In a sermon and a letter, a Milwaukee-based Roman Catholic priest has announced that he is gay, writing that he will no longer live in the shadows of secrecy and vowed to be real with his gay self.
Prior to his ordination, Reverend Father Gregory Greiten already knew that he was different. During his seminary years, he was told that going out of the closet and showing his true colors could be grounds for expulsion. As a priest, he was also told that if he would declare his true self, this might jeopardize his ministry.
Most of his lifetime, all he did was to cover up for what he truly is.
But last Sunday’s celebration of the Holy Mass had changed the course of his long-time secret. He finally embraced his true identity, free from any baggage nor self-pity.
His disclosure was received with understanding and a standing ovation by no less than his parishioners at the St. Bernadette Parish, as reported by Milwaukee Journal.
After this, he came out to the rest of the world as he wrote a column in the National Catholic Reporter.
Greiten’s reason for coming out is to serve as inspiration to other gay clergyman. He added that this action was his way of breaking the silence of gay men in the clergy so that he could reclaim his own voice.
“For years now, I have been carrying a heavy burden, a secret cloaked in silence that the leaders of my church have not wanted me to share publicly. Each time I had a great desire to speak out I was challenged by other priests and leaders.”
“Today, I break the silence and emerge free from the shackles of shame placed upon me at a young age. There is so much to speak about, to repair and to heal — much beyond the limits of these words in print.”
“I am gay.”
Father Greiten’s coming out is one for the books in a macho institution like the Catholic church. For one, the church has been adamant in its teachings that any homosexual activity is a sin.
According to Greiten, his move is in accordance with the few courageous priests who also came out in the past and chose the life of truth and authenticity.
“What if every priest and religious were given the opportunity to live their life in truth and freedom without worrying about some form of reprisal from someone in authority over them? How different, affirming and welcoming would our Catholic Church truly become by simply acknowledging, accepting and supporting each and every gay priest and religious in their midst?”
He added that the church’s silent stance on gay priests creates a toxic environment where shaming and ridiculing are norms. What the church needs, Greiten said, is healthy role models for priests who struggle with their sexual orientation.
Prior to his coming out, Greiten met with Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki and told him of his plans. In turn, the archbishop supported Greiten’s in his plan, as told by an archdiocee spokesman.
In fact, in a statement released on Monday, Archbishop Listecki backed Greiten’s decision to make public his real sexuality.
“We support Father Greiten in his own, personal journey and telling his story of coming to understand and live with his sexual orientation. As the Church teaches, those with same-sex attraction must be treated with understanding and compassion. As priests who have made a promise to celibacy, we know that every week there are people in our pews who struggle with the question of homosexuality.”
Listecki reminded Greiten to continue to grow in understanding and remain truthful to his vows to live holy and chaste life, to which Greiten affirmatively responded.
Greiten said he will not live in the shadow of secrecy. He said that in his life and ministry, he will help other people regardless of sexual orientation and will journey with them for a more liberating society.
The Milwaukee priest even vowed to speak against any forms of homophobia and discrimination bestowed upon the LGBT community.
“I will not be silent any longer; the price to pay is way too great. I must speak my truth. I have lived far too many years chained up and imprisoned in the closet behind walls of shame, trauma and abuse because of the homophobia and discrimination so prevalent in my church and the world.”