Newspapers write many times stories of gay priests and gay prelates who give themselves to the good life taking advantage of their prestige and their social position and combining meetings with male prostitutes or with guys who for some reason cannot subtract themselves. Although managing a gay site for years and despite having met several times priests and religious through that site, I must say that what I saw is completely different from what can be read in the newspapers. For the sake of honesty and with the consent of the person of whom I speak, which unfortunately is no more alive, I would like to tell here the true story of a gay priest I met through the chat. I think it is proper to make people understand the real extent of the problem, which is not in the scandalous behavior of someone, scandalous especially for the gays themselves as well as of course for the Church, but in the deep suffering of many, according to what I can see, of the great majority of gay priests.
Several years ago, I was in chat with a priest who was fifty years old at the time. The dialogue between us was characterized, at the beginning, by a certain mutual distrust. It seemed strange to me to be contact by a priest, it was a rather rare event and I thought it could be the usual fake that needs to have fun abusing a gay chat (and unfortunately there are several fake), then, over the weeks dialogue between us became particularly serious, I will quote below some passages (I call the priest who speaks to me Paul, fictitious name, I’m project):
Paul writes: Don’t be surprised, project, there are many gay priests but I really feel a priest, I cannot tell you if when I made the choice to enter the seminary, it was really my vocation or under what seemed my vocation there was the inability to be what I was or maybe the desire to spend my life anyway for my neighbor, doing something good, since I could not live as I wanted. I grew up in the parish environment and I felt it as my natural environment starting as a child. Faith for me was always a great value, of course I understood that there was a contrast between my faith and what I was and when I made my choice I consciously chose to put aside what I was and to follow the Lord because I hoped to find some consolation too. When you’re young you react emotionally and you don’t know that over time many things change and that making choices that are “forever” is much more difficult than it seems.
I have had several parishes, now I’m at [omissis], it‘s a nice place and it’s good people, almost all old, there’s so much misery but above all economic, there’s no moral misery, there’s no criminality, there’s no violence, there is no drug, they do not cheat the neighbor and there is also a lot of dignity even if they are poor and perhaps exactly because of their being poor, that dignity that I don’t have or I no longer have because sometimes I feel like the wrong man in the wrong place.
The parishioners love me and I love them, many are farmers but they are really good people. But I feel in the wrong place because in a sense I’m lying to them, but I don’t even know if things are just like that. I thought that maybe I should leave the Church because I’m not worthy to be there but it’s an idea that scares me, I don’t think I could live if I had to leave the Church and then I would feel a traitor to things in which, despite everything, I believe deeply.
When I can pray, I have the feeling that the Lord is near me and helps me to move forward. Understand me well, I have never betrayed my vows but not only, when I happened to come into contact with young men I always behaved like a priest must behave and then it was not even a sacrifice because those people for me were sacred, I tell you as if in confession, if I had put in trouble one of those guys I would have felt as a worm.
The result of all this was that I have always avoided contacts with young men and boys, who might need a real priest. I put in the first place above all poor, old and sick people. When I happened to witness those who were dying I prayed with a very strong intensity that God could help them by giving them so much faith to face the moment of the passing. In those moments I had no doubts and I felt I was a priest in the most beautiful and profound sense because I was bringing the Lord to people who needed comfort.
But sometimes I really think that I should leave the Church because so many things I have to say are things that I don’t really feel, I have tried to follow the teaching of the Church but sometimes it seems to me in full consciousness of not being able to adhere to those things.
Project writes: But if you left the Church, what prospects would you have?
Paul writes: In practice none, I don’t have a qualification that can serve in civil life, I don’t know how to survive I don’t know how to do anything, I can only be a priest and certainly I’m not a good priest and I go on like that because for my family it would be destructive and unexpected if I came out of the church.
My mother and my father are old, they are happy with the idea of having a son priest, for them to have a misguided son would be terrible and then my parents live with a very small pension and even if they want to help me, because I think they wouldn’t abandon me anyway, they can’t feed me too.
Then if I think of the idea of having a partner, well it’s just tragic. But who would put himself with a 50-year-old ex-priest who dies of hunger? Nobody at all and I wouldn’t go with anyone, apart from the fact that I’m old my parents would still feel me distant because I now come from an environment a very different from theirs. And then that world has not only been mine but it is still now and it would still remain so if I left the church. It is not only the fear of the outside that doesn’t make me take a step like that, but it is also the fact that the Church is my real world, a world in which I feel useful. When someone comes to confession, something very rare apart from the old ladies who should be sanctified because they are incapable of doing anything wrong, when someone comes to confession, I always ask him/her to pray for me because sometimes I don’t know how to manage my relationship with the Lord, I cannot understand what He wants from me. In fact I know very well that I have no choices and that I can only go on like now and over the years I will perhaps end up putting aside even the doubts that still exist, but I wonder why the Lord asks me such a big sacrifice, I mean big for me because there are people who bear much worst things with so much faith, it is not that I want who knows what, but it is this state of dissatisfaction that I feel inside that overwhelms me, I wonder not how it is possible that the Lord wants me priest, but how is it possible that He wants a priest like me, with this half faith, with all these ifs and buts. Sometimes I think I’m not a priest but that I “act” as a priest a bit like any other job and then I think I’m cheating on the Lord.
The dialogue with Paul went on for several months, even if with long intervals, and the relationship of esteem and mutual respect has consolidated. One day he told me that he was not well and that he would have to make some investigations, he made them and it resulted that he had an advanced tumor. He was operated. After the surgery, which failed to stem the problem but weakened even more his body, he called me for the last time. The conversation was very short.
Paul writes: it went wrong, they told me that I will only do palliative care. You remember, we thought the problem was one and instead the real problem was another. I am very tired, I go to rest, I ask you only one thing: pray for me.
Project writes: I will certainly do it. A big hug.
Paul writes: You have done a lot for me. Hello Friend.
This was our last chat conversation. I can say that I keep inside me the memory of this priest and his suffering humanity, that’s why when I hear about gay priests in a scandalistic way I get angry, what I saw in these people is neither stupidity nor arrogance but silent suffering and torn conscience. The topic of gay priests should be treated with the utmost respect and I say this as a deeply lay person.
If you like, you can join the discussion on this post on Gay Project Forum: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/T-a-true-story-of-a-gay-priest