By John-Henry Westen

VATICAN, November 18, 2005 ( - Less than two weeks away from the widely rumoured November 29 publication date of a new Vatican document dealing with homosexuality and the priesthood, dissenters from the church’s stand against ordaining homosexuals – among them priests and bishops – have taken their claims public. As reported, Rochester, NY Bishop Matthew Clark, and a former international leader of the Dominican Order have publicly endorsed ordaining homosexuals despite long-standing Catholic discipline against the move. (see coverage: )

More than coming out publicly, some homosexual priests have threatened to, according to the Guardian newspaper, stay away from their pulpits to protest. Others have said they will reveal their homosexuality to their congregations and still others have threatened to ‘out’ homosexual bishops.

However, far from backing down due to the threats, faithful Catholics have welcomed the planned protests. Karl Keating, a well known Catholic apologist in the United States, in his recent newsletter states, “I never thought I would come out in favor of proposed actions by “gay” priests, but I can endorse these.” Keating adds, “Let them stay away from pulpits if they so choose, for a Sunday or a string of Sundays. (The Church will survive.) Let them reveal their homosexuality to their parishioners. Let them “out” their bishops.”

Driving home the point, Keating writes, “A little truth in advertising might be good. It might be good for parishioners to know that when Father X and Bishop Y talk about “respecting” certain tendencies, they have a personal stake in the matter. Give the folks who fill the collection baskets a further reason to vote with their feet and with their pocketbooks.” (see the full newsletter: )

Commenting on the same report and threats of homosexual priests, the celebrated commentator of Catholic World News who writes under the pseudonym Diogenes, said, “Please, gentlemen, put all three plans into action. This is a lesson you need to teach us often. And while you’re at it, take the rest of the week off.” (See the Catholic World News blog:Â)

The “bring it on” attitude has become more popular as Pope Benedict is set to implement many of the reforms for which his predecessor John Paul II set the stage.

While the threats of the homosexual priests may not seem credible, much more credible is a falling away of large numbers of nominal Catholics, who may feel the new pope has pushed them too hard to examine their stance within the Church.

But even the loss of vast numbers of nominal Catholics is not likely to deter Pope Benedict. For over 35 years he has predicted a smaller, purer church. The 1970 book Glaube und Zukunft, based on five lectures by then-Fr. Joseph Ratzinger given in 1969 at radios stations in Baviera and Hessen were the first recorded mentioning of this prediction. In those lectures the future Pope said, “From today’s crisis, a Church will emerge tomorrow that will have lost a great deal. She will be small and, to a large extent, will have to start from the beginning. She will no longer be able to fill many of the buildings created in her period of great splendour. Because of the smaller number of her followers, she will lose many of her privileges in society.”

R. Scott Appleby, professor of American religious history at Notre Dame, who has authored several books on Catholic modernism spoke on this aspect of Pope Benedict XVI at his election to the papacy. In an interview with Businessweek, he was asked “You have said the choice of Cardinal Ratzinger could lead to a “winnowing” of the American church. Why do you think that?”Â

Appleby replied, “The controversy over denying Communion to politicians who are pro-choice or who are divorced and remarried outside the Church is an example of possible winnowing ahead.

If it’s true Pope Benedict XVI prefers a leaner, smaller, purer church as he has spoken of before, we could see a withering of certain Catholic institutions because they’re not considered fully Catholic. This might include Catholic colleges, hospitals, and other Catholic institutions.”

In his role as Prefect, he determined who could and could not speak as a Catholic theologian. As Pope, that power could be extended more broadly.” (see full interview: )