that they were gay. In my day, the understanding was tacit. We put on lots of shows, but we never ever showed our real selves even to each other. They had fascinating stories full of frustration about faculty "witch hunts" against the more "out" of their number. They were to a man bitterly disenchanted about the Catholic Church.

Within a year, they had all left the seminary and had begun their new gay lives having surgically removed themselves from their priestly vocations to church service.

That is why, when I read earlier today in The Pink News this headline, Melbourne "testing" to weed out gay priesthood candidates, I had to laugh.

It seems that in Australia, the seminary faculty will step up its efforts to keep gay men from the priesthood.

If ever there was a needless initiative, this is it. It would be like me declaring that I'm going to step up my efforts to stop NBA basketball players from dragging me into their post-game shower room orgies.

Almost no one joins the priesthood anymore. And, certainly no self-respecting gay man would do it. The profession is no longer the only option for talented altruistic spiritual gay men who feel called to community leadership and do not want to explain their lack of wife.

I think a final weeding of all gays out of the priesthood will be a good thing. It will bankrupt the profession and leave Catholics in the pews longing for the good old days when a handsome young man who could carry a tune and knew how to walk in silk brocade gave them erotic fantasies for an hour on Sunday morning. Bleaching all the gay out of the Catholic Church will help bring it to the point of extinction, and then, we will return to it, in just the same way that it's always the gay men who are the first to identify and gentrify a seedy and failing neighborhood.

Let the gayless disintegration of Roman Catholicism continue. We'll know when it's at rock bottom, and we'll come back to save it. On our terms. (Sorry Jesus. Things are going to get worse for you before they get better. Hang in there. This may take a while.)


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Father Tony -- as a former (and no longer recovering) Catholic, I can only say "bravo" to your suggestion that all gay men leave the priesthood. The Church itself is on its last legs. It has kept the act going a long time, but it can't continue forever. To survive for another millennium, it will need to humble itself to the radical changes that it has denied for so long.

Gerri Ladene | March 28, 2009 10:39 PM

Coming to a theater near you soon, "The Fall of Rome II", starring Pope Benedict XVI, co-starring, oops, where's the cast?.......... (:

Brad Bailey | March 28, 2009 10:43 PM

Wow! You go, Father Tony! When I read the title of your article, I thought "He's going to have a hard time backing this argument up." But you did back it up...beautifully, I might add. It never occurred to me that so many Catholic priests were gay. The only thing is, you might have to wait a long time before all the current gay priests to pass on or retire. Great commentary!

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | March 29, 2009 4:30 AM

What is sad for me is the number of now retired priests I know who have suddenly had their selfless service discounted like a cheap suit. They are mad as hell about it and it is an anger even Dewar's cannot quench. We still try of course :)

Lynn David Lynn David | March 29, 2009 6:46 AM

No priests? No gay guys in the Church whatsoever, at least not me for the last 6 years.

I'm a former Catholic too and I look forward to the day you predict when the Church in its current incarnation collapses. In my view, Benedict XVI is the culmination of everything that's wrong with the morally bankrupt Church hierarchy. Things have become so bad in areas of the USA that priests are now being imported from Africa, yet gays and - God forbid, women - are off limits for the priesthood.

I was ushered to the door ages ago, Fr Tony. Formally Excommunicated by the Archbishop of an east coast US diocese for an unpopular position in a court case. Shame on me.

Shame on me more for continuing to slink in and out of church for another decade, unwilling to shout that the Emperor/Pope has no clothes

Father Tony, I’m not sure how to react to your article. At least you had the good sense to get out with most of us still stuck somewhere about halfway between. Listening daily to the yelping bellows of those who would blame the young men suffering the guilt of being molested by the clergy as only wanting money and driving the Archdioceses of Portland Oregon into bankruptcy. Of reading the email’s of siblings who more likely than not donated to Prop 8 as their legal answer to a “Mob Rule” mentality. Yes I said it, “MOB RULE MENALITY”. What’s changed? Oh I forgot they cut down the Oak Tree. So we continue to leave and come back and then leave again. In retrospect at first I really was saddened that I didn’t have the courage to go for the vocation that I knew was in me for the nagging sense that I was different from the earliest age, knew it, yet didn’t know how or why. I believe that I would have been embarrassed by the rude remarks that seemed to surround anyone's fevered level for a commitment to faith. Yet thankful that I was counseled against this perceived vocation by my High School teachers (Serra Catholic in Salem, Oregon). Looking back 40 years later thankful for that realistic counsel. The halfway between continues with one leg in and one out. The feeling that we will never be as Gay Catholics, fully accepted as we are, beyond our local parish churches knowing that the hammer will ultimately fall when the Holy Father (Benedict XVI) with his back against the wall will ultimately one day try to strike the final blow to the liberalization of our church. The same one that from its earliest times has seen the ebb and flow of it’s teaching back and forth from liberal to conservative. To watch the Saddlebacker’s (those who doth protest anything so greatly that you wonder what it is that they hide) lament total ruin of the church as if the acceptance of and in full civil rights would somehow spell the end of faith in the USA in something so close to hate that you watch in disgust as you set your watch to the responses mimicked in unison all the while comforted by a single hour of time out from the rush rush rush of the outside world.

Protestant denominations are doing much the same thing--only subtler. GLBT folk can be ministers and elders as long as their celibate.RIGHT!! the identification as gay is enough to ban. Presbyterians, like Roman Catholics, are experiencing a shortage of ministers for the first time in over a century.
Let me change direction. I find appalling the Roman C. stance on gays and refusal to ordain women. However, what I believe is far more damning is their stance on birth control. It angers me that it continues to foster unlimited procreation in a world that is already full of people and poverty is rampant. Some rant against the undocumented workers in the US. That number would be far fewer if the Roman church didn't continue it's encouraging large numbers of children born to families already in poverty.
An example a friend whom I suspect is undocumented told me that he was the 9th of 12 children. When each child was old enough to walk, that child was sent to the streets to survive. I'm not talking about abortion, but simple family planning in which each child is planned for, eagerly awaited--and provided for.

The catholic church has regressed to pre enlightenment. I just wish we could get stewardship of the Pieta. We have more right to it than those bi-ches, and it burns my onion that they keep our best works and still have the gall to treat us like dirt. The arrogance of it is an absolute shock.

beachcomberT | April 5, 2009 7:00 AM

Father Tony, I understand your argument that it's masochistic for a gay guy to enter or remain in the priesthood. But since we're in Easter Week, a special time to think about repentance and sacrifice and how that applies to our individual lives, I have to ask a question. If all the gays desert the church, who will counsel with compassion the gay youth who might be trying to find a refuge from homophobia or abusive parents? I am thinking of "Doubt," for example. And maybe that's a bad example because there's no excuse for a priest molesting a kid. But, still, that priest was portrayed as a refuge for the boy because of his bullying dad. If there was no gay priest, who would have helped him? Or are you saying that, in the big picture, the Catholic Church is too destructive of GLBT people and would-be priests and nuns should try to lead gays and lesbians away from the church?

Recently (after a "no" from the Bush administration) President Obama opted to support a United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for all nations to decriminalize same-sex behavior. Now, the sole western nation to refuse to support decriminalization of homosexuality is, you guessed it, the Vatican (the same folks who think using condoms is a bad remedy to stop spread of HIV in Africa). Apparently, the pope isn't too bothered by gay folks being beheaded and hung from construction cranes in Saudi Arabia and Iran as "criminal punishment" for being gay. I do not understand how or why any self-respecting gay person would want to be a member of this religious cult. The good news is that the Catholic Church is losing members (and is closing churches in the USA). The bad news is that five of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices are Roman Catholics.

Cheryl Cristello | April 5, 2009 2:35 PM

As a "Catholic" who left the church in 1970 due to my strong disagreement over birth control and the Viet Nam war, I was hardly surprised when the current pope recently declared that people like me, are less than human and apparently not of gods creation (my words not his, but his were of similar vein). You see I am a post op TS woman who, in my opinion, is growing to be a really good, beautiful person. I am continually struck by the contrast between what the church professes to be about and their actions which seem deafening. It would almost seem that many in the church, particularly those in the Vatican and many priests, believe that they have found perfection. To paraphrase, "let those who have attained perfection in their lives cast the first stone". For me, I am trying to live my life in the very best way I can. I am saddened that the Catholic church views those of us who are either G,L,B, or T as somehow being less than human.
By the way, has the Pope condemned the Iraq war which has resulted in the murder of thousands of innocent people. Oh, I'm sorry I forgot - THOSE people must not be Catholics.
This whole thing with the church saddens me, I really don't get it.

Father Tony, I recently wrote a heart felt comment to your suggestion that all the LGBT's and the clergy leave the church hanging. The result of this mass exodus would supposedly make the church wake up and smell the coffee. So that they would come crawling to take us back. Sorry to have to change my views. After much soul searching I have come to the point that I have to say. Let’s face some reality here. This isn't going to ever ever ever happen lets face it. We have to admit first to ourselves that like the Military; we have been in the past and in the present tense simply our own worst enemies when the closet cases are all who remain. While we hope and pray that if we are good little boys and girls and we are really shy, a bit demure, and quiet they will let us stay with trepidation. So while you delightfully played your trump card to the masses of hurting Roman Catholics in our LGBT community all the while hurting inside of yourself. I don't know if you left on your own or were escorted to the door for the fact that you are a Gay Priest our Gay Priest; willingly leaving to avoid the boot. Benedict XVI will never ever change his attitude and he just needs to die. As if change of command would change anything. On a good day maybe we will get a Bishop in the USA who will not look to closely at the parish down the road or the one in the ghetto for lack of a set of his own. One day the hammer will fall and it will once again be all over but the shouting. The RCC will continue to cry out and knash their proverbial teeth, close the parishes and herd the remaining faithful into the parishes that can remain open maybe even doing a Friday to Monday pick your day for mass to do the get out of hell free card. The K of C with their funny little outfits, capes and feathers hats will continue to thump their chests and parade around with flags and banners still donating their millions to try stopping "Same Sex Marriages" while the bagpipes play their dirges. It is about time that you and the rest of our committed priests and nuns just stand up grow a set of "EM" and say very very loudly...WE'RE HERE WE'ER QUEER GET OVER IT (do the so what dance) AND SAY "SO WHAT"!!! Get a life and live it. Daniel 1965 Serra Catholic High School

Dear Daniel,
I share your indecision about whether or not it is better to leave or stay, and actually, I am in the unique position of maintaining dual citizenship in the matter. I left the active ministry, but I have never been suspended. (I was not "escorted to the door" as you put it. I could return any time I felt like it and accept an assignment.)
I disagree with you vehemently about one thing. I do believe that the Catholic Church is headed to an implosion that will make the Protestant reformation look like nothing. Because I believe that at its root the church is good, this will be a bloody but successful surgery. Money, which has become the currency of Catholicism, will drive this. The infrastructure of Catholicism is entirely dependent on money. When disgusted Catholics turn off the faucet, the institutional church will soon wither.
Concerning your suggestion that I "grow a set", have you read much of me? If anyone has put his balls on the table for all to see in this matter, it is I who have nothing to gain by it except the knowledge that I am doing what I was ordained to do. Put 'em in your hand, buddy. Heavy, no?

Hi Tony-
I read with interest your essay on weeding out the gay in the RCC. But what about the women who have never even had a place at the table. Perhaps when there are so few gay priests, and only boring straight ones, Rome will start looking at the legally ordained women who are now practicing underground as real options and realize that women have been showing a different kind of priest in the Episcopal Church-and one that I as a lesbian and cradle Catholic-prefer. A loving, warm welcoming presence, and...well sometimes a lesbian. That you will never find in the RCC now because women have never had a place at the table! I blog with a group the Revgalblogpals and never a finer group of women you would want to meet!
Best,
Joanna