Outing the Church: Gay Popes, Gay Bishops


"A statue of a bishop or cardinal or pope strikes a particularly effeminate pose as he gazes at the sculptor while holding an open book".  Image by Holoweb

"A statue of a bishop or cardinal or pope strikes a particularly effeminate pose as he gazes at the sculptor while holding an open book". Image by Holoweb

It is widely guesstimated that gay men today represent something of the order of half of all priests. There is no reason to assume that this percentage differs dramatically in the senior ranks – indeed, there are those who claim that in the years of Paul VI and John Paul I, a gay orientation was a positive advantage in gaining papal preferment, leading to the creation of a “gay mafia” in the Vatican.  Be that as it may, whatever the proportions, it must be true that the absolute numbers of gay bishops and clergy must surely be significant.  We know of many examples from history, and there are well stories of their modern counterparts – emerging only after death, or in the aftermath of blackmail scandals.

But the numbers we know about represent only a tiny proportion of the total.  I have noted previously (“Traditional Family”  values, traditional “Family Values”) that I believe it is time to start identifying and outing those senior clergy who connive in the official oppressive church teaching, yet freely give expression to their own gay sexuality:

It is widely reported that a large and growing proportion of priests, at all levels in the hierarchy, are gay.  Others are heterosexual, but non-celibate.  Professional Vatican watchers, it is said, know not only who many of these people are, but also their partners and preferred sexual practices.  As with politicians, I would prefer that they should have the courage to come out publicly, difficult as this would be, but where they choose not to, we must respect their privacy.  But as with politicians, where they actively connive in the church’s demonization of “homosexuals”  and other sexual minorities, they should lose that right to provacy.  There have been plenty of reports of gay bishops and cardinals emerging after their deaths, or after nasty blackmail scandals – so why not when they are alive?

It is also often said that the pope’s balls are one of the three most useless things in the world.  So………come on, you professional clerical journalists:  are your cojones any more useful than His Holiness’s ?”

I regret that I am not (yet) in a position to undertake this myself.  However, I have made a start on a partial listing of those names (mostly publicly disgraced or deceased) already in the public domain:

I have already posted on the two notable modern popes who may have been gay – under the title “The Smiling Pope: The First gay Pontiff” . Of course, I now realise the title was clearly incorrect:  there were much earlier gay popes, notably Julius III, who was said to have cahsed his boyfriends around the streets of Rome.  Even in modern times, the monker probably belongs to Paul VI, not JohnPaul I.  Since posting, there have been numerous helpful comments, which have extended my own knowledge.  See what you think of them, and what do you make of the comment on Bishop Pst Buckley?

Adding to the two popes some cardinals, archbishops and bishops, my starting list is now:

  • Pope John Paul I
  • Pope Paul VI
  • Cardinal Egan of New York
  • Cardinal Francis Spellman of New York
  • Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick (formerly bishop ofof Metchuen, New Jersey)
  • Archbishop Rembert Weakland
  • Archbishop Hans Hermann Groër
  • Bishop Reginald Cawcutt, Auxiliary Bishop of Cape Town
  • Bishop Jacques Gaillot

(In quite a different category is Bishop Thomas Gumbleton.  All the others have become known to us either posthumously, or as a result of some form of public “disgrace”.  Why should this be?  Against this trend, Bishop Gumbleton is well known for a stance of support, even for solidarity, with gay and lesbian Catholics in their struggle. We should not take this is a sign that he is himself gay – his sexual identity, and celibacy or otherwise, he is fully entitled to keep private.  But we welcome and applaud his open support for others.)

For more details on these, follow the links, or see the full page “Gay Clergy in History“.

When I have written on this in the past, I have found my readers supplying additional useful information.  I hope you will do the same now, passing on any published sources you know of.

But I hope to go further, and start to collect previously unpublished information. Here I stress, as I have done before, that I fully respect the right to privacy of all – except where they have forfeited that right by their hypocrisy.  So, I hope that you will also be ready to pass on even unconfirmed rumours – not for publication, but as a starting point for my further investigations.  To get us started, I give you this titbit, posted by “most Reverend Bruce J Simpson, Archbishop, Benedictine Order of St John  the Beloved”, on the Whosoever website, back in 2003:

“From my personal experience as a Roman Catholic seminarian, I personally can attest to a significant number of the clergy being gay. There is now a Bishop in this country that was reportedly sexually active in the Seminary, but has become one of the most conservative Bishops on the payroll of Rome.  He now heads an East Coast Diocese.”

Any idea who this “sexually active”, “most conservative” East ~Coast bishop might be?

If you are confident of your information, by all means place it in a comment box.  If circumspection is required, write to me directly at “weldon.terry at googlemail.com” – making the obvious adjustment to get the correct format for an email address.

5 Responses to “Outing the Church: Gay Popes, Gay Bishops”

  1. Best not use my own name Says:

    Word on the street is that ultra-rightist Robert Morlino of the Diocese of Madison in Wisconsin has a more than fatherly devotion to the small cabal of young conservative priests he brought with him from his prior diocese of Helena, Montana. I’ve heard them referred to by some local gay clergy as his “harem,” but don’t have any direct knowledge.

    This is the man who so distrusts his priests (at least, the ones who predate him in the diocese) that he required them to play a taped “homily” by him on the Sunday before Election Day to endorse the anti marriage equality referendum. He is also on the Board of Visitors for the renamed School of the Americas, where they trained Central American military thugs in the fine arts of torture and coups.

    • queeringthechurch Says:

      Many thanks for your help – and discretion. I will file this away, and see where I can find corroborating info. Interestingly, I came up against his name just over the past day or two, but cannot right now remember the context.

  2. colkoch Says:

    When he was in Helena he was referred to as the Sugar Plum Fairy and his penchant for surrounding himself with good looking ‘seminarians’ was well known.

    I was personally acquainted with a number of these seminarians and their status as active gays didn’t matter–looks did. He was considered a voyeur more so than anything else and a joke to his gay clergy.

  3. Mark Davis Says:

    Archbishop Donald W, Wuerl of Washington, DC is as Gay as they come.

    • Terence@queerchurch Says:

      Thanks Mark, for the confirmation. I have no personal knowledge, but that is exactly the picture I am picking up. What I need now is the smoking gun – the guy who can honestly say, “I did it with him”. Anybody know anyone?


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