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How Is It With the Belgian Club of Gay Priests?

by De Ket in Columns & Opinions , 15 februari 2019

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

Dear Neighbors to the North, A reformer. A pioneer. Extremely likeable and friendly. There was no shortage of praises when Pope Francis took over the pontifical office on 13 March 2013 from his predecessor Benedict XVI, who had indicated his wish to resign the month before for health reasons.

Almost six years later, we have all been able to conclude that major reforms or pioneering initiatives were not initiated. The Church is a traditional institution. Doctrine above all, seasoned with a hint of hypocrisy, and above all treating people with contempt. The women are still allowed to suffer, and our homosexual fellow man remains a favorite target of disdain and discrimination.

Just prior to the - yet reconciling - Christmas party, Pope Francis stated that homosexuality within the Church is “problematic.” That anyone who is homosexual cannot start a priest’s training, let alone become a priest. “Homosexuality has become a fashion trend and that mentality influences the functioning of the Church as an institution.” It remains unbelievable how the Catholic community continues to swallow this nonsense.

That gay or lesbian are now suddenly a fashion trend, implies that someone would make that choice on the basis of a trend. Personally, I do not know anyone who has chosen to be a homosexual or GLBTIQ+ because it would be “trendy.” Had I had the choice, then I think I would have chosen heterosexual. My life would have been a lot easier. Probably.

But the statement that homosexuality within the Church is problematic, is contradictory in nature. As if nobody knows that since the beginning of the Church, this institute has always been a safe haven for “whoever was differently inclined.” The obligatory combination of the priestly or religious office with celibacy sounds beautiful to the outside world, but the sexual experience of bodily lusts within the walls of the house of God has always been there.

Whether the club still exists in Belgium, I don’t know, but until ten years ago there even was a - obviously unofficial - Belgian association of homosexual priests. They met often - but not always complete - preferably in the oldest gay café in Brussels, the Réserve. Perhaps to exchange experiences, or to give each other tips. I became aware of the existence of that club, which apparently had thirty members in total, when I met someone in Antwerp in the late 1990s who admitted to being attracted to much older men. He was in love and in a relationship with a much older man, a retired priest. That priest turned out to have been one of the driving forces behind that select club of Belgian homosexual priests. I probably did not hear all the stories, and even if only ten percent of the stories were true, you would still be baffled.

And Belgium is only a small country. What is happening in much larger countries? How many gay priests are there in Europe? And worldwide? Perhaps thousands, or even tens of thousands. The Church as an institution falls (or stands) with the homosexual priests and their parishioners. In the meantime, however, they keep telling that homosexuality is a problem for the Catholic Church. How low can you go? Apparently this does not affect the popularity of the pope either.

What does this say about the ability of the faithful to really consider these matters? No worries, the Church does the thinking for you. The more stupid people are, the better for the Church. Certainly for the Church as an institution.

In the meantime, a priest is living in a Flemish-Brabant municipality with his “friend,” and a Limburger priest scours Brussels saunas for physical pleasure. When he meets someone and his work comes up, he says casually that he is a teacher of religion. Not having to say that he is a priest of several parishes, and that these “lessons” only last eight hours a week and are actually his secondary “profession.”

As the British-Swiss philosopher Alain de Botton wrote in his book “Religion for Atheists”: “Let us abolish religions as an institution and as a faith, but keep the good values of it in our daily lives.” I completely agree with that.

Yours sincerely,

De Ket




In the New Issue of Gay News, 338, October 2019
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