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AIDS quilt photos

Read the followup to this series


The Rev. Dennis Rausch
Rich Sugg/The Star
The Rev. Dennis Rausch, a priest who has AIDS, celebrates Mass at St. Maurice Catholic Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "You can survive as a priest with AIDS," Rausch says. "Your life hasn't ended." At left is Ron Gouthro, a deacon.
Catholic priests are dying of AIDS, often in silence
Hundreds of Roman Catholic priests across the United States have died of AIDS-related illnesses, and hundreds more are living with HIV, the virus that causes the disease. It appears priests are dying of AIDS at a rate at least four times that of the general U.S. population.
Priests speak out in national survey
Six of 10 Roman Catholic priests in The Kansas City Star's survey know at least one priest who died of an AIDS-related illness, and one-third know a priest currently living with AIDS.
About The Star's survey
AIDS, gay-related issues trouble many denominations
The Roman Catholic church may be the nation's largest denomination, but it isn't the only one grappling with the issues of homosexuality and AIDS. Many denominations have lost clergy to AIDS, and numerous churches are mired in battles over whether to ordain homosexuals or to perform same-sex marriages.
Homosexuality, AIDS and celibacy: the church's views
The Roman Catholic Church has no national policy on dealing with priests who have HIV or AIDS. Nor does the church have specific guidelines on educating priests about sexuality. Priests and seminarians are expected to rely on church doctrine on homosexuality and celibacy and to follow their bishop's or superior's lead in ministering to colleagues afflicted with AIDS.
Florida priest finds acceptance after devastating news
In early 1989, the Rev. Dennis Rausch was thinking about leaving the priesthood. Though ordained for nearly a decade and serving as Catholic chaplain at a Florida university, Rausch felt unfulfilled. Then he tested positive for HIV.
Priests' stories carry crucial messages

The credibility and worth of any newspaper series should rest squarely on the stories themselves, not on columns such as this one. Our series beginning today on AIDS in the Catholic priesthood is no exception. That's why I urge you to read our coverage for yourself.


Dennis Dobbels
Rich Sugg/The Star
Dennis Dobbels reflects on the death of his half-brother, the Rev. William Dobbels, during a visit to Mount St. Mary's Cemetery in Kansas City. "Yes, I know how Bill got AIDS," Dennis says. "But to me, the fact that somebody died of AIDS is irrelevant. The question is, what kind of person were they?"
Seminary taught spirituality, liturgy and Latin -- sexuality was taboo
The young men came from Kansas, Missouri, Colorado and Texas. They were united as novices at St. Stanislaus Seminary in Florissant, Mo. Critics say St. Stanislaus represents a missed opportunity to prevent the subsequent spread of AIDS in the priesthood.
Journal reveals pain, acceptance
This couldn't be happening. Not to him. Not to his family. And certainly not to his half-brother. William Josef Dobbels was dying of AIDS. Father William Dobbels. A Roman Catholic priest.
Issue prompting church to deal with homosexuality among priests
The AIDS-related deaths of hundreds of its priests force the Roman Catholic Church to acknowledge a reality that it has tried to avoid for centuries. A significant number of its clergy are gay.


The Rev. Thom Savage
Rich Sugg/The Star
An oil painting of the Rev. Thom Savage was displayed in the sanctuary of St. Francis Xavier Church in Kansas City during a memorial service in May. Savage, a former president of Rockhurst College who died of AI DS, kept his illness a secret for years.
Those who counsel priests with AIDS say the church must be more open
As the Rev. Thom Savage's death illustrates, a priest with AIDS is still a matter so sensitive that it has yet to be fully addressed by the church, by priests' families -- or even by the priests themselves. Experts say that until the church starts enco uraging a more healthy understanding of sexuality, priests will continue to die of AIDS.
Vibrant leader kept AIDS secret
Christmas was the Rev. Thom Savage's big day of the year. But when he flew home to Boston for the holidays at the end of 1998, something wasn't right. Less than five months later, Father Thom Savage died of AIDS.

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