On Sunday, November 4th, Rev. Thomas Brennan, S.J., revealed publicly to a parish at St. Joseph University in Philadelphia that he was a homosexual. The priest chose to "come out" during a so-called "Diversity Week" allegedly dedicated to honoring Jesuit founder, St. Ignatius Loyola. The following is Fr. Euteneuer's open letter to Fr. Brennan.
Dear Father Brennan,
Faithful Catholics are so accustomed to being scandalized by Jesuit priests and universities these days that your public announcement of your same sex attraction during the Mass last Sunday does not really surprise any of us. It does, however, increase the indignation that people of faith have toward such shameless displays of clerical irresponsibility like this. There is something just plain wrong about abusing people's trust in the priesthood in such a public way, and since you chose to "go public" with this matter, a public response to your outrageous "outing" is merited.
First of all, Holy Mass is not a forum for your self-expression. You chose the sacred liturgy and the pulpit, reserved for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as the launching pad for your personal testament to homosexuality, when by your own admission this was hardly a secret to anyone. One wonders if you would have inflicted details of your personal life on a friend while officiating at his wedding or any other sacred occasion. The effect would be the same: the derailing of the focus of attention from the host to you. You've read the same documents I've read about the liturgy, and all of them say the Mass is not your personal stage.
Secondly, since you brought up the matter of sexuality, please consider what the sacrament of Holy Orders represents. A priest is "another Christ" (alter Christus), both sacramentally and existentially. That means the priest witnesses in his very body and person the Bridegroom who loved His wife (the Church) giving Himself up to death for her (Eph 5:25). In light of that, what, specifically, do you as a homosexual man witness? I am not talking about celibacy here. That is a form of Christian chastity to which you and I are called, and I trust that you are faithful to it. I am asking a more direct question about the sacramental witness of your gift of sexuality. A heterosexual celibate renounces his natural desire for wife and children in order to serve the Bride of Christ in a direct spousal relationship. A homosexual celibate renounces an unholy desire for members of the same sex: that is a renunciation of a disorder, not the embrace of a Bride.
When even a celibate priest chooses to go public about his homosexual identity as an expression of "diversity" or "pride," the faithful are rightfully confused and scandalized. Not only do you owe them an apology, you owe them a better example of priesthood. They deserve a priest who is clear about the Church's teaching on homosexual acts and who teaches it unambiguously. They need a priest who personally witnesses the same teaching without feeling the need to make statements about himself or inserting ideology into the Gospel. If you do not clearly witness the Church's teaching about your own vocation, how can you teach others to be faithful to theirs?
I would ask you, in the Name of Jesus, to go back to your congregation and offer them a renewed witness to your masculine love for Christ's Bride, the Church. Assure them that you will defend them in a manly way from all wolves that attack them, Jesuit or otherwise, and that you will be a strong and loving father for all their needs, not a man pre-occupied with his own orientation.
If you are unwilling to do that, I recommend that you make a thirty-day Ignatian retreat at Tyburn, England, where dozens of your Jesuit brethren were hung, drawn and quartered in the English Reformation — all for the sake of Christ's Bride. That would be a good refresher course in both theology and priestly love.