Outing Sexual Activity in the Clergy

One of the CNS headlines yesterday featured the conservative Italian publication Panorama poking into Rome’s gay night clubs and the response from the diocese of Rome. The Italian Right is seen as unfriendly to the Church, as the aim of the exposé is judged to “create scandal and defame all priests,” but also “put pressure on that part of the church they have defined as ‘intransigent, which struggles to ignore the reality’ of homosexual priests.”

The diocese is not happy with the party crowd though, noting that the ranks of clergy in Rome are crowded with foreigners:

Priests who are living “a double life,” the statement said, “have not understood what the Catholic priesthood is and should not have become priests” in the first place.

It said such priests should recognize that “no one is forcing them to be priests (as they are) just exploiting the benefits” of the priesthood.

“Consistency demands that they be discovered. We do not wish them ill, but we cannot accept that because of their behavior the honorability of everyone else is dragged through the mud,” it said.

I suppose, though, that it would be harder to comb through all of Rome’s party spots and ferret out heterosexual priests on the prowl. It’s most likely there are a lot more of them out there. If one-tenth to one-fourth of clergy are gay, it would follow that there are four to ten times as many  priests sexually active with women.

Do you suppose bishops, who are supposed to be “father figures” to their priests, are really in tune with the sexual struggles of their “sons?” The advantage of waiting till men are in their thirties to send them to seminary might root out the immature. Some of them, anyway. Are some dioceses so desperate for ordination numbers that they might be tempted to accept a few guys who still have some growing up to do?

Let’s also keep in mind that Rome doesn’t necessarily attract liberal clergy for studies. The connection often attempted that liberals are somehow more immoral than conservatives has never been made convincingly. The likelihood is that it’s probably patently false. Immoral people have immoral behaviors. Liberals act in a liberal way. Conservatives in a conservative way.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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3 Responses to Outing Sexual Activity in the Clergy

  1. David D. says:

    “If one-tenth to one-fourth of clergy are gay, it would follow that there are four to ten times as many priests sexually active with women.”

    Rather simplistic.

    • Todd says:

      “Rather simplistic.”

      Also rather like the promotion of promiscuity in our society without regard for ideology. Sex outside of marriage has long been promoted for heterosexual men. It might be that rates of heterosexual activity in the clergy are higher than for gays. Despite the “new breed” of conservatives, it might still be high. Is there anything to suggest otherwise?

  2. FrMichael says:

    I’ll agree that Todd’s estimate is simplistic, in that it assumes that straight and gay priests stray from chastity at the same rate. Based on my anecdotal experience of seminary, I would be surprised if they strayed at the same rate. But we’ll never know the answer because it would take a real survey (by CARA or another group of sociologists) costing money and the bishops will never ante up for a study whose answer they don’t want to know.

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