A reader writes:

I know so many gay priests, all over the country, and indeed, the world who are disgusted with the double life and the lies and the fear - I used to be one of them.  One of my 50-ish priest friends said, "If I won the lottery, I'd leave in a heartbeat - but as it is, I'm too old to start over, and I can't afford it financially."

If I win the lottery, I'm establishing a fund for these guys to get out.

One option used to be to come out. If you were celibate, what did it matter? And you could then prove the hypocrisy in the Vatican. But Benedict knew this and so shifted the church's position (as he does a lot when it's in his interests but defers to the Holy Spirit when it isn't) to one in which homosexual orientation itself is a bar to the priesthood, regardless of conduct. Even if this cannot be fully enforced, it creates a chilling atmosphere in which gay people are slowly purged from the priesthood and the pews. Which is the point. The undesirables are to be cleansed, or forced to recant their very being.

The profound injustice and cruelty of this is hard to overstate. Meanwhile, the priesthood becomes narrower and narrower - since women are barred, heterosexual men cannot marry (unless they're former Anglicans), and gay men are required to enter a suffocating closet that destroys their mental health. The result is what we all see: a priesthood of such low quality it's almost an ordeal to listen to their homilies. And so the exodus continues, as Thomas P. Barnett explains.

Does it really have to get this bad before it gets better?

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