The media release below was issued Wednesday by ChurchOuting.org.
I should say from the start that I support efforts to out the hypocrisy of those Roman Catholic bishops and priests who live secretive gay lives while at the same time either publicly support the official anti-gay rhetoric and efforts of the church’s clerical leadership to strip gay people of civil rights protections, or remain silent in the face of such un-Christlike behavior. Indeed, I resonate with ChurchOuting.org’s founder Phil Attey’s hope that this campaign in Washington, D.C., will “inspire similar campaigns in every archdiocese across the country.”
ChurchOuting.org Launched to Expose
Hypocrisy in the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington
Hypocrisy in the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington
WASHINGTON, DC – A new local Internet and social media campaign was launched today in response to increasing anti-gay attacks by Archbishop Donald Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington and to a 57 page Pastoral Letter, which was passed today by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) affirming the national church leadership’s opposition to recognition of civil marriage between same sex couples.
ChurchOuting.org is a clearinghouse for reports of priests who are openly gay men in social settings yet professionally closeted in their parishes. The campaign will also accept reports of heterosexual priests who are involved in romantic or sexual relationships, yet support the Archbishop’s efforts to harm lesbian and gay families.
“Their silence is criminal,” said Phil Attey, founder of ChurchOuting.org. “The increasing anti-gay attacks by the Archbishop and the USCCB not only harm gay and lesbian families seeking civil marriage recognition, but perpetuate the cycle of spiritual and emotional abuse that has harmed countless LGBT Catholic youth for generations.”
ChurchOuting.org provides an easy to use form to privately report priests in the Archdiocese who engage in romantic or sexual relationships, including detailed stories if available. Reports, once verified, will be used to pressure reported priests to vocally oppose the leadership’s anti-gay efforts, and ultimately to pressure the Archbishop to stop his anti-gay efforts here in Washington.
The ChurchOuting.org campaign was greatly inspired by the work of the Survivors Network of those Sexually Abused by Priests (SNAP), which emerged to stop the cycle of sexual abuse in Catholic parishes across the country. ChurchOuting.org plans to use similar strategies, while taking full advantage of new social media tools like Facebook and Twitter.
“I expect community response to this campaign to be overwhelming,” says Attey, who hopes once successful in Washington, DC, ChurchOuting.org will inspire similar campaigns in every archdiocese across the country. “The Church hierarchy has crossed the line in diverting the mission of the church from helping the poor and caring for the sick to waging political campaigns to strip LGBT citizens of civil rights protections. We can no longer remain silent while this happens. Nor can our parish priests.”
Recommended Off-site Links:
It Was Only a Matter of Time – The Backlash Begins - Colleen Kochlivar-Baker (Enlightened Catholicism, November 19, 2009).
See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Hypocrisy, Ignorance, Promiscuity, and the Love That is the Center of Catholic Christianity
Introspection: The Remedy for Hypocrisy
What the Republican Leadership and the Catholic Hierarchy Have in Common
A Rich Laugh Fit for a Dame
A Humorous Look at Internalized Homophobia
Knowing What to Do, Knowing Why to Stay
When I first saw this report, I was excited: I am a strong supporter of the principle, which I advocated myself some months back.
Examining this project more closely, I am concerned, on several counts.
They appear to be going after any sexually active priests who do not publicly oppose the bishops on sexuality. This is going way too far, and shows serious lack of understanding of the reality of a priest's life. Instead, they should be targeting only those who actively endorse the opposition to civil rights. For the rest, public silence could mask passive resistance rather than indicating consent.
They ingenuously state that they hope not actually to out anybody, but instead aim to "help" affected clergy to negotiate the process of coming out. Huh? On what basis? What expertise or experience do they have in coming out as sexually active priests? Do they not realise that there are already several networks of gay priests and religious, offering each other support on the best way they can deal with their own positions with integrity? Who are these people, that think they know better?
Finally, why stop at Washington? DC is not the only place where the bishops are engaged in working against our dignity and human rights. The challenge should instead be geographically wider, but otherwise more tightly focussed, and concentrate on the most grievous problems: the leaders at the top (start with Donna Wuerl), and their active collaborators.
I'm simply going to copy a comment I just put up at "Enlightened Catholocism":
"The problem, in my view, is the enforced celibacy. If they "keep" it, they risk falling into the sin of pride. If they fail to keep it, then they will hurt someone. No relationship with an RCC clergy person can be anything other than exploitative. Anything that has to be kept secret is an abuse to the other person involved. It's like an adulterous relationship. It leaves the other party always "second" - and that is a violation of a committed love relationship.
"Whether the priest is gay or straight is not the issue. But enforced celibacy for priests (who are not part of an order where they make vows and have a brotherhood to sustain them) is setting that man up for failure of one sort or another. And setting innocent people up to be exploited.
"Should they be outed? Well, that's for each individual to decide. But I can tell you that once you find out someone is in a secret relationship, the hypocrisy is what turns you off. Particularly if they are publicly castigating others for the sins in which they themselves participate!"
The problem is not just gay-related. The problem is sexual relationships with ANYONE. Because any person who enters into a sexual relationship with a priest can never have the full, normal kind of relationship, which involves commitment, fidelity, union of lives.
It is a complete mistake to think that priests can EVER have a sexual relationship where the other party is not - ultimately - exploited. If a relationship cannot be a committed union (of self-sacrifice to your beloved), then it constitutes a betrayal of the other. It has nothing to do with sexual preference.
Think about it:
Because the church demands priests remain celibate, they have never considered the morality and ethics involved in priestly (illicit) sexual behavior. Thus, these priests have no moral compass to guide them - to help them see that even if they "stray" - the harm is not to their soul, but to the OTHER PERSON!
Argue with me, if you want. But I am firm on this one!
Someone, someplace said:
"to complain, to attack, to wallow in self-pity, to gossip, to detract, to calumniate, to mock, to scorn."
Isn't that all he ever does? :-)
BTW, I don't support this "outing" thing. At all. Some of these "closeted" priests might be the only support someone in a parish might have. It's shortsighted and self-serving, and I think it will do little to help.
I'm with Terence on this one. I would draw a clear distinction between the clergy who publicly endorse the Church's position on homosexuality and the ones who don't but lead double-lives.
There are corrosive effects of a double-life, but TheraP, many a gay man has and does love their priest "partner." You may see it as exploitative, and in some objective way, it may be, but the experience of the lover is not so...at least in many, many cases.
Just a few thoughts before heading off to a meeting:
The Catholic clerical leadership has brought this upon themselves. “The chickens,” as they say, “have come home to roost.” And it really was only a matter of time. There’s only just so much crap people are going to take before they push back. Even Jesus got to the point where he overturned a few tables.
Where I think I differ from the organizers of this particular campaign is probably around emphasis. As my title for this post indicates, I’m all for outing hypocrisy. As to those priests in a gay relationship who remain silent . . . Well, there probably was a time when I would have said, let them be. But really, I'm of the mind now that the situation has become so intolerable in terms of the anti-gay rhetoric and efforts of the bishops that silence is no longer an option.
In addition, I question how much of a “support” a closeted priest could be to someone in this current climate. (By “someone” I’m thinking Thom means a parishioner struggling with their sexuality?) What sort of role-model is a closeted priest?
If that priest is supportive, he can be an invaluable resource. (So long as he doesn't push rhetoric in public, but rather works and lives and ministers quietly.) I, like others, note the difference between those who speak against what they themselves engage in, and those that keep silence.
Just one more point of clarification:
I'm opposed to outing anyone simply because they're gay. If, however, they're in a gay relationship while at the same time demonizing gay people and relationships and/or working against the civil rights of gay people, or remaining silent in the face of such efforts, then I believe that this hypocrisy should and must be exposed. These individuals should be "outed."
I am not disputing that a person can love a priest. Just as a person can love their therapist. Or just as someone can love a married person. But love and sex should not mix where you're crossing such "boundaries of fidelity".
Love is not the problem here.
Exploitation is the problem.
To enter into a love relationship, both parties must be "free" to do so. The priest is not free! Therefore what the priest has to offer is a hypocrisy.
I actually think what I am saying will be become clearer when gay marriage is more of a reality. But already, are you telling me that most women would be satisfied with a secret relationship with a priest? Not forever!
I am opposed to enforced celibacy. But I am also opposed to adultery. Or to priests wanting to have it both ways. That's the same as married people wanting to have it both ways! Be honest, I say!
Get out of one relationship before you start another!
This is an important issue I'm raising. Marriage, commitment, should be the goal of any loving, sexual relationship. Otherwise someone is exploiting someone.
I have written up a long blog on the ethical, psychological, and spiritual issues related to enforced celibacy and the hypocrisy and muddled thinking it's led to. It's not necessary to post this comment, and I authorize you to excerpt large chunks or even the whole thing if you'd like to make use of it here.
There should eventually be a link on the sidebar at "Enlightened Catholicism" as well. (And since I don't post much at TPM any longer, that may be up for while there.)
The blog is at TPM Cafe - a political site:
What I really hope and pray for is that this initiative will let priests know they need to tell their personal stories and that there is an audience that is caring and will listen, because many of those stories will be heart breaking. Many of them will involve sexual abuse. Many of them will involve self abuse, addiction, and other unhealthy coping strategies.
If they don't speak up the system will not change. Ultimately the church won't survive, at least in the West, because there will not be enough priests. (Amongst other reasons like disgust amongst the laity.)
Terence, in my book silence implies consent not passive resistance. When silence is a form of passive resistance we usually hear about it.
Most every support group I've heard of works to support priests with in the current system. But that's the problem, the system has to go. Like Michael wrote, it's getting more and more viscious at the top and the top is not going to police itself. They proved that in the abuse crisis when the bishops held everyone up to the Dallas charter but themselves.
I suspect this initiative will spread way beyond DC. Finally, like TheraP writes, outing is a personal decision.
I have very mixed feelings about this. The comments here are excellent. Terence made some points here. Thera P also made good points. Priests are supposed to be celibate so if a priest is fooling around then he is being unfaithful to his vows. Priests who are into casual sex need to seek help. Perhaps they deserve to be outed, especially if they are speaking out against gay marriage while at the same time being promiscuous. Gay priests that are just socializing with other gay men and having friendships with them but are not sexually active should not be targeted in my opinion.
We were discussing Courage, Michael and it seems to me that the Courage ministry would be very helpful in assisting priests who are sexually active. Courage tries to help people live chaste lives and since priests take a vow of celibacy then they should lead chaste lives. Gay priests surely need stong and supportive friendships with other priests. They are called to love as we all are but as they are priests this love should not be expressed through sexual relations.
No, I do not approve of invading people's private live.
Another issue I have with this is that is will be pleasing to some conservative Catholics who would like nothing better than to see gay priests outed and removed. Some of these people want gays out of the Church. Here is an example of the mentality from a Catholic site. A couple of posters were praising the Spanish Inquisition. One man said, "It's time too for a wholesale Inquisition on how the Church has become a haven for fey priests." I'm afraid it's getting nasty out there.
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