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Priests Dying of AIDS

If you really love friends and / or family members
shouldn't you strive to heal their illness, rather than hide it ?

Priests Dying of AIDS
New York Times, 1 / 31 / 2000 : Kansas City, MO (AP) – "Roman Catholic priests in the United States are dying from AIDS-related illnesses at a rate four times higher than the general population and the cause is often concealed on their death certificates, The Kansas City Star reported Sunday.
        In the first of a three-part series, the newspaper said death certificates and interviews with experts indicated several hundred priests have died of AIDS-related illnesses since the mid-1980s and hundreds more are living with HIV, the virus that causes the disease.  'I think this speaks to a failure on the part of the church,' said Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of the Archdiocese of Detroit.  'Gay priests and heterosexual priests didn't know how to handle their sexuality, their sexual drive.  And so they would handle it in ways that were not healthy.'
        The Star received 801 responses to questionnaires that were sent last fall to 3,000 of the 46,000 priests in the United States.  Six of 10 priests responding said they knew of at least one priest who had died of an AIDS-related illness, and one-third knew a priest living with AIDS.  Three-fourths said the church needed to provide more education to seminarians on sexual issues.  'How to be celibate and to be gay at the same time, and how to be celibate and heterosexual at the same time, that's what we were never really taught how to do.  And that was a major failing,' Gumbleton said.
        Asked about their sexual orientation, 75 percent said they were heterosexual, 15 percent said they were homosexual, and 5 percent said they were bisexual.
        The Rev. John Keenan, who runs Trinity House, an outpatient clinic in Chicago for priests, said he believes most priests with AIDS contracted the disease through same-sex relations.  He said he treated one priest who had infected eight other priests.
        The Star said precise numbers of priests who have died of AIDS or become infected with HIV is unknown, partly because many suffer in solitude.  When priests tell their superiors, the cases generally are handled quietly.
        The newspaper cited the case of Bishop Emerson Moore, who left the Archdiocese of New York in 1995 and went to Minnesota, where he died in a hospice of an AIDS-related illness.  His death certificate attributed the death to 'unknown natural causes' and listed his occupation as 'laborer' in the manufacturing industry.
        After an AIDS activist filed a complaint, officials changed the cause of death to 'HIV-related illness,' the Star said, but the occupation was not corrected.
        The newspaper said the death rate among priests from AIDS appears to be at least four times that of the rate for the general U.S. population.
        Some priests and behavioral experts believe the church has scared priests into silence by treating homosexual acts as an abomination and the breaking of celibacy vows as shameful, the Star said.
        Catholic cardinals in the United States and high-ranking church officials in the Vatican declined requests to discuss the newspaper's findings, The Star reported.  The Vatican referred questions to local bishops.
        Bishop Raymond Boland of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph said the AIDS deaths show that priests are human.
        'Much as we would regret it, it shows that human nature is human nature,' he said.  'And all of us are heirs to all of the misfortunes that can be foisted upon the human race.''



        A follow-up article on the hierarchy's response reported the following: www.beingalivela.org/0131catholicpriestAIDS.html

Church calls US priests' AIDS deaths no surprise
Kansas City, MO., Jan 31, 2000 (Reuters) –" A report that hundreds of Catholic priests in America have died of AIDS is 'sad' and a 'disappointment' but not necessarily a surprise because the disease is so pervasive in society in general, Catholic Church officials said on Monday.
        The statements by Catholic officials came in response to a nationwide investigation by the Kansas City Star newspaper – a three-part series running from Sunday to Tuesday – that found Catholic priests were dying of AIDS at a rate far higher than the general U.S. population.
        Calling AIDS the 'black plague of our times,' Kansas City, Kansas, Archbishop James Keleher said in a statement, 'It is no wonder that it (AIDS) has also touched Catholic clergy as well as ministers of other churches. But no matter how few clergy it has infected this is surely very sad.'
        Rebecca Summers, a spokeswoman for the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City in Missouri, said though priests take a vow of celibacy, the church is aware that not all priests are celibate. She said while the Star's findings were a 'disappointment,' they were not necessarily a surprise.
        'You have to look at society in general. Why would we say they (priests) would not mirror what is in the society?' she asked. "

        Ms. Summers, let me answer your rhetorical question.  I entered the seminary as a member of a class of 60 aspirants to the priesthood.  A few more may have joined that class over the next 13 years of seminary training (which included high school, college, novitiate and theology).  In the end only 9 of that 60+ were ordained priests.  The Catholic Church teaches that the priesthood is a "vocation" a special personal selection by God to perform a sacred role.  Is it not therefore absurd to suggest that after years and years of weeding out by the seminaries, the select few, who are deemed to have been personally chosen by God to be priests, should "mirror what is in the society"?
        And by "society", Ms. Summers, do you mean the whole world, most of which has yet to be baptized and saved by your Catholic priests?  Is that society what Catholic priests should be expected to mirror? 

        In my humble opinion, what all the facts reported above show is that, instead of acting much more divinely than the general population, priests are "four times as human" as the general population!  While some Roman Catholics will resent the publicizing these facts, those who really care about the church and/or its priests ought to demand that the church wise up, and instead of barring women from its pulpits and its rectories, that it welcome that half of the human race as clergy and the spouses of clergy.  And instead of fussing and fuming so much over behaviors which the bible never even mentioned, including masturbation, birth control and abortion, the Church would do well to pay more attention to what the bible did teach, i.e. the need to love God and the neediest of one's neighbors, and not just in word, but in deed
        In responding to the Albigensian claim that marriage is sordid, St. Bernard of Clairvaux. said, in the year 1135: 'Take from the Church an honourable marriage and an immaculate marriage bed, and do you not fill it with concubinage, incest, homosexuality and every kind of uncleanness?'   (Vicars of Christ, p. 409)  How long will it take the Catholic hierarchy to learn what Bernard knew so long ago?
        If you haven't already done so, we urge to see why the Catholic Church is so obsessed with sex.


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