Dignity Canada Dignité

This clip is from VisionTV's "360 Vision" documentary about gay men in the Catholic priesthood. Our own Brother Thomas Novak and Sister Sandra Stewart of Dignity Winnipeg are featured guests. On the VisionTV web site the program is described as follows:

Clergy in the closet

360 Vision confronts the Catholic Church's code of silence on gays in the priesthood

When it comes to homosexuality, the Roman Catholic Church is unequivocal: gay behaviour is morally wrong. End of discussion. Yet according to recent estimates, significant numbers of Catholic priests are gay – perhaps as many as 5,000 in Canada.

Is the Catholic Church hypocritical on the issue of homosexuality? Or just in denial?

In a special report, the award-winning VisionTV current affairs series 360 Vision looks at the lives of gay Catholic clergy and their conflicted relationship with the Church.

Studies have concluded that as many 58 percent of all Catholic clergy in the U.S. are gay, and the proportions are thought to be similar in Canada. Yet the Church resists dealing openly with the issue of gay clergy. One reason for this skittishness may be the succession of sex scandals involving pedophile priests – even though 50 years of research has shown no link between pedophilia and homosexuality.

In his investigation, 360 Vision segment producer Kevin O'Keefe speaks to a number of gay clergy about the Church's code of silence on homosexuality. Some have chosen to come out to their peers, at great personal cost. Others remain closeted, frustrated by the need to hide who they are, yet fearful of the consequences of going public.

O'Keefe also interviews traditionalists such as Calgary Bishop Fred Henry, who issued a pastoral letter last month likening homosexuality to adultery, prostitution and pornography. All of these forces, he argues, “undermine the foundations of the family.” And he advocates the use of state power to “proscribe or curtail them in the interests of the common good.”

Attitudes like this are the reason so many gay priests choose to conceal their orientation. Still, there are some who venture to hope that the Catholic hierarchy might one day exercise a little Christian charity toward them.

Broadcast date February 15, 2005