Confessions of a Gay Priest: A Memoir of Sex, Love, Abuse, and Scandal in the Catholic Seminary

Tom Rastrelli. Univ. of Iowa, $19.95 trade paper (328p) ISBN 978-1-60938-709-9
Rastrelli, a former Catholic priest, recounts in this fraught debut memoir his struggles with sexuality, mental health, and disappointing leadership. As a student and aspiring actor at the University of Northern Iowa, Rastrelli had given up Catholicism until a sermon by the campus priest Scott Bell blindsides him with a sense of being called. He begins to pursue ordination in the mid-1990s, and Bell’s mercurial, demanding affections morph into an ambivalent sexual relationship. Concurrently, Rastrelli begins an ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit against a pediatrician who he claims sexually abused him. Leaving Iowa, Rastrelli finds new friends and real joy at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, though he often overworks himself to avoid confronting his sexuality. There, he describes a guilt-laden sexual relationship with a fellow priest on the cusp of his ordination. Rastrelli’s ordination in 2002 coincides with the exposure of the Boston clergy sex-abuse scandal, and his mental health deteriorates after moving back to Iowa, with hefty pastoral duties and an emotionally abusive, hard-drinking supervising priest. Though the writing is stylish and smooth, the narrative sometimes drags with too much frivolous detail and disappointingly skips over his decision to leave the priesthood. This forceful memoir will immerse readers in the strain of priesthood and the difficulties of living a double life. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 01/28/2020
Release date: 04/01/2020
Genre: Religion
Book - 978-1-60938-710-5
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