Retreat for Gay Priests Poised to Rebuke Celibacy

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by Martina Moyski  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  July 17, 2019   

Promises to submit clericalism as culprit for predation

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RACINE, Wisc. (ChurchMilitant.com) A retreat for gay priests, bishops, religious and deacons is set to critique celibacy and defend clericalism this October.

The retreat promises to question the premise that "sexual abuse of minors is attributed to the presence of a gay men [sic] in ministry."

Other questions include:

  • Is our ministry welcomed by our church?
  • Can we feel welcomed by our church that regards a gay orientation as "intrinsically disordered"?
  • Why am I afraid to tell you who I am?
  • How does the outsider see the grace of God?
  • What does it take to create a community of welcome?
  • What are we ready to sacrifice for such a community?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) states:

Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."

They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved. (CCC 2357)

The priesthood is being crucified on the cross of celibacy.

The retreat facilitator is Fr. Peter Daly, a retired priest of the Washington, D.C. archdiocese and sometime immigration lawyer.

Daly is the author of a July 15 article in the National Catholic Reporter titled "The Priesthood Is Being Crucified on The Cross of Celibacy" in which he argues that the Church "do away with mandatory celibacy for diocesan priests in the Latin rite," a rule firmly in place since the early Middle Ages.

Daly argues that the Church would attract more priestly vocations were the celibacy rule rescinded.

Augmenting his argument, he writes: "Even if we had enough priests, celibacy would still be damaging to the church as a whole and to priests in particular" because "celibacy is not normal."

Daly adds:

  • Celibacy is not healthy for many people.
  • Celibacy fosters a culture of mendacity and secrecy, which contributes to sexual cover-ups.
  • Celibacy is not essential to holiness or to the priesthood.
  • It is not mandated by the gospels.
  • Celibacy contributes to a culture of clericalism.

Daly's last point echoes the position of Pope Francis who blamed "clericalism" in the Catholic Church "for creating a culture where criminal abuse was widespread and extraordinary efforts were made to keep the crimes hidden."

Throughout his pontificate, Francis has targeted clericalism as an ailment that pretends "the Church" means "priests and bishops" and "that ignores or minimizes the God-given grace and talents of laypeople and that emphasizes the authority of clerics over their obligation of service."

Natalia Imperatori-Lee, a professor of theology at Manhattan College, concurs with those who maintain clericalism is the "root of the abuse crisis."

"There are ways in which clericalism hurts everyone," she said, adding: "The laity is victimized and infantilized; the clergy is isolated and expected to be superhuman."

Critics disagree and have proffered data that refutes the "clericalism is the root of the abuse crisis" argument.

For instance, research conducted in November 2018 by the Christian non-profit Ruth Institute, a global organization equipping Christians to defend the family, flies in the face of Daly's and Francis' — and many prelates' — arguments.

Senior research associate Fr. D. Paul Sullins, Ph.D., published a groundbreaking study of the role homosexual clergy have played in precipitating the clerical sex abuse crisis in the United States.

Sullins' report — titled "Is Catholic Clergy Sex Abuse Related to Homosexual Priests?" — "revealed a striking correlation between the rise in the number of homosexual priests and the explosion of clerical sex abuse." 


Analyzing data from the John Jay Report on sex abuse of minors and a Los Angeles Times survey reporting the number of homosexual priests in the United States, Sullins "found a nearly one-to-one correlation between the rise of homosexual clergy and seminary subcultures and sex abuse of minors."

Sullins said there are no easy explanations for the causes of sex abuse of children by priests. But "it is clear," he said, based on his study, "that there is a very strong association" between "homosexual priests and their concentration in the Catholic priesthood" and that this had "a lot to do with the sex abuse of children" during the time of his study. 

The retreat is sponsored by New Ways Ministry, a group committed to advocating "for justice and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Catholics, and reconciliation within the larger church and civil communities."

It is scheduled for Oct. 22–24 at the Siena Retreat Center (SRC) in Racine, Wisconsin.

According to the SRC website: "The welcoming community of Siena Retreat Center provides retreats and programs that renew lives and deepen holistic spirituality in an environment of peace, joy, and beauty," and "seek[s] to be a catalyst for a more just and compassionate world."

Church Militant reached out to the archdiocese of Milwaukee for comment about their approval of the retreat scheduled within their jurisdiction. Amy Grau, the communication director for the archdiocese, said: "The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is not connected to this event. In addition, there has been concern that the Racine Dominicans allowed their retreat center to be used by a group [New Ways Ministry] censured by the Church."

Church Militant also reached out to Daly to ask about recent statistics generated by the Ruth Institute that reveal a correlation between the rise in the number of homosexual priests and the explosion of clerical sex abuse.

As of publication time, Church Militant has not received comments from Daly.

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