Rome demands straight behavior and gay bishops, priests, and seminarians retreat into queer schizophrenia.


“I am suggesting that the reality of bishops’  sexual orientation/behavior and the need to hide it is a significant element in clerical culture and structure that keeps us from facing basic facts about how that culture operates and affects millions of people”. — Richard Sipe

Vatican regulations:

The push is on once again to purge gays from Roman Catholic seminaries. In 2005, the Vatican issued guidelines that would strictly limit the admission of gay men to Catholic seminaries. The guidelines, which supported existing rules that had been widely ignored, were clear and direct. Men who actively “practice homosexuality” should be barred from priestly formation. Seminary rectors were ordered to reject candidates who “show profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies or support the so-called gay culture.”

The Vatican followed up in 2008 with a clarification. “It is not enough to be sure that he is capable of abstaining from genital activity,” ruled the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, which issued the initial guidelines. “It is also necessary to evaluate his sexual orientation.”  

The hierarchical church just doesn’t’ like gays.

In January, the Catholic bishops of Uganda argued against the death penalty for homosexuals but reminded their people that “Homosexuals have the need of conversion and repentance, “ because “homosexual acts are immoral and are violations of divine and natural law.”

In February,  Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, reiterated a condemnation of  “New Ways Ministry” with its a gay-positive advocacy for lesbian and gay Catholics.

In April, during his visit to Chile,  Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, conflated pedophilia with homosexuality.

In May, in Fatima, Pope Benedict stressed that gay marriage is one of the most “insidious and dangerous” threats facing the world today.

The Pope’s Christmas address to the Roman Curia two years ago was even clearer: “saving humanity from homosexuality,” the Pope told the church’s central governing body, was just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction.  

Today, US Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, Bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska, continues to reiterate that “homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity… intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life…. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

Nevertheless, the Catholic reality is increasingly gay.

As Fr. Donald Cozzens has often observed, and several studies have confirmed, about 50% of today’s priests and seminarians are gay. Most recent studies suggest in fact that today’s seminaries, and seminary rectors, are probably closer to 80% gay.


In some seminaries in fact, I hear, straight students feel so estranged from seminary life that administrators are offering discussion groups to help them understand gay culture.

If current trends continue, the priesthood of the twenty-first century will likely be perceived as a predominately gay profession.

Gay bishops?

If 50% of Catholic priests are gay, I suspect that more than a couple bishops are gay. Bishops of course try to carefully cover their tracks, especially if they want to advance in the hierarchy. Some, on occasion however, are rather reckless.

A couple years ago when on vacation in Europe I ran into a prominent, incognito-traveling, American archbishop who was having a grand time in Paris with his “nephew.” He nearly had cardiac arrest one morning at the hotel breakfast buffet when I greeted him with a loud “Good Morning Archbishop!”

Then there is the strange case of the homophobic US bishop who was appointed as a “apostolic visitor” to look for signs of homosexuality in US seminaries, when they were all scrutinized in 2005. One of my friends was rector of an examined seminary. A week before the examiner bishop arrived to do his scrutiny, the rector got a phone call from his own bishop. “Be careful,” he told the rector. “Keep all young seminarians away from the apostolic visitor because he is fond of young men and well known for his hands-on-approach.”

To be or not to be?

Being gay is not the issue. Being honest is.

Church leadership has much to learn about human sexuality.

 First of all, however, church leadership has to learn what it means to be honest.

3 thoughts on “The Great Catholic (Self) Deception: Publicly Straight + Privately Gay

  1. I have long thought that the reason why the Vatican refused to review and develop and change its teachings on human sexuality is that too many too high up are gay. This article supports my intuition.

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