For Immediate Release Wednesday, November 17, 2009
Contact: Phil Attey email: firstname.lastname@example.org
ChurchOuting.org Launched to Expose
Hypocrisy in the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington
WASHINGTON, DC -- A new local Internet and social media campaign was launched today in response to increasing anti-gay attacks by Archbishop Donald Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington and to a 57 page Pastoral Letter, which was passed today by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) affirming the national church leadership’s opposition to recognition of civil marriage between same sex couples.
ChurchOuting.org is a clearinghouse for reports of priests who are openly gay men in social settings yet professionally closeted in their parishes. The campaign will also accept reports of heterosexual priests who are involved in romantic or sexual relationships, yet support the Archbishop's efforts to harm lesbian and gay families.
"Their silence is criminal,” said Phil Attey, founder of ChurchOuting.org. “The increasing anti-gay attacks by the Archbishop and the USCCB not only harm gay and lesbian families seeking civil marriage recognition, but perpetuate the cycle of spiritual and emotional abuse that has harmed countless LGBT Catholic youth for generations." (The very kinds of abuse which precipitated many of the vocations of our gay priests.)
ChurchOuting.org provides an easy to use form to privately report priests in the Archdiocese who engage in romantic or sexual relationships, including detailed stories if available. Reports, once verified, will be used to pressure reported priests to vocally oppose the leadership’s anti-gay efforts, and ultimately to pressure the Archbishop to stop his anti-gay efforts here in Washington.
The ChurchOuting.org campaign was greatly inspired by the work of the Survivors Network of those Sexually Abused by Priests (SNAP), which emerged to stop the cycle of sexual abuse in Catholic parishes across the country. ChurchOuting.org plans to use similar strategies, while taking full advantage of new social media tools like Facebook and Twitter. (Catholic parents owe a huge debt of gratitude to SNAP. No one was more effective in forcing the bishops to the little accountability they have demonstrated regarding the sexual abuse of children--for which they credited themselves in Baltimore. Hopefully this initiative can be as successful for parents of gay children.)
“I expect community response to this campaign to be overwhelming,” says Attey, who hopes once successful in Washington, DC, ChurchOuting.org will inspire similar campaigns in every archdiocese across the country. “The Church hierarchy has crossed the line in diverting the mission of the church from helping the poor and caring for the sick to waging political campaigns to strip LGBT citizens of civil rights protections. We can no longer remain silent while this happens. Nor can our parish priests.”
(I might have written some time back that these kinds of campaigns always result in the destruction of their proponents. A line is always crossed. The inherent fear pushes one too far.)
Considering the vehemence of my own personal reaction to the threat to remove Catholic social services in DC and the just released 'pathological' letter on marriage, I am hardly surprised other "not fully" Catholics have decided to out 'not fully Catholic" priests who prefer hypocrisy to transparency. It appears their worst fear is about to visit them.
There has always been a moral dilemma surrounding outing. In the political sphere, outing has been reserved for those like Larry Craig who were vocal opponents of gay rights while actively pursuing gay sex. It was never the closeted gay sex which triggered the outing, it was the hypocritical attacks on gays. In the case of the Catholic Church, almost all sexually active priests fit this criteria. I don't believe this is an idle threat because the Washington media will cover the activity of this website. They most likely know far more than they've printed about certain ecclesiastical leaders in DC, but didn't want to be the first to print the news the Church didn't want printed. Now they won't have to be the first.
At least those who are exposed will be given the opportunity to own up to their hypocrisy. That's pretty biblical, this notion of personal correction from the brethren before public exposure. This is very much in keeping with the notion of the spiritual virtues and very much in line with what 'real 'Catholics tell their gay brethren. It's all about sin you see and how one deals with sin--real biblical sin. Sins like laying burdens on one's followers that one won't carry oneself. Jesus may not have said anything about homosexuality, but He did say very specific things about burdens and who should carry them.
ChurchOuting.org is exactly the type of independent new media that Cardinal George must be most fearful of and certainly can't control. Best of all, the word Catholic is not in the title of the website. Nor should it be, because the kind of behavior exhibited by Cardinal Wuerl is neither Christian nor Catholic, but it is sadly what passes for Church behavior. The fall out from this initiative will be most interesting to follow.