Friday, July 23

ROME - The Catholic Church in Italy, still reeling from the clerical sex abuse scandal, lashed out Friday at gay priests who are leading a double life, urging them to come out of the closet and leave the priesthood.

The Diocese of Rome issued the strongly worded statement after the conservative Panorama newsweekly said in a cover story and accompanying video that it had interviewed three gay priests in Rome and accompanied them to gay clubs and bars and to sexual encounters with strangers, including one in a church building.

One of the priests, a Frenchman identified only as Paul, celebrated Mass in the morning before driving the two escorts he had hired to attend a party the night before to the airport, Panorama said.

In a statement Friday, the Rome diocese denounced those priests who were leading a "double life," said they shouldn't have been ordained and promised that the church would rigorously pursue anyone who is behaving in a way that wasn't dignified for a priest.Those who aren't faithful to their vows "know that no one is forcing them to remain priests, taking advantage of only the benefits," the diocese said. "Coherency would demand that they come forward. We don't wish any ill-will against them, but we cannot accept that because of their behavior the honor of all the others is sullied." ...

One Catholic commentator noted that the problem wasn't that there were "three priests running wild in gay Rome."

"There are plenty of priests - straight and gay - who misbehave sexually with other adults," said Bryan Cones, managing editor of the liberal U.S. Catholic Magazine.

"The problem is that only these gay priests are the news, not all the other gay priests who labor faithfully, honoring their commitments along with their straight brothers as best they can. We don't hear their stories because they can't tell them for fear of expulsion. And that isn't right."

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Comment: *sighs deeply* This story saddens me in just about every way. I don't condone in any way the actions of these young priests, but their 'employer' demands that either they lead that double life or deny their humanity for the sake of their calling. For an organization which has been so duplicitous in recent times regarding sexuality and sexual abuse to say these things does nothing but further demonstrate their irrelevance to people today. Further, I will agree with Bryan Cones in that the behaviour has naught to do with being gay, but rather has to do with choosing...well...poorly.

Particularly disheartening is the diocese's response of 'they should come out and come clean so we can fire them'. "nobody is forcing them to remain priests". 'Nobody forced' them to become priests, either. Yes, the conduct is reprehensible and those involved should be disciplined, but that really must go hand-in-glove with the reconciliation process. To say that three priests, doing some outré things, tarnishes the 'good name' of priests the world over while the parent organization is rushing towards an authoritarian 19th century theology is...well....some folks in Rome may wish to look in the mirror, I think they have something in their eye.

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