Letter to the Editor of the Seattle Times –
Intended for Publication
Although the Roman Catholic Church universally demands celibacy for its clergy, Thomas McMichael, a married Evangelical Lutheran minister with a wife and two teenage sons, was recently ordained to the priesthood to serve in a Bellingham parish.
As Catholics, we have grown accustomed to dealing with such inconsistencies from our religious leadership.
Despite the church’s harsh rules on personal sexuality and marriage, it managed to create the worst sex abuse scandal in the history of religion in the United States. Its hard line against gay and lesbian love is contrasted by the fact that over fifty percent of priests and bishops are gay and many are in active relationships. This is so well known that one famous Catholic author, Father Donald Cozzens, refers to the priesthood as a “gay profession” in his writings.
The ordination of McMichael hits a particularly strident chord in the lives of over one hundred and forty Roman Catholic priests here in the Puget Sound area. Over the past twenty five years, those priests left the homosexual culture of the priesthood to start new lives, find new jobs, marry women and raise their own families. Time has shown that the straight priests tend to leave and the gay priests tend to stay. While I wish Father McMichael success in his newly won position, I cannot help but wonder how his family and those who invested in his growth and development in the Lutheran church feel over his abandonment of their beloved religious tradition.
This ordination creates an interesting mirror image irony. A married Lutheran priest is now working with a predominantly gay Roman Catholic clergy while, outside the walls, shunned cradle Catholic married priests spiritually serve the seventy percent of Catholics who also feel alienated from church leadership and their policies.
I believe this irony could resolve itself for all involved if the church would reinstate its original tradition of a married clergy and if society would accept those gay men who find it easier to hide behind religious institutional masks than to openly be the people God created them to be.
5647 Perdemco Ave SE
Port Orchard, WA 98367