Thursday, November 19, 2009

It Was Only A Matter Of Time--The Backlash Begins

For Immediate Release Wednesday, November 17, 2009
Contact: Phil Attey email: 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. 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 “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.) 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 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. 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, 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. 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.


  1. Perhaps an "amnesty period" should be provided, where gay priests or priests in heterosexual relationships, could be given a span of time to turn themselves in. Like the IRS did with those who evaded taxes with foreign accounts.

    Or an amnesty site of some type for "not fully catholic" folks to affirm their loyal dissent - where clerics can "out" themselves as "not fully catholic" along with the rest of us loyal dissenters - Lepers United!

    P.S. A post is working its way to the surface ... trying to analyze all this. Some images/metaphors. Analysis of the RC caste system and "dynamics" of enforced celibacy etc. (I'm not even at the writing stage yet though.)

  2. Let the backlash begin!

    I have to wonder who might possibly be "fully Catholic?" Maybe the Church should rename itself to the Incredibly Pompous & Fully Hypocritical Roman Catholic Church.

    It is doubtful that anyone of mature conscience could fit in to Cardinal George's definition of "fully Catholic." It does seem, however, that to be fully Catholic, according to the Cardinal, is to be blindly obedient to an authority that is human and prone to err and psychological disorder, as well as ignorance, and political trends.

    That makes me "less than Catholic" to those who say they are "fully Catholic." Less is More if you ask me.

    The idea to want to label people into "less than" or "fully" is craziness and pathological and has nothing to do with love.

    My neighbors are not to be labeled "less than" me. There is nothing that I have read in the scriptures to indicate that I should begin to label and identify anyone as "less than" myself.

    Cardinal George's statement defining Catholics as "less than Catholic" crosses another line that truly is not even scripturally based, but is narrowly defined by his own prejudices.

    Let the backlash begin.

  3. Well, I just breathed a sigh of relief upon reading this post. So it finally begins, and may the whole house of cards come tumbling down. Thank you Jesus (no irony intended).

  4. As a Footnote: The scriptural context I derive my conclusions from:

    "Love thy neighbor as thy self."

  5. Fully Catholic:

    A new form of vainglory!

  6. It was only a matter of time before this sort of thing started.

  7. Jayden, we are on the same wavelength, because those were exactly my sentiments. The battle to cleanse this church has begun and the sword is Truth.

    There is no future for Catholicism unless this cleansing of the clerical system is accomplished. Should this fail, what will remain will be a small remnant (cult) with little or no credibility as truly Christian.

    I wrote over at Bill's blog, that this is not about Jesus turning His back on the Church. In a sense it's another form of Him saying to Peter, "get behind me satan."

    The trouble with being fully Catholic is that it's only partially Christian.

  8. When leaders of Churches or Nations or States or Corporations cross the line towards evil ends against their neighbors they will be held accountable by those they are supposed to serve with integrity and truth and justice, in order to uphold and secure integrity, truth and justice.

    If that be called "dissent" to call them out of their hypocrisy and false witness against their neighbors, then it is the best sort of dissent, a deserved as well as earned and honest dissent for the common good.

  9. Colleen, as I have written before, on your comments and at Queering the Church, I fully support the principle of outing those clergy who are actively opposing us. But I have two reservations about this particular project.

    First, is that it fails to recognise the extremely difficult position that priests are in, or the full nature of a priest's job. Coming out should always be a fully personal decision - while an ideal to be encouraged for all. Some people simply face serious practical dangers in going public, priests more than anyone else. Not only do they face the very real prospect of losing their jobs (and homes with them), but also their entire careers. If an engineer or accountant loses his job, there will be other employers. For a priest? Not all will have the courage and resilience of Fr Geoff Farrow. To argue that by not speaking out publicly, they are effectively supporting the bishops, also misunderstands the role of the priest, particularly parish priests. Their job is not only, or even primarily, about publicly speaking out on anything outside a Sunday homily, but about pastoral care. Very many priests at the personal level are far more sensitive, even supportive, to us than the official teaching would expect. Homilies also can be carefully coded to offer support to those who need it, without being obviously dissident. To indiscriminately out any sexually active priest who has not actively opposed the bishops is overkill and heartless. They should instead be aiming at the leadership (begin with Donna Wuerl), and at those who actively support them. Mere silence, in this instance is not consent, but passive resistance.

    My second reservation is that the site restricts itself to DC. Why? The problem is not just a local one - that is merely the present site of struggle. Last month it was Maine, next year it will be somewhere else.

    The founders of this movement may be DC locals, but a website need not be geographically limited.

  10. Colleen, I posted and then saw yours about the sword of Truth. We're on the same wavelength too.

  11. Terence, I read the entire website before I posted this article. Some of your concerns are addressed. The initiators seem to know what they are about and that this isn't quite the same situation as politicians. They are perfectly aware of the fact that priests are in a very difficult position.

    I personally think their real targets are Cardinal Uncle Ted and Cardinal Donna Wuerl.

  12. While holding fast to the reality that that deep interior conversion the Gospel calls each of us to--in spirit and truth--would in His sublime action eventually free many here from this temporary preoccupation with the politics of flesh (Read: MK 12: 24-25), I agree with Terence partially—“To indiscriminately out any sexually active priest/or anyone is overkill and heartless…

    The website purports to “help end the cycle of spiritual abuse” while remaining blind to the fact that that is exactly what it will achieve, spiritual abuse and emotional slaughter… Really, think about it, is it not an attempt to “get at the institution” by trampling over someone’s heart?

    From the website: “Even more shameful, is that many of these priests, while remaining silent, actually lead duplicitous lives rich with romantic and sexual relationships -- both homosexual and heterosexual…”

    So what’s to learn here about a duplicitous life caused by sin? Sin is sin, and by definition, like its thorny spiritual father, marked by deliberate deceptiveness in behavior or speech—Public or private, seen or unseen…

    And the site will perpetuate the same.

    May each and every one of us in the end be found worthy and made like unto the Angels,

    james mary

  13. James Mary thank you for writing. I believe the majority of Bishops need to be "free ... from this temporary preoccupation with the politics of flesh."

    It is rather the Bishops that are doing a very good job at doing just that at their meeting this week and in Washington, D.C., and in a particularly evil & hypocritical way.

    It's very easy though for the Church hierarchy to out Fr. Roy Bourgeois isn't it?

    Very easy for the Church hierarchy to out Louise Akers, Sr. Louise, and many others, isn't it?

    Very easy for the Church hierarchy to out all gays from their civil rights and threaten to abandon the poor unless it gets its way, isn't it?

    Very easy for the Church hierarchy to dish it out against others, fire them, refuse them their civil rights, not hear their side of the story, condemn them, deny them Communion, threaten them?

    Truth? I doubt you want to hear about Truth.

  14. No, this is just snooping, scapegoating, and blackmail -- not the way to advance any decent cause.

  15. Fratres, I appreciate your comment. In some respects I have the same concerns, but based on past history with pedophelia, the clerical system can not be trusted to clean up it's own act.

    You are right though, the system as it currently stands abuses priests just as some priests sexually abuse others. I have prayed for a long time the clerical caste itself would say enough, lets look at the system, but it doesn't. The fault is never the system, it's the fault of gay priests. Well if that true, why haven't our bishops outed their own gay priests or heterosexually active clergy? Instead they perpetuate the system, participate in it, and cover up the sexual activity. Where's the conversion?

    The laity has never had any say in the structure of the clerical system. Historically, the laity enabled this system to operate with impunity out of 'concern' for the good of the Church. We thought it wasn't our place to evaluate the behavior of priests, that was God's job and the bishops.

    God doesn't seem to have done a very good job and the bishops are too vested in the system, especially the head bishop in Rome.

    Justice is not blind, nor is it two tiered. We are all equal through baptism. In the end a priest's heart is not more or less valuable than anyone else's.

    This kind of strategy could have been avoided, but the Vatican is hell bent on promoting sexual issues as the central focus in their culture wars. Perhaps they should have focused on relational love rather than sex. Love actually has something to do with the heart.

  16. The problem, in my view, is the enforced celibacy. If they "keep" it, they risk falling into the sin of pride. If they fail to keep it, then they will hurt someone. No relationship with an RCC clergy person can be anything other than exploitative. Anything that has to be kept secret is an abuse to the other person involved. It's like an adulterous relationship. It leaves the other party always "second" - and that is a violation of a committed love relationship.

    Whether the priest is gay or straight is not the issue. But enforced celibacy for priests (who are not part of an order where they make vows and have a brotherhood to sustain them) is setting that man up for failure of one sort or another. And setting innocent people up to be exploited.

    Should they be outed? Well, that's for each individual to decide. But I can tell you that once you find out someone is in a secret relationship, the hypocrisy is what turns you off. Particularly if they are publicly castigating others for the sins in which they themselves participate!

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. Here's the crux of the matter:

    Because the church demands priests remain celibate, they have never considered the morality and ethics involved in priestly (illicit) sexual behavior. Thus, these priests have no moral compass to guide them - to help them see that even if they "stray" - the harm is not to their soul, but to the OTHER PERSON!

    It's not the sex per se that's wrong. It's the treatment of the other, because a priest is, in effect, married to the church, and thus will never be available to the "beloved" in a way that is fair to the beloved.

    As I say, these things have not been thought through, because the church will not recognize the source and existence of the problem!

  19. TheraP I think you are right on target with these last comments. Virtually every priest I've ever talked with has most notions of sex compartmentalized. (Actually guys in general seem to be good at compartmentalizing.) The idea of sexuality as an integrated part of a holistic loving relationship is just not there. It can't be when the prime function of sex is constantly stressed as a function of biological procreativity.

    I also agree completely that any relationship with a priest is almost always exploitive. The secrecy alone makes it exploitive without adding the difference in perceived status. It is at best adultery, not that that's a good thing, and at worse flat abuse.
    That's only on a relational level, on a church level it's pure hypocrisy.

    Since the Church has traditionally been unable and unwilling, to enforce male celibacy, it's time to change the system. A system that fails 50% of the time is not a good system.

  20. Just got that post up that's been percolating - not yet on your sidebar:

    If any of your readers think it's worthy, there's a "recommend button" below the post.

    Also, for anyone who'd like to excerpt huge chunks or even the whole thing, feel free.

    Peace be with you. And thanks, colleen, for your very supportive comment just above this.

  21. I would focus on the bishops. They have the position. Priests have enough to work through and can always be stepped on by a bishop. "Out" the bishops especially if they are taking the Vatican line and are gay or sexualloy active!

  22. Wild hair is 100% correct. The people who put together this campaign don't understand how the Catholic Church works. Priests, under canon law, have very few rights. Many fewer than lay men and women. They are told they are not priests on their own but "share in the priesthood of their ordinary"--the bishop who runs their diocese. They are not permitted to make public statments contradicting him. The focus of this group should be more specific: focusing on outing gay bishops who are working against gay people. Take Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre (Long Island). He drafted the letter signed by all eight New York state bishops which was sent to all New York state senators this past summer instructing them to vote against gay marriage should it come up for a vote on the senate floor. He's gay, and the men he surrounds himself with at the chancery are gay. You can find him in his box at the Metropolitan Opera humming the sexted from Lucia. Leave regular gay priests alone. Their life is tough enough, and without them we'd have a much less pastoral group of priests working in our churches.

  23. Edward Cardinal Egan is well known for his opera box at the NYC Metropolitan Opera......ditto Murphy of Rockville Center.

    In 2006, Fr. Robert Hoatson, filed a federal lawsuit citing (jointly & severally) the Archdioceses of NY & Newark, NJ plus the Dioceses of Albany, Brooklyn, & the Christian Brothers order in a massive RICO style sex abuse coverup. Hoatson had been a victim as a youth & continually while a priest. In his brief, filed in the NYS Southern District Federal Court, he not only charged the following prelates as co-conspirators in the above, but outed as being actively gay:

    Egan (NYC), Hubbard (Albany), McCarrick (from NYC originally, then Paterson & Newark, NJ dioceses) were among the prelates listed, along with certain key chancery ppl & superiors of the Christian Brothers.

    A google search should pull up much info on this & even the text of the brief.

    Hoatson's federal lawsuit was dismissed (by a judge with tight links to the Archdiocese of NY) & his attorney cited for 'bringing a frivolous lawsuit'.

    Hardly frivolous!!! We all know the tales of Eddie Egan, Uncle Ted, and.....'Howie".

  24. Thanks for the comments one and all. Just a couple of thoughts. I'm not sure I buy the Nuremburg defense for priests. Joining the system is a choice, supporting the system is a choice, violating celibacy is a choice. Choices have consequences.

    Blackmail is a two way street. The secrecy priests insist on from their sexual partners is also a form of emotional blackmail.

    As for conservatives, they are as much or more to blame for this state of affairs than sexually active priests. It's their myth and their Christology all the deceit is supposed to uphold and validate.

    Matt, Wuerl signing the Manhattan Manifesto is more than just a signature. It's a very big red flag concerning just how far the IRD has penetrated certain sections of Catholicism under their guise of real Christianity.

    I find it very telling that there is not one LDS signatory, even though the Mormon church is as pro life and anti gay marriage as any other of the Churches represented in the list of signers. Why is that I wonder? Could it be because the LDS church presents a much more unified front--much more difficult to split between social justice and culture war issues-- or because these other signers think the Mormon church is a personality cult. Of course, some of these signers have no problem taking Mormon money for their pet culture war issues.

    I guess when it comes to war the end always justifies the means. Perhaps it's the same with 'outing'.

  25. "When it comes to war, the end always justifies the means" -- spoken like Bush and Rumsfeld. Is that what you really want?

  26. No, what I really want is for the silent majority in the center to stand up and say enough, this gay crusade is just wrong. Gay marriage is no threat to my marriage and certainly isn't worth pulling social services, betraying a core mission Jesus asked of us.

    If that's not going to happen, then I guess other things will happen. Jesus over threw a few tables in His anger with the path of institutional Judaism.


    50 of 190 US bishops gave money to bishop malone of maine to fund the repeal of gay marriage there. here are there names. put monopoly money in the collection plates in these dioceses. and say a word of thanks to the 140 US bishops who probably risked looking bad in the eyes of the conservatives by telling malone to take a hike.

  28. Good point Matt. The only comment I have made on this fund shifting is that I was glad neither of my bishops, the old one and the new one, had anything to do with this. And you are right, we should never lose sight of the 140+ who chose to tell Malone to take a hike.