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July 29th, 2013
06:39 PM ET

Gay Catholic priest: Pope's words an 'invitation'

Opinion by the Rev. Gary M. Meier, Special to CNN

(CNN) - The question of today has been: What's my reaction to the pope’s statement regarding not judging gay priests?

The answer: Cautiously optimistic.

Optimistic because today’s statement comes after years of anti-gay rhetoric from the Catholic Church. In so many ways it is a breath of fresh air.

Someone from the church hierarchy has finally said something about homosexuality that isn’t hostile, harmful, and anti-gay – and it was the pope!

READ MORE: Pope Francis on gays: 'Who am I to judge?'

Maybe now we can begin to have a conversation about the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, a teaching that I believe has caused harm to the LGBT community.

In my book, "Hidden Voices, Reflections of a Gay Catholic Priest,” I outlined some of the harm our teaching has caused especially to our youth; and especially when 30% of all successful teenage suicides are attributed to sexual identity issues.

At the very least, perhaps now others will follow Pope Francis' lead and be a little less judgmental themselves. If the only good that comes out of the pope’s statement is for others to stop judging, that would be a great place to start.

For years, members of the LGBT community have been judged and told that they are disordered; that they have a disease like alcoholism; that they are defective in some way; that they are wrong when they should be right, that they are unfit and unworthy of ordination.

But now, our Pope seems to be opening the door for what I hope will lead to a conversation about homosexuality in our church.

LGBT Catholics who have come to the church looking for love and acceptance have instead found an atmosphere of silence and shame.

And it’s not just the gay population who suffers, it is all those who have accepted a member of their family and all of those who have allied as friends. They too have been silenced and shamed, ostracized by a church teaching and hierarchal positioning that will not allow us to support, love, nurture and foster positive gay relationships in our church.

I am optimistic that our pope’s comments can lead to greater love and acceptance of the LGBT community. And at the same time, I am cautious – cautious that the change in tone and attitude represented by the pope’s statement will not lead to a change in theology and doctrine which so desperately needs to change.

My prayer for the church is that we might take this opportunity to stop causing harm, to stop being judgmental and to become more welcoming, more inviting, more loving towards all people - especially those who are marginalized and ostracized.

At a recent book signing, I was approached by a middle-aged woman who identified herself as a straight Lutheran. Her comment has stayed with me since.

She said, “This is exactly how our church changed our teaching on homosexuality. It took our ministers and church leaders to come out publicly before change could happen.”

Will the pope’s statement lead the way for more priests to come out and end the silence? I hope so.

St. Catherine of Sienna once said: “Speak the truth with a thousand voices – it is silence that kills the world.”

I say it’s time to end the silence and speak the truth with a thousand voices.

The Rev. Gary M. Meier is author of “Hidden Voices, Reflections of a Gay Catholic Priest." The views expressed in this column belong to Meier alone.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Gay rights • Homosexuality • Opinion • Pope Francis • United States

soundoff (141 Responses)
  1. TheSnail

    Well you should be ashamed; well at least for the Gay Power movement's dirty unfair politics, unequal/unfairly excessive media promotion, and lack of general tolerance towards others' religious beliefs & freedom of opinion.

    August 21, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  2. TheSnail

    toss em out, kinda hard since he already came out

    August 21, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  3. zzzoney64

    The left is about race , culture, and gender division. The right is about principles, values, and unity. I don't think the Catholic church fits in to the right way of life.

    August 4, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
  4. David Holland - Zzzoney64

    David Holland
    THE POPE AGREES WITH GAY PRIESTS IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND SAID, WHO IS HE TO JUDGE. BUT WHEN THE QUESTION AROSE IF HE AGREES TO ALLOW WOMEN PRIESTS HE SAID NO. THEREFORE, I THINK THE POPE IS BIASED, PREJUDICE AND IS FULL OF #++#. PLEASE TELL HIM I SAID SO...AND NOT ONLY THAT GAY PEDOPHILE BISHOPS AND CARDINALS HAVE BEEN RARELY DISCIPLINED AND MOSTLY HAVE BEEN PROTECTED FROM PROSECUTION. ITS A TRUE HYPOCRISY AND TRAVESTY TO WOMEN ALL OVER THE WORLD IN MY OPINION.

    August 1, 2013 at 12:54 am |
  5. Mountaineer49

    Albert Einstein once had this to say about the plight of the church of England: "In its infancy is it upon the end, for demise is inevitable to the incredulous myths of sorrow."

    I first read it 37 years ago and it has always stuck with me.

    July 31, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • TheSnail

      yeah the Anglicans are toast

      August 21, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  6. Senior

    This Blog is a great place to show the lies about religion and support Atheism. A shout out to Richard Cranium, Doc Vestibule, skytag, Colin, Primewonk, Truth Prevails :-), Atheist Steve, midwest rail, Observer, Cpt. Obvious, Dyslexic doG, niknak, Saraswati, sam stone and all the others who has stuck to their guns for so long!

    July 31, 2013 at 9:11 am |
  7. Well, I'm glad that inclusion is FINALLY happening.

    Everybody needs to stop being so angry and start accepting one another. The gays are okay, even to most Catholics. Atheists are okay, Christians are okay, Muslims are okay, Buddhists are okay, Jews are okay. Everybody is okay. Just try to be a good person. Stop trying to make others feel bad about what they do or do not believe. Stop trying to make others feel bad about who they are. You are not God. You don't get to be the final judge on anybody. Just. Be. Nice.

    July 31, 2013 at 3:04 am |
  8. David

    I have always said it the catholic church is kind of a cult thing and not christianity.. There is no where in the bible that it tells you to do what they do for example confess your sins to a priest even after jesus died??? Or promote a man to being a saint??? Martin luther read his bible and was convinced because it says the just shall live by faith which means you can have a realationship with your God on your own you need no priest or anything.... I am christian and i have never listened to the pope because they are not practising what the bible says.... The old testament you confessed to the priest but then you did not have the blood of jesus you had the blood of animals... Now we have the blood of jesus and if you read the bible there was no place after jesus died that you had to meet his disciples to confess your sins.... Its a pity a lot of so called christians don't know the bible today they just play churchism and religion that's why the athiest have a big point when they mock christians because a lot of christians are fake and have brought the bible to shame with their actions...

    July 30, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
    • JosephW

      What bible are you reading? I think you got the wrong one.

      July 31, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • Mike

      In regards to confessing your sins. Look at John 20:22-23 " And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any they are retained". You may also want to look at Matthew 16:19 "I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and what ever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven".

      There is so much in Scripture that so many people miss.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • Tyler H

      I don't quite understand some of these people. Most people that see the Catholic Church as a cult do not even truly understand the teachings of the Catholic Church. From a person that has come from a Protestant background and is now joining the Catholic Church, I have found that many of my so called facts that I believed to be true about the Catholic Church were simply a product of ignorance and a lack of objective research.

      August 2, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
  9. Junior

    This Blog should be called the CNN Unbelief Blog. A shout out to Bill Deacon who has stuck to his guns for as long as I have visited this blog.

    July 30, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
    • Answer

      Stuck to ignorance. That is how all you religious freaks function.

      July 30, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
    • Felix Sinclair

      Not everyone is afraid of opposing viewpoints.

      July 30, 2013 at 11:50 pm |
  10. richard miller

    how can you be a gay priest?You can't be.

    July 30, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
  11. flying spaghetti monster

    lionly, I still want to hear about how g.ay people "challenged you with enticements." Please. The world needs to know! Oh, p.s., nobody cares about your sad little video.

    July 30, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
  12. Massman

    Why do you suppose there are gay people in the world? Why do you think they have been present throughout recorded history and why do they seem to exist in the same relative numbers in every country, culture and time? Is anyone here proposing that some standard number of people wake up one day and say "Gee, I think I'll be gay now."

    July 30, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • flying spaghetti monster

      Oh massman, you just don't understand the beauty of his holy love! See, it's just like how the god creature makes it so billions of people are born into cultures that don't follow xtianity. He creates g.ays for the same reason - to test our faith! Don't you see, only by sending a few billion people to hell for all eternity can we be sure of god's love and grace!

      July 30, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
      • Massman

        Brilliant flying spaghetti monster! It's all so clear to me now. I shall go home and demand that my wife strip off her cotton / polyester blend pants and put on a decent single-fibre skirt. I will beat my disrespectful son and sell my daughter into slavery for the next 7 years to pay off my creditcard debt. It's all there in the good book ;) Thank goodness you post!

        July 30, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
        • Austin

          waht a flamer

          July 30, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
  13. flying spaghetti monster

    The lamed, lazy lamb prances, all unheeding. Fear, hatred, and self-loathin all it knows, it seeks ceaselessly to mire the masses with its baseless biases and ancient idiocies.

    July 30, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
  14. RocksCryOut

    Amazing the sheer volume of comments from people who have read the Bible but don’t seem to remember what the whole book says. Remember what Paul said: “The Law is a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ.” Galatians 3:24? Or what Jesus said: “…you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness…”Matthew 23:23?
    Friends, according to the Bible, the purpose of the Law is not slavish obedience to every miniscule regulation meant for an ancient Hebrew theocracy that no longer exists.

    Rather the purpose of the Law is to instill the realization that none of us can obey it fully, and therefore none of us can meet up to the standard of holiness that God requires—which is perfection. The Law puts an exclamation point on Jesus’ declaration, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one come to the Father except through me.” In order to be acceptable to God each of us requires the perfection that only a perfect Savior, one who kept the Law perfectly for us, can provide.

    Blessings.

    July 30, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      you're making excuses. modern ethics are far superior to biblical morals. so what happens is, we advance our society and realize women shouldn't be subservient to men and silent as it says in the bible, so we just stop following that part. we say, "well, that was written a long time ago when people were still pretty primitive in beliefs of equality... but these other parts of the book are right!" it's happening again with g.ays. you cherry-pick the parts of the bible you like and disregard the parts you don't. you quote passages and distort their meaning to back up your own personal point of view when you disagree with the message. the bible commands its followers to do some real evil s.h.i.t, lots of commands to kill. the bible supports slavery throughout. even jesus himself says to beat slaves that disobey "with many stripes." so i wouldn't exactly hold your messiah up as a litmus test for compassion. the bible has rules for selling and buying slaves (including selling your own daughter into slavery). there are rules for beating your slaves and which countries you can take slaves from. considering slavery is the worst kind of evil man has ever inflicted upon his fellow brothers/sisters, you would think an all knowing and all loving god would have made one of his commandments, "Thou Shalt Not Own Another Human Being". but instead, the bible indorses slavery throughout.

      btw, jesus himself said you cannot drop a single letter from the OT laws, so your messiah seems to disagree with you about how fully you need to follow the Law. stop making excuses for the cruelty of the bible.

      July 30, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • niknak

      Rocksforbrains,
      Why would anyone want to remember what's in the babble?
      It is a stone age Ponzi scheme designed to bilk the idiots out of their money.
      And it has been wildly successful.

      July 30, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
  15. Jake

    How much more can the bible be watered down? It says being gay is a sin and they should be killed. The church no longer follows that last part, and might one day drop the entire issue. Thing is, there are many other parts of the bible that are bad.

    It is just so much easier to eliminate religion and enjoy life as it is.

    July 30, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Your last statement paraphrases the Buddha.

      July 30, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      no christian actually follows the bible these days. there are orders in the bible to kill all g.ays, non-virgin brides, disobedient children, non-believers and anyone working on sundays. anyone who actually followed the bible to the letter would be among the world's worst serial killer/mass murderers. people are moving away from religion, but even those that remain religious are moving away from the bible's nutjob teachings.

      July 30, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
      • RocksCryOut

        Amazing the sheer volume of comments from people who have read the Bible but don’t seem to remember what the whole book says. Remember what Paul said: “The Law is a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ.” Galatians 3:24? Or what Jesus said: “…you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness…”Matthew 23:23?
        Friends, according to the Bible, the purpose of the Law is not slavish obedience to every miniscule regulation meant for an ancient Hebrew theocracy that no longer exists.

        Rather the purpose of the Law is to instill the realization that none of us can obey it fully, and therefore none of us can meet up to the standard of holiness that God requires—which is perfection. The Law puts an exclamation point on Jesus’ declaration, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one come to the Father except through me.” In order to be acceptable to God each of us requires the perfection that only a perfect Savior, one who kept the Law perfectly for us, can provide.

        Blessings.

        July 30, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
        • Bootyfunk

          you're making excuses. modern ethics are far superior to biblical morals. so what happens is, we advance our society and realize women shouldn't be subservient to men and silent as it says in the bible, so we just stop following that part. we say, "well, that was written a long time ago when people were still pretty primitive in beliefs of equality... but these other parts of the book are right!" it's happening again with g.ays. you cherry-pick the parts of the bible you like and disregard the parts you don't. you quote passages and distort their meaning to back up your own personal point of view when you disagree with the message. the bible commands its followers to do some real evil s.h.i.t, lots of commands to kill. the bible supports slavery throughout. even jesus himself says to beat slaves that disobey "with many stripes." so i wouldn't exactly hold your messiah up as a litmus test for compassion. the bible has rules for selling and buying slaves (including selling your own daughter into slavery). there are rules for beating your slaves and which countries you can take slaves from. considering slavery is the worst kind of evil man has ever inflicted upon his fellow brothers/sisters, you would think an all knowing and all loving god would have made one of his commandments, "Thou Shalt Not Own Another Human Being". but instead, the bible indorses slavery throughout.

          btw, jesus himself said you cannot drop a single letter from the OT laws, so your messiah seems to disagree with you about how fully you need to follow the Law. stop making excuses for the cruelty of the bible.

          July 30, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
        • niknak

          Are you just going to keep copying and pasting that same drivel, Rocksforbrains?

          July 30, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
  16. Bootyfunk

    "Someone from the church hierarchy has finally said something about h.omos.exuality that isn’t hostile harmful, and anti-g.ay – and it was the pope!"

    LOL. they act like the pope said g.ays should be treated as equals, should be allowed to assume leadership positions in the church, g.ays should be allowed to marry and all catholic churches will now perform services for lgbt weddings, etc. the pope didn't say the church has reversed its stance on h.omos.exuality. so he gets credit not because he said something positive and made a real change - he gets credit because he didn't say something negative about g.ays? he didn't say anything good about h.omos.exuals - but at least he didn't say something bad this time! what a joke.

    July 30, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  17. tony

    Religion news is becoming a don't care issue in countries that educate their children without church(s) interference

    July 30, 2013 at 11:23 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.