Confessions of a Gay Priest: A Memoir of Sex, Love, Abuse, and Scandal in the Catholic Seminary

Confessions of a Gay Priest: A Memoir of Sex, Love, Abuse, and Scandal in the Catholic Seminary

by Tom Rastrelli

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Overview

Tom Rastrelli is a survivor of clergy-perpetrated sexual abuse who then became a priest in the early days of the Catholic Church’s ongoing scandals. Confessions of a Gay Priest divulges the clandes­tine inner workings of the seminary, providing an intimate and unapologetic look into the psychosexual and spiritual dynamics of celibacy and lays bare the “formation” system that perpetuates the cycle of abuse and cover-up that continues today.

Under the guidance of a charismatic college campus minister, Rastrelli sought to reconcile his homosexuality and childhood sexual abuse. When he felt called to the priesthood, Rastrelli be­gan the process of “priestly discernment.” Priests welcomed him into a confusing clerical culture where public displays of piety, celibacy, and homophobia masked a closeted underworld in which elder priests preyed upon young recruits.

From there he ventured deeper into the seminary system seeking healing, hoping to help others, and striving not to live a double life. Trained to treat sexuality like an addiction, he and his brother seminarians lived in a world of cliques, competition, self-loathing, alcohol, hidden crushes, and closeted sex. Ultimately, the “for­mation” intended to make Rastrelli a compliant priest helped to liberate him.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781609387099
Publisher: University of Iowa Press
Publication date: 04/15/2020
Edition description: 1
Pages: 328
Sales rank: 141,289
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Tom Rastrelli is director of digital communications at Willamette University. He lives in Salem, Oregon.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

Part I St. Stephen, The First Christian Martyr, Patron Saint of Stonemasons, 1994-96

Audition 7

An Actor Prepares 10

Acting Is Believing 15

Freeing the Natural Voice 21

Genesis 28

A Place at the Table 32

By Way of the Heart 37

Confessions 46

The Cloud of Unknowing 55

Urgent Longings 63

In Praise of Folly 69

The Seven Storey Mountain 78

Part II St. Pius X, Pope, Patron Saint of First Communicants and Pilgrims, 1996-98

The Consolation of Philosophy 83

A Theology of Liberation 91

The Long Loneliness 99

Part III St. Mary, Mother of God, Patron Saint of Crusaders, Needle and Pin Makers, and Virgins, 1998-2002

Interior Castle 117

The Rule of Life 131

Codependent No More 142

The Road Less Traveled 147

The Theology of the Body: Human Love in the Divine Plan 158

Spiritual Exercises 167

Letting Go: The Spirituality of Subtraction 182

The Changing Face of Priesthood 189

The Wild Man's Journey 200

Gaudmm et Spes 211

Part IV St. Jude, the Apostle, Patron Saint of Lost Causes, 2002-3

The Holy Longing 223

The First Five Years of Priesthood 227

The Wounded Healer 238

Quickening the Fire in Our Midst 246

Part V Resurrection, 2003-4

Sacred Silence 257

Homosexuality in the Church 265

Boys Like Us 278

Becoming a Man 286

Now That I'm Out, What Do I Do? 297

The End of the Affair 306

Part VI Beautiful Child, 2019

Epilogue: We Are the Champions 319

What People are Saying About This

M. G. Lord

“Tom Rastrelli’s brave, candid, self-critical memoir is part of a great tradition of spiri­tual autobiographies, from St. Augustine’s Confessions to Thomas Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain. Tom’s story differs from theirs because of his time and place. But he shares with them a commitment to hon­esty and to understanding the meaning of faith. This is an often beautiful, sometimes shocking, always important book.”—M. G. Lord, author, The Accidental Feminist: How Elizabeth Taylor Raised Our Consciousness and We Were Too Distracted by Her Beauty
to Notice

Michelangelo Signorile

“Tom Rastrelli is a gifted writer whose personal journey is in­sightful and enormously important. Confessions of a Gay Priest is a riveting, powerful book, rich in detail and deeply relevant to the times we live in. It exposes painful truths that must be told. Read it.”—Michelangelo Signorile, author, It’s Not Over: Getting Beyond Tolerance, Defeating Homophobia, and Winning True Equality

Janet Fitch

“Tom Rastrelli is that unique blend of courage and talent, a remarkable personal story to tell, a passionate voice, and a sharp, skillful pen with which to fashion the tale.”—Janet Fitch, author, Chimes of a Lost Cathedral

Mary Roach

“In demanding celibacy and damning homosexuality, the Catholic Church condemns legions of its best and brightest priests to lives of hypocrisy and shame. Rastrelli recounts his struggle with heart, wit, and courage. The Church’s loss is literature’s gain.”—Mary Roach, author, Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War

Garrard Conley

“Rastrelli’s carefully observed testimony speaks real truth to power. I am amazed by his ability to navigate a traumatic emo­tional landscape with such grace. This book is an essential document for the Church’s many victims of abuse.”—Garrard Conley, author, Boy Erased

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