Father Tony

Outing Catholic Priests Is a Fair Game at Churchouting.org

Filed By Father Tony | November 23, 2009 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Action Alerts, Marriage Equality
Tags: anti-gay Christians, Catholic bishops, Catholic charities, Catholic church, gay Catholics, gay priests, gay rights

The recently launched churchouting.org is a retaliation for the Catholic Church's strenuous efforts to fight gay marriage rights in Maine, DC and elsewhere. There is nothing mean-spirited in churchouting. It isn't even anti-Catholic. It is the creation of Phil Attey, a man who cares deeply about his Catholic Church, and one who could have become a leader in that church had he been able to stomach the hypocrisy of teaching his flock that gay sex is evil and had he been attracted to the downlow lifestyle of the gay Catholic clergy.


Phil Attey has kept this site in a sock drawer for a very long time, bringing it to life now because the American Catholic bishops have gone on the offensive in their homophobic campaigning. Gay priests in Maine, at the demand of their bishop, took up a second collection to fund the "Yes on Prop One" efforts. That's right, gay priests, many of whom are in loving same-sex relationships, many of whom have active gay sex lives away from the scrutiny of their parishioners and many of whom are completely closeted, actively solicited and collected funds to combat gay rights. In DC, gay Catholic bishops and priests won't join clergy of other denominations in compassionate work for marriage equality.

I think you should know the truth about why gay Catholic priests fight against gay rights.

If you are not a Roman Catholic, you probably wonder why a gay priest, bishop, cardinal or pope would be so two-faced. Chalk it up to guilt and self-loathing, and don't underestimate the power of security and status.

A gay priest, traditionally free from the need to "get a wife" in order to become a community leader with no suspicious aspects to his public persona, may not want to rock the boat. He has learned to cope and to survive. He has a well-constructed secret life that offers him respite from his solitude. He administers the sacraments of his church, he manages its finances and he guides its families to God. He begins to feel justified about his one dirty little secret.

As the years go by, his opportunity to jump ship and live an authentic life evaporates. At the age of forty or fifty, he realizes that there are almost no career options available to him that would afford him the same level of public authority and the same level of institutional security. He is not inclined to sacrifice the accomplishments of a lifetime on behalf of gay men who give themselves license to live the life he would not allow himself to enjoy.

If a gay priest, bishop, cardinal or pope simply remained silent about the Catholic Church's anti-gay stance, we could almost respect his double life. Almost. Initiating a well-funded anti-gay campaign changes this entirely and makes gay Catholic clergy fair game for those who can and now should out them.

Churchouting.org is a good vehicle because it provides a gay priest in DC with a fair option. If he signs on to the "Clergy United for Marriage Equality" pledge, he will not be outed.

I am sure that everyone is wondering how successful Churchouting will be. Will folks come forward with what they know to be true about various DC Catholic clergy who are not really invisible as they conduct their clandestine gay lives?

You can easily find them in gay bars, cruising online or at the baths, adult video stores and highway rest stops. Many people help maintain the secrecy of their lives because they feel no malice toward them. Those terms have changed.

If you know a Catholic priest who is gay, use this site to out him. You will actually be doing him a favor by freeing him from his secret shame. Once all the gay priests are pried out of their closets, it will be obvious to the bishops that unless they are willing to lose the majority of their workforce, their absurd homophobia must end.

I personally have gay priest friends. I have encouraged them to band together and to come out as a group. They remain hesitant and fearful. I think this will soon change. Churchouting.org is really just a gentle nudge in the right direction.

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Very good idea and about time.

Out them LOUD.

That one of the world's largest employers of gay men should be actively homophobic, is a cruel irony, indeed.

If the campaign were even modestly successful, it would decimate the ranks of an already-depleted clergy. No wonder the Church is so upset.

Would it not be easier, and more efficient, to out the priests who are heterosexual. And easier still, if one outed those who kept their vows of celibacy, no matter what their orientation? Or are these unfair questions?

'You will actually be doing him a favor by freeing him from his secret shame.'
just like they try to save everyone from eternal damnation, we can save them.
out the lying bastards for what they are.

Fr Tony, why limit this to the gay priests?

There are straight priests who are having affairs and children. The New York Times just reported an instance in which the creep acknowledges his son, but is not supporting him as the 22 year old son is dying of cancer. I think that limiting this only to gays makes gays look bad in the broader picture, because too many people will argue that it is a good thing to purge the gay priests from the priesthood, in order to cleanse it. The sexually active straight priests are thus being tolerated in their hypocrisy. The straights who are sexually active need exposure also. I knew of a straight priest who is a serial woman seducer in his "counseling" sessions.

The site actually encourages outing any priest who is not being celibate, gay or straight- and you're right, celibacy is celibacy regardless of orientation.
Accountability and integrity seem to be the driving force behind this, and things may change, but I still wonder how all this will play out. I wonder if this attempt will simply be looked on as slanderous and prejudicial, ignored by the church until a lawsuit or enormous public scandal makes it impossible to continue to do so.
There seems to be precedent for that.

WIlliam Donohue of the Catholic Whiners Society (Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights)(for no one but themselves), is offering to pay legal defenses for wrongly slandered clergy.

I had the weirdest case when I was a young lawyer. A priest here in D.C. wanted me to sue a woman who owed him $3500.00 . Well, in the course of the case, it turned out that she claimed (truthfully) that the money was for two abortions (one on Christmas eve that year), and an amount in addition for her lost time at work. He was a favorite of a real homophobe, Cardinal James Hickey, who was one of the worst closet cases ever to ascend the ass-kissing ecclesial heights. Hickey waged the war on Georgetown University (a Catholic institution), in which the gay students organization was denied official recognition and university funding. Well, the gay students fought back, sued the school, and really won a huge victory. The Court of Appeals not only ordered Georgetown to recognize the Gay Students of Georgetown organization, or else loose tax exemptions and tax subsidiZed student loans, but also ordered the school to pay over ONE MILLION DOLLARS in legal fees to their courageous hard-working lawyers, who had been up against the legendary Edward Bennett Williams firm.
Georgetown has found that in order to attract the top students in the nation, it can not discriminate, and today, it has recently opened a LGBT Student center in university space, and staffed. This is a rare gay vs. Catholic story with a real "happy ending".

They have their own personal issues that they need to deal with, and creating a public list is kind of messed up. Either they sign this declaration or they're outed? Possibly forcing them out of the only job they're qualified for is cruel if they're just trying to live life and serve people. And how do we know for sure that they're advocating shame and asking for money against gay marriage before we out them?

I'm agnostic and more or less despise the Catholic church. And hypocrisy. But outing people still makes me feel ill.

i was able to establish the same thing as this new research in my doctoral thesis back in 1981 — Gay Catholic Priests; A Study of the Cognitive and Affective Dissonance. and the Vatican destroyed my priesthood over that.

the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | November 23, 2009 6:17 PM

"Clergy United for Marriage Equality?" If they sign on to that would that not have a very similar effect to being outed? I presume these are public lists so they are certain to be monitored. The RC church still places a heavy premium on public "obedience" and this would surely cross the line.

While I have no sympathy for the priests in question as they are acting hypocritically this is a choice between nothing. They have to be scared now.

Why would the institution of the church be so uncaring? Their simple message is that they cannot be bothered if they have no parishioners at all. People in Africa need to die of Aids. Condoms are the devil's work, women are to be subservient, birth control is murder, Gay is ghastly.

Control, control, control.

The public and institutional authority of a priest has eroded to nothingness. The relevancy of "church life" in the typical American Catholic home has disappeared. The end of this institution would be a great source of good in the world and lead to an end of the scourge of Bingo night.

To protect themselves from the above-mentioned gasbag at the Catholic Defamation League (they do a good job defaming the Church by themselves) and co. the web site's authors should hold themselves up to reportorial standards - two or more credible sources and some proof if at all possible.

So either the priests out themselves by signing onto the statement, or activists will out them based on rumors submitted via the internet? WTF?

John R. Selig | November 24, 2009 12:05 AM

Out the hypocrites. Without closeted gay priests there would be a church with few preachers.

Long overdue.

Once they put on the collar that represents the madness of the dark ages they lose all claim to fellowship with GLBT folks. They become ideological thugs in der Papenfueher’s WaffenSS. What happens to them is of no more concern to us that what happened to Quisling was a concern for Norwegians.

Their crime is not about being gay but being gay and betraying the rest of us. They're between a rock and hard place and no one gives a damn. Any GLBT person thinking of becoming a cleric in any of the cults, or a nun or a monk ought to take this to heart. The time for hiding in a cassock is over.

why would the priests be necessarily outing themselves - in theory, anyway?
Clergy United For Marriage Equality is nonsectarian, celebrates diversity, and clergy of all sexual orientations are encouraged to participate.

now, i'm an atheist female activist straight ally, but i like to hope my two cents are as valid as anyone else's.
and i just read the compassionate and terrific mission statement at www.clergyformarriage.com. and no one is outing anyone there.

of course, i'm not so naive as to think that the pope's and bishops' internal enemies list wouldn't be growing as gay priests of conscience who have had enough signed on; nor that whatever medieval methods of coercion and torture are hidden away in the locked closets wouldn't be taken out and polished.
(yes, this last is tongue-in-cheek - i hope.)
but signing this worthy pledge is not automatically outing.

i do agree with john's recommendation that quality journalistic standards be followed, with as rigorous and redundant fact-checking as possible.

i once wrote a rather colorful blog (just on myspace; i'm not a professional or even amateur blogger) which addressed kirby dick's film 'outrage' and the ethics of outing.

the power of the film was the pretty damn careful redundancy of sourcing: 'everybody' knew these pricks who constantly voted to limit or crush the civil rights of proud out fellow americans were hypocrites of the highest order.
thus, they really could do nothing except deny, deny, deny and change the subject quickly.

i happen to believe that the GLBTQ community (not someone like myself, though i have every right to my opinion) has the right to out those who work against the civil rights of the community.
but it is very important they get it right.

Back when the priest child abuse first came out one of the African bishops got furious and blamed it on homosexuals and proposed a witch hunt to remove homosexuals from the priesthood and seminaries. (What do we know about who are the most homophobic men?)

Rather than outing all gay priests, I would suggest that if the priest is openly homophobic that he be investigated to determine if he is on the downlow. Seek out the hypocrites, the ones who take up offerings to support conservative causes, etc. The Catholic church is not going to be changed from the outside in but from the inside out. Don't hurt the allies. These guys need their jobs.

The good ones work within the "church" to stop the mistreatment of their co-workers. Years ago there was a priest in a major city with a fairly small Catholic population who protested to the bishop attempts to cover up the existence of a priest with AIDS. The bishop wanted to send him home to his birth family. He wanted to remain with his family of choice. The friend priest threatened to contact all the young priests in the country and create an uprising that would put the bishop's job in jeopardy. The friend priest was sent to a much less desirable parish in the same parish, but his friend got to stay!