Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 12, 2005
Priest says on CBC he is gay
Fr. Richard Renshaw claims the church 'leaps to judgment'
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
"I would stand on street corners and ask 'Where are the gay places?'"
- Fr. Richard Renshaw
He went to his superior and was sent to a psychoanalyst, who Renshaw said tried to convince him he wasn't gay, merely ill.
"It went from bad to worse for a good long time."
Renshaw even wondered if it might be better for the Church if he left the priesthood, but a friend convinced him to remain.
Renshaw said he has supported gay causes publicly "for quite some time," and has close ties to both the Montreal and Ottawa gay communities.
He said he has preached in churches on gay pride, but has not been censured or suspended, and remains a religious priest in good standing.
But he told Enright he has two letters saying he cannot "say the Mass or hear confessions at all."
Ordained in the 1960s and present in Rome during the Second Vatican Council, he said his priestly studies stressed theological formation and doctrine that "has never been the slightest use to me."
Instead, Renshaw said he believes in listening to his consciousness, his subconscious, and his body, and "listening without judgment."
"The problem with the Church is that it immediately leaps to judgment."
"Instead, you need to reflect, learn and grow by 'listening to the chaos,' and by being attentive to all 'those angry, nasty things,' and 'what you feel shamed about without judging it,'" he said.
Renshaw's superior, provincial superior of the Holy Cross Fathers, John Vickers, was out of town when the CBC interview took place.
"Richard did not inform me that he was going to be on any media program," he said in a phone interview Sept. 7. "I haven't spoken as yet with him. I would really like to get a copy of the transcript to be sure what Richard said."
Vickers said Renshaw does not have faculties to celebrate Mass or the sacrament of Reconciliation, but he would not disclose why out of respect for "issues of confidentiality." He did say that Renshaw was still a member of the community.
"I care for Richard very deeply," he said. "There's no animosity.
CRC executive director Sister Margaret Toner said although she did not hear the CBC interview, "He was passionate for justice and peacemaking. I only know Richard as person of integrity.
"He certainly loves his priesthood, his ministry as a priest."
Co-workers at Development and Peace spoke highly of his contribution and said he always acted professionally. They declined to comment since the interview does not involve the mission of promoting international development.
A spokesperson for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops also declined comment.
In late November, members of the CCCB executive described the new Vatican document as a "call for maturity and integrity" as priests live out their call to celibacy, whether they are homosexual or heterosexual.
"Celibacy is a challenge to our culture. As much as we value sexuality, it is not an absolute value," CCCB co-treasurer Bishop James Wingle said.
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