50 homosexual Italian priests have published a letter denouncing the “internalized homophobia” of the Church, announcing they “no longer want to hide.” The letter, titled “Con tutto il cuore” – With all my heart – first circulated discreetly, before being picked up by the left-leaning Italian daily Domani, followed by the Spanish publication Público.
A Disjointed and Conventional Argument
The letter denounces the existence of “plans” aimed at eliminating all allusion to homosexuality in the seminaries and at promoting an empty sexual morality there. It adds, in a grotesque way, that this attitude finds an echo in traditionally Christian countries, such as Italy or Spain, where there is collaboration between the ecclesiastical hierarchy and the political extreme Right.
The authors speak of the hatred of the gay world inoculated in the seminaries, and of the “social prejudices” scattered through even the latest Vatican documents, with an almost obsessive reference to “gender ideology,” which has multiplied since Giorgia Meloni’s rise to power.
If the subject were not so serious, this association would be amusing because it is so conventional and anachronistic. It is ultimately only there to try to stigmatize the opponents whom they accuse of all their misfortunes.
The text goes on to bluntly affirm that “there are homophobic homosexual priests, who push to the outside the conflict they carry within. They do not express peace, but live a dystonic ministry smothering their own being with clericalism.” But “quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur,” “what is affirmed without proof, can be denied in the same way.”
A complaint arises: “We cannot speak openly about our homosexual orientation with our family or our friends, even less with other priests or committed lay people,” lament the authors. “We cannot find acceptance in the Church,” pointing to “internalized homophobia” both within the hierarchy and in the dioceses and formation houses.
Exhausted and Depressed Priests
In an attempt to show the consequences of this situation, the letter exposes the difficulties of the current clergy. Not finding what they are looking for in Italy, they turn first to Spain, where studies – unofficial – seem to show that at least one priest and one religious in ten has a sexual orientation different from that defined as “normal” by the institution. That's pretty thin.
Then they turn to France, where the Episcopal Conference has commissioned an investigation into the state of the health of its clergy. 9% of French clergy admit to being depressed, and up to 40% say they are in conflict with the hierarchy or have a work overload. The French report also revealed that two out of five priests abuse alcohol, and that 8% are dependent on it. But still nothing to do with this business.
Then they describe the unbearable tension: “People are often forced to deny themselves in the name of a hypocritical spirituality with devastating effects. We have heard stories of consecrated men torn with guilt to the point of leaving the priestly life and, in some cases, committing suicide: a terrible temptation, even for some of us.”
The letter then follows talking about Pope Francis’s attitude, and the support he brings to the LGBT cause. The Pope has approved actions such as those of the Jesuit James Martin and his ministry of welcoming and integrating, on an equal footing, the LGBT community in the Church. Thus, last August, Francis “blessed” the work of Martin, encouraging him to “overcome barriers.”
The authors also highlight the value of the Synod on Synodality, saying it can be an “opportunity for dialogue” in the face of “harsh words” from the official Church on sex and homosexuality. And besides, they are not the only ones to claim it: in most synod summaries throughout the world, a rapprochement with the LGBT collective has clearly emerged.
This indignant attitude of homosexual priests in the Church is a novelty, but it was to be expected. However, it has no legitimacy. It should be remembered that homosexuality has always been condemned in the Church unequivocally until today.
If there was, after the Second Vatican Council, a culpable attitude in many seminaries, whose superiors either closed their eyes, or even favored the entry of homosexual seminarians, this was against the will of the Church.
Under Pope Benedict XVI, guidelines were issued that candidates in this situation should not be admitted to a seminary. This is also a reason for preventing ordination. Pope Francis has reaffirmed this directive for seminaries. Things are therefore clear.
If subjects today find themselves in the situation of the letter’s authors, they have only two alternatives: either do everything they can to sanctify themselves and live with this cross; or ask to be discharged from their priesthood, which would be understandable. But wanting to change the immutable doctrine of the Church is first of all a crime, then a waste of time.
Francis’s Ambiguous Role
Unfortunately, these priests, who are to be pitied insofar as they are perhaps victims of bad advice, but who must be opposed, are (badly) encouraged by the pope’s ambiguous attitude. Which on the one hand reaffirms the impossibility of being ordained if homosexual tendencies agitate the seminarian, and on the other hand gives opposing signals by his attitude towards those such as Fr. Martin.
As for what may come out of the Synod on this subject, it is smoke and mirrors, which only aggravates the suffering of these priests by letting them think that the doctrine of the Church can change. Those who are responsible for it are also responsible for the agitation produced, and for the suffering, present and future, of those whom they keep in this illusion.