For Gregory Greiten, a Roman Catholic priest at St. Bernadette’s Ministry in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, coming out was no easy task. The pastor feared alienation by his congregation (and harm to his ministry) if he decided to live his truth. But this week, he made the decision to come out to his parish—and then, to the entire world in a column for the National Catholic Reporter.
Greiten knew he was gay since he was 24, he recalled. His fear took ahold of him though, and he continued to live in the closet for decades.
This year, he celebrated his 25th anniversary of his ordination into priesthood, but the anniversary was marked with inner turmoil:
“Throughout the years, I wondered whether they would think of me differently if they knew who I really was,” Greiten wrote. “Would they pull away? Who else could I serve if I accepted my true self? Am I limiting my ministry by hiding in shame and fear?”
Eventually, Greiten “grew weary” of the burden of being in the closet—and worried about the impact his choices could have for LGBT Catholics.
“I would like to apologize personally to my LGBT brothers and sisters for my part in remaining silent in the face of the actions and inactions taken by my faith community towards the Catholic LGBT community as well as the larger LGBT community,” Greiten wrote.
— Telegraph Herald (@TelegraphHerald) December 19, 2017
The pastor received a standing ovation from his parishioners when he made the announcement leading up to his column’s publication online. It was finally time for Greiten to “speak his truth,” he added:
“I will not be silent any longer; the price to pay is way too great. I must speak my truth. 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… 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. First steps in accepting and loving the person God created me to be.”
Amen to that.