Homosexuality and Roman Catholic priests
- This article is about gay priests in the Roman Catholic Church. For a general discussion see Homosexuality and Roman Catholicism
Studies into the incidence of homosexuality in the Roman Catholic priesthood are contested and controversial. The issue is complicated by the distinction between priests who are to some degree homosexual, and those priests who engage in or promote gay sexual activity in contradiction to their vows and to the teaching of the Catholic Church. The teaching of the Church, as stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is that homosexual persons, including priests, "must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity", and that "every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided". Regarding gay sexual activity, however, the Catechism states that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered", and that "under no circumstances can they be approved". These prohibitions apply especially to priests, as the canon law of the Catholic Church requires that clerics "observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven". For this reason, priests in Latin Catholic dioceses make vows of celibacy at their ordination, thereby agreeing to remain unmarried and abstinent throughout their lives.
Studies find it difficult to quantify specific percentages of Roman Catholic priests who identify as gay priests,[not in citation given] although the John Jay Report reported that "homosexual men entered the seminaries in noticeable numbers from the late 1970s through the 1980s", and available figures for homosexual priests in the United States range from 15–58%.[better source needed] Several studies suggest that there are higher than average numbers of gay men (active and non-active) within the Catholic priesthood and higher orders.[better source needed]
The Catholic Church condemns as sinful active gay lifestyles.[not in citation given] Similar to being sexually active,[better source needed] being openly gay is grounds for dismissal. However, in 2005 a senior Vatican official confirmed a report in Corriere della Sera that gay men who are closeted and chaste for at least three years will still be allowed to become priests, and others have argued that the Church would be unable to enforce an outright ban.
Religious commentator Bryan Cones notes "I must agree with the Vicar of Rome that it would be helpful if gay priests would come out—so we could thank them for their faithful service, especially as they have been unjustly tarred with ‘causing’ sex abuse. Unfortunately, our church leadership at this time is not creating the kind of open and safe space that would allow for such honesty." One of the first gay priests to come out as gay was Robert Carter, co-founder of LGBT advocacy group the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
Societal attitude toward homosexuality in the Church 
In 1102, Saint Anselm of Canterbury demanded that the punishment for homosexuality should be moderate because 'this sin has been so public that hardly anyone has blushed for it, and many, therefore have plunged into it without realising its gravity.[page needed] It was probably only in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries that a mass condemnation of homosexuality began in Europe. This moderated considerably in the final decade of the twentieth century with the distinction now made by Catholic Church authorities between homosexual orientation and homosexual activity, forbidding the latter while tolerating the existence of the former.[page needed]
Journalists have said that in 1986 "the Vatican pronounced homosexuality to be a disorder, whereas in years before the church had regarded it as morally neutral." The Catholic Church in fact, which judges homosexuality in the sense of homosexual activity to be, like all forms of sexual activity outside of marriage, objectively wrong, considers homosexuality in the sense of homosexual orientation to be objectively a possibly immutable disorder that as such does not call for moral condemnation: "the Catholic Church teaches that it is not a sin to be gay man or lesbian". The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition."
Estimating numbers of gay priests 
Estimating the number of homosexuals in a given population is problematic due to problems of measurement, definition, and heterogeneous geographic distribution. Estimates in large populations range from 1% to 15%, with a mean of 4–5%. (See Demographics of sexual orientation.) Despite this, evidence from several studies has shown that there are higher than average numbers of homosexual men (active and non-active) within the Catholic priesthood and higher orders; estimates presented in Donald B. Cozzens' book The Changing Face of the Priesthood range from 23–58%.
A 2002 Los Angeles Times poll of 1,854 Roman Catholic priests across the United States reported that 80% of referred to themselves as "mostly" heterosexual, with 67% being exclusively heterosexual, 8% leaning toward heterosexual, 5% completely in the middle, and 6% leaning toward homosexual and 9% saying they are homosexual, for a combined figure of 15% on the homosexual side. Among younger priests (those ordained for 20 years or less) the figure was 23%. The same survey reported that 44% of the priests said "definitely" a "homosexual subculture" (defined as a "definite group of persons that has its own friendships, social gatherings and vocabulary") exists in their diocese or religious order. A 2001 survey conducted by Dean Hoge for Catholic University of America found that 19% of priests said "clearly there is a subculture", 36% said there probably is and 17% said there is not.
Anonymous studies have also suggested a prevalence of homosexual leanings in the Roman Catholic priesthood. Studies by Wolf and Sipe from the early 1990s suggest that the percentage of priests in the Catholic Church who admitted to being gay or were in homosexual relationships was well above the national average for the United States of America. Elizabeth Stuart, a former convener of the Catholic Caucus of the Lesbian and Gay Christian movement claimed, "It has been estimated that at least 33 percent of all priests in the RC Church in the United States are homosexual."
Anecdotal press reports from anonymous sources also suggest that the incidence of homosexuality in the Roman Catholic priesthood is much higher than in the general population. It is[vague] theorized part of the over-representation might be caused by heterosexual priests leaving in order to marry. But it may also have much to do with the Church offering a perceived 'sanctuary' for many men living in societies where homosexuality is criminalised or shunned, especially reducing the pressure by families to marry and have children.
One report suggested that since the mid-1980s Roman Catholic priests in the United States were dying from AIDS-related illnesses at a rate four times higher than that of the general population; with most of the cases contracted through same-sex relations, and the cause often concealed on their death certificates. A followup study done the next year by the Kansas City Star found AIDS-related death rate among priests was "more than six times" the rate among the general population in the 14 states studied. Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of the Archdiocese of Detroit suggested, "Gay priests and heterosexual priests didn't know how to handle their sexuality, their sexual drive. And so they would handle it in ways that were not healthy." Furthermore the report suggested that some priests and behavioral experts believe the church had "scared priests into silence by treating homosexual acts as an abomination and the breaking of celibacy vows as shameful".
Church directives 
In 1961 directive signed by Pope John XXIII outlined church policy. "Advancement to religious vows and ordination should be barred to those who are afflicted with evil tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty, since for them the common life and the priestly ministry would constitute serious dangers." The Catholic Church today teaches that "Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder". Although a 1961 document entitled Careful Selection And Training Of Candidates For The States Of Perfection And Sacred Orders stated that homosexual men should not be ordained, this was left to bishops to enforce, and most did not, holding homosexuals to the same standards of celibate chastity as heterosexual seminarians. With regard to the United States, in 2002 the Vatican ordered an "apostolic visitation", an examination of American seminaries directed from the Vatican. The visitation began in 2005, and the final report of that effort was issued in 2008. The report discusses "difficulties in the areas of morality", remarking that "Usually, but not exclusively, this meant homosexual behavior". The report describes steps taken to deal with the problem, including correcting a "laxity of discipline".
2005 directive 
In November 2005, the Vatican completed an Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders. Publication was made through the Congregation for Catholic Education. According to the new policy, men with "transitory" homosexual leanings may be ordained deacons following three years of prayer and chastity. However, men with "deeply rooted homosexual tendencies" or who are sexually active cannot be ordained. No new moral teaching was contained in the instruction: the instruction proposed by the document is rather towards enhancing vigilance in barring homosexuals from seminaries, and from the priesthood. As the title of the document indicates, it concerned exclusively candidates with homosexual tendencies, not other candidates.
The Catechism distinguishes between homosexual acts and homosexual tendencies. Regarding acts, it teaches that Sacred Scripture presents them as grave sins. The Tradition has constantly considered them as intrinsically immoral and contrary to the natural law. Consequently, under no circumstance can they be approved.....In the light of such teaching, this Dicastery, in accord with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, believes it necessary to state clearly that the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practise homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called "gay culture". 
While the preparation for this document had started 10 years before its publication, this instruction is seen as an official answer by the Catholic Church to several sex scandals involving priests in the late 20th/early 21st century, including the American Roman Catholic sex abuse cases and a 2004 sex scandal in a seminary at St. Pölten (Austria). Two months before his death in 2005, Pope John Paul II, troubled by the sex scandals in the US, Austria and Ireland, had written to the Congregation for Catholic Education: "Right from the moment young men enter a Seminary their ability to live a life of celibacy should be monitored so that before their ordination one should be morally certain of their sexual and emotional maturity." The document has attracted criticism based on an interpretation that the document implies that homosexuality is associated with pedophilia. There were some questions on how distinctions between deep-seated and transient homosexuality, as proposed by the document, will be applied in practice: the actual distinction that is made might be between those who abuse, and those who don't.
The Belgian college of Bishops elaborated that the sexual restrictions for seminary and priesthood candidates apply likewise for men of all sexual orientations. Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York has been quoted as saying that the Vatican's directive was not tout court a "no-gays" policy. The Vatican followed up in 2008 with a directive to implement psychological screening for candidates for the priesthood. Conditions listed for exclusion from the priesthood include "uncertain sexual identity" and "deep-seated homosexual tendencies". Pope Benedict XVI in his book "Light of the World" appears to state that homosexuality and the priesthood are completely incompatible "The Congregation for Education issued a decision a few years ago to the effect that homosexual candidates cannot become priests because their sexual orientation estranges them from the proper sense of paternity, from the intrinsic nature of priestly being. The selection of candidates to the priesthood must therefore be very careful. The greatest attention is needed here in order to prevent the intrusion of this kind of ambiguity and to head off a situation where the celibacy of priests would practically end up being identified with the tendency to homosexuality."
Homosexuality and the episcopacy 
The existence of gay bishops in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and other traditions is a matter of historical record, though never, until recently, considered licit by any of the main Christian denominations. Homosexual activity was engaged in secretly. When it was made public, official response ranged from inaction to expulsion from Holy Orders. As far back as the eleventh century, Ralph, Archbishop of Tours had his lover installed as Bishop of Orléans, yet neither Pope Urban II, nor his successor Paschal II took action to depose either man.
Although gay lifestyles have been condemned by the church, a number of senior members of the clergy have been found to have had homosexual relationships. Archbishop Rembert Weakland, who retired in 2002, was alleged to have been in a relationship with a former graduate student; Juan Carlos Maccarone, the Bishop of Santiago del Estero in Argentenia, retired after video surfaced showing him engaged in homosexual acts; and Francisco Domingo Barbosa Da Silveira, the Bishop of Minas in Uruguay, resigned in 2009 after it was alleged that he had broken his vow of celibacy.
Sexual orientation and religious orders 
The General Chapter of the Dominican Order held in Caleruega in 1995 "affirmed that the same demands of chastity apply to all brethren of whatever sexual orientation, and so no one can be excluded on this ground".
In February 2006, the president of the Conference of Religious of Spain, Alejandro Fernández Barrajón declared that "[sexual and affective] maturity is what must be insisted on, when selecting candidates for priesthood or religious life. Conditioning persons on their sexual orientation is not evangelical. Jesus would not do so".
- Mass Appeal (1984) starring Jack Lemmon and Željko Ivanek as Deacon Mark Dolson, who is struggling with his homosexuality and church authority as a seminarian.
- Priest (1994) drama directed by Antonia Bird, and starring Linus Roache. The plot revolves around a Roman Catholic priest from Liverpool who struggles with his homosexual urges, causing him a crisis of faith.
- Saint of 9/11 (2006) a documentary about Father Mychal Judge, a New York City gay priest, chaplain with the New York City Fire Department, and the first victim of the 9/11 attacks in New York.
- Release (2009) is a prison drama from Darren Flaxstone and Christian Martin, recounting the tribulations of a gay priest who has been incarcerated for "what we are primed to believe is pedophilia."
See also 
- Homosexuality and Roman Catholicism
- James Alison
- List of Christian denominational positions on homosexuality
- Ordination of LGBT Christian clergy
- Priest shortage
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