Last Sunday, Rev. Gregory Greiten surprised his congregants when, during services, he he declared, “I am Greg. I am a Roman Catholic priest. And, yes, I am gay!”
And while some religious conservatives cringed at the thought of an out priest at the pulpit, Greiten, a priest at St. Bernadette’s Ministry in Milwaukee, had the support of his archbishop.
“We support Father Greiten in his own, personal journey and telling his story of coming to understand and live with his sexual orientation,” said Rev. Jerome Listecki in a statement. “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.”
Greiten spoke with Listecki before his announcement, which was timed to an op-ed on the National Catholic Register. But it’s not clear if he indicated whether he was celibate, a requirement for clergy with “same-sex attractions.”
In his essay, he apologized for “remaining silent” while the Catholic Church turned a cold shoulder to the LGBT community.
“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,” he wrote. “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.”
In 2005, the Vatican stated that men with “transitory” homosexual leanings could be ordained after three years of chastity and prayer, but men with “deeply rooted” gay tendencies, or who are sexually active, could not. In a followup instruction in 2008, the Church ordered psychological screenings for would-be priests to determine if they had “uncertain sexual identity” or “deep-seated homosexual tendencies.”