NEW YORK – A Roman Catholic archbishop who resigned in 2002 over a sex and financial scandal involving a man has written a memoir that describes how he struggled with being gay.
Archbishop Rembert Weakland, former head of the Milwaukee archdiocese, "is up front about his homosexuality in a church that preferred to ignore gays," Publisher's Weekly wrote in a review Monday.
The book, "A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church: Memoirs of a Catholic Archbishop," is set to be released in June and is described by the publisher as a self-examination by Weakland of his "psychological, spiritual and sexual growth."
The Vatican says that men with "deep-seated" attraction to other men should not be ordained.
Weakland stepped down quickly after Paul Marcoux, a former Marquette University theology student, revealed in May 2002 that he was paid $450,000 to settle a sexual assault claim he made against the archbishop more than two decades earlier. The money came from the archdiocese.
Marcoux went public at the height of anger over the clergy sex abuse crisis, when Catholics and others were demanding that dioceses reveal the extent of molestation by clergy and how much had been confidentially spent to settle claims.
Weakland denied ever assaulting anyone. He apologized for concealing the payment.
In an August 1980 letter that was obtained by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Weakland said he was in emotional turmoil over Marcoux and signed the letter, "I love you."
"During the last months, I have come to know how strained I was, tense, pensive, without much joy," Weakland wrote. "I felt like the world's worst hypocrite. So gradually I came back to the importance of celibacy in my life."
The revelations rocked the Milwaukee archdiocese, which Weakland had led since 1977. But when he publicly read a letter of apology for the scandal, Milwaukee parishioners gave him a a standing ovation.
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee released a public statement last week alerting local Catholics that the book is soon to be published and that it deals in part with Weakland's relationship with Marcoux and the scandal.
"Some people will be angry about the book, others will support it," the archdiocese said.
Weakland, who has been a hero for liberal Catholics because of his work on social justice and other issues, will also address in the memoirs his failures to stop abusive priests.
In a videotaped deposition released last November, Weakland admitted returning guilty priests to active ministry without alerting parishioners or police.
Advocates for abuse victims said that Weakland's cover up of his own sexual activity was part of a pattern of secrecy that included concealing the criminal behavior of child molesters.
The archbishop did not respond Monday to an e-mail request for comment. Weakland, a Benedictine, plans to move to St. Mary's Abbey in Morristown, N.J., this summer.
U.S. Catholics have long debated whether the priesthood had become a predominantly gay vocation. Estimates vary from 25 percent to 50 percent, according to a review of research on the issue by the Rev. Donald Cozzens, author of "The Changing Face of the Priesthood."
Cozzens, a former seminary rector, said in an interview that Weakland's acknowledgment of his sexual orientation "cuts into the denial that relatively few priests or bishops are gay."
But Russell Shaw, a former spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, questioned whether the book would have much impact.
"That one controversial archbishop acknowledges what everybody's known for several years," Shaw said, "I don't think that's going to make any big difference."