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Pell rejects claims most priests are gay

Archbishop of Sydney George Pell on Saturday hit back at claims the majority of priests are gay.

Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald,, former Franciscan seminarian and writer Michael Kelly said there were large numbers of gay priests in the Catholic Church.

Mr Kelly quoted figures from a book written by Donald Cozzens, a US seminary rector and professor of pastoral theology, which estimated the percentage of gay priests could be as high as 58%. This was a problem, Mr Kelly said, because of the Vatican's insistence on keeping them in the closet.

However, Archbishop Pell said the article was exaggerated and slanderous.

"The Catholic people will know that these figures and Kelly's claims are false," he said. "The danger is that outsiders might conclude that these wild claims, from flawed USA evidence, are true here in Sydney or elsewhere in Australia."

"They are not," he said in a statement.

Archbishop Pell said he had every confidence in the moral integrity of the overwhelming majority of Sydney clergy.

He said Mr Kelly's claim that the Catholic Church was the last great institution in the west that still campaigned against homosexuality was a distortion.

"All mainline Christian denominations, except for some liberals, oppose homosexual activity."

Archbishop Pell said the Catholic Church taught that sexual activity should be confined to married couples and opposed all extra-marital sexual activity.

"In this family context, the Catholic Church will continue to oppose legitimising any extra-marital sexual activity, including homosexual activity.

"It will also continue to oppose homosexual propaganda, especially among young people," he said.

Statement by Dr George Pell Catholic Archbishop Of Sydney (18/8/01)
Father, I am troubled (SMH Spectrum 18/8/01)
The Changing Face of the Priesthood: A Reflection on the Priest's Crisis of Soul by Donald Cozzens (Amazon)