Priest outs himself and then resigns over Vatican’s stance on gay rights
A priest at St. John’s University has revealed that he’s gay and promptly resigned from his leadership position at the university. He cited the cause as being the Vatican’s latest statement that homosexuals should be barred from entering the Roman Catholic priesthood.
“Because I can no longer honestly represent, explain and defend the church’s teaching on homosexuality, I feel I must resign,” Rev. Bob Pierson said in an e-mail Wednesday to administrators and students at St. John’s and the nearby College of St. Benedict.
The Vatican released a statement last month that it was toughening its stand against gay candidates for the priesthood, advising that men with “deep-seated” gay tendencies or who “support so-called gay culture” shouldn’t be admitted to seminary or ordained.
Others with “transitory” homosexual inclinations can be accepted if they have “clearly overcome” them for three years, according to the release as reviewed by Reuters.
Several gay priests are now questioning whether they can continue serving the church.
Rev. Leonard Walker quit his parish assignment in Mesa, Arizona. And Rev. Thomas J. O’Brien, a Jesuit retreat director from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, disclosed his sexual orientation publicly, saying the Vatican document promotes “bigotry.”
Pierson, the chaplain and director of campus ministry, said in the e-mail that he is gay and celibate. He said he did not accept several elements in the Vatican document, including the assertion that homosexuals are “objectively disordered.”
“I am not an infallible person, but I cannot remain silent about my disagreement in conscience with this document, or the church’s teaching on homosexuality,” said the priest.
Pierson said his resignation will come into effect on January 15th 2006. He will remain a member of the monastic community at St. John’s Abbey, which is on the campus but technically separate from the university.
University spokesman Michael Hemmesch said the school regretted Pierson’s decision but “we must respect his personal conscience.”
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