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Germany

The Double Lives – And Second Lives – Of Gay Priests

Peter Priller was a Catholic town chaplain in Germany until he fell in love with a male parishioner, and was subsequently excommunicated. Though many closeted gay Catholic priests live in “secret societies,” Priller says there are other choices.

Members of the Rosa Alter group at a rally in Germany
Members of the Rosa Alter group at a rally in Germany
Ingrid Hügenell

MUNICH -- Peter Priller is a priest. He's also gay. For a long time he assumed he could reconcile the two by leading a celibate life. So in 1991 he was ordained and became a chaplain in the Bavarian town of Bad Tölz. Soon after, however, he realized it just wasn't going to work.

"I was conducting 11 o'clock mass one morning when I noticed this guy with a mustache," he says, laughing wistfully. The man was Josef Hanfstängl, who became the young chaplain's life partner in 1992. They were still together when Hanfstängl died in 2009.

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