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. guest

    The Pope is just dodging criticism. He wants to be popular with everyone—that is a risky path to follow.

    July 30, 2013 at 10:41 am |
  2. 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 30, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • guest

      It has always “stuck” with you, so how does it impress you?

      July 30, 2013 at 10:45 am |
  3. Rev. Rick

    CNN's Belief Blog is beginning to look more like a venue for Catholicism. Don't misunderstand me. The pope seems to be a nice guy, and I have nothing against Catholics – I used to be one, but there's more than one religion in the world, and more than one denomination in Christianity.

    Come on CNN, give it a rest!

    July 30, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      It's just because it's in the news right now.

      Dont worry, some evangelical xtian will say something stupid soon and you will get your chance.

      July 30, 2013 at 9:59 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Rev, I think you meant to say you are a lapsed Catholic. Very few people are "used to be's"

      July 30, 2013 at 10:27 am |
      • guest

        What is that suppose to mean? Are you saying one can not change his/her mind about something?

        July 30, 2013 at 10:49 am |
      • Rev. Rick

        Hi Bill,
        Okay, if the word "lapsed" makes you feel better. 🙂
        But given that I am now an ordained minister headed in a totally different direction, for me "used to be" seems more accurate.

        July 30, 2013 at 11:01 am |
      • Bill Deacon

        Catholic dogma is that the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation are indelible marks on the human soul. Most Christian churches that preach the trinity only believe in one baptism as well. If a person receives Baptism as Catholic, that means you are a Catholic whether your journey takes you down other paths or not. Does your new path pronounce any form of the Apostle's Creed? If they do, your spiritual adviser should recommend you reconcile your relationship to Mother Catholic Church before accepting pastoral orders from a new denomination.

        July 30, 2013 at 11:44 am |
        • Rev. Rick

          @ Bill – Actually no, my "denomination" (New Thought) if one can call it a denomination does *not* adhere to any formal creed or "dogma" as it were. As I think I have hinted to you before, I believe it is the use of dogmas and creeds where we humans have "boxed-in" God. We have said that God must be this way, but not that way. Most denominations say you must believe (orthodoxy) this way, and you most perform rituals (orthopraxy) that way. This is where I part company with most mainstream religions. I'm not saying that it's okay to believe just any old thing. However, if there is a *test* for belief, I would say it must involve actively exhibiting love and compassion, not only for yourself but also for all fellow humans on the planet. Most religions have channels for doing that in terms of charity and missionary work. However, if your religion also tells you that you are right and everyone else is "outside the fold", then I would simply decline any invitation to belong.

          July 30, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Well, I think I understand, at least as well as this board permits us to communicate. While I believe there is such a thing as inside and outside, I think the Catholic Church would still consider you inside whether you think of yourself as outside or not. As to the point about expressing love and compassion, I think we find room for a lot of discussion. Take two parents, one might think an early bedtime is healthy for children. The other might think staying up to watch classic horror movies is a good way to have quality time. Which is loving? The lesson can be extrapolated to any situation. The thing I like about the Catholic faith is that it is the loving compassion it teaches is tried and true over 2000 years. I'm not willing to discard that wisdom in favor of the fashion of the present age.

          July 30, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
        • Junior

          The beautiful thing about Christianity is that God did come to us and he left us with the way. Our Blessed Lord entrusted Saint Peter with the keys to His Church.

          July 30, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
        • Rev. Rick

          @ Bill – Thanks for the response, but deciding on a bedtime for a child is your example of showing love and compassion? Seriously? That's a very weak position. Parenting involves those kinds of decisions, and there is some love and compassion involved, but that's more about discipline and as you even said, the health of the child. And Christianity doesn't carry the baton for love and compassion. In fact, based on the suspect history of all Abrahamic religions I would say they show no more love and compassion than say, Buddhists. In Biblical scripture, even God is blamed (wrongly so) for the slaughter of innocent men, women and children, simply because they were not "God's Children"- according to man's interpretation and definition of who (or what) God wants.

          July 31, 2013 at 10:12 am |
      • Doobs

        Bill Deacon is a pompous ass who isn't above lying to protect the RCC. His tactic is to distract from the real issue by presenting irrelevant questions, and inevitably, running off when he is out of excuses. Hence the insistence on "lapsed". It avoids the issue and puts you on the defensive.

        July 30, 2013 at 11:47 am |
      • Bill Deacon

        Not really doobs, I'm just trying to have a conversation with Rick about some nuances he may not have considered. I'm not saying one can't convert from one religion to another. I'm just saying there are steps to take and most mainstream religions are respectful of one anothers sacramental obligations. Of course, a person is free to call themselves an ex-catholic but the church keeps the door open and the candle lit for those who, wandering away, eventually return.

        July 30, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
        • Doobs

          Bill Deacon,

          I couldn't care less about your opinions on "lapsed" or "backslidden" or any other nitpicked detail. I was simply pointing out to the OP that you are an RCC apologist who isn't above lying to protect your church.

          Your preferred technique of Deny, Deflect, Ignore is well known to almost everyone here. I'm just passing the information along.

          July 30, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
        • Rev. Rick

          @ Doobs – Why all the pi$$ and vinegar in your posts? Yes, it's pretty obvious Bill is an advocate for the RCC, but I never get the impression he is lying about anything.

          July 30, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
        • Zombie God

          The katholic church does not dictate if a person is a katholic anymore, it is the person who decides. And yes what a wonderful history the katholic church has over the past 2000 years.

          July 30, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
        • Zombie God

          Yes a wonderful history

          Persecution of heresy and heretics
          Anti-semitism in medieval Europe
          Relationship with Nazi Germany
          Relations with the Orthodox Church

          July 30, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
        • Doobs

          @ Rev. Rick

          Stick around for a while.

          Bill Deacon lies all the time. He hijacks discussions rather than address the questions being asked. He's passive-aggressive and belittles people for not having his supposedly extensive knowledge of the RCC. I've cornered him several times, and his responses were to call me a lunatic, boring, or some other dismissive. I've challenged his assertion about my "lunacy" with no response.

          Here is Bill Deacon's response to my repeated questions regarding why the RCC is still protecting members of its organization who broke the law by molesting children:

          "Let me talk to panties Doobs, He's actually interesting. You don't seem to recognize that what you value as justice may not be what others do and therein lies the conflict."

          It's not my personal subjective value judgement, it's the law, which the RCC is breaking. This is the person you're defending.

          But you seem like a nice enough person, and you have the right to your opinion, even if it's based on very little information.

          July 30, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
        • Rev. Rick

          @ Doobs – Bill and I have encountered each other in several other Belief Blog threads, so I am very aware of Bill's predilection to defend the RCC. For me however, I never take anything Bill says as an attack, and I never take any of his posts personally. I was a Catholic for many years and I understand where he is coming from, but I simply no longer believe what I once did. Bill says the "door is always open" for me to return to the RCC, but that can be said for all faiths. I'm sure if I showed up at a mosque saying I wanted to be Muslim, don't you think they accept me provided I could prove I was sincere? Of course I would never do that, but I am no more a Muslim than I once was a Catholic. In fact, none of the Abrahamic religions fit with who I now believe God to be. All Abrahamic scripture is but "a finger pointing at the moon", as the Buddhist like to say.

          @ Zombie God does make a good point with regard to the church's early persecution of heretics, the inquisitions, the Crusades, etc. However, what this obviously points out is that the RCC, and *all* other churches for that matter, are human-made inst.itutions. Their hierarchy is made up of humans, their scripture (even if divinely inspired) is written by humans, interpretation of scripture is done by humans, and on and on. With humans involved, no matter how sincere, there will always be corruption, vice, egoic agendas, etc. You can't get around that, no matter how much your church or religion claims to hold the *truth*, nor claim that your divine lineage is somehow more *correct* than anyone else's.

          July 31, 2013 at 10:47 am |
  4. myweightinwords

    As long as the catholic church categorizes homosexuality as a sin, they continue to marginalize the LGBT community, demonizing them and making it acceptable to deny them rights, cast them out of families and worse.

    Yes, this is a step in the right direction. No, I am not interested in telling them what their faith should teach. Hopefully the pope saying he can not judge them is enough to start to teach the millions of catholics (and other Christians who look up to him) to stop judging them too...and let them live their lives without the interference of religion.

    July 30, 2013 at 9:51 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      I've decided to experiment with a new approach to straw men. I'm going to begin agreeing with them. after all, since they don't represent the Church, I really have nothing to disagree with. Thank God you are right, my weight, the Church does not catagorize hom0s3xuality as a sin. You and the Church agree on that point. Now, if you could just learn the difference between behavior and nature, you'd agree on the second part, the Church is teaching.

      July 30, 2013 at 10:31 am |
      • myweightinwords

        Where did I say that the church doesn't categorize homosexuality as a sin?

        Read a little closer. I said "as long as they do" consider homosxuality a sin, they will continue to marginalize and demonize gay people.

        What difference would you like me to learn, Bill?

        Do you believe that a person is made by your god to be gay, and yet denied the fulfillment of a loving, committed sexual relationship simply because he is gay?

        Do the nature and the behavior not go hand in hand in this instance?

        Celibacy is not human nature, regardless of orientation (except in the cases where orientation is actually asexual).

        July 30, 2013 at 10:36 am |
        • Therese Z

          You say "Do the nature and the behavior not go hand in hand in this instance?" and you ignore your own physical biology? What parts go together with what parts to produce a supreme good, children?

          You are trying to equate feelings with actual biology. The Church is far more scientific: it looks at the biology of the union between man and woman, the unique action they and only they can take, to be unified and produce offspring.

          Life is not about being "fair" to those whose feelings differ from their biology. Mercy should be granted to them in their sufferings, but not permission to act outside their physical truth.

          July 30, 2013 at 11:11 am |
        • myweightinwords

          So every single time you have sex, it's about making babies?

          Can you imagine how much more overpopulated this world would be if every sex act resulted in pregnancy?

          We do not restrict marriage to only those who can procreate, therefore there is no reason to deny marriage to LGBT couples.

          Further, when a same gender couple chooses to procreate, we can be assured that the child will be wanted because it is more work and only those who really want to love and raise a child will go through the work and expense of it.

          The same can not be said for every child born of hetero parents.

          And being gay is biological. It isn't just "feelings". It is an innate part of who a person is. Therefore, to deny them the pleasure of being with the person they love because you (and your god) find the act to be icky is selfish and ridiculous.

          July 30, 2013 at 11:17 am |
        • Truth Prevails :-)

          "The Church is far more scientific: it looks at the biology of the union between man and woman, the unique action they and only they can take, to be unified and produce offspring."

          So what about couples like my husband and myself who can't have children but yet lead productive lives, do no harm to others, pay taxes, are charitable, etc??? Should our equal rights be denied?? This is part of why my husband left that cult.
          The statistics outside of your belief prove that the LGBT raise children just as well and in some cases better than hetero couples. These are usually children who are so desperately wanted by two people who love each other and want the same joy others have, thus in turn meaning they are not likely to be neglected or abused.
          In the grand scheme of it, you have not done research outside of your bible, so your only reason for judging fails due to the vast amount of evidence against it.
          Thankfully the only laws that matter and will ever matter are those set out in the country you live. Respect is a two way street.

          July 30, 2013 at 11:42 am |
        • Bill Deacon

          ok Truth, my resolve to accept people's straw men crumbles in the face of your gargantuan

          July 30, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
        • Truth Prevails :-)

          Bill: Why is it that every opposing view to yours is viewed as a strong man? Why don't you point out where you believe my point to be wrong and attempt to do so without using your belief? A simple google search will show that Therese's argument fails....just search 'stats regarding children raised by LGBT'...there are almost 2000000 hits, they speak louder than Therese's claim ever will.

          July 30, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
  5. Juan

    The pope is making positive strides in establishing relationship with the masses.

    July 30, 2013 at 7:56 am |
    • Adams

      Yes indeed! 🙂

      July 30, 2013 at 8:03 am |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      This is just a sales pitch. Catholic numbers are way down and they need to fill seats so that they can get their income numbers back up.

      July 30, 2013 at 10:06 am |
      • guest

        That is only a part of it!

        July 30, 2013 at 10:55 am |
    • Doobs

      I'd be more impressed if he'd deal with the peophilia problem and the Vatican bank scandals.

      Telling poor people that an invisible, undetectable god in the sky loves them and that the RCC somehow "feels their pain" is probably soothing to hear, but it shows no real progress in the RCC.

      Next thing you know, he'll be talking about "phony scandals".

      July 30, 2013 at 11:53 am |
  6. Neo Atheist

    Ugh. More religious nonsense.

    July 30, 2013 at 6:33 am |
  7. Al

    No more pope articles in 3...2...1...

    July 30, 2013 at 5:02 am |
  8. Dyslexic doG

    Given that no-one knows who wrote most of the bible and when each part was written and how it has been translated, it was most likely just some goat herder tribal elder who wrote the lines against hom.ose.xua.lity in the first place. Time for religious folk to own up: it's just their bigoted selves and their bigoted views ... nothing to do with their god and his supposed "word".

    July 29, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
    • guest

      I think you just want to justify your opinion.

      July 30, 2013 at 11:00 am |
  9. lionlylamb


    July 29, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
  10. simba

    Being ho-m0-$e-xu-al is still a sin. Read and comprehend the man's words. He mentions "as long as they accept the Lord" and are "of good will".
    All sinners are welcome into the church as long as they accept God and atone for their sins and sin no more. The behavior of gay people is a sin. The Pope did not say being gay is acceptable. He said they must leave their sinful ways behind. In addition, by saying "are of good will", he implies they have no malicious intent.

    July 29, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
    • Felix Sinclair

      Judging others is a sin. Think on that of you dare. And no phony piety; that makes Jesus cry.

      July 29, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
      • brigs

        I just love how people ignore the entire Bible and the teaching of thousands of years of Judeo-Christian teaching and tradition, and especially, the richness of the teachings of Jesus, in favor of the one phrase, taken out of context that excuses any and all behavior.

        July 30, 2013 at 7:55 am |
        • sam

          Bullshit deserves to be ignored. Believe whatever you want; but the people who don't share your views don't have to live by them.

          July 30, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      you poor, sad individual ...

      July 29, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • Psych nurse

      Science has proven orientation is no choice. It is therefore no sin, even by your cult's theology.
      There was no concept of se'xual orientation until the 19 th Century. WHy did you god not reveal the truth about that ?
      Therefore taking the biases of an ancient culture who needed more people, as a guide for humans in 2013 makes no sense at all. Now take your pills, and have them lock you up for the night.

      July 29, 2013 at 10:46 pm |


      July 30, 2013 at 12:16 am |
      • Krhodes

        And Stalin, Mao, and the like we're atheist killers. What is your point?

        July 30, 2013 at 7:56 am |
      • brigs

        Except of course, when a priest molests a teenage boy. Everything else is just people doing what they want to do.

        July 30, 2013 at 8:00 am |
    • It's About Biological Needs

      A Catholic priest when asked about this matter responded by saying that Gays doing what they do during intimacy is not to be considered sinful anymore than what Straights do. That was his response as he knew that both orientations are something people are Born with therefore, cannot go against their inherent nature. Good food-for-thought. You can't expect total celibacy from humans. Most all people act on their biological needs that is hard to ignore or suppress. Case closed.

      July 30, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
      • Bill Deacon

        Yeah but did you ask him how sinful the straight seex is outside of marriage? You sound like you heard what you wanted to hear and not what he actually said.

        July 30, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  11. Edmund

    The pope is a great people person, it's obvious in his actions and in his interaction with people.

    July 29, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
  12. Mr. Ken

    A simple yet profound statement from the pope.

    July 29, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
  13. Saraswati

    Eighth pope article in a row.

    July 29, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      pope overdose!!! 🙁

      July 29, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      CNN's Margaret Hoover induced move to the political right is proceeding.

      July 30, 2013 at 7:32 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      captivating isn't he?

      July 30, 2013 at 10:32 am |
      • Doobs

        Yes, Bill, we're all entranced.


        July 30, 2013 at 11:56 am |
        • Bill Deacon

          Believe me, if I thought the sports or political blogs were more interesting, I'd be over there. But I wouldn't be over there talking about how irrelevant they are. I'm here because I'm interested in the Church, I'm interested in how the media portrays the Church and I'm interested in how people perceive the Church. Why are you here?

          July 30, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
        • Doobs

          Bill Deacon

          Where did I say that the RCC is irrelevant? Why are you lying about what I said again?

          July 30, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
  14. Douglas

    Thank you Pope Francis for breaking the silence on the legitimate role of gay catholics.
    Gay priests are welcome as long as they strive for celibacy and teach the same to other LGBTQs seeking
    to find Jesus through Catholicism.

    This is a great day for the Church and celibate gay/lesbian catholics.

    Thank you Pope Francis for driving out fear and ending the hate in this generation!

    July 29, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • Sandinista

      He hasn't done that yet. You're still afraid of catching "the gay."

      July 29, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
    • Baal

      Remind again me why your god made them gay again, and gave them se'xuality ?

      July 29, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
    • Psych nurse

      No it isn't. The pope does what should have been said 20 years ago, and you're celebrating ? It's actually very embarrassing for you.

      July 29, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
  15. EX catholic

    Usually both sins go hand in hand, hom-os and idolaters. Idolatry is not religion Idolatry is a sin

    July 29, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • Psych nurse

      Have you seen an MD about your obsessive compulsive disorder ?
      You've posted that same ignorant piece of junk every day for a a month.
      Are you so stupid you have nothing else to say ?

      July 29, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
      • ElmerGantry

        Almost as bad as the "prayer changes things" three word troll that shows up frequently.

        July 30, 2013 at 7:40 am |
      • EX catholic

        Oh yes I have a whole lot more that I can say, but it will fly miles above your head.

        August 1, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
        • *

          EX catholic,

          Ah, it's quite apparent that you didn't leave your arrogance behind with the Catholics...

          August 1, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
        • EX catholic

          The Truth is arrogant to liars and to those who rather listen to them.

          August 2, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  16. Just a guy

    Gary – what happened to "go and sin no more" – WWJD – embrace your lifestyle?

    July 29, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
    • Hank

      As Jesus never said word one about gay people, all you can do is speculate. How's your "hetero lifestyle" working out? Jesus DID have plenty to say about that, didn't he?

      July 29, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
  17. Age of Reason

    .. in BART EHRMAN'S "DID JESUS EXIST?", he NEVER mentions any physical or pictoral description of this "JESUS"!
    In this heavily plagariesed book (mostly from Sir Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire), he mentions all kinds of descriptions of this "jesus", but the most important, the PICTORIAL one......NOTHING!!!!
    Therefore, Bart's book ($$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ unlimited) is a MOOT point, as this "JESUS" falls into obscure mediocrity!!!!! Any feedback........?

    July 29, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • Psych nurse

      You need a picture book ?

      July 29, 2013 at 10:49 pm |



        July 30, 2013 at 12:20 am |
        • ElmerGantry


          July 30, 2013 at 7:49 am |
    • Roger that

      Need a pictoral description of Jesus? magine Mel Brooks with a beard.

      July 30, 2013 at 1:18 am |
      • Roger that


        July 30, 2013 at 1:20 am |
  18. sam

    Who wants to guess how many total articles we get out of this? 15, 20?

    July 29, 2013 at 7:22 pm |



    July 29, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • Hank

      Oh, shut up, you freaking troll. He said nothing of the kind. Grow up and turn your capslock off, idiot. And learn the difference between gay and pedophile while you're at it, asshole.

      July 29, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
    • lionlylamb


      July 29, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
    • ElmerGantry


      July 30, 2013 at 7:52 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      something to consider

      July 30, 2013 at 7:53 am |
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About this blog

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.