THIBODAUX, Lousiana Deciding he had to practice the honesty he preached, a popular priest has told his family, his bishop and the people in his parish that he is gay.
The Rev. Jim Morrison said he had been working since October on the letter which he sent early this month to 300 members of the congregation at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church and 200 members of the student ministry at Nicholls State University.
He mailed the letter and handed his bishop a copy on Jan. 2, about a month after the Vatican released a policy statement saying people with “deep-seated” homosexual tendencies should be kept out of the priesthood.
The following Saturday, the pews at his southern Louisiana church were full, The Courier newspaper in nearby Houma reported Sunday.
As pastor, Morrison told the congregation, “I ask you constantly to trust me. I ask you come to me with your life, all the blessings, all the struggles.”
“But it’s not a one-way street,” he said.
Morrison said he told his parents, four sisters and two brothers before he mailed the letter.
“I wrestled with talking to my parents,” he said. But, he said, the family talks were “very positive.”
In the letter he said that for years, he had counseled people struggling with their sexual orientation to be honest about it with people they love.
“I have come to realize that while I was encouraging others to be honest, I was not putting these words into practice in my own life,” Morrison wrote.
He said he wasn’t looking for attention or approval but trying to be more true to himself, God and those he serves.
“I thought it took a lot of courage,” Winnie Faucheux of Thibodaux said after the Saturday evening Mass. “I love him. I think he’s a wonderful person. I think the community’s going to grow from him being honest.”
Morrison said he has kept his vows of celibacy and is not in any romantic or sexual relationship. Being celibate and gay is not against Catholic doctrine, so he does not plan to resign, he said.
Nor is he being asked to, said Louis Aguirre, spokesman for the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux.
“He’s not being asked to do anything but to continue his ministry,” Aguirre said.
Morrison, a priest for more than 18 years, has been pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church at Nicholls State University for more than three.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 13, 2006.