What reaction would Fr Gabriel get if he announced he was gay from pulpit?
I have been fascinated by the case of Fr Gabriel Rosbotham and Hugo Crawford who went to court over a house they shared at one time.
Fascinated because this was a couple who obviously had to keep their relationship a secret for years and now they are in the glare of media publicity.
On the one hand, its like a million other love stories - they met, they fell in love, they lived in a house together, they broke up and they fell out. But the big difference - they were priests.
Now, lets just recap on the whole gay/Catholic/relationship thing. If you are a priest - you are supposed to be celibate. If you are either a priest or a lay person, you are not supposed to be gay (well you can be gay - but the Church has no time for you and you are not permitted to be in a relationship. Just live on your own and be lonely and gay.)
So really, it's a double clanger for the men. Fr Gabriel and Hugo Crawford obviously thought they could do both. Let's not be foolish here - they aren't the first priests, and certainly wont be the last, who combine a sexual relationship with their job.
I hear that the people of Fr Gabriel's parish don't care about his personal business. They support him 100pc and feel that he was a great leader and friend to all in the parish. They have glowing reports about all the good things that he has done and essentially want him back. That is wonderful.
But isn't it a shame that it takes a court case to reveal their personal preferences.
I wonder how the parish would have reacted five years ago if he had announced from the pulpit that he was gay.
There are gay priests in Ireland, and there are heterosexual priests in Ireland who are in loving sexual relationships. How many feel as brave as Fr Gabriel and would be interested in 'coming out' about the lives they are living.
With the Pope's plans to make the Catholic Church more open to gay people, and it then to be flung back in his face by the conservatives within, gay priests need to put their own heads above the pulpit.
Fr Gabriel will probably never return to his parish - and I am sure he would appreciated it if he wasn't the only gay in the Catholic village.