Jesuit estimates that half of the Catholic priests is homosexual


Central Europe


Photo Unsplash, Jeremy Bezanger

According to the Jesuit Father, Klaus Mertes, about 50 per cent of the Catholic priests is homosexual. He says that many of them do not dare to talk about it because they fear blackmailing.

About 25 years ago, a theologian, Hanspeter Heinz, estimated that about 20 per cent of the priests are gay. However, the German Jesuit Mertes suspects that that number is much higher. He says so in an interview with Taz. Mertes points out that people might not have realised their homosexual orientation in former times. "The decisive difference today is the knowledge of one's sexuality", he says to Taz. Also, many clergies who are homosexual do not dare to come out because of social pressures.

According to the Jesuit Father, young males who realise that they are gay might see the priesthood as a way to reconcile their sexual orientation with the Church's teachings. "They believe they have found a particularly suitable way for living in church recognition, the way of life in celibacy, which is often misunderstood as an asexual way of life."

Career at risk

Often these priests feel obliged to keep their sexual orientation secret and deny their desire for love, to conform to the Church doctrine as much as possible. If they do come out, they risk not being ordained.

Furthermore, coming out as a homosexual priest might lead to blackmail, Mertes warns. "I have seen priests who are gay being told: if you do this and that, I will out you. Or that homosexual priests are told they are not suitable for a certain position because they are gay." The Jesuit Father also adds that a clergyman should not talk about his homosexual orientation if one wants to make a career.

Gay priests more homophobic

Part of the antagonisation of homosexuals is that many clerics have linked sexual abuse to gay clergy, Mertes says. "Homosexuality was turned homophobic when the Church blamed gay clergy. That was seen in the strategy of Pope John Paul II: Kick gays out of the clergy, because then we won't have any sexual abuse anymore."

According to Mertes, gay priests are the most likely to express homophobia. "They try the hardest to conform to the system and deny their desire for love."



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