14th May 2001
"GAY CATHOLICS CALL ON GAY PRIESTS AND BISHOPS TO
Catholics today called on priests and bishops who are homosexual to openly
admit and embrace their orientation.
priestly culture of secrecy, double-standards and religious repression must
Kelly, spokesperson for the Rainbow Sash
Movement. "It is time for honesty, integrity
and a frank admission of what many Catholics have always known: that a
large number of their priests are gay."
Kelly was speaking in response to a public admission by
Pell that a gay sub-culture exists
within the clergy.
Pell made the admission in an interview on Channel 9's "Sunday" current affairs
program yesterday morning. He was responding to
questions about a group of
Melbourne priests nick-named the "Spice
Girls" by some other clergy. This group of
priests, which some claim are close to the Archbishop, are said to be known for
their love of elaborate liturgy, "dressing up", incense, conservative doctrine, and a
"girlie" style - as is admitted even by Pell's supporters.
so-called 'Spice Girls' type of priest is well known in the church" said
"Recent European and American
studies have confirmed that such priests are often closeted homosexuals who
have not integrated and accepted their sexuality. They
are often anxious to condemn in others what they cannot face in themselves. This has led to a whole culture of sacred secrecy,
private anguish, double-lives, public denial, fear and shame.
Tragically, the priestly system tends to reward and favour those who
play this game, while shunning those priests - whether gay or straight - who
call for honesty and change."
Kelly continued, "There have always been substantial
numbers of gay men within the clergy - this fact is finally being admitted by
some church leaders in the face of credible research. Most
of them bear no resemblance to the "Spice Girls'.
In fact, gay people have served the Church with skill,
generosity, courage and commitment, often in profoundly oppressive situations. It is time the Church admitted and celebrated this fact,
and honoured the many thousands of gay and lesbian people who continue to serve as priests, nuns, bishops,
teachers, social workers, nurses, youth workers. The
ugly claim that gay people are disordered and oriented towards evil, and that
they should not be employed by the Church, must be exposed as the lie
that it is."
Pell, in discussing the gay subculture of the "Spice
Girls", was keen to insist that he was referring to a very small
section of the clergy.
Kelly says the evidence points in the
opposite direction. "The high camp sort
of priest typified by the "Spice Girls" is increasing in numbers. Studies of seminaries in
Europe and the United States repeatedly show that a very high
proportion of seminarians are homosexual, and that many of them are conservative, closeted and devoted to
priestly power and style. The Directors of some
seminaries are speaking openly of their concern at this growing
Kelly concluded, "It is time for the Church to tell the
truth. It is time to stop the charade.
Gay priests can and do act as genuine pastors and leaders. This must be affirmed and gay clergy must be encouraged to
openly admit their God-given sexuality without having to fear for their
careers. Young gay people need to see in them role
models and supporters, and the Catholic people as a whole must celebrate the
gifts gay men and women have silently given the Church for so long.
Bishops must stop the farce of arguing for legal exemptions so that they can
refuse to hire gay people - when so many of the clergy and the hierarchy are
Church leaders cannot find the honesty and moral courage to face these issues
openly and directly, then repression and hypocrisy will produce their
inevitable fruit, and future Catholic clergy will becoming increasingly
mired in effete liturgy, clerical pretension and sexual dysfunction".