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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter June 11, 2022

Segmented Secrecy as Catholic Ecclesial Practice: The Case of Gay Priests

  • Brett Hoover


While social scientists have long studied secrecy as a cultural practice, theologians have neglected it as an ecclesial practice. This article examines “segmented secrecy” as an ecclesial practice, that is, secrets kept or divulged in different social networks in a segmented manner. That secrecy is examined in the lives of gay priests in Roman Catholic ecclesial settings in the United States. After a brief sociological analysis of secrecy, the theological analysis reckons first with the ethics of segmented secrecy, arguing for segmented secrecy as a “burdened” form of the virtue of honesty. Next it turns to segmented secrecy as an ecclesial practice, a provisional way of securing protection for marginal persons amidst the larger eschatological protect of the church in the world, despite some moral hazards involved.


Geheimhaltung ist eine kulturelle Praxis, wie die Soziologie seit langem weiß. Die Theologie hingegen hat es bislang versäumt, das Geheimhalten von Informationen auch als eine kirchliche Praxis zu betrachten. Der vorliegende Aufsatz untersucht die „segmentierte Geheimhaltung“ als eine gebrochene Form von Aufrichtigkeit. Er tut dies am Beispiel homosexueller Prieser in der römisch-katholischen Kirche in den USA.

Published Online: 2022-06-11
Published in Print: 2022-07-31

© 2022 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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