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Fr Bernárd Lynch

If I lied, I’d still be a priest

Following the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican, which voted 118 to 62 against expressing ‘welcome’ to gay people in the Catholic Church, Ennis-born Fr Bernárd Lynch has said lying about one’s sexuality within the Church is more acceptable than telling the truth.

“If I did lie, if I did pretend, I’d have a job. I could even have a lover on the side,” said Fr Lynch, who publicly came out as a gay man in 1986, when he was ministering in New York.

The London-based psychotherapist, who is chair of the Camden Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Forum, said, “Straight or gay, truth and honesty in the Catholic Church, as far as sexuality and relationships are concerned, is punished by dismissal. Whereas lies and hypocrisy are rewarded, as much in Ireland as the UK or the US. Again, you wonder are these people really serious about the Gospel.”

Fr Lynch claims the Church’s attitude to homosexuality is intrinsically linked to its misogyny. “The freedom of women and the freedom of gays to me is the different side of the same coin. The Church does not, to my mind, treat women as equals and, until it does, it won’t be able to treat gays equally. I don’t want my freedom as a gay man in the Catholic Church at the expense of women,” Fr Lynch said, before noting that his loyalty rested with his God and not the institutional church.

“I didn’t come out publicly until 1986. As soon as I went public, I lost my job,” he revealed.

Fr Lynch, who is still technically a priest but is not allowed to practice by the Church, believes that even in 2014, a priest declaring himself as gay would be ostracised within the Church.

“The sad thing is, he would. I know gay priests in Ireland and in London. I was officially an SMA priest until two years ago and my greatest friends in the SMA were straight priests. Gay priests are so afraid. It’s part of the oppression. The shame, it breathes. When we cannot even get the word ‘fáilte’ from Rome, there is so much work to be done. You can’t even say you’re gay as a priest in the Catholic Church, which again bespeaks the horrendous oppression and the lack of Gospel justice. Why can’t you say you’re gay? Is it something to be ashamed of? That’s how the Church sees it,” he maintained.

While disappointed the Synod of Bishops did not extend a welcome to gay people within the Church last weekend, Fr Lynch says Pope Francis appears to be progressive.

“I want to compliment Pope Francis that we’re even up for discussion. We’re not guests at the table but we were on the menu,” he said.

For full story see this week’s Clare Champion.

Peter O’Connell

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