Originally Posted by Trebuchet
Bowers v. Hartwick (sp?), upholding a sodomy conviction, was decided in 1993, and only overturned in 2003.
Until 2003, homosexuality was illegal in some places in the US, although rarely enforced for several decades. Going back before that it was indeed a crime and frequently enforced. It was a capital crime in many places for centuries, and still is in a few, although not many where there are a lot of Catholics).
And of course, until about the 60s it was extremely taboo, socially. By the '80s it had started to be a bit more acceptable, and only in the last ten years has it become ok to most people, such that the ones who are not ok with it face more condemnation than the homosexuals themselves. (Of course, that varies from place to place in America.)
But of course, you get the point. For most of the church's history, it was either illegal, or strongly condemned socially, so one could not lead a normal life as a gay person. The Catholic Church provided a place where gay people could attempt to hide from their sexuality, by taking Holy Orders.
It was in the '80s when I started hearing talk about the prevalence of homosexuality among priests and nuns. I don't know if there has been a serious study that could be taken seriously, but I have heard voices from within the church say that the church needs to acknowledge that most of their priests are gay. Not some, but most. I don't know how seriously to take that, but it isn't just anti-Catholic outsiders who say it.