I have, on occasion, made the claim that the majority of male Anglo-Catholic priests in the Church of England, and pretty much all the celibate ones, are gay. Now, I'm not afraid of hyperbole, as you all well know, but even I feel a twinge of apprehension when I make this claim. The thing is it sounds so unbelievable. For a start it is such a large number and the proportion of gay men compared to straight men is so much higher than it is in the general population. Secondly, Anglo Catholic priests in England are so anti-gay as well as being anti-women. Why would so many gay men want to stop gay men, including themselves, from enjoying the same rights and opportunities as everybody else? The only reason I dare to make such a sweeping statement that, on the surface, appears to be so improbable, is the fact that it is true.

It has now become obvious and common knowledge that it is the same in the Roman Catholic Church except there it is on a much more massive scale. Because of the power the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy wields over not just its own adherents but everyone else who lives in  countries where Roman Catholicism is popular enough to give it political influence, the gay homophobia and misogyny of the priests of Roman Catholicism has been of far greater consequence than it has ever been in the esoteric corners of the Church of England. To put it bluntly, the equality of women and LGBT people in the world has been held back for years because the majority of Roman catholic priests are gay.

I can only guess at why so many gay men would be so homophobic and misogynist. Some say it is because of jealousy. Some say it is because of self-loathing. I think that, in the case of the Anglo-Catholic  priestly hatred of women it is to do with the fact that so many of the gay priests are effeminate and, for some reason, effeminate gays have a propensity towards bitching about women which, again I guess, is based on their jealousy that they are not women themselves. But who knows? The gay priests themselves, of course. But, as has been the case for probably hundreds of years, they are not talking. It has taken scandals such as the Cardinal O'Brien situation and the discovery of the gay "knocking shops" of the Vatican, to bring what has been, for a long while, the Church's worst kept secret, into the light of general scrutiny.

Mark Dowd, himself a gay Roman Catholic (though not a priest) has some interesting things to say about all of this at THE GUARDIAN in his article "What lies behind religious homophobia." He begins his piece...

I approached a director at Channel 4 back in 2000 with a proposal for a documentary on homosexuality and the Roman Catholic church. I had a simple pitch. "I want to show why my church is so anti-gay."

"And why is your church so anti-gay?," came back the obvious question.

"Because it is so gay," I replied.

Go check it out!



  1. Excellent article, Jonathan! In contrast, I would say in the Episcopal Church, while there are certainly a higher percentage of gay clergy than gays in the general population, I don’t think it comes anywhere near 50%. My guess would be maybe 15-20%. Interesting that in a Church where gays and lesbians are welcome it appears they join the clergy less often. Now, this has to be taken with a grain of salt since I’m basing this on my own very limited experience not reasearch.

  2. I doubt that it has much to do with the attitude of TEC. Rather I suggest that it is easier for gay men to live openly in many places in the USA and has been for some time, whilst this has not been the case until recently in England. Anglo-Catholicism provided a relatively safe haven for gay men where they could meet other gay men for support and love knowing their secret would be kept. For some reason English Roman Catholicism has never brought forward many priests so the priests in the English Roman Catholic church have traditionally been gay Irishmen.

  3. My experience has been that the more loudly one protests against gays, the more likely that person is closeted. Just as blacks passing as whites tended to be more racist than the whites ever were.

    It’s a defense mechanism to demonstrate how straight they are or how white they are.

    • Yes, but, such black people really wanted to be white and didn’t go back to being black when they were with their own kind. Whilst most Anglo-Catholic gay priests are very open about being gay when they are with each other and nobody else is watching.

  4. “effeminate gays have a propensity towards bitching about women which, again I guess, is based on their jealousy that they are not women themselves”

    It often seems that way, in my experience—but I suspect it’s much more complicated than that. [Besides, I’m fully aware that the same could be said about me, the other way.]

    • I’m sure you’re right, JCF. It is certainly not a universal constant. I’ve never felt any anti-guy aggression from you. As far as I’m concerned (and this is the great thing about the internet) you’re just one of the lads.

  5. Well, I still say the most difficult thing to get used to now that I’m Episcopalian and no longer Roman Catholic, is having a straight guy behind the Holy Table and the gay guys in the pews. Just the opposite of what I was used to… Not that there are many people of any persuasion in the pews at most Roman Churches here nowadays…