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Catholic League Defends Pope: Church’s ‘Gay Subculture’ Has Done ‘Tremendous Damage,’ Must Be ‘Purged’

A leading Catholic civil rights organization has doubled down on the Pope’s comments on gay clergy.

The Catholic League advocated that “homosexual priests” be “purged” from the Vatican after Pope Francis remarked in a forthcoming book that he’s “concerned” about LGBTQ influence in “the life of the church.” In a Monday press release, League President Bill Donohue agreed with the pontiff that the “gay subculture in the Catholic Church has done tremendous damage.”

“[I]t’s time for homosexual priests who are more gay than they are priests, to exit,” he said. “That this even needs to be said—and it does—is an index of the problem.”

Donohue was responding to quotes printed the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera ahead of the release of The Strength of Vocation—a book of interviews with Pope Francis due out this week. In excerpts, the Argentinian leader referred to homosexuality as both “fashionable” in modern society and a “very serious issue.”

What was met with the strongest criticism, though, were portions in which Francis claimed there’s “no room” for gay people in the church leadership.

“Therefore, the church recommends that people with that kind of ingrained tendency should not be accepted into the ministry,” he said. “[…] It’s better for them to leave the ministry or the consecrated life rather than to live a double life.”

Donohue called those comments a “good start” but urged the Vatican to go further by removing gay men from the clergy.

“But we need those in positions of influence in the Catholic Church, beginning with seminaries, to follow through,” he claimed. “He’s given us the green light—now it’s time to finish the job.”

This isn’t the first time the Catholic League president has advocated this position. Earlier this year, Donohue claimed gay men are to blame for predators within the Vatican’s ranks: “Any honest observer of the priestly sexual abuse scandal knows that the lion’s share of the molestation was committed by homosexuals, not pedophiles.”

“This is not a plea for punishing homosexual priests,” he added. “It is a plea to abide by the policy adopted by Pope Benedict XVI: men with ‘deep-seated homosexual tendencies’ should not be welcomed in the seminaries.”

But despite his disclaimer, Donohue is not merely opposed to LGBTQ inclusion in the church. He is opposed to LGBTQ people.

Donohue has referred to transgender people as a “fiction,” claiming they “do not exist.” He also called marriage equality “one of the most bizarre ideas in human history” and compared it to South African apartheid. He also believes that allowing same-sex couples to adopt is “against nature” and that gay men are more likely to be pedophiles.

LGBTQ advocacy groups claimed the Pope is implicitly endorsing this kind of rhetoric by intensifying scrutiny on the community.

“It is especially disturbing that these comments are coming out now, as the church is dealing with new revelations about sexual abuse by clergy and its systematic cover-up,” said DignityUSA Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke in a statement. “Some church officials and others have tried to deflect responsibility away from the perpetrators and church officials by casting blame on gay priests.”

“The Pope’s words could be interpreted as supporting those fallacious claims,” she added.

Many argued that the controversy is further evidence that Francis isn’t nearly as progressive as supporters suggest. For instance, he has been lauded for encouraging Christians to apologize to LGBTQ people long marginalized by the church.

But, as INTO has previously argued, the Pope is no ally. His worst hot takes have been reserved for the subject of transgender people. He has claimed the movement for trans equality is “causing a world war against marriage,” that confirmation surgeries are a threat to society, and that “gender theory” is “indoctrination.”

Francis further stated that teaching young people to affirm and accept their trans peers is “terrible” and “nasty.”

The pontiff has not remarked on Donohue’s statement.

Image via Getty


Nico Lang

Nico Lang is a staff writer for INTO, covering news, politics, and global LGBTQ issues.