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Secrecy, Sophistry and Gay Sex In The Catholic Church [Kindle Edition]

Rev. Richard Wagner Ph.D.
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

For centuries homosexuals have been vilified and persecuted by the Catholic Church, but the Church has always had a very inconvenient secret. Many of its clergy, even those in the highest echelons of the Church, were and are homosexual. Little was known of the lives these religious people lived until the publication, in 1981, of the groundbreaking, Gay Catholic Priests; A Study of Cognitive and Affective Dissonance. Richard Wagner is the author of that study and he is a gay priest. The media firestorm that erupted after its publication and the backlash within his religious community because of its publication eventually destroyed his public priesthood. This story of his 13-year battle with the Church to save his ministry exemplifies the spiritual isolation, emotional distress and ecclesiastical reprisals every gay priest most fears. Secrecy, Sophistry And Gay Sex In The Catholic Church provides an intimate and sometimes disturbing look into the unseemly inner-workings of the Catholic Church. It is a detailed account of the Church's take-no-prisoners attitude in stamping out whatever they perceive as a threat, especially if the threat comes from within.

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

The publication of my dissertation broke the seal on the Vatican's gay secret. The press dubbed me "The Gay Priest," but my research and what it implies made patently clear that I wasn't the only gay priest. In fact, there is a sizable segment of the clergy population that is gay and these men are forced to live duplicitous lives of repression in secret.
The Church's single-minded effort to quash the emerging story and silence me showed that I needed to be "dealt with" in the most severe fashion; an example had to be made of me. If other priests started coming out of the closet, demanding to be treated with dignity and respect it would certainly undercut the entirety of Catholic sexual moral theology--there is no place for non-reproductive sexuality in that paradigm.
The irony is that at the same time my story was unfolding an unimaginable scandal, involving hundreds of Catholic priests across the globe, was also brewing. Cardinals, bishops and provincials worldwide were, and still are, furtively shuffling pedophile priest from one crime scene to another. They were, and still are, involved in a massive corporate cover up of their own crimes and those of their brother clergy.
While I am being singled out for 13 years of Church vitriol, public character assassination and communal shunning--my superiors claim that they are simply trying to protect the Church from scandal--these same Church leaders and others are lying, prevaricating and sabotaging any effort to uncover the burgeoning clergy sexual abuse scandal that would soon rock the front pages of newspapers all over the world.
The public panic, among Church officials, exhibited toward me--a single up-front gay priest in their midst--is in stark contrast to their apathetic and anemic response to the systemic clergy sexual abuse that engulfs them.
I am confident making the comparison between my struggle and the clergy sex abuse scandal, because I have first-hand knowledge of this abuse criminality. I was repeatedly sexually molested as a 14-year-old boy in an Oblate seminary in southern Illinois.
My story is the story of a Church that will go to any length, even to violate its core principles--Gospel values that form the fundamental tenets of faith--to protect its public image. In other words, this is a story of a Church out of control.

About the Author

Richard Wagner, Ph.D., ACS -- Psychotherapist, Clinical Sexologist in private practice for over 30 years.

He is the only Catholic priest in the world with a doctorate in Human Sexuality. His practice includes a special outreach to survivors of clergy sex abuse and has had many opportunities to work with clergy offenders. He is available as an advocate for clergy abuse survivors -- as a consultant, expert witness and/or therapist.

He is currently working on a follow-up book detailing the sexual molestation he endured at the hands of his Oblate superior while a 14-year-old seminarian in Southern Illinois. And how all subsequent religious superiors he told about these incidences did nothing. The book will investigate the psychological and emotional trauma of clergy sex abuse and its impact on the psychosexual development of abuse victims.

Richard designs, develops and produces long and short-term seminars and workshops for healing and helping professionals including religious leaders. He has provided individual therapy and facilitated support groups for gay clergy of numerous denominations.

He's also been involved in many other sex education and sexual enrichment projects. He's been writing an online sex advice column for over 15 years. His column and weekly podcasts can be found at: He also contributes to several other websites as a guest columnist.

He is developing a new site,, which is a clearinghouse for news and information about gay clergy worldwide.

He often writes and speaks in the public forum on policy issues related to religion, human sexuality, aging and death and dying. He has been a keynote speaker and/or presenter at numerous conventions and symposia.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1140 KB
  • Print Length: 255 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1610982126
  • Publisher: Nazca Plains (June 13, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0058EUL48
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,261,316 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Relevant to more than you would think. September 15, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a former Catholic priest, I thought that I would find some similarities in what I went through in my departure process with Richard's story. I did not leave for the same reasons. Well, not exactly. But Richard's written sharing of his experience resonated with me as a human being, and as a former Catholic, and a former Priest. He is almost overly kind, tolerant, and forgiving of the mean-spirited bureaucrats of his own order as well as with the Church Hierarchy. His experience is remarkably similar to the treatment experienced by lay Catholics going through the struggle of their lives. It is my view that even the term "lay Catholic" is symptomatic of the attitude and practice of the clergy and hierarchy in their self-serving sense of superiority. As painful as it was to be brought so close again to the self-satisfied, mean, even inhumane way Catholics are treated this book made me realise just how much so many Catholics are despised by those in power. So, just because you might not be a priest, former priest, Catholic or even gay, Richard's shared experience will touch your heart as you share the confusion, disbelief, pain and resolve he has been through. I loved this book.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Review August 29, 2011
One of the challenges of reading a book that is so perfectly stitched together - as we find here in Dr Richard Wagner's searing indictment of the Catholic Church and his role in it, is finding the choice morsels to highlight the the gripping twelve-plus-years of human degradation that pulled a one-time member of the Oblate community into sharper focus:

What follows then is the one-hundred-plus page accounting of one of the most damning indictments of the Catholic church as seen from the eyes of a single man - Dr. Richard Wagner - whose life, beliefs, everything he stood for and continues to stand for, because fodder for a corrupt church hell-bent on destroying him after producing a seminal work on the sexual nature of celibate priests entitled, "Gay Catholic Priests: A Study of Cognitive and Affective Dissonance," which not only earned him the label of pariah among the church hierarchy but the title of Clinical Sexologist, the first and only kind in the world.

It is the commitment to truth, this un-blinding allegiance to that which is known that lead Wagner down a thirteen year journey of obfuscation, lies, cover-ups and other tools in the Catholic hierarchy bag of tricks that would force Mr. Wagner to have to constantly weigh whether he was going to do the right thing or do the thing that would protect his interests. And, yes, at every step of the way, knowing his faith in the Church was implacable, he choose to do the right thing and paid the highest price of all for it:

The non-fictional re-telling of the book reads like an international murder-mystery complete with a rogue cast of characters who will stop at nothing to bury Wagner's truth, all while hiding beind a cloak of church dogma - pulling and pushing Mr.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Richard Wagner, the author of "Secrecy, Sophistry and Gay Sex In The Catholic Church" is a psychotherapist, a clinical sexologist in private practice for over 30 years and the only Catholic priest in the world with a doctorate in Human Sexuality. His practice includes a special outreach to survivors of clergy sex abuse as well as clergy offenders. Although Dr. Wagner remains a Catholic priest, as he always will in the light of the Church's teaching, he has been deprived of his `priestly faculties' and expelled from his religious order, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, following the publication of his doctoral thesis dealing with the issues of mental health, emotional well-being and self-fulfillment as they affected his brother gay Catholic priests.

"Secrecy, Sophistry and Gay Sex" is a chilling account of the author's decade-spanning battles with his religious order following the publication of his thesis. The work offers a series of glimpses into the inner-workings of the Catholic Church that depart radically from its publicly-espoused moral positions and ethical standards. It is primarily a story about how a secretive, profoundly self-involved institution whose highest ideal is that of self-protection deals with dissent in its midst, and of the sometimes criminal and very often near-criminal extent to which that institution will go to will go to silence a whistle-blower.

Following the 1981 publication of the author's doctoral thesis there was a firestorm of international publicity, the press dubbing its author "The Gay Priest.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Vocation Destroyed August 27, 2011
By seadick
This is one of the most compelling stories I've ever read about the Church's abuse of power. They simply didn't care if they destroyed a vocation. All they cared about was saving face and keeping the truth from the public.

I commend Richard for his courage and strength. And I am so glad that he included his long out of print doctoral thesis. This is the seminal work in this field and it is finally available to the general public.

A must read!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars A sad tale not fully told
This book reads like a court transcript. There is nothing personal, nothing to let you know who the author really is. Read more
Published 7 months ago by g.schoellkopf
5.0 out of 5 stars Exhausting, infuriating, sad, touching and beautiful
Dr. Richard Wagner's book has two distinct parts.

The first tells of his 13 year slow motion collision through the bullying bureaucracy of the Catholic Church as they... Read more
Published 19 months ago by matthew stillman
1.0 out of 5 stars Check his site
The old jesuit saying of "to understand the creature know the creator" applies here. I checked his site "drdicksexadvice. Read more
Published on March 27, 2013 by YD Hellmund
4.0 out of 5 stars This book was informative and interesting.
I thought the most interesting part of the book was the survey, which was very informative even though it was sobering. Read more
Published on January 8, 2013 by Mark E Davenport
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping story of the inner workings of the Catholic Church
Having been raised Catholic and personally knowing a victim of abuse by the Catholic Church, I was really interested in reading this book. Read more
Published on August 18, 2012 by James Dollar
5.0 out of 5 stars A Vocation Destroyed
This is one of the most compelling stories I've ever read about the Church's abuse of power. They simply didn't care if they destroyed a vocation. Read more
Published on September 29, 2011 by seadick
5.0 out of 5 stars An astonishing read - a real ground breaker
If this were a work of fiction it would be a murder mystery. Sadly, it is not fiction; it is a detailed retelling of an actual case. Read more
Published on September 28, 2011 by Marathon Man
4.0 out of 5 stars Caught in the transition
Richard's first person account of his trials with the RC Church hierarchy is a fascinating documentation of a church in transition from one of social justice, mercy and... Read more
Published on September 5, 2011 by Jim Bussen
2.0 out of 5 stars not what I expected
Not really worth the cost. Half the books is an old dissertation, the first half is the experience of this priest. Read more
Published on August 24, 2011 by Tanzguy
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More About the Author

Richard Wagner, Ph.D., ACS -- Richard is psychotherapist/clinical sexologist in private practice since 1981. He lives and works in Seattle, WA.

He has been working with terminally ill, chronically ill, elder and dying people in hospital, hospice, and home settings for over 30 years. He facilitates support groups for care-providers and clinical personnel, and provides grief counseling for survivors both individually and in group settings.

He founded Paradigm Programs Inc., an innovative nonprofit organization as an outreach to and resource for terminally ill, seriously ill, elder and dying people.

He was honored with the prestigious University of California San Francisco Chancellor's Award for Public Service in 1999 for his work with sick, elder and dying people.

He is renowned for his long- and short-term seminars and workshops for healing and helping professionals, sexual minorities, men living with and through prostate cancer, and women and men affected by sex abuse and sexual trauma.

He often speaks in the public forum on policy issues related to religion, human sexuality, aging, death and dying, living with chronic illness, and moral development.


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