The Catholic Church’s canon law requires a priest to be a man and a man only when he performs a rite of penance, such as a consecration.
But some priests have been acting as men with gay men, according to CBC News.
“I don’t know why they’re doing it.
It’s really bizarre,” said Father Gary Gourlay, a priest in Quebec, Ont., and a longtime friend of the gay priest who was arrested for sexually assaulting a gay man in 2009.
Gourlay was one of thousands of clergy across the country who were either ordained or married as gay men between 1985 and 2007.
The Canadian Press identified those priests in a report released this week as Father Raymond A. Bouchard, a Quebec priest, Father Michael E. Boudreau, a Toronto priest, and Father Kevin J. O’Donnell, a Montreal priest.
All of them had been married as men in Quebec between 1985-2007, according the CBC.
Bouchard had served as a priest for eight years, Boudares nine years and O’Donneys six years.
All three were charged with aggravated sexual assault.
“This is something I’ve been thinking about for years, but I haven’t felt like I was able to come forward to the police,” said Gourlie.
“I know a lot of people, but it’s been really difficult to come out.”
The CBC’s investigation found that in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, at least 40 percent of priests in the past decade have been gay men.
Some priests have reported being sexually assaulted while on duty, some have had gay and lesbian relationships and some have been involved in sex trafficking.
Some of the priests were ordained before the law was changed in 2005 to prevent gay priests from having children, and some of them were ordained after the change was made.
In some cases, the victims said they had come to believe the priests to be gay men and had been reluctant to report the abuse to the authorities.
“Some of them didn’t report it to me, or they didn’t believe it until they saw the footage,” said one victim who did not want to be identified.
The CBC spoke to more than 100 victims of sexual abuse who came forward, many of whom were men who had been ordained but were now married to other men.
They told stories of being abused by priests who were not gay.
“It was always a little bit different for each person,” said another victim, who was ordained as a male priest in 1987 and now lives in the United States.
“But they always knew.
And they knew it was wrong.”
Many victims said that they were reluctant to come to the church, fearing it would bring shame on the church.
Others said they feared losing their jobs or being ostracized from their families.
“They were always very clear that they weren’t interested in being priests,” said a victim who has since remarried and has two children.
In Ontario, Bouchards conviction was a turning point for the Catholic Church.
A group of priests who had previously been dismissed for similar charges filed a lawsuit against him.
Boudreau’s conviction was overturned on appeal in 2011, but he was convicted of the same charges.
The judge found that Boucharde’s actions “appear to have been motivated by sexual gratification” and that the “vast majority of priests engaged in homosexual relations in the 1990s and early 2000s.”
Boudas conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2013.
O’Donnell was convicted in 2007 and sentenced to six years in prison.
He served 18 months of that sentence.
His lawyer said the priest did not commit any acts of sexual violence on his victims.
He is scheduled to return to court later this year to determine whether he should be released.
Bouches case is now before a Superior Court judge, who will determine whether the priest should be allowed to remain in the parish or be placed on leave.
The priest will have to provide a medical report to the Catholic Diocese of Montreal.
A spokesperson for the diocese said in an email that it will be “in line with Catholic teaching on celibacy and its treatment.”
“We will evaluate the situation and respond to the request for an explanation as soon as possible,” the email said.