Showing posts with label Gay Priests. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Priests. Show all posts

October 6, 2015

Priest ‘Comes out’ in Rome [but] Gets Canned by Vatican


On Saturday evening, as hundreds of bishops convened in Rome for a major church assembly on family issues, former Vatican priest Krzysztof Charamsa headed a mile across town to a different gathering: the founding meeting of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, a group of 13 organizations advocating for inclusion of gays in the church.
Charamsa had lost his job just before, when he was fired from his position in the Vatican’s doctrine office after announcing that he was gay and introducing reporters to his boyfriend.

“I want the Church and my community to know who I am: a gay priest who is happy, and proud of his identity,” he told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera in an interview published Saturday. “I’m prepared to pay the consequences, but it’s time the Church opened its eyes, and realized that offering gay believers total abstinence from a life of love is inhuman.”

The priest’s announcement came just 24 hours before the start of Pope Francis’s month-long synod on the family, which will discuss marriage, divorce and same-sex relationships.

[Pope Francis is about to convene a month-long meeting on family issues that could mark his legacy]  As he opens the meeting he praises straight marriage and Criticizes those that attacks it by advancing other ideas of marriage.

Vatican officials bristled at the timing of Charamsa’s announcement, which spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi called “very serious and irresponsible, since it aims to subject the Synod assembly to undue media pressure.”

But the eyes of the media and the world likely would have been on the meeting anyway, since news emerged last week that the pope spoke with both Kentucky clerk Kim Davis (who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage license to same-sex couples) and a gay former student and his partner during his visit to the U.S. Observers within and outside the church have exhaustively dissected the details of those meetings in search of clues as to Francis’s plans for the synod. Would the man who said “who am I to judge?” when asked about gay priests two years ago reinforce current doctrine, or loosen the rules?

Pope Francis reaffirms Catholic opposition to gay marriage as he opens a three-week gathering of bishops, but says the church has to show love and understanding towards all. (Reuters)

At the opening of the synod Sunday, Francis seemed to reaffirm the church’s position on same-sex couples, speaking of the “true meaning of the couple and of human sexuality in God’s plan,” according to Reuters.
“This is God’s dream for his beloved creation: to see it fulfilled in the loving union between a man and a woman, rejoicing in their shared journey, fruitful in their mutual gift of self,” he also said. 
But he also called for the church to reach out to Catholics who struggle to adhere to doctrine: “A church with closed doors betrays herself and her mission, and, instead of being a bridge, becomes a roadblock.”

Charamsa, a monsignor from Poland who worked as a mid-level official in the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, according to the Associated Press, told reporters that the timing of his announcement wasn’t related to the synod, though he aimed to add “a Christian voice” to the discussion.

“I came out. This is a very personal, difficult and tough decision in the Catholic Church’s homophobic world,” Charamsa said at a press conference in a Roman restaurant Saturday.
Still, in his interview with Corriere della SeraCharamsa acknowledged he hopes that the church will move to become more inclusive of gay Catholics.

“I hope that my personal experience will help stir the church’s consciousness in some way,” he said. “… A lesbian or gay couple should be able to openly say to their Church: ‘we love each other according to our nature, and offer this gift of our love to others.'”
According to the statement from Lombardi, Charamsa “will certainly be unable” to continue in his positions at the Vatican’s doctrine office and a professor at two pontifical universities in Rome.

It is up to his diocesan superiors to determine whether Charamsa will be allowed to remain a priest. Catholic priests take vows of celibacy when they are ordained, regardless of sexual orientation. And in 2005, the Vatican issued new guidelines reaffirming that openly gay men cannot become priests. According to the BBC, the policy “treats homosexuality as a ‘tendency,’ not an orientation, and says those who have overcome it can begin training to take holy orders” after three years.

Charamsa, 43, has been living in Rome for the past 17 years, according to Corriere della SeraHe said that he initially refused to admit to himself that he was gay, in accordance with Catholic doctrine. By 2005, when the new guidelines on gay priests were issued, he was more accepting of his own sexuality, and the rules came as a “shock,” he said.

Charamsa didn’t say when he met the man he introduced as his boyfriend, who was identified only as Eduard, according to the AP. But hours of study, prayer and reflection, as well as his relationship with Eduard, led him to decide to come out, even though it would mean losing his position in the Vatican and possibly his position in the priesthood as well.  
“There comes a day when something inside you snaps, and you can’t go on. If I had been alone I would have lived the nightmare of a denied homosexuality, but God never leaves us alone,” he told Corriere della Sera.
But, he added later, “I’m not doing this so that I can live with my partner. The reasons are much wider-ranging and based on a reflection on church doctrine.”

October 29, 2014

Vatican Investigates Dueling Young Priests and Naked Priests on Gay sites

Perhaps those "fictional" Orthodox Priest calendar scenarios weren't that far off the mark!
The Telegraph is reporting that Pope Francis is sending out a special envoy to investigate a particularly scandalous Catholic diocese in Italy where the priests have apparently been getting into all sorts of naughty activities! These "playboy priests" are in the Albenga-Imperia diocese, which is located in the Liguria region of northern Italy, for those suddenly planning an Italian vacay. Albenga-Imperia is described by one Italian newspaper as "the most gossiped about diocese in Italy.
According to The Telegraph, the diocese is a host to many "'black sheep' priests with distinctly checkered pasts, including trainee priests expelled from seminaries for misconduct.":
                                                              Live Video in church 

- A video of a pair of dueling, dancing American priests studying in Rome has gone viral, following in the footsteps of a now-famous Italian nun whose Alicia Keyes-esque voice won her a singing contest and a record contract.
Perhaps those "fictional" Orthodox Priest calendar scenarios weren't that far off the mark!
The Telegraph is reporting that Pope Francis is sending out a special envoy to investigate a particularly scandalous Catholic diocese in Italy where the priests have apparently been getting into all sorts of naughty activities!

The Rev. David Rider, 29, of Hyde Park, New York, and the Rev. John Gibson, 28, of Milwaukee, first shot to Internet fame when they were filmed in April during a fundraiser at the North American College, the elite American seminary up the hill from the Vatican.

Rider warmed up the crowd with a lively tap-dance routine, only to be pushed aside by Gibson's fast-footed Irish dance. Soon they were battling it out, trying to impress the crowd.

At the back of the room, journalist Joan Lewis recorded the event and later posted on YouTube.

"All of a sudden the numbers started rising and rising," Lewis told The Associated Press. The video has nearly 260,000 views.

Their Internet success has drawn comparisons to Sr. Cristina Scuccia, who won the Italian edition of "The Voice" in June with a series of unadorned pop song performances, in full habit. Her first album features a cover of Madonna's "Like a Virgin."

As with Scuccia, the priests' online popularity was tinged with criticism. Some commentators wrote that the priests shouldn't have been dancing under a crucifix and a painting of Pope Francis, calling it "disrespectful."

“We would just refer them to the Bible," Rider says, "where the Lord tells us to live with joy."

Sources: Intinct Magazine
Fox and tube

December 10, 2013

Priest Steps Aside Allegations Had Sex with Minor

Father Michael O'Connell

The pastor of a Lakeview Roman Catholic parish has agreed to step aside after an allegation this week that he engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor in the late 1990s while he served as pastor of an Orland Park church, officials said today.
Rev. Michael W. O'Connell has served at St. Alphonsus Parish, 1429 W. Wellington Ave., since July 1, 2012, said Archdiocese Spokeswoman Susan Burritt.
A single allegation of sexual misconduct was presented to the Archdiocese of Chicago last week. It is alleged that O'Connell engaged in the misconduct in the late 1990s while he served as pastor of Our Lady of the Woods Parish in Orland Park, said Burritt.
  •  The allegation was received by the Archdiocesan Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review and was reported to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County State's Attorney's office, officials said.
In compliance with the requirements of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the Archdiocese has begun its own investigation, according to the statement.
O'Connell, who was ordained in 1983, had served in Our Lady of the Woods Parish in Orland Park from Aug. 1, 1997 until June 30, 2012 when he took over the Lakeview parish, Burritt said.
He has not been removed from active ministry, but has stepped away from day-to-day responsibilities at the church and according to church law, remains pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish.
"The Archdiocese of Chicago takes all allegations of sexual misconduct seriously and encourages anyone who feels they have been sexually abused by a priest, deacon, religious or lay employee, to come forward," according to the statement.
According to his biography on the St. Alphonsus Parish website, O'Connell was ordained to the priesthood on May 7, 1983.
He served as Associate Pastor at St. Michael Parish in Orland Park from 1983 until 1989, and Associate Pastor at the Church of St. Mary in Lake Forest from 1989 until 1993. From July, 1993 until Aug. 1997 he engaged in doctoral studies in the Theology of Evangelization at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
In addition to his Roman degrees, O'Connell holds a License in Sacred Theology from the University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein and the Masters of Divinity. According to his biography, he entered the seminary system of the Archdiocese of Chicago at the college level in 1975.
He was born in Chicago and raised in the northwest suburbs, according to the website.
Complete information about reporting clerical sexual abuse can be found on the Archdiocesan web site at

September 3, 2013

The Pope’s Gay Priests

  • Pope Francis holds his first audience with media on March 16th, 2013. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty

  • William J. Dohar, Ph.D. teaches in the Religious Studies Department at Santa Clara University, California.  He is the author of the forthcoming book, If Truth Be Told: the Journey of a Gay Catholic Priest.
  • Only a couple of days before his late-July press conference on the Rome-bound flight from Rio, Pope Francis urged thousands of young people gathered for World Youth Day to kick up some dust in their local churches.
    “We knew that in Rio there would be great disorder,” the pope said referring to the natural chaos of crowds, “but I want trouble in the dioceses . . . I want to get rid of clericalism, the mundane, this closing ourselves off within ourselves, in our parishes, schools or structures. Because these need to get out!”
    Clearly, bishops and other church leaders are being kept on their feet by this pope. Just how much dancing is required became apparent after the in-flight chat with journalists and Francis’ now-famous statement: “if a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has goodwill, well who am I to judge them?”  When it comes to making trouble in the dioceses, Francis is practicing what he preaches.
    Many bishops in this country went into containment mode, issuing statements to their local churches about what the pope had said and especially what he hadn’t said. In diocesan press releases and public comments that followed, three things stood out. First, nearly every bishop who made a public comment felt it necessary to steady the pope back foursquare to the church’s teachings on “homosexuality” (a word Francis didn’t use at the press Q&A). Any novelty in the pope’s words was downplayed while continuity with his predecessors was emphasized. 
    Cardinal Dolan of New York saw very little to fuss about. The pope, he suggested, couldn’t quite help himself and that he was “on a high” from the buoyant celebrations and meetings with enthusiastic crowds in Brazil. Furthermore, there was nothing new in the pope’s deciding not to judge the heart of a gay person: “It’s been a pretty clear teaching of the church based on the words of Jesus that we can’t judge people; we can judge actions.” 
    Archbishop Vigneron of Detroit joined Dolan in whittling away anything new in Francis’ words: “There’s no change” to the church’s teachings on homosexuality, Vigneron said.  “He may have had his own Pope Francis way of putting it, different from maybe the way Pope Benedict would put it, but they’re saying the same things.” Cardinal George of Chicago issued a statement that included among other things: “Pope Francis, on his way back to Rome from the World Youth Day celebration in Rio, reaffirmed the teaching of the Catholic faith and other religions that homosexual genital relations are morally wrong.”
    And other religions? Genital relations? The only thing the pope said about homosexuals—and this from the Catechism of the Catholic Church—was that “gay people should not be discriminated against; they should be made to feel welcome. Being gay is not the problem.” Furthermore, the context for these words is all-important: the pope was responding to two questions about gay priests—the first was about a Vatican prelate, Monsignor Ricca, and an alleged gay affair a decade ago and the second about the Vatican’s ‘gay lobby.’ So, while the pope wasn’t offering any new teaching about gay people in general in this particular setting, he was most certainly departing from his predecessor on the matter of gay priests. 
    Pope Benedict XVI, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and later as pope did see being homosexual—for priests and anyone else—as a problem. To be more precise (pace, Cardinal George), the only sins the pope referred to when discussing gay priests were the machinations of the Vatican’s ‘gay lobby’ and not because these priests, bishops and cardinals are gay, but because they’re a lobby.  Lobbies are by nature self-promoting and factious and Francis, whose early work as pope has been to unify and evangelize, has no time for self-seeking lobbyists, gay or otherwise. 
    The pope, it seems, would be much more comfortable with a gay priest who “seeks the Lord and has goodwill” than a coterie of deeply-closeted Vatican prelates working private agendas while pretending to be other than who they truly are. This is a pope, according to Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ, former editor of the Jesuit monthly America, who “hates hypocrisy—he really hates it.”  And on the matter of homosexuality in the priesthood, Francis has a lot of hypocrisy to contend with.
    This points to the second curious reaction from most American bishops regarding Francis’ comments. They were careful to avoid the very topic that had brought Francis’ comments to light in the first place: gay priests. 
    Nearly every statement that I came across veered far from the topic, finding safety not only in the church’s “unbroken tradition on homosexuality,” but in the comforting and inaccurate dichotomy of “us versus them.” This is a leitmotif in episcopal comments on homosexuality, indicating that the problem has more to do with the flock than the shepherds. In a March, 2013 interview with NBC news, Cardinal Dolan, who was addressing the moral impossibility of gay marriage, offered an embrace to gay people that was clearly meant to be charitable: 
    The first thing I’d say to them is, ‘I love you, too, and God loves you, and we want your happiness…I don’t know.  We’re still trying our best to do it. We got to listen to people.  Jesus died on the cross for them as much as he did for me.
    Again, generous and pastoral but somewhat off-target. Every bishop knows he has gay priests in the ranks—pretending otherwise is surely as much of a moral issue as, say, same-sex marriage. Gay priests work in dioceses and religious orders as pastors, teachers, administrators, right-hand men, chaplains, liturgists and preachers. Many bishops are gay as well. Precise statistics are hard to come by because the vast majority of gay priests are closeted, but in light of the work done by Donald Cozzens (The Changing Face of the Priesthood, 2000) and others, estimates at around half are confident, with even higher numbers among younger clergy. 
    The bishops know this and yet few are able to speak with the kind of candor the pope manages on a daily basis.
    There are reasons for this, which brings me to the third thing that happened—or didn’t happen—in the wake of Francis’ press conference. No bishop or church leader stood by Francis and in so many words said publicly, “You know, the pope’s right.  Who are we to judge?” 
    I’m not sure why so few, if any, took this opportunity. It may be that even though they hear the change in tone from Francis, it’s a tenor so different from what has sounded from Rome for decades that it’s still hard to hear, much less imitate. Judgment of gay people—and here again, I’ll even limit this to gay, celibate priests—has been categorical and negative ever since ‘homosexual’ made its way into the Vatican lexicon fifty years ago. 
    1961 instruction titled “Careful Selection and Training of Candidates for the States of Perfection and Sacred Orders” barred anyone from ordination “afflicted with evil tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty.” Both were viewed on equal footing as pathological and inimical to priesthood. In 1986, Cardinal Ratzinger issued a declaration that sought to clarify not only the evil of homosexual acts but the very inclination of homosexuality. We would understand this more broadly as sexual orientation, one’s erotic, romantic, affective bearing on life.  The tendency, Ratzinger pointed out, is “ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination…must be seen as an objective disorder.” 
    2005 instruction that came out of the Vatican’s Congregation for Education and was issued in the first year of Benedict’s papacy, indicated that gay candidates for the priesthood were to be discouraged at every turn. Anything more than a ‘transitional homosexuality’ was considered problematic. So, men who were clear on their orientation and may well have won some hard-earned integrity in the matter were to be shunned. By association, candidates who overly identified “with the so-called gay culture” were also barred from the seminary gates. In other words, if a prospective priest sees his sexual orientation as more than merely pathological, sees it as a blessing, a marvelous if mysterious gift (something hinted at in Francis’ words), he, too, should be turned away. 
    Rather than a compelling instruction that would weed out gay prospects from the clerical field, this declaration secured a culture of secrecy and deception that has prevailed all along. Most gay priests know that there is little to gain in coming out, especially to their bishops. Those who seek any kind of advancement in office keep their orientation secret and sometimes make themselves the most ardent vilifiers of the very sexuality they harbor in shadow. 
    Finally, in 2010, Benedict took yet another occasion to reiterate what he has maintained for decades about gay priests. In Light of the World, the pope said: “Homosexuality is incompatible with the priestly vocation. Otherwise, celibacy itself would lose its meaning of renunciation. It would be extremely dangerous if celibacy became a sort of pretext for bringing people into the priesthood who don’t want to get married anyway.” 
    It’s true, a gay man who approaches ordination as a priest isn’t giving up ‘wife and children’ in any way that could be called a renunciation. Benedict’s concern is that celibacy becomes an avoidance of something elementally undesired rather than a renunciation of a good. But, of course, this is all under a heterosexual paradigm. What the gay priest renounces, by way of abstinence in celibacy, is typically an unwanted sexuality in the first place, a core aspect of his identity that he’s been taught from childhood to regard as an aberration, an embarrassment, a disorder. The gay priest, in collusion with church leadership that has so clearly rejected his sexuality, is too often left with renunciation, but not of a good—it may be sexual abstinence, maybe even martyrdom of a sort, but it’s not the gift of celibacy.  Celibacy is about love and one cannot love (or pray) while pretending to be someone else. 
    Until gay priests—and gay people in general—are encouraged to realize their innate goodness and see the prospects of a love-relationship with God as gay people, they will be burdened with a hard judgment from their church.
    The pope’s implicit refusal to judge the heart of a gay person who’s on a journey with the Divine is an acknowledgment that God may be up to some good in that person’s life, not by way of self-repulsion or a shameful silence but through the core reality of same-sex longing. It becomes very problematic for some theologians to associate gay with good; after all, one cannot be out-of-the-closet proud of an objective disorder.
    What Pope Francis offered in a manner which has been too facilely described as ‘off-the-cuff’—he’s obviously given this topic a lot of thought—is an openness and trust which may encourage more gay priests to step out of the dark. Bishops may well need to brace themselves or welcome with open arms a greater honesty in this matter. 
    Meanwhile, for the gay priest who suffers under the church’s disparagement of his God-given sexuality and is urged to negate an essential part of who he is, the pope’s stated preference not to judge is balm in Gilead.

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