Group of gay priests challenge Pope

An October 2018 letter to Pope Francis from a group of gay priests has been released ahead of this week’s summit in Rome about sex abuse in the Catholic church.

In the letter, the Netherlands-based Working Group of Catholic Gay Pastors confront Francis on his views about homosexuality and ask him not to validate gossip that a “gay mafia” inside the Church is responsible for systematic clerical sex abuse of children.

They also discuss a document the Pope issued in 2016 which re-emphasises the church’s ban on gay priests and the upcoming Vatican summit.

The Working Group says Francis’s document about gay priests is a continuation of the policy adopted by his two predecessors “to prevent gay men from being ordained as priests”.

They note that while the document affirms the Church’s respect for gay priests, it also states:

“Such persons … find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating appropriately to both men and women.”

In addition, the Working Group’s letter notes that, last May, many news media reported the pope’s support for banning homosexual candidates for the priesthood.

“We now wish to inform you that, as members of the Working Group, we are deeply unhappy with this vision and this policy concerning homosexuality and the priesthood,” the letter says.

“We have the distinct impression that the Vatican and the Congregation for the Clergy, and perhaps even you yourself, tend to suggest that those priests who are openly gay are the ones responsible for the sexual abuse of children and minors.

“We disagree with this. We believe that the current major crisis with respect to this context is primarily the result of the disapproval, suppression, denial and the poor integration of sexuality, and especially homosexuality, on the part of many individual priests and within our Church as a whole.”

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