For year now, I have actually been transferring a heavy burden, a an enig cloaked in silence the the leaders of mine church have not wanted me to share publicly. Each time I had a good desire come speak out i was tested by various other priests and also leaders.

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"Shhhh … be quiet."

"Keep it to yourself."

"Don"t to speak a word to anyone."

"If you don"t keep quiet, you will be thrown out of here."

"If you do it known publicly, it will hurt her ministry."

Then i recall the personal struggles the the prophet Jeremiah that desperately want to store the native of God come himself because it provoked such a an adverse response native those who heard his preaching. No matter exactly how much that did not want to speak in the name of the mr anymore, he might not host it in. "There is in mine heart together it were a burning fire shut increase in mine bones, and I to be weary through holding the in, and also I cannot" (Jeremiah 20:9). Jeremiah understands the anguish that preaching; however, keeping silent and also not speaking the fact comes v an even greater cost. What a trap! 

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Today, i break the silence and emerge totally free from the shackles of shame placed upon me in ~ a young age. There is so lot to speak about, come repair and also to cure — much past the borders of this words in print.

I am gay.

Driven to silence, hiding, gift straight

Since mine days in high institution seminary in the 1980s, ns was taught that homosexuality was something disordered, unspeakable and something to it is in punished. Friends with "particular friendships" were automatically removed from the school because of "family problems." throughout my an elderly year, a friar led one inquisition seeking come identify and also discipline sexually active students. After being questioned, ns was told straight that if ns was captured talking about this v others, I would be dismissed instantly from the school. Because of the society of shame and secrecy roughly issues the sexuality in the seminary environment, students resided in fear and felt endangered to remain silent. It was apparent that the leadership wanted everything to be swept under the carpet and to ensure the nothing would ever be leaked out. It was in this secretive atmosphere that I thrived up.

Truth breaks through denial

The indigenous of author Jack Morin, seem therefore prophetic come me, "If you walk to war through your sexuality, you will certainly lose, and end increase in much more trouble than prior to you started." since my traumatic experience in the high college seminary, i immersed myself into my college and graduate studies trying out my vocation to ministry in ~ the church. In reflecting earlier on those years, ns didn"t realize just how I was repressing my feelings in an effort to live life as a directly man. This was till one day, at the age of 24, ~ above a five-hour drive ago to seminary, when the truth damaged through the denial. I lastly admitted to myself, "I am GAY!" ns was driving under a road trying to keep from veering the end of my lane or turn off the roadway itself, repeating come myself again and again, "I to be gay!" years of built-up, toxicity shame came pouring out of me as the tears were flowing under my cheeks.

It felt an ext like a life sentence than easily embracing my true sexual orientation. 

I saw the 5th floor that the seminary building, opened up the window and climbed right into it — with one leg within the room and also the various other leg dangling outside. There ns sat straddling the home window for three hrs contemplating whether ns could confront the reality of being happy or simply jump out of the window ending this once and for all.

I maintained repeating and also pondering mine truth: "I am gay."

What was ns going to execute now? wherein would ns go native here? ns remembered the words of the high college seminary rector, that if i were come say anything to anyone, then I would be thrown out. Because that years now, I had felt a calling come ministry in the church and have had actually a desire to serve people. Ns felt a transition taking ar inside, a reassurance the I want to live; ns didn"t desire to die. In a moment of lament and also ultimate surrender, i remember crying out inside, "God, where space you right now? I require you. Aid me. I cannot carry out this or confront this by myself." Wiping away my tears, i crawled out of the window and stood firmly on the floor inside the seminary.

My ministry, mine joy

With support from the director of spiritual development at the seminary and also my very own spiritual director, both of who assured me everything was walk to it is in OK, I moved forward with ordination come the priesthood and with mine ministry in the church. This previous May, I commemorated my 25th anniversary the ordination come the priesthood — for 25 year I have actually faithfully offered as a priest. Ns minister alongside family members celebrating pleasure through marriage, welcoming children, watching castle grow. Throughout the years, i wondered even if it is they would certainly think that me in different way if they knew that I really was. Would certainly they pull away? who else can I offer if I embraced my true self? Am i limiting my ministry through hiding in shame and also fear?

As i weighed even if it is or no to speak the end at various moments in mine life and publicly expropriate the person God created me come be, the native of a way trauma therapist v whom i was conferring echoed: "Greg, that is favor you are out top top that window ledge once again, although this time together you room straddling it, you look under noticing that there is no floor on one of two people side for you to safely step off onto. It appears as if girlfriend are having actually to make serious choices in her life."

In plainly identifying this dilemma in mine life, he was helping me to establish the difficulty and severity the the options that ns was making. For the following several years, I driven onward in mine priesthood search to preserve the secrecy that my sexual orientation only to uncover that the harder ns tried to suppress it, the an ext and an ext it was pushing ago in order for the truth to be collection free. End the past year, I came to the realization that I could no longer live the lie of masquerading together a straight man in the priesthood.

I"m one, however not alone

There is no question there room and constantly have been celibate, happy priests and also chaste members of religious communities. According to the facility for used Research in the Apostolate, in 2016, there to be 37,192 diocesan and spiritual priests offer in the unified States. If there room no precise statistics ~ above the number of gay Catholic priests, Fr. Donald B. Cozzens argued in his book, The transforming Face the the Priesthood, the an estimated 23 percent come 58 percent of priests were in reality gay. That would mean that there are almost everywhere from 8,554 (low) come 21,571 (high) happy Catholic priests in the United claims today.

By selecting to enforce silence, the institutional church pretends that gay priests and religious do not really exist. Because of this, there space no authentic function models the healthy, well-balanced, gay, celibate clergymans to be an example for those, young and old, who are struggling to concerned terms through their sexual orientation. This only perpetuates the toxicity shaming and also systemic secrecy. 

However, a couple of Roman Catholic priests roughly the people have mustered up the courage come break with the wall surface of silence and also speak the truth about their sex-related identity. Today, ns stand with these couple of courageous clergymans who have actually taken the danger to come out of the shadows and also have favored to live in truth and also authenticity. What if every monk and spiritual were provided the opportunity to live their life in truth and freedom without worrying about some kind of reprisal from someone in authority over them? just how different, affirming and also welcoming would certainly our Catholic Church truly end up being by just acknowledging, accepting and also supporting each and also every gay priest and religious in your midst?

While gay clergymans and spiritual remain committed and faithful to their ministries, i know countless who space deeply disturbed and angered by few of the official statements and also disparaging remarks continually made about us. From mine own personal experience, ns attest to just how exhausting it is trying to remain hidden in the closest pretending to it is in something various other than what we truly are. Every one of this psychological, emotional and spiritual energy might be redirected into building up our communities of faith. I can only imagine that day in our church when we are embraced for who God created us to be and also no much longer fearing that we might be dismissed from energetic ministry.

To those the church has actually hurt

On the return papal trip from Armenia to Rome top top June 26, 2016, Pope Francis urged the Catholic Church and also other Christian areas to apologize to the LGBT community and others teams that they have actually offended throughout history. "I think that the church not only need to say it"s sorry. . .to this human being that is gay that it has actually offended. … yet it have to say it"s sorry to the poor, also, come mistreated women, to youngsters forced to work." Francis more clarified, "When i say the church: Christians. The church is holy. We space the sinners."

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As a priest of the roman inn Catholic Church currently serving in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, ns would prefer to apples personally come my LGBT brothers and also sisters because that my part in staying silent in the challenge of the action and inactions taken by mine faith community towards the Catholic LGBT community as well as the larger LGBT community. Ns pledge to you that I will certainly no much longer live my life in the shadows the secrecy. I promise to be my authentically happy self. I will adopt the human that God produced me come be. In mine priestly life and also ministry, I, too, will aid you, even if it is you room gay or straight, bisexual or transgendered, to be your authentic self — to be totally alive living in your image and also likeness of God. In reflecting our God-images out right into the world, our world will be a brighter, much more tolerant place.

In a blog post to young world in brand-new Orleans top top Sept., 2, 1987, Pope man Paul II stated:

It is v the reality of Jesus, dear young people, the you must challenge the great questions in your lives, and also the valuable problems. The world will shot to deceive you about many things that matter: around your faith, about pleasure and material things, about the risks of drugs. And also at one stage or an additional the false voices of the civilization will shot to manipulate your human being weakness by telling you that life has no meaning at every for you. The supreme theft in your lives would it is in if they flourished in robbing you of hope. They will certainly try, but not succeed if friend hold rapid to Jesus and also his truth.

He remarked the the can be fried theft in our resides would be if the false voices that the world succeeded in robbing girlfriend of hope. I would prefer to edit his quotation a little to read: "The real supreme theft in your stays would be if the church itself succeeded in robbing you of hope."

While I perform sincerely believe, in addition to St. John Paul II, that the false voices of the world do at time succeed in robbing our young civilization of hope, I believe it is even much more devastating and also an also greater theft in their lives as soon as the church chin robs lock of hope by rejecting them, by no listening to their stories, by scorning them for who they are and who lock were produced to be, by telling them they space not invite or welcome at the table the the Lord, and also by the failure of its leadership who one of two people looked the other way or in which method failed come do everything in their strength to end the discriminatory practices taking place.

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Reclaiming mine voice, reclaiming myself

I to be breaking through the silence and also reclaiming my voice — quiet words come prophetic words, despairing native to hopeful words, upset words to forgiving words, and also sad words to joy-filled words, through the passion of the native attributed come a great woman saint and also doctor of the church, St. Catherine of Siena, "Be who God expected you come be and you will set the human being on fire."

This fire burn deep inside my heart, I will certainly no much longer contain. I will certainly not be silent any type of longer; the price to salary is way too great. I have to speak mine truth. I have lived much too plenty of years chained up and also imprisoned in the closet behind wall surfaces of shame, trauma and also abuse due to the fact that of the homophobia and discrimination so prevalent in mine church and also the world. But rather, today, ns chart a new course in freedom and in integrity knowing that there is nothing that anyone can do to hurt or destroy my spirit any kind of longer. An initial steps in accepting and also loving the person God produced me to be.