Father Gregory Baum, a laicized priest married to a former nun for 30 years, admits in his forthcoming autobiography The Oil Has Not Run Dry that his wife did not mind the fact that he had a gay priest-lover on the side.
"Shirley did not mind that, when we moved to Montreal in 1986, I met Normand, a former priest, with whom I fell in love," Baum writes in Chapter 32.
"My love for Normand has never changed: his presence delights me to this day. While Normand is gay and welcomed my sexual embrace when we were younger (I was sixty-three when I met him, he was forty-six), he did not love me as I did him: He simply regards me as a great friend for who [sic] he makes room in his life. I fully accept this."
Baum served as a theological consultant, or peritus, at Vatican Two, and led the vanguard of dissent against Church teaching on contraception in Canada, helping to pave the way for the infamous Winnipeg Statement.
In 1966, the Toronto Globe and Mail published an interview with Baum titled "Catholics May Use Contraceptives Now." And in 1967, the same paper quoted the now-laicized priest as saying that even if the Pope were to declare contraception impermissible, the Holy Father's judgment would be irrelevant.
Pope Paul VI signed Humanae Vitae on the Feast of St. James, July 25, 1968, re-affirming the Church's perennial teaching forbidding the use of contraception. Several days later, newspapers across Canada printed numerous comments criticizing the encyclical, including Baum himself, with his claim that Catholics had the right to dissent.
In the following months, he traveled and spoke in Canada and the United States promoting his views and publishing articles one after the other with the following titles: "Catholics May Follow Their Conscience," "The Right to Dissent" and "The New Encyclical on Contraception."
He went on to become theological adviser on the Winnipeg Statement, the official declaration of dissent by the Canadian Bishops' Conference that rejected Humanae Vitae in favor of primacy of "conscience" on the question of birth control.
Baum admits in his new book that he did not want to disclose his homosexuality during those days as he thought it would distract from his theological influence.
"I did not profess my own homosexuality in public because such an act of honesty would have reduced my influence as a critical theologian," he explains. "I was eager to be heard as a theologian trusting in God as salvator mundi and committed to social justice, liberation theology, and global solidarity."
"Yet, since I no longer agreed with the Church's official sexual ethics and was exploring my sexuality in non-conformist ways, I thought that resigning from the priesthood was the right thing to do," he goes on.
I believe I was the first Catholic theologian who publicly defended the ethical status of homosexual love.
In Chapter 32, he talks about his first gay experience. "I was forty years old when I had my first sexual encounter with a man," he writes. "I met him in a restaurant in London. This was exciting and at the same time disappointing, for I knew what love was and what I really wanted was to share my life with a partner."
"Looking back I began to realize that my vow of celibacy had not been a meaningful religious commitment but simply a promise to bracket my homosexuality, to refuse to explore its meaning and power," he continues.
Father Thomas Rosica, former English language assistant to the Holy See Press Office and CEO of Salt and Light Television in Canada, also rumored to be a homosexual, fawned over Fr. Baum in an interview on his show Witness, saying "Gregory, we've known each other for a long time. ... I've certainly admired very much your theology, your writings, but also your love of the Church, your love of Christ, and you help to keep alive not only the spirit of the Second Vatican Council but the authentic teaching of the Council."