Gay Catholic Priest on Same-Sex Marriage
There are many celibate gay Catholic priests in the church today. (And let me emphasize, since that last statement is usually misunderstood, I'm speaking about celibate gay priests. These are validly ordained homosexual men who lead celibate lives.) What is exceedingly rare is the Catholic priest who speaks publicly about his own homosexuality. (There are only a handful in this country who have done so.) An article in America in 2000 examines this phenomenon, and lists some of the reasons why Catholic priests remain silent about this aspect of their lives--even as they lead celibate lives.
Even rarer is the openly gay Catholic priest who speaks about issues related to homosexuality and homosexual activity. That is why this ten-minute speech by Robert Pierson, O.S.B., a member of the Benedictine community at Collegeville, MN (and listed as a priest in good standing in the 2011 Official Catholic Directory) is so unusual. Father Pierson, who had worked in campus ministry at St. John's University and is currently the director of the Spiritual Life Program at St. John's Abbey, speaks of his own homosexuality, his experience in ministering to gay and lesbian students, and then describes why he bas concluded that a Minnesota Catholic may vote "no" on a proposed state amendment that would prevent same-sex marriages. In 2005, Father Pierson had resigned from his post as director of campus ministry after the Vatican officially barred men with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" from ordination, and because of broader issues in the church's teaching. "Because I can no longer honestly represent, explain and defend the church's teaching on homosexuality, I feel I must resign," he said at the time.
Needless to say, his comments on same-sex marriage are in direct opposition to the U.S. Catholic bishops, including Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis, who has vigorously supported the amendment (that is, opposing same-sex marriage) and asked parishioners in his archdiocese to recite a "A Prayer for Marriage" as part of the Prayers of the Faithful (petitionary prayers) at Masses. The bishops could not be clearer in their opposition, which rests primarily on the Christian tradition of marriage as between a man and a woman (as well as on the church's opposition to homosexual activity). Father Pierson's appeal is primarily to freedom of conscience, and on that topic he quotes both the Catechism and Pope Benedict XVI. "Our Holy Father taught in 1967 that we must obey our own conscience, even if it puts us at odds with the Pope. I doubt that he knew that he was going to be Pope when he said that."