MAYNOOTH - "I FOUND LOVE"
A YOUNG PRIEST WRITES..................
"I have been very disturbed about all the recent controversy on this blog and in the media in general about homosexuality in Maynooth.
I have not been disturbed because it has been revealed that there is and has been gay sexual activity among the seminarians. I personally know that this is very common.
Rather I am disturbed and upset because of the portrayal of all gay activity in Maynooth between seminarians as Grindr focused and lust focused with the total neglect of the fact that some seminarians who are gay find love, and the love of their life in Maynooth, as I did.
I am a relatively recent graduate and ordinand of Maynooth and I now work as a priest in a parish. I have known that I was gay since I was thirteen and have always been 100% comfortable with my sexual orientation. I did not have a sexually intimate encounter with another male before I entered Maynooth. I would have been open to it but in my case it just did not happen. Unfortunately I had to lie about my sexual orientation during the assessment process in Maynooth as I was advised by others that if I told the truth I would not have been accepted. I was also told to lie during interviews in Maynooth with staff members if they asked me about my sexuality. In any event I did not think it was any of their business. I was quizzed about aspects of my sexuality on a number of occasions.
While I was in Maynooth I did explore the internet and internet gay sites but never actually met anyone in this way. I never used the now infamous Grindr app.
I had a very small number of sexual encounters with other seminarians and I had one sexual encounter with a Maynooth University lay student. I regarded these as "natural" and did not regard them as a matter to mention in Confession - although I was completely open about them with my priest spiritual director.
Then I became close to a fellow seminarian. Our relationship had sexual aspects but as it deepened it became clear to both of us that were were falling in love.
Neither of us are effeminate in any way and we always have been very discreet. Eventually we were both ordained and we both work in parish ministry. Our relationship has only deepened since ordination and I believe that we are both good priests. Our parents do not know of our relationship but some of our siblings do and they have no problem with it. We manage to visit each other very regularly and talk on the mobile telephone several times a day. We spend our days off together and go on holidays together. We also pray together.
In Maynooth we had the same spiritual director and were quite open with him about our discreet relationship. He agreed with us that the celibacy law of the Church is both a man made law and in fact an "unjust" law and that morally speaking people are not bound by unjust laws. We both regretted having to "lie" during our ordination ceremonies about the celibacy promise but we felt that God was calling us both to serve him and that this call was "superior" to a man made and unjust mandate.
We both know priests who are very promiscuous and active on Grindr and on gay internet sites like Gaydar and while we do not judge them harshly we are far happier that our relationship is love centred and not lust centred. In fact the sexual part of our relationship is one of the minor parts and as time progresses we are finding that the most important parts are the friendship and companionship.
We know that there are other priests and Catholic lay people who would condemn us for our relationship but as I say we are extremely discreet and want to be judged by God and not by others.
Pat, it has taken me quite a number of weeks to write this to you, albeit anonymously, but I wanted to stress the fact that not all gay seminarians and priests are promiscuous or on Grindr and that some are being true to how God made them but living out their nature in love, as best they can.
Father, Thank you for writing this to me. It certainly is thought provoking and does ask us to think more deeply about the question of gay men in the priesthood who also have a need of love and affection.
I once spoke to a priest of Westminster Diocese who went to Cardinal Basil Hume to tell him that he was gay and in a partnership. Cardinal Hume gave him tea and talked to him about all kinds of others matters. When Cardinal Hume left him to the door at the end of their meeting he squeezed his arm and said to him: "You will be discreet Father".
So your situation is not unique among priests and even among bishops.
I imagine that there are quite a number of priests and bishops in the same situation as you and your partner.
I also imagine that there are quite a number of bishops who know about such relationships in their dioceses and are content to leave well enough alone - as long as those involved are "discreet".
FATHER BRENDAN COLLINS - DERRY:
Recently on the Blog we carried the story of Father Brendan Collins of Derry - the curate of Longtower Parish - who is just 3 years ordained taking a sabbatical - since sabbaticals are always reserved for priests who have done 20 or more years in the ministry.
One reader reprimanded us for not making it clear that it was a one year sabbatical and that the Derry Clerical Changes stated that he would be taking up an appointment again in 2017.
One Longtower parishioner has been in touch with us to say that he gave them the impression he would not be back in 2017?
Maybe Father Collins or someone else could let us know whether this is true or not. We only mention it as it is a matter of great public interest that such a young priest - after such a short time in the ministry - is taking a sabbatical.