Catholics believe 30% - 50% of Priests gay?

I was watching Meet The Press with Tim Russert as moderator last Sunday and there was a confab of various priests and influential Catholics at various and varied positions in the Catholic heirarchy discussing the problem of Pedophile Priests and how to deal with the issue. It was a very interesting conversation/debate and was my first glimpse into the real distinction between the Catholic Church’s institutional position and it’s “Priest on the street” perspective.

Here were the guests/participants. Click on the link in the quote if you want the whole transcript.

Anyway during this fascinating conversation a statement was made and seconded

This percentage was hotly disputed by those representing the Catholic Church’s institutional postion but was supported by the Canon Lawyer who had written a warning report on the issue some years ago.

I had no idea that the percentage was acknowledged (within the church) to be that large. Do most astute Catholics know this in a “Yeah so what. It’s not news, it’s always been that way” fashion, or is this really an eye opener for them?

Conservative Catholic here. I can’t offer any hard evidence, just my hunches based on observation and my own flawed “Gay-dar.”

I have always scoffed when gay activists claim that 10% ofhe populace is gay. I don’t think the real percentage of gays in the population is anywhere near that large.

However… among Catholic priests, I have little doubt that far more than 10% are gay, in orientation if not in practice.

These days, it’s no secret that very few men are entering seminaries. The number of priests has dropped sharply. So, when you attend a Catholic Church, the priest you see there is likely to fall into one of three categories:

  1. Elderly men. Men who became priests 40 or 50 years ago when the priesthood was still viewed as an esteemed calling, a position of high status.

  2. Social misfits. There are LOT of these. Look, when I was a kid, most of the priests struck me as (generally) normal men, men who could easily have been successful doctors, lawyers, or businessmen, if they’d gone that way. Most of them COULD have been good husbands and fathers if they’d gone that way. But the celibacy requirement keeps that kind of man out of the priesthood today… and as a result, a VERY large percentage of today’s priests strike me as guys who’d never make in in the “real” world. Guys with all kinds of neuroses, with awful social skills, who’d be fired in any job that didn’t involve a “calling.”

  3. Gay men. If you find a priest under 40 who’s intelligent, capable and articulate, the odds are strong that he’s stereotypically gay.

Now I thnk most American Catholics would like to see the celibacy requirements lifted, and I happen to think that would greatly elevate both the quantity and quality of seminarians… but since Catholics are practical people, I think many would shrug and say, “Well… Father Joe is a great guy, but he’s 75 years old and out of touch. Father Mike is… well, kind of weird. That leaves Father Bruce… and, well, we all know he’s a little light in the loafers, but he’s the best of the bunch by far, so… we all kind of look the other way.”

I would imagine that about 1/3 of the priests I know are gay. And they also tend to be the ones who are most educated, faithful and compassionate.


Being gay doesn’t mean they go after little boys, just as being straight doesn’t mean I go after little girls.

Just wanted to point that out.

You might convince me that there are 30ish or less percent gay, but not the Irish Caths. Family and culture push more Irish caths to the preisthood than most others, IMHO.

The attempted connection of homosexuality and pedophilia / child molestation here is interesting. This connection was discussed in another thread. If the church does come forward with all of the information, it could prove a valuable basis for statistics to support such a claim.

Okay, let me take this opportunity to say that, for the most part, the pedophile priests are NOT the gay men I described in my post, but the social misfits.

Look, celibacy is a hard reqirement for anyone, straight or gay. But I do NOT believe for a moment that celibacy drives otherwise normal men to molest children. An ordinary, healthy heterosexual male priest who can’t keep his vow may quit and get married, or he may have an illicit affair with an adult woman. He doesn’t start molesting kids.

Similarly, an otherwise sane, healthy gay male priest doen’t start molesting kids. He MAY be tempted to have an illicit affair, or to leave the priesthood, but celibacy does NOT drive him to pedophilia.

But while celibacy doesn’t drive anyone to pedophilia, it’s very likely that some social/sexual misfits are attracted to the celibate priesthood, either because they feel guilty about their devant desires, or because they don’t HAVE a normal, healthy sex drive in the first place.

You need to read the linked transcript. An interesting point is made in the discussion that 90+% of alleged “pedophile” contact by priests is not to “kiddy” children but to young teenaged boys typically 13-16. This doesn’t make it less troublesome but the problem priests are not (typically) preying on much younger boys.

You can go around and around as to whether being gay pre-disposes one to be more attracted to young teenage 15-17 year old males than a heterosexual man would be attracted to 15-17 year old girls and I don’t think there is any definitive answer to that question at this time. I don’t think any claim is being made by any of the parties that pedophilic inclinations among priests is/are more pronounced or prevalent than in society at large.

One problem is that our society is defining as children people who really are not children. A pedophile is an adult who is sexually attracted to real, actual children – kids who have not yet reached puberty.

Once an individual has reached puberty, he or she is no longer a child. We can legally define them as children all we want, but you can’t fool mother nature. Puberty marks the end of childhood.

A normal, healthy over-18 male will, if heterosexual, find teenage girls sexually attractive. A normal, healthy over-18 male will, if homosexual, find teenage boys sexually attractive. In our society, an over-18 male would be well advised to never act on any attraction he feels toward anyone under 18, but as long as the person is past puberty, there’s nothing strange about feeling the attraction.

One problem is that 13 thru 17 year olds are sexual beings. They are quite prone to feel an attraction for someone over 18. It’s inevitable that relationships will occur that defy the arbetrary 18th-birthday dividing line.

Another problem is that our society is geared to prepare kids for adulthood at 18 or later. We not only don’t prepare them to accept responsibility for themselves any sooner, we activly discourage it.

Much of what I have been reading here in a kinda tangental way jibes with what a friend of mine told me (who happens to be a lesbian for POV purposes). The “social work” circles are often heavy in gay/lesbian because of what she called “surrogate parenting”. Since gay couples can’t have thier own children easily it works quite well to work in the business of helping people who have difficulty helping themselves (the developmentally disabled, elderly, or foster children, for example).

I can easily see where this “helpful” mindset would translate well to the priesthood, especially for a man having a hard time coming to grips with his orientation. The celibacy requirement allows him an excuse from acting on impulses he is uncomfortable with either way. So I would not be surprised that a hefty percentage of the clergy were homosexual based on the above. I don’t see it as a bad thing, a little ironic, but not bad. If someone is doing the job well, who cares if they share the company mission statement personally. I work for a childrens book distributor, my mission in life is not to put books in kids hands, its to run an accurate inventory.

What’s the big deal that some priests may be gay? Why is this even an issue?

I don’t know if it’s an “issue” as much as a social indicator of problems that may lie ahead for the church in maintaining it’s stability. If my workforce is 50% gay by inclination, if not practice, and their job is to preach that the feelings they have at the core of their being is an abomination of sorts I would imagine this doublespeak is going to wear one’s soul thin over time and the people they minister to will eventually see through this hypocrisy.

Add to that the statement by one of the Pope’s spokesmen that being gay is incompatible with being a priest (not practicing a gay lifestyle, just being homosexual, even a celibate homosexual), and you’ve got an issue. Especially if 30-50% of the priesthood is homosexual.


That just sucks. I was always taught that the church’s position on this was that being gay was something you were born with, but you weren’t supposed to ACT on it. (Yes, that has its flaws, but at least we were getting SOMEWHERE!)

It’s not right. I mean, there may be some wonderful loving men who truly wish to become priests, and they aren’t supposed to because they’re gay? Shit, and we’re having a priest shortage, many in the church are covering up for child molestors, and they deny gay men the role of being a priest?

It’s just damn round!


You’ve got the Church’s official teaching right. I don’t think that “spokesman” was speaking for anyone but himself at the time.I’m certain he didn’t claim to be speaking for the Pope. There would have been much more press coverage if he had.

Yes, I did run across accounts (no cites, but try NCR) of members of the Curia stating that homosexual orientation was unacceptable for the purpose of ordination, Chasity, or lack thereof, did not matter - the lust was sufficient to damn a candidate.

(I live in SF - the Pope would be REALLY PISSED to know what is actually happening)
I think it was the NCR that had an article speculating on whether or not the clergy was becoming a ‘gay club’.

and. AFAIK, pedophilia (pre- or post-puberty) has no connection to adult sexual orientation.

Then there is the issue of ‘pervs’ seeking protective coloration - marriage or priesthood…

Thank you for being a conservative who actually comprehends this.


It should also be noted that opportunity has more to do with the overwhelming percentage of priest-molested children being male than anyone’s orientation does.

Who does the average priest have the most (and most private) access to? Altar servers. Who makes up the majority of altar servers (the whole of altar servers in many, many dioceses)? Boys. Ergo, boys will be the majority segment of the victims, regardless of whether the priest in question would prefer girls.


Responding to the OP, absolutely the “Catholic on the street” thinks a high proportion of priests are gay. The percentage taken as gospel truth at college (Georgetown) was 45%.

One thing I have to ask about is the connection between phebophilia and sexual orientation, or lack thereof. As Hazel rightly pointed out, attraction to a post-pubescent minor wouldn’t seem to be a sexual paraphilia - it’s acting upon that attraction. And, I think, attraction to post-pubescent minors follows attraction to adults in terms of gender. From that, it would make sense that phebophile priests attracted to teenage boys would be homosexual, and the converse for phebophile priests attracted to girls.

From anecdotal experience, we teenagers didn’t make a distinction between homosexuality and phebophilia (indeed, I doubt many of us had even heard the term). The few “Fr. Feelies” I ran across in my co-educational high school were attracted to boys, and we considered them homosexual, not pedophiles or phebophiles.


Well, since girls are no longer prohibited from being altar servers, (and of course, it depends on the diocese), then that does kind of even things out. It would depend, of course, on the ratio of boys to girls in altar service.

I’m thinking also that perhaps a pedophile would become a priest, thinking it might help him get over it. Or, in the most awful case-in order to gain access to children, or what have you.

Don’t they say most pedophiles try to get into jobs where they’ll have access to kids? Like teaching, counselors, etc?
However, I HAVE read of cases where girls were molested or taken advantage of by priests. I would say it’s probably a case of boys and availability, but if you get into teenage boys…I don’t know…


Not the actual Irish however :slight_smile:

Numbers are dropping here aswell as everywhere else. The Church is nothing like the force it used to be. As in other places around the world bastards are part of the way we think of the church nowadays. Priests are getting older and very few young men are taking their place.

I’ve known a few gay, well I thought they where :slight_smile: , priests but nowwhere near 30%. Then again I’ve known a few gay men that i would never have tagged as gay if they hadn’t of told me.