Openly gay former British Catholic Friar Mark Dowd tells CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, who’s in Rome for the last days of Benedict XVI’s papacy, that “homosexuality is the ticking time bomb in the Catholic Church.” Amanpour asked Dowd, who’s now a journalist, about the resignation of British Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the archbishop of Scotland, after allegations by one former and three current priests of inappropriate conduct towards them, which O’Brien denies. Dowd says the story came “out of the blue,” noting that O’Brien has been “trenchant” in his opposition to gay marriage and gay adoption. Amanpour notes that Dowd is “openly homosexual” and asks him about allegations of a “secret cabal” of gay priests in the heart of the Vatican. Dowd says:
Homosexuality is the ticking time bomb in the Catholic Church. On the one hand, the Church teaches that the condition of same-sex attraction is ‘intrinsically disordered’—those are Cardinal Ratzinger’s own words from 1986. And yet we know that about half—if not more—attracted into seminaries and the priesthood are gay themselves. And of course, when you have this culture of secrecy and guilt and repression, you have conditions there that foster the potential for blackmail and for manipulation.
Dowd says he’s not party to the specifics in the Vatican’s investigations, nor the reports in the media over the past several days about secret gay cabals and blackmail, but “I do know this is a very unhealthy state for the Church, because basically when you have secrecy, you have lies. And when you have lies, people are often put in terrible pressures of being compromised.”
Asked about how he arrived at the conclusion that half of the church is made up of gay priests, Dowd said that 12 years ago he produced a controversial program called “Queer and Catholic” for UK television and many gay priests came out on and off the record. “I can tell you that gay men are massively, massively over-represented in Catholic life. And there’s nothing wrong with that, of course. The problem is that a lot of them are told they are ‘intrinsically unhealthy’ according to church teaching,” and that’s not good for personal development.
Dowd also said odds are “not in favor” of the next pope being progressive—but in his experience, the Catholic Church has been known to surprise, and perhaps once in power, a new pope with a conservative track record might actually make reforms and make changes “the like of which people had not forecast.”
Finally, Dowd said he had interviewed the pope’s brother a few years ago and the brother told him the child sex abuse scandals had taken “a personal toll. ... He said [the pope] actually lies awake at night, sweating and worrying about it,” which Dowd suggests may have contributed to Benedict’s decision to abdicate his papacy.