Former Friar: Homosexuality is a ‘Ticking Time Bomb’ for the Catholic Church

Last week, an Italian newspaper alleged that the Pope’s resignation was due to the influence of internal “gay networks” within the Vatican. Days later, the notoriously homophobic Cardinal Keith O’Brien denied allegations that he had behaved “inappropriately” with other priests, but resigned nonetheless.

It’s all too much for Mark Dowd, an openly gay man and a former Dominican friar. He spoke with Christiane Amanpour on Monday and had harsh words for the Church:

Mark Dowd

“Homosexuality is the ticking time bomb in the Catholic Church,” Dowd said. “On the one hand, the Catholic Church teaches that the condition of same-sex attraction is ‘intrinsically disordered’ — those are Ratzinger’s own words from 1986. And yet we know that actually about half, if not more, of all the people attracted into seminaries and the priesthood are gay themselves.”

He added, “When you have this culture of secrecy and guilty and oppression, you have conditions there which foster the potential for blackmail and for manipulation.”

Ouch! Dowd gets his numbers from research he conducted for a U.K. special called “Queer and Catholic.” Church leaders then told him it was likely more than 50 percent of men in the Catholic Church are gay and that some were known to seek casual sexual encounters throughout Rome.

Of course, the Vatican denies all this.

Said chief spokesman Father Federico Lombardi:

“Whoever has money, sex and power at the forefront of their mind sees the world through these parameters and cannot see beyond, even when looking at the Church,” he told the BBC, without addressing any rumors specifically. “Their view cannot look to the heights or go in-depth to understand the spiritual dimensions and motivations of existence.”

What’s more likely here is that the Catholic Church’s views are finally coming around and screwing them over. Like Dowd said, a culture of shame and secrecy breeds scandal and “deviance.” The Church must abandon its tradition of ingrained bigotry if it wants to salvage its rapidly degenerating reputation.

About Camille Beredjick

Camille is a twentysomething working in the LGBT nonprofit industry. She runs an LGBT news blog at

  • 3lemenope

    It’s been an open secret for quite a while. My political theory professor, who was both gay and Catholic, estimated that about four in ten priests were gay. And that was over a decade ago, so it can’t have changed much.

  • Chris B

    It seems to me that shame and secrecy not only breed scandal, they are prerequisites for it. It’s no wonder the church is so full of them.

  • GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    Perhaps the Pope is Actively gay and was blackmailed into stepping down?

  • The Other Weirdo

    Yeah, I wouldn’t put too much stock in those numbers. They may or may not be true, but he is not exactly an unbiased observer. Trusting his numbers without verification is like taking the Barna Group’s word at face value.

  • The Fog Horn

    Nahum 1:5-6 The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth
    is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. Who can
    stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger?
    his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him.

    The entire church is on a ticking egg timer. given we are in the age of information and given any fool can find out Yahweh was a volcano god.

  • baal

    I’m not so sure it’s actively gay so much as Second Communion Club has rules.

    1st RULE: You do not talk about Second Communion CLUB.
    2nd RULE: You DO NOT talk about Second Communion CLUB.
    3rd RULE: If someone says “stop” or goes limp, taps out the communion is over.
    4th RULE: Only two guys to a fight.
    5th RULE: One fight at a time.
    6th RULE: No shirts, no shoes.
    7th RULE: Communion will go on as long as it has to.
    8th RULE: If this is your first night at Second Communion CLUB, you HAVE to commune.

  • baal

    damn it, edit fail. there went the joke.

    4th RULE: Only two guys to a Communion.
    5th RULE: One Communion at a time.

  • loopsyel

    It makes sense that the gay contingent in the Catholic hierarchy would be at least greater than in the general population. If you’re young, gay, Catholic, and feel the guilt that they’ve imposed, it must seem like a nice, safe place where you’ll be unlikely to act on your feelings, given the whole celibacy thing. That said, 50% sounds a touch high.

  • Stev84

    Money and power at the forefront of their mind? That sounds like all religious leaders in a nutshell, but especially the Vatican.

  • chicago dyke

    no, i think 40% is about right. i read an article about it years ago, and even back then, the RCC was a home to closet cases.

    think about it. guilt + shame + closet + downlow sex? perfect, for your average religious person who doesn’t want to work hard for a living and enjoys fancee shoes and hats. sounds like every closet case i’ve ever met.

    honestly, i don’t care if half the church is queer. it’s the other half, the pedophile half, that bothers me. it really seems like the RCC has become the new “Pedo Club” for those who want sexual access to children.

    it’s an odd and disconcerting mix, frankly. closet cases are not always pedophiles, and vice versa. for some reason, the modern RCC attracts them both. making it an extra icky organization that i want nothing to do with, ever.

  • Richard Wade

    Homosexuality is the ticking time bomb in the Catholic Church

    I’d say that in the last few years, several such time bombs have already exploded down in the shadows of the Church’s crypt, fatally weakening the foundation. Now we’re just watching the slow at first but accelerating collapse of the whole edifice.

    The famous huge cathedrals of Europe are built of stones simply piled carefully atop one another. Gravity is what holds them up. Gravity is what will pull them down.

  • Mario Strada

    Actually, I am quite a fan of the cathedrals, so it would be OK by me if they remain and we just get rid of the present tenants. Some would be great concert halls, recording studios, museum.

    Yes, I know it was figurative :)

  • Mario Strada

    Maybe it’s not 50%, but it’s pretty high. I grew up in Rome and I met many priests since one of my jobs took me to various convents and monasteries around Rome (Bill collecting for a heating company).

    My gaydar (which at the time didn’t have a name) went off very often. One of the priests I knew better than the others, almost to the level of a friendship, was impossibly handsome, but very effeminate in both speech and attitude. We once went for coffee nearby to kill a few minutes while they were cutting a check and we barely could converse because of a stream of very attractive women from the neighborhood kept coming by the table to chat with him (while ignoring I was there). Some were very, very forward, so maybe I was wrong about him, but either way, he was certainly flirting back. Whatever was going on around there, was not very church like.

    But aside from my personal experience, the news that maybe 50% of priests are gay would not surprise anyone in Rome. Just like no one was surprised about the child abuse since we have had jokes, poems and song about that very topic that at the very least go back to when my grandfather was young.

    There are several (relatively) modern Roman poets that allude at the clergy homosexuality, child abuse, drunkenness, relationships between priests and Nuns. It’s just part of the folklore.

  • wmdkitty

    Agreed, I’m more concerned with the kiddie-fiddlers (and those who enabled, aided, and abetted) than I am with gay priests.

  • Emma

    I know that perhaps this wasn’t exactly what he was talking about, but… On one hand I’d love to see the church come around on homosexuality so the majority of people would stop being so unaccepting of it [homosexuality]. On the other hand, I’d love to see the church remain homophobic and go down with it as society moves on. Because when the church progresses, they’re only doing it to stay afloat, and for once it’d be nice for them to sink… I mean because the Bible is still the same atrocious book full of misogyny and racism/slavery that it always has been. Why are we still calling it “the good book”?

  • Aspieguy

    Yesterday, on the NPR show, Fresh Air, was a program concerning Vatican scandals and secrecy. It was very enlightening. I don’t think the pope resigned only for his health. The scandals were getting too close to him.

  • Holytape

    A time bomb of ….. fabulous!! It explodes with rainbows and candies!!

  • Frank

    The Catholic Church is not going anywhere and homosexual behavior will always be sinful both inside and outside the church.

  • Mairianna

    Maybe 50% gay isn’t accurate, but I’d bet my holy water and wafer that 90% or more are “sexually active” in some way.

  • AxeGrrl

    Sorry, Frank, but the concept of ‘sin’ only exists within the church. And that’s where it stays.

    It means absolutely nothing to the rest of us out here.

  • Llibres Dor

    As the Gay Liberation Movement progresses, presumably fewer gay Roman Catholics will become priests and nuns because the cover which the Roman Catholic Church affords will no longer be needed.