Archdiocese of Milwaukee

Is it big news these days when a Catholic priest announces that he is gay?

Is it big news these days when a Catholic priest announces that he is gay?

Sometimes the biggest problem we here at GetReligion have with a piece is not so much what’s said but what’s left out.

A good example is a piece that appeared in USA Today nearly a week ago about a gay priest that came out to his Milwaukee parish.

The story was originally published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee is known as a liberal diocese, home to former Archbishop Rembert Weakland, a social justice pioneer who came out as gay in 2009

Thus, a story about another priest in this archdiocese announcing he’s gay may not be as big a shock, as, say, a priest making a similar announcement in Lincoln, Neb., arguably the country’s most conservative diocese.

The Rev. Gregory Greiten told his congregation Sunday, "I am Greg. I am a Roman Catholic priest. And, yes, I am gay!"

The priest in the Milwaukee Archdiocese serves as the pastor of St. Bernadette Parish. On Monday, he came out to the rest of the world with a column in the National Catholic Reporter. He received a standing ovation from his parishioners when he made his announcement before the column's publication. 

Greiten said he was breaking the silence of gay men in the clergy so he could reclaim his own voice. 

While it is established that there are gay men who serve as priests, it is rare for a priest to come out to his congregation in this way. Greiten shares an estimate in his article that there are between 8,554 and 21,571 gay Catholic priests in the United States from "The Changing Face of the Priesthood." Church theology teaches that acting upon homosexuality is a sin. 

What the article doesn’t add at this point is there’s 37,192 Catholic clergy in the United States. So, if you use the higher estimate, that’s 58 percent of all Catholic priests. The lower number is 22 percent. Thus, the typical Catholic should expect that one out of every four priests they meet are gay, right?

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