We Need to Stand with Faithful Priests Who Happen to be Homosexual

Many of our priests are homosexual.

This is a much-known but little talked about fact of Catholic life.

Some of these homosexual priests are not faithful priests.

That is also a much-known but little talked about fact of Catholic life.

But most homosexual priests are truly devout, faithful priests who are loving pastors.

That is a very well known, but again, little talked about, fact of Catholic life.

As we move forward into this post Christian world, all of us, laity and clergy alike, are going to be challenged by the larger culture. We will find ourselves having to “choose this day” whom we will serve over and again.

We will have to choose between our political parties and the teachings of Christ.

We will have to choose between old friends we love like family and the teachings of Christ.

We will sometimes find ourselves standing alone, harried by professed unbelievers and fallen believers working in tandem to force us to compromise our followership in Christ to go along with the crowd. It may get quite ugly.

As all this winds through, our need for one another will become important to our emotional strength and peace of mind. We are settling in for a long fight. We need the sustenance that only true Christian community can offer to carry us through.

Our priests are going to have to lead us through this. The need for priests who are on fire for Christ and His Church has never been greater. We need their leadership.

And they need our support.

Scripture says that without vision the people perish. The vision that will sustain us and enable us to re-convert our lost culture must come from the clergy.

These priests, most of whom are totally unprepared for it, are going to have to dig down inside themselves and find the courage and the faith to lead us through the storms ahead. It’s won’t be easy for them. Many of them will and are failing the test.

There is no doubt — none — that at least some of the ones who stand for Christ will be attacked for doing it. Which leads me to the crux of this post.

Homosexual priests are especially vulnerable to being “outed” and blackmailed by threats of being “outed.” I personally know a priest (who is not from Oklahoma) who was “outed” to his parish as punishment for his support of traditional marriage.

When this happens, we are going to have to stand with these men. It does not matter whether a priest is homosexual or straight. They are, or should be, celibate men who have given their lives to Christ and His Church. The only concern we should have is whether or not they lead us in the authentic teachings of the faith.

We need them to shepherd us through these times, and as the times get uglier, we are going to have to support them when they are maliciously and unjustly attacked.

I am not in any way talking about hiding child abuse or turning a blind eye to reprehensible behavior. I believe that we in the laity have a right to expect authenticity from our priests.

I am talking about something quite specific, and that is the threat of blackmail of faithful priests who happen to be homosexual by “outing” them as gay to their parishes. When someone decides to “out” father so-and-so, we need to look at father so-and-so with the same tenderness that he offers us in the confessional. We need to judge him by his works, his walk with Christ, and not by the attacks which are leveled against him for his fidelity.

A priest who preaches Christ and who does it fearlessly, who consoles us in our grief and forgives us in our shame, is literally a gift from God. When such a priest is attacked, we owe him our support in return.

Bishop Moves Openly Gay Priest. Parishioners Protest.

Preview

Roman Catholic Bishops assign priests within their diocese.

When priests are ordained, they place their hands between those of the bishop in a sign of their obedience to him.

Bishop Michael Barber, of the Diocese of Oakland, has evidently reassigned Father Bill Edens, an openly gay priest who has been pastor at Newman Hall Holy Spirit Parish in Berkeley Ca.

Father Edens responded to this with an emotional homily that included reading an excerpt from a poem: “A friend once gave me a gift, a box of darkness, and it took me a long time to discover that even this was a gift.”

Parishioners at Newman Hall Holy Parish have held meetings in an attempt to try to fashion a protest about Father Edens’ reassignment. Father Edens has not participated in these meetings.

Bishop Barber has evidently said in private that he wants to change the pastoral direction of this parish.

Is moving this priest part of that “change in direction?”

Is the priest being punished in some way?

I don’t know. All I know for certain is that re-assigning priests is part of any bishop’s authority and that these reassignments are often painful, both for the priest in question and for the parish.

People grow close to their pastor. They confide in him and learn to trust him. He becomes a source of comfort and Christ-like love for them. When he’s reassigned, it can feel like being orphaned.

Priests return this love. They become the one who knows all these things about the people around them that no one else knows. They are the repository of their parishioner’s darkest secrets and deepest trust. Being torn away from this is like being tossed out of a warm bed and into the cold rain.

Yet, as Father Edens said with his poem, even this “box of darkness” is a gift. Because new beginnings and fresh starts keep both the priest and the parishioners focused on Christ instead of one another. It is easy for a parish to become ingrown and fixed on itself and its own small issues. A parish can lose sight of the fact that it is part of the Universal Church and that the head of that Church is Jesus Christ, not father so-and-so.

I don’t doubt that this parish and priest are suffering because of this move. But I also know that if they accept it in faith in Christ, that it will lead them eventually to a closer and more trusting walk with Our Lord.

From East Bay Express:

During Sunday Mass several weeks ago at Newman Hall Holy Spirit Parish in Berkeley, Father Bernard Campbell spoke of anger, bitterness, and sadness. At the end of the service, the pastor read a short excerpt from a poem: “A friend once gave me a gift, a box of darkness, and it took me a long time to discover that even this was a gift.”

The quote was his way of helping parishioners process the surprising news he had just delivered: Michael Barber, the new bishop of the Oakland Diocese, had decided to remove him and another pastor, Father Bill Edens, from Newman Hall. The “darkness” appeared to be a reference to the fact that, as Campbell told the crowd, the bishop had not met with the pastors or given them any information on the reason for his decision. It was, however, the bishop’s direct order, he said. And yet more troubling was the fact that, according to the pastor, Barber had made it clear that the removal of these two priests supported his broader goal “to see a major redirection of ministry at Newman.” The bishop had apparently expressed this intention last fall to the leadership of the Paulist Fathers, the Roman Catholic order that has run Newman Hall for more than a century.

The details of this “new vision,” as Campbell also described it in his remarks, are not yet clear. In the weeks since the February 16 speech — a copy of which was posted on the church’s website — parishioners at Newman Hall have continued to send letters to the bishop demanding an explanation. A day after the news broke, hundreds of churchgoers met at Newman Hall to discuss the situation and ways they might protest. Campbell and Edens did not attend. The bishop and the Diocese of Oakland have not publicly addressed this backlash or responded to individual parishioners who have written letters.


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