I just came across this superb expose of the secret world of gay Jesuits - written by former gay Jesuit, Ben Brenkert, who at the age of 35 left both the Jesuits and the Roman Catholic Church in protest against it's treatment of LGBTQ people. This is really powerful stuff and resonates so much with my own experience in the 80's, when I was doing theological studies at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. I was quite shocked at the time by the number of young gay Jesuits going over to San Francisco's Castro District on the weekends to 'pick up tricks'. There were also numerous affairs among the seminarians themselves and distinguished faculty members living openly with their partners with the full knowledge of their superiors. One of my closest gay Jesuit friends, a few months short of ordination, accepted a dinner invitation from his Provincial (of the California Province) to discuss his doubts about his vocation. The invite was at the Provincial's private apartment with spacious views of San Francisco Bay. After dinner, the provincial attempted to seduce my friend, which was a decisive moment of awakening for him. He left the order shortly thereafter. At the same time, I also put all aspirations for the Roman Catholic priesthood behind me and walked away. I just could not see myself living a double life of duplicity and deceit, just as much as I knew I was not called to celibacy. Priesthood - in some fashion - yes, to that I had felt called all my life, but celibacy and a closeted existence - as the church demanded of all gay persons - this I felt was immoral. And so I walked and never looked back. The peace and joy of this refusal have been with me ever since.
What is most moving about Brenkert's expose is his heartfelt call to his fellow gay Jesuits to 'come out,' and to stop enjoying the comforts of a privileged existence in exchange for their silence and passive support for injustice. He also has some rather trenchant comments about the 'Francis defect', in contrast to the much touted 'Francis effect'.
Read the full article and accompanying comments here at the Daily Beast. Warning: Some of the comments below the article are profoundly ignorant and hate filled, just as some are warmly supportive.
At every new stage of formation, I met more and more gay Jesuits who were happier sipping scotch, ordering cigars, opera tickets, and shoes, publishing books or holding secret masses with LGBTQ sympathizers (that followed unsanctioned liturgical rubrics) than publicly confronting the injustice experienced by members of their community. Their silence pained me. Why won’t these gay priests just come out?
I believe these gay Jesuits won’t come out because they live comfortable lives, with access to so many things, like the latest technology or villas abroad or tenured positions at universities, not to mention the unlimited gas cards that make domestic travel really easy.
Confessions of a Gay Jesuit: How I Was Forced To Leave My Church—And Calling