R. Scott Appleby, director of Notre Dame’s Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, said a newspaper report indicating there are significant numbers of gay priests “will come as little or no surprise to most Catholic parishioners,” and it doesn’t necessarily cause Catholics great concern to know or suspect their priest has a homosexual orientation.
Appleby was responding to an investigation by the Kansas City Star in which 15 percent of Catholic priests surveyed described themselves as homosexual and 5 percent identified themselves as bisexual. Also, the responses indicated that the death rate of priests from AIDS may be at least four times that of the general population.
Appleby said one “defensible reason” that sexual orientation of priests is not often discussed by church hierarchy is that the church finds no sin or fault in homosexual orientation, only in homosexual practice. “Most Catholics expect their priests to be compassionate men, good preachers and effective pastors, and they know that sexual orientation alone does not determine whether a priest will meet these criteria,” he said.