CRANFORD, NJ - An Atheist advocacy group called upon Roman Catholic priests who are gay to resign from the church and reject the Vatican's repressive teachings on homosexuality--and much else.
This comes following an expose by the Italian weekly news magazine Panorama titled "Good Nights Out For Gay Priests." Investigative journalist Carmelo Abbate who spent time undercover filming and interviewing gay clerics who often flaunted their lifestyle, and even hired male escorts for private parties. Panorama's expose seems to confirm a 2000 study by Father Donald Cozzens whose book, The Changing Face of the Priesthood suggested that as many as 60% of American Catholic priests were gay.
Dr. Ed Buckner, President of American Atheists, said, "In an institution where men and women are treated as equals--as human beings!--double lives (hypocrisy) aren't necessary. These men should choose integrity, honest lives, not continuing support for unsupportable, irrational dogma that misleads millions and expands human suffering rather than easing it."
Dr. Buckner added, "The issues of sexual abuse of children by clergy and the church's policies regarding accepting homosexuality are connected (though the abuse has certainly not been exclusively of boys); hypocrisy and dishonesty plague the Vatican in many ways, but these are perhaps the most damaging. Sexual orientation is a different question altogether from clerical pedophile abuse. The church considers gays to be 'sinners,' and we think it appropriate that any gay clerics reject this superstition."
Dave Silverman, Vice President and Communications Director for American Atheists, encouraged recognition of gay rights and openness about problems: "Gay men and women continue to speak out for civil rights and social recognition. There is no longer any need to hide in the shadows even of the priesthood."
Silverman added: "There are many religions out there, and some are far less intolerant or antiquated than Catholicism. We agree with the Vatican that any gay priest should leave the priesthood, and pursue a life of tolerance and civility."
AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for Atheists, Freethinkers and other nonbelievers; works for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.