I am a gay priest, but I question being part of a church that blames homosexuality for child abuse

I am a gay man. I am also a priest posted to a vibrant and welcoming community of faith. I also spent many years in a priest-training college, at the heart of the institutional Catholic Church.

For what I am about to write, I have asked to remain anonymous, through fear of being “called in” and reprimanded.

Growing up gay was as much a part of me as being human. I grew up with the knowledge of it, gradually going through several phases of shame due to bullying versus acceptance—before embracing it and even enjoying it as I do today.

I was always private, and still am, and am only out to certain family and friends—but happy this way.

When I was a young man, thinking seriously about becoming a priest, I was afraid of being rejected because I was gay. The official teaching of the Catholic Church states that homosexuality is intrinsically disordered. However, I never raised my head to challenge this, and just accepted it, like everyone does. Later down the line, church guidelines would state that men with deep-seated homosexual tendencies should not be admitted for training as a priest.

Vincent Nichols, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales and Bishop of London, Rt Revd Dr Richard Chartres take Vespers at Hampton Court Palace, in south west London on February 9, 2016. (Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty)

Thankfully, when I applied to the priesthood, and was honest about my sexuality, I was treated with respect and was accepted. A priest involved in the selection process joked that if the church got rid of all the gay priests, there’d just be one old cardinal left with a typewriter.

And so now, as a priest of almost 10 years’ experience, I no longer have to give lip-service (not that I ever have in practice) to these repugnant teachings, such as homosexuality being intrinsically disordered, and that good young men should be turned away from the priesthood simply for being gay.

That’s why when I received a copy of an open letter to the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, written by priest David Marsden, I wanted to speak up.

Marsden wrote his open letter after being dismissed from his post at Oscott College, a priest-training college in Birmingham. He was dismissed for disagreeing with the principal over a student who he claims was openly gay. Marsden wanted the student kicked out. The principal, who is clearly a man of substance, outright refused.

Marsden has also made some very disturbing links between predatory priests and homosexuality, referencing Theodore McCarrick, an American prelate, who resigned in July from being a Cardinal after many allegations of predatory behaviour were made against him.

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