McGreevey reportedly applies for priesthood

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

He shocked a nation when he announced he was, in his words, "a gay American." Now former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey has another stunner. He wants to become an Episcopalian priest.

Eyewitness News reporter Jen Maxfield has more from the seminary in Chelsea.

McGreevey has been accepted to the General Theological Seminary. His new career path is just the latest surprising announcement from New Jersey's openly gay former governor.

Jim McGreevey was officially received by his newly-adopted Episcopal religion at St. Bartholomew's Church on Park Avenue in Manhattan last weekend. It is the first step in what will be the lengthy process of becoming a priest.

News of McGreevey's spiritual career path comes just one day after his soon-to-be ex-wife's book, "Silent Partner," hit shelves.

On Wednesday night, she released a statement on her former husband's announcement: "It is the most absurd thing I've ever heard. He needs to be in the spotlight. I am astounded by his arrogance."

The McGreevey's are currently locked in a bitter custody battle of the couple's 5-year-old daughter, Jacqueline. Upon hearing about her estranged husband's desire to enter the priesthood, Dina Matos McGreevey said, "It is the most absurd thing I have ever heard. He needs to be in the spotlight. I am astounded by his arrogance."

The road to becoming an Episcopalian priest will not be an easy one. McGreevey, who was raised Catholic, has been accepted to the General Theological Seminary for its three-year Masters program. But that is no guarantee he will be ordained.

McGreevey is now in the church's "discernment" phase, which involves being an active parishioner for a certain period of time. That would be followed by a process of further discernment at the diocesan level, which includes bishop approval.

Click Here For More on the Discernment Process

McGreevey, a devout Catholic while governor, began attending services at St. Bartholomew's Church after he resigned from office in 2004.

The Episcopal Church has a far more liberal attitude towards homosexuality then Catholics. But even the Episcopal church shies away from ordaining openly gay men who acknowledge they are involved in a current relationship. It is unclear how the church will view the fact that McGreevey is living with his partner. Though the Episcopal church has largely been welcoming to gay parishioners, it is split on the issue of gay clergy.

"We are delighted that members of the gay and lesbian community see us as a place they would like to be," said Reverend Mark Sisk, Episcopal Bishop of New York. "But also, those that want to be part of a church that welcomes all people."

A central point of contention between the McGreeveys in their divorce is whether their 5-year-old daughter, raised Catholic by Matos McGreevey, should be allowed to accept communion while at services with her father. Catholics do not allow receiving communion in an Episcopal church.

McGreevey wrote in his memoir that he considered becoming a Catholic priest as a teenager. Now, at the age of 49, he is once again pursuing that goal.

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