AIDS rate appears
higher in priests
Hundreds of priests have died from the
disease since 1980’s
By The Associated Press
KANSAS CITY, Mo – Roman Catholic priests in the United States are dying from
AIDS-related illnesses at a rate four times higher than the general
population, and the cause is often concealed on their death certificates, The
Kansas City Star reported Sunday.
In the first of a three-part
series, the newspaper said death certificates and interviews with experts
indicated several hundred priests have died of AIDS related illness since
the mid-1980s and hundreds more are living with HIV, the virus that causes the
“I think this speaks to a
failure on the part of the church,” as Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of
the Archdiocese of Detroit. “Gay priest and heterosexual priests didn’t
know how to handle their sexuality, their sexual drive.
And so they would handle it in ways that were not healthy.”
The Star received 801
responses to questionnaires that were sent last fall to 3000 of 46,000 priests
in the United States. The margin
of error of the survey was 3.5 percentage points.
Six of the 10 priests
responding said they knew of at least one priest who had died of a
AIDS-related illness, and one third knew a priest living with AIDS.
Three-fourths said the church needed to provide more education to
seminarians on sexual issues.
“Gay priests and heterosexual priests
didn’t know how to handle their sexuality, their sexual drive”
bishop of Archdiocese of Detroit
“How to be celibate
and to be gay at the same time, and how to be celibate and heterosexual at the
same time, that’s what we were never taught how to do.
And that was major
failing.” Gumbleton said.
The Rev. John Keenan, who runs
Trinity House, an outpatient clinic in Chicago for priests, said he believes
most priests with AIDS contracted the disease through same-sex relations. He said he treated one priest who had infected eight
The Star said
numbers of priests who have died of AIDS or become infected with HIV is
unknown, partly because many suffer in solitude.
When priests tell their superiors, the cases generally are handled
The newspaper cited the case
of Bishop Emerson Moore, who left the Archdiocese of New York in 1995
and went to Minnesota, where he died in a hospice of an AIDS-related illness.
His death certificate attributed the death to “unknown natural
causes” and listed his occupation as “laborer” in the manufacturing