A Roman Catholic priest has just come out as a gay person.
Rev. Gregory Greiten of Milwaukee’s St. Bernadette Parish made this startling revelation to his church members, who responded with a standing ovation.
Huffington Post reports that the priest, who is in Wisconsin, United States, opened up about his sexuality on Sunday, December 17, 2017.
He said, “I am Greg. I am a Roman Catholic priest. And, yes, I am gay!”
The priest lets the entire world know
Rev. Greiten did not just enlighten his congregation. He went on to share the news with the rest of the world.
He did this on Monday, December 18, 2017, with a first-person column in National Catholic Reporter.
The priest wrote, “A few Roman Catholic priests around the world have mustered up the courage to break through the wall of silence and speak the truth about their sexual identity.
“I pledge to you that I will no longer live my life in the shadows of secrecy. I promise to be my authentically gay self. I will embrace the person that God created me to be.
“This fire burning deep inside my heart, I will no longer contain. I will not be silent any longer; the price to pay is way too great. I must speak my truth. I have lived far too many years chained up and imprisoned in the closet behind walls of shame, trauma and abuse because of the homophobia and discrimination so prevalent in my church and the world."
“But rather, today, I chart a new course in freedom and in integrity knowing that there is nothing that anyone can do to hurt or destroy my spirit any longer. First steps in accepting and loving the person God created me to be.”
Rev. Greiten also chastised the Catholic Church for its stance on homosexuality saying, “By choosing to enforce silence, the institutional church pretends that gay priests and religious do not really exist.
“Because of this, there are no authentic role models of healthy, well-balanced, gay, celibate priests to be an example for those, young and old, who are struggling to come to terms with their sexual orientation.This only perpetuates the toxic shaming and systemic secrecy.”
How his church really feels about having a gay priest
Greiten may have gotten a standing applause from his congregation but it does not mean everyone is particularly happy about his announcement.
For Madge Powell, who has been a parishioner at St. Bernadette’s for eight years, his sexuality makes no difference.
Speaking with National Catholic Reporter, she said, “I love him for the person he is.”
However, Shawn Govern feels otherwise. Govern, who does not same-sex marriage, said, “He made a choice to walk in Christ’s shoes because he’s not going to be accepted by everyone.”
Milwaukee’s Archbishop Jerome Listecki has also reacted with a statement released to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
He said, “We support Father Greiten in his own, personal journey and telling his story of coming to understand and live with his sexual orientation.
“As the Church teaches, those with same-sex attraction must be treated with understanding and compassion. As priests who have made a promise to celibacy, we know that every week there are people in our pews who struggle with the question of homosexuality.”
“Greg’s own story reminds each of us of God’s call to continue to grow in understanding and to live holy, chaste lives.”
Greiten remains unbothered with these reactions because he says his decision was a personal choice.
In an interview with NBC affiliate TMJ 4, he said, “The difference for me now is I get to live a life that’s open. It is honest and it’s full of integrity, and that’s what’s most important to me.”
Greiten says he accepted that he was gay on a five-hour drive back to seminary at age 24.
Now, he vows not to live in the “shadows of secrecy” after celebrating his 25th year as a priest in May 2017.
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Other gay priests
This is not the first time the Catholic church has had to deal with a gay priest.
In November, Rev. Steve Wolf of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Clarksville, Tennessee, had a retreat for gay priests, religious brothers, and anyone involved in the ministry.
The retreat was tagged, “ Following Jesus in Holy Honesty.”
Before that, Rev. Warren Hall came out as a gay man. He made this decision after he was removed as campus minister at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J. for supporting a Facebook group that advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and racial justice.
Later, he was reassigned to a Hoboken, N.J., parish. The (Bergen County, N.J.) Record reports that he was suspended in September 2016 by Newark, N.J., archbishop for supporting a Catholic school staffer and girls basketball coach who was fired for being in a same-sex marriage.
He discussed the suspension in an email to Religion News Service. He wrote, “The problem is that we have an archbishop who doesn’t believe you can be gay and Catholic.”
In 2016, yet another priest named Michael Shanahan came out as a gay man in a Washington Post article titled, ‘I’m gay and I’m a priest, period.’
What is the Church’s stance?
Everyone knows where the Catholic church stands on married priests and same-sex marriage.
The problem is when it comes to the issue of homosexuality. In 2005, Pope Benedict XVI wrote that being gay is “objectively disordered.”
He added that the church, “while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture.”
This decision was repeated by the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy on Dec. 8, 2016, who once again stated that men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” should not become seminarians.
This seems pretty straightforward until you take into account Pope Francis’ famous “Who am I to judge?” comment when asked about gay priests in 2013.
For now, the Catholic church is still very opposed to gay priests but this is clearly not stopping the priests from coming out of the closets.