Gay Priest John McNeill (1925-2015): Stories of a Passionate & Prophetic Witness

Gay Priest John McNeill (1925-2015): Stories of a Passionate & Prophetic Witness

John J. McNeill, an Irish-American priest from Buffalo, New York, was a POW in Nazi Germany and a voice for peace during the Vietnam War. A pioneer of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ) liberation, McNeill co-founded Dignity New York in 1972.  He was an author of best-selling books on Catholicism and homosexuality.  His groundbreaking 1976 book The Church and Homosexual has been translated into many languages and inspired countless persons throughout the world.   In 1977 and in 1983, McNeill was silenced for speaking and writing on issues of homosexuality by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. For disobedience to this order, John was expelled from the Jesuit community in 1987.  For his courageous witness and ministry as therapist and theologian to the LGBTQ community he was honored as Grand Marshal of the NYC Pride Parade in 1987.

On Thursday, January 12, 2023, in this inspiring program, Brendan Fay, director of the award-winning film Taking A Chance on God, shared film clips, artifacts and stories from McNeill's life and journey. Mary E. Hunt, Ph.D. offered reflections on her interactions with this courageous gay priest.

Brendan Fay is an Irish-American human rights activist and filmmaker. He has been active on campaigns for immigration reform, civil marriage, HIV/AIDS awareness, inclusive parades, cultural hospitality, policing reform and human rights and nuclear disarmament. His film work includes: producing the Silence to Speech documentary series on being Irish and Gay in America; director of Remembering Mychal (2021) about the New York Fire Department chaplain who died tragically on September 11 2001; and associate producer of the award-winning Edie and Thea - A Very Long Engagement. His film about John McNeill, Taking a Chance on God (2012, 2016) has been translated into Polish, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese.

Mary E. Hunt, Ph.D. is a feminist theologian who is cofounder and codirector of the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual (WATER) in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA. A Catholic active in the women-church movement, she lectures and writes on theology and ethics with particular attention to social justice concerns. Hunt is the author of Fierce Tenderness: A Feminist Theology of Friendship (Crossroad Publishing Company, 1991) and numerous articles that have appeared in the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Concilium, Conscience, Religion Dispatches, and Mandragora. She has edited or coedited many other books and publications.


McNeill, John J. | Hunt, Mary E. | Dignity | Clergy Activist | Catholic (Roman) | Theology | Author/editor | New York | New York City