Irish attitudes toward priests, celibacy and gays….

I’m home sick, starting to feel better (at last!), have no TV, and so am listening to radio. I love Irish radio! It is so much more diverse than American radio.

So I was listening to a call-in program. The topic was Fr. Michael Hogan, a County Clare priest who was recently lured by an unscrupulous journalist into posting a profile on a gay website, complete with photo of him in his skivvies. (Story here.)

I was bracing myself for a slew of homophobic callers. Instead, every single caller so far—other than a priest, who expressed a toned-down version of the papal perspective—was in total support of Fr. Hogan! The gist was, “The site was an adult site, he wasn’t breaking any laws, it’s natural to want to express your sexuality, he’s a good priest and a good man, and the church’s stance on celibacy and gays is hypocritical and outmoded.”

One caller said, “It’s 2007. He’s gay, get over it!…He’s meeting people and he’s lonely and my heart goes out to him and I support him…if I were to see him on the street, I’d give him a hug.”

If you want to listen to RTE 1 streaming live, go here. (They might post a podcast of the show in question—Liveline—later.)



Filed under 08_brynn

12 responses to “Irish attitudes toward priests, celibacy and gays….

  1. DBK


    You might want to fix that. I’m hoping the outmoded thinking will be gone by 2207.

    And UP THE IRISH! Paris is the most beautiful city I’ve visited and Barcelona is second, but Ireland had the nicest people (and Barcelona is second). I really loved Ireland and the Irish. So glad to see that they appear to be as sensible and progressive as I wish Americans would be.

  2. Nice to know the whole world is not overrun by bigots.

  3. It’s crazy that Ireland, which is like the Utah of Western Europe, is now getting more progressive, while here in the U.S., the bigots and idiots are trying to drag us back into the dark ages.

  4. Betsy

    Brynn, your posts always make me miss living in Galway. It’s been 6 years since I was there, and I’m so curious about what it’s like now. (Assuming, of course, that their water is potable again!)

  5. the irish have always had their own take on catholicism. and maurinsky is spot on with her allusion to Utah. ireland is constitutionally and openly catholic (and fairly conservative catholicism at that) in much the same way that Utah is mormon. when you talk to individual people it all begins to change.

  6. “2207”?

    Oops!! Thanks for fixing that whoever did!!

  7. DBK

    We all make typos.

  8. goldsmith_ie

    Hi Brynn,

    as you can tell from the fact that I am able to look at a computer screen, the migraine attack didn’t come to pass… So THIS is what I am missing while sitting a law exam 100 yards from your front door! Darn! Seriously though, very glad about the public reaction.

    Just to correct minstrel boy’s statement, Ireland is not “constitutionally catholic” any longer – the “special place” of the Catholic Church in the Constitution was removed by a referendum of the People in 1972. Social attitudes obviously took a lot longer to change, but people who want to see how many Irish now describe themselves of “no religion” should go to the Central Statistics Office website for the results of last year’s Census.

    The main areas that haven’t caught up with changing social values are schools and hospitals, which are largely under church leadership. But parents especially are getting impatient with sectarian education.

  9. jkr

    Well…yes and no. It is great that the Irish callers are sane about the priest’s being gay, etc. But to my mind, there’s still an issue when someone from a stigmatized group continues to participate in the stigmatization (or worse) of that group–and a priest who continues to act as a representative of the Roman Catholic Church is, unfortunately, doing that unless he speaks out explicitly against it.

  10. Mr. X

    Unfortunately, the Vatican will probably send Father Hogan packing. The Church won’t allow gay men, even celibate gay men, into the priesthood. In other words, back in the closet, padre. It was their response to the pedophile priest scandals.

    I find this policy not only blatantly in contradiction of all logic and knowledge of human sexuality, but also strongly hypocritical. When I belonged to a cathedral choir in the U.S. for several years, there was at one point three not-particularly-deeply-closeted gay and lesbian couples in it, not counting the choir director, a nun who had lived, worked and traveled with one other nun for some years.

    There was also an assistant priest, an excellent homilist who was very popular, who was sent to a monastic community all of a sudden, no particular reason given. The kicker, though, was when they had a monsignor from another parish in the diocese give a talk at the cathedral, and he spent most of it lambasting a journal article on rates of HIV infection in the priesthood that asserted that about a quarter of the priesthood was gay. The impression that he did protest too much wasn’t helped by his prominent lisp.

  11. Hey, goldsmith, glad the migraine never materialized! Thanks for clearing that up about the referendum, I didn’t realize.

    And I agree, jkr and Mr X, it’s both wrong to contribute by participation to stigmatization and that the church will probably kick Fr. Hogan out.

    In the end, maybe it will be the best thing for him. Maybe he’ll be able to live a happier, less lonely and more open life. I can only hope.

    What cheered me is that most every caller was against the church’s policy on gays and celibacy. (And one was furious that the church was preaching against condoms for AIDS prevention!)

    Btw, I saw the Irish Sun cover when I made a quick trip to the store today. On it, they’d printed what has to be the most conventionally unflattering photo ever, showing Hogan graying, pot-bellied and standing facing the camera in nothing but his bikini briefs. Very few of us could look good in that situation. It was disgusting and cruel thing to do.

    I daresay that the tabloid press has replaced the church in Ireland as the arbiters of culture and morality in modern Ireland. And while they’re as cruel, hypocritical, soulless, and reprehensible as the Vatican ever was, I only wish I could say that the Irish people will condemn them as thoroughly as they have the church.

  12. Read St. Patricks biography and I believe you will discover that the Irish Catholic Church and the one in Rome have constantly been at loggerheads right from the very beginning. I mean, hellfire, the Irish had the Brits to piss on them for hundreds of years, with the help of the Church, so when they finally got out from under it all they are going to let the Pope keep waving his dick at them? I believe not!

    Same thing here in Spain. Once Franco died and they got a Democratic Government suddenly, just as one example, this became the country with the lowest birth rate in the world and the Pope and all his anti-conception banning bullshit could piss up a rope.

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