Document Type

Article - On Campus Only

Publication Date



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.

Recommended Citation

Hoover, Brett C. "Segmented Secrecy as Catholic Ecclesial Practice: The Case of Gay Priests,” International Journal of Practical Theology 26, no. 1 (2022): 111-129. DOI: 10.1515/ijpt-2021-0015.