Gay priest, Fr Bernárd Lynch, who once claimed that half of Catholic priests were gay, says that the Catholic Church encourages priests to lie about their sexuality.
“If I did lie, if I did pretend, I’d have a job. I could even have a lover on the side,” said Lynch, who was born in Ennis, Co.Clare but now is based in London serving as chairperson of Camden Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Forum.
Fr. Lynch’s comments come in response to the Vatican Synod of Bishops rejecting a proposal that the Church takes a more accepting stance on homosexuality.
“Straight or gay, truth and honesty in the Catholic Church, as far as sexuality and relationships are concerned, is punished by dismissal. Whereas lies and hypocrisy are rewarded, as much in Ireland as the UK or the US. Again, you wonder are these people really serious about the Gospel.”
Lynch, who is still technically a priest although was banned from practicing after he came out in 1986 after coming out, said that homophobia in the Church is linked to misogyny. He told the Clare Champion, “The freedom of women and the freedom of gays to me is the different side of the same coin. The Church does not, to my mind, treat women as equals and, until it does, it won’t be able to treat gays equally. I don’t want my freedom as a gay man in the Catholic Church at the expense of women.
Despite the rejection of gays by the Synod, Fr. Lynch commended Pope Francis for trying to take a step in the right direction, but says there is a long way to go.
“I want to compliment Pope Francis that we’re even up for discussion. We’re not guests at the table but we were on the menu,” he said.
“I know gay priests in Ireland and in London. Gay priests are so afraid. It’s part of the oppression. The shame, it breathes. When we cannot even get the word ‘fáilte’ from Rome, there is so much work to be done. You can’t even say you’re gay as a priest in the Catholic Church, which again bespeaks the horrendous oppression and the lack of Gospel justice. Why can’t you say you’re gay? Is it something to be ashamed of? That’s how the Church sees it,” he added.
In the 1980s, Fr.Lynch received accolades from secular groups for being one of the first priests to support people affected by Aids-related illnesses. Despite his efforts, he was met with hostility from the Vatican, which described the Aids pandemic as a “natural result of unnatural acts”.
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