Italy-based Panorama Magazine claims to have video footage of three priests having gay sex and doing other gay things with other gay people, like dancing at gay clubs and shopping at IKEA for babies:
"By day they are regular priests, complete with dog collar, but, at night it's off with the cassock as they take their place as perfectly integrated members of the Italian capital's gay scene," reads a preview of the article distributed to the press. A reporter used a gay "accomplice" and "gate-crashed the wild nights of a number of priests in Rome who live a surprising double-life."
This claim prompted Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the Vicar of Rome and one of the Vatican's top leaders, to announce that the time has come for gay priests to come out of the closet and leave the church.
"No one is forcing them to stay in the priesthood to exploit the benefits,” the Diocese of Rome said in a statement posted on its Web Site. “If they are coherent, they should come out into the open.”
THIS IS A REALLY BIG DEAL. Not because of the priests' actual actions (which I'm not condoning, but from what I can tell this seems to be a natural act engaged in by two consenting adults) or because they've broken the Catholic moral code of abstinence and furthermore (shock!) done so with men. (If these codes were being broken with women, would we even hear about it? Probably not.)
And yes, it is obviously super terrible to have him condemning and outsing such a large group of people, as its inherently homophobic and patently un-Christian. But there's a silver lining: what makes this a REALLY BIG DEAL to me is the underlying acceptance of homosexuality as an actual "thing" implied by Cardinal Vallini's statement. He's basically saying yes, some people are gay, and no amount of prayer or emotional, verbal or physical torture can undo this.
Now, most of my life, I've been guided by existential ethics and, slightly, by the morality preached by the Catholic Church. The past year has been difficult, however: I came out to my conservative Catholic mother and have been struggling to reconcile being "queer & proud" with being a believer in my ingrained religion.
A seemingly highly-regarded religious figure suggesting that "gay priests should come out of the shadows and leave their flocks" reflects a new attitude than the one I'm used to, which is "being gay and being religious is a hellish choice which you can fight off and ignore or dive into and consequently PERISH (something I hear every day, unfortunately)." The Cardinal, you guys! The Cardinal didn't say they should fix their homogayness, or suppress their desires, or just move to another church where nobody knows about what happened and never talk about it again.
However, he is still hating on the gays per ush, and I would argue that it's definitely possible to be both gay AND religious. I am! Many churches accept and love the LGBT community wholeheartedly. The Canadian organization Student Christian Movement (SCM of Canada) is dedicated to queering Christianity while maintaining the Christian belief system. If you're interested in being super gay AND super holy, they offer counseling, seminars and even retreats all around the country which you can find out about at Queer & Christian.
So while it's absolutely unfortunate that, again, we have a violation of a very well known religious code of conduct via priests engaging in sexual acts, I'm asking anyone to see the greater side of this very Catholic "turning of the cheek" where the Cardinal is concerned. I mean, excommunication is better than being burned at the stake, right? Baby steps, baby steps.