Friday, June 29, 2007

“I don't need a priest or a bishop or a pope to tell me who I am”

A Bay Area priest who publicly declared himself a homosexual will be taking a year off.

Father Rich Danyluk said farewell to parishioners at St. Joseph’s Basilica in Alameda on Sunday, June 25.

Danyluk, 59, says he will be taking a year’s rest after 31 years in the priesthood.

According to the June 23 San Francisco Chronicle, in 2005 Danyluk was angered by rumors of a Vatican document that would bar homosexuals from the priesthood.

In September that year, Danyluk revealed that he himself is homosexual.

According to a Jan. 22, 2006 Oakland Tribune story, Danyluk at Sunday Mass raised the book of the Gospels over his head, saying, “This good news is for everybody [including homosexuals] or it is for nobody.”

He knew, he said, because “I’m one of you.”

At the morning Masses, the revelation was greeted with “hesitation;” but at the evening Mass, parishioners gave him a standing ovation.

Oakland Bishop Allen Vigneron at the time had no public reaction to Danyluk’s revelation. Danyluk says he knew he was “different” at age 13 or 14.

Dismissed from St. Charles Seminary in Philadelphia in 1967 for failing Greek and Latin, he entered the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and was ordained in 1975.

While in seminary, said the Chronicle, he “went to the rooms of fellow seminarians” and had “sexual experiences” -- which he now calls sick.

“That’s using somebody,” he said. “It was the acting out.”

As a priest, he began drinking heavily.

“It gave me a little more freedom to do things that I knew were wrong,” he told the Chronicle.

“It just numbed the senses.”

He sought counseling in the 1980s, but at times continued to engage in sexual acts and drinking. After being arrested a second time for drunk driving in 1999, he confessed to his parishioners at a San Dimas parish that he was an alcoholic.

Danyluk says that in recent years he has remained celibate.

Spending time in a recovery center for priests in Minnesota, he came to St. Joseph’s in 2001. He has remained a very popular priest.

According to the Tribune, to the question, "How can you, a gay man, work for an institution that loathes and condemns a part of who you are?"

Danyluk replied, "There's a difference sometimes (between) serving the Church and serving Christ. There's a higher voice that I hear. This is a human institution. There are times when we do it well, wonderfully well. We've done things poorly.”

"There's a passage in Scripture that God said to Jesus, 'You're my beloved son in whom I'm well pleased,'” Danyluk told the Chronicle.

“I believe God says that to every male, and he says, 'You're my beloved daughter' to every woman. Finally, that sunk into me, that I don't need a priest or a bishop or a pope to tell me who I am. I want everyone else to have that same right."

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