Via Integra

Fr Mark's progressive Anglo-Catholic take on European Christianity

  • This is my collection of material about the current state of the churches in Europe. I am interested in looking at how they are dealing with the pressing issues of our time: the issues of gay people and women in ministry/ leadership are particularly pressing at the moment, as is the area of declining church attendance.

    I would like to see how Europe's traditional religious institutions are coping with the new Europe currently being forged, in which public opinion and ethical attitudes are becoming inceasingly pan-European, and are evidently presenting a series of strong challenges for the churches.

Italy – the gay issue

Posted by Fr Mark on October 5, 2009

Italy-EmblemGay priests – no longer a taboo







200px-Priests_romeA recent article published on the leading Catholic newspaper “L’Avvenire” shocked public opinion. In it, Professor Andreoli – a well-respected psychiatrist – deals with the sensitive issue of priests’ homosexuality and presents a strong argument for a more accepting and supportive Church towards gay priests.

The publication of such a defense of gay priests in “L’Avvenire” inevitably stirred vocal reactions from the conservative clergy. However, what was perhaps more surprising is that several clergy and groups of believers came out in its defense – revealing a slow swing of opinion towards a more open stance.

”Since 1992 homosexuality has been removed from the list of illnesses of the official publications edited by the Worldwide Health Organization […] and is scientifically considered a human behavior” is the upsetting introduction of Professor Andreoli’s article which generated numerous comments from all involved. He then goes on to say that while he is not shocked that an organisation chooses to exclude members based on their sexuality he believes it is wrong that this is justified on the basis of calling the condition an illness.

According to the newspaper’s editor, Dino Boffo, the article did not aim to attack or upset any positions but is simply dealing with the issue within the context of a much larger series of articles that touched upon a number of other problems and extreme conditions of priesthood.

Don Domenico Pezzini, professor of medieval English literature and leader of various homosexual catholic groups, pointed out that such beliefs are only a surprise to some members of the clergy, while the wider church-going public has long come to terms with the existence of gay priests.

Several priests testify that being an homosexual can be quite hard but on the other hand a significant number “live this situation untroubled” and add that “the secret for resisting to temptation – difficult for both hetero and homo churchmen – is to be tempered with wisdom and self-control”.

According to Father Bartolomeo Sorge, a Jesuit and editor of the magazine “Aggiornamenti Sociali”, there should be no fear in going forward with the debate and ask the harder questions. While it is still not clear how the majority of believers would react to openly gay clergy it is obvious that the tide is turning and this is an issue that will simply not go away for the Vatican Church.

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