Half of Priests Say Gay Subculture Exists

The Christian Century, August 28, 2002 | Go to article overview

Half of Priests Say Gay Subculture Exists


More than half of Catholic priests say a gay subculture exists in their dioceses or religious orders, according to a new study commissioned by the National Federation of Priests' Councils. The survey of 1,200 priests found that 55 percent detected some element of a gay subculture, with younger priests finding it more pronounced than older priests. More than one-quarter said they didn't know if a subculture existed.

Of those surveyed, 19 percent said there is "clearly" a gay subculture in Catholic seminaries, and 26 percent said it "probably" exists in seminaries. The survey was conducted by sociologists Dean Hoge and Jacqueline Wenger of Catholic University. It was presented August 16 to a Chicago meeting of the Association for the Sociology of Religion.

Exactly how many Catholic priests are gay is not known, but estimates range from about 10 percent to as high as 50 percent. The issue has been a sensitive one for church leaders in recent months, as some critics claimed to see a link between gay priests and sexual abuse. The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Wilton Gregory, complained earlier this year that "it is an ongoing struggle to make sure that the Catholic priesthood is not dominated by homosexual men.

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