Posted in category "Lesbians & Gays"
In what can only be described as an effort to shorten long communion lines, on July 1, 2016, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, announced that pastors in his diocese were not to distribute communion to couples who are divorced and civilly remarried, as well as couples who are cohabitating.
The directive was issued as part of his plan for implementing Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love).
Archbishop Chaput also addressed the pastoral care of lesbian and gay people. He wrote that pastors must prudentially judge an appropriate response to couples who “present themselves openly in a parish.”
He continued – “But two persons in an active, public same-sex relationship, no matter how sincere, offer a serious counter-witness to Catholic belief, which can only produce moral confusion in the community. Such a relationship cannot be accepted into the life of the parish without undermining the faith of the community, most notably the children. Finally, those living open same-sex lifestyles should not hold positions of responsibility in a parish, nor should they carry out any liturgical ministry.”
The operative words are “open” and “public.” It appears that same-sex couples, or single gay and lesbian parishioners, are welcome to carry on as usual provided they are closeted and unmarried.
Surprisingly, Chaput did not address the issue of married parishioners who use birth control. They are easy to spot these days, since it is very rare to see a mother and father with 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 or more children sitting in a pew together.
He did also not address the issue of gay priests holding leadership positions or carrying out liturgical functions.
On the opposite side of the country, Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, California took a slightly different tack: “My own view,” the bishop said, “is that much of the destructive attitude of many Catholics to the gay and lesbian community is motivated by a failure to comprehend the totality of the church’s teaching on homosexuality.”
That teaching includes the conviction that “moral sexual activity only takes place within the context of marriage between a man and a woman.” But, “that’s not a teaching which applies just to gay men,” Bishop McElroy said. “It is a teaching across the board, and there is massive failure on that.”
Bishop McElroy said that all Christians are called to a life of virtue, in emulation of Christ. Chastity is among the virtues of that life, and an important one, “but it does not have the uniquely pre-eminent role in determining the character of a disciple of Christ, nor one’s relationship with the church.”
Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, 79, the head of the Catholic church in the Dominican Republic, is back in the news after ripping U.S. ambassador James “Wally” Brewster about comments he had made about corruption in the Dominican Republic.
In a meeting with reporters after Mass, Cardinal Lopez accused Brewster of promoting a gay rights agenda on Dominican soil. “That man needs to go back to his embassy,” he sneered. “Let him focus on housework, since he’s the wife to a man.”
Lopez’s comments came after Brewster accused police officers of threatening and assaulting several U.S. investors who were attending a conference organized by the local government.
“Imagine the horror I felt when I got a call from one of them, telling me they had been stopped by a uniformed police officer, that they had a weapon pointed at them and that they were forced to turn over their wallets,” Brewster said.
This isn’t the first time Cardinal Lopez has been nasty with Ambassador Brewster in public.
In June 2013, when Wally Brewster was named ambassador, Lopez called him a faggot in a news conference, and said, “I don’t agree in the least with that kind of preference (homosexuality).”
Santo Domingo auxiliary bishop Pablo Cedano also weighed in, adding the naming of the new U.S. ambassador “is far from our cultural reality” and “hopes” that Brewster doesn’t come to the country, because if he does, he “will suffer and have to leave.” Choosing a former gay activist as ambassador to the Dominican Republic “was a lack of sensitivity, of respect by the United States.”
One day in 2012, prominent television reporter, Ms. Nuria Piera, received a tip that many afternoons the papal nuncio drank beer at a waterfront restaurant and then went off with young boys. The restaurant was in an area of the national capital, Santo Domingo, known for male prostitutes.
Ms. Piera sent a video crew to keep watch. The crew shot some footage of Archbishop Wesolowski drinking alone and walking along the promenade. When he noticed their presence, he went over to their car and smacked his hand against it, asking why they were following him. After that incident, Ms. Piera said, he disappeared from the waterfront. “I suspected that there may have been a leak from our own office,” Ms. Piera said.
On June 24, 2013 Francisco Javier Occi Reyes, a Roman Catholic deacon and sometime sex partner for Archbishop Wesolowski, was arrested by police for solicitation of minors and taken to jail. He later told police at the time of his arrest he was “pimping” a youngster for Wesolowski, who was waiting in his car nearby.
The deacon said Wesolowski left the scene, and said nothing because he thought the church’s influence would get him out of jail.
But when no one came to bail him out–and the deacon understood he would stay in jail a long time before trial–he sent a letter to be hand delivered to Wesolowski’s office. The letter, dated July 2nd, may have expressed contrived or genuine remorse, but either way it ended Wesolowski’s diplomatic career.
“We have offended God” and the church, the letter said, by sexually abusing children and adolescents “for crumbs of money.” The deacon wrote that he had agreed to find child victims for the nuncio so that “your sexual appetite can be satiated,” but that he was now asking God for forgiveness.
The deacon sent copies of the same letter to Cardinal Lopez and also his bishop, Gregorio Nicanor Pena Rodriguez. The cardinal quietly carried the letter and other evidence to the Vatican, where he met directly with Pope Francis.
Neither the cardinal, nor other church officials, reported the allegations of abuse to the authorities.
On August 23, 2013 Archbishop Wesolowski was secretly recalled to Rome. Six days later, Cardinal Lopez called the papal nuncio “a great friend and promoter of peace.” Lopez told news media he didn’t know what prompted the call, and suggested it might have been the result of a personal conflict with Puerto Rico’s archbishop, Roberto Octavio Gonzalez Nieves.
Interesting side story…Archbishop Gonzalez has been accused by Vatican emissaries of allegedly protecting pedophile priests, abusing his power, promoting Puerto Rican independence from the U.S., and supporting a law that would grant same-sex couples living together the rights of inheritance, hospital visits and health coverage. Wesolowski was among those pressuring him to step down as Puerto Rico’s archbishop and take a position elsewhere. The ultra conservative Life Site News has an interesting story on Archbishop Gonzalez’ political battles.
The attorney general for the Dominican Republic, Mr. Francisco Dominguez Brito, and the district attorney for Santo Domingo, Ms. Yeni Berenice Reynoso Gomez, both said they learned of the sexual abuse allegations against Archbishop Wesolowski from Ms. Piera’s television reports, which were broadcast in September 2013. The program included a 13-year-old boy who said he had been abused.
Ms. Reynoso said her investigators had identified several children aged 12-17, mainly from very poor neighborhoods, with whom the papal nuncio had sexual contact, but indicated there were likely more.
The 17-year-old had epilepsy, and the nuncio gave him medicine in exchange for sex acts, starting when the boy was 13. “This is the most terrible case that I have ever seen,” said the district attorney. “He was abusing kids who were living in extreme poverty, in exchange for pills for a boy’s illness.”
“He definitely seduced me with money,” 17-year-old Francis Aquino Aneury told The New York Times. He was 14 when the man he met shining shoes began offering him increasing larger sums for sex acts. “I felt very bad. I knew it wasn’t the right thing to do, but I needed the money. Aquino told the Times reporter that Wesolowski would watch him masturbate, would touch him, or touch himself. Another report mentioned Wesolowski would film oral sex acts on his cell phone.
Ms. Reynoso felt strongly that the case should have been prosecuted in the Dominican Republic, not the Vatican. “These children who were abused, and their families, and the Dominican society, have a legitimate right to see Jozef Wesolowski judged by a jury–not as a diplomat, but for what he really is,” she said. “A child abuser.”
Soon after the television report and other local media coverage on allegations of sexual misconduct by Archbishop Wesolowski and Wojciech Gill, a fellow Polish priest and friend, Cardinal Lopez confirmed he had gone to the Vatican to address the matter, but left it to the Vatican to investigate.
Archbishop Wesolowski conveniently departed in late August before the news story broke in early September.
After the story broke in the Dominican Republic news media, and it was clear Archbishop Wesolowski would not be back, Cardinal Lopez began to voice support for the investigation of the former papal nuncio and other pedophile priests.
In a letter signed as archbishop of Santo Domingo and as president of the Dominican bishops conference, Cardinal Lopez called for a “purification of the Church and for the removal of those who unworthily exercise this ministry and do not deserve to be called priests.”
“In recent weeks,” the letter sent on, “the public has been shocked repeatedly by embarrassing behavior in different areas of the country by clergy members of the Catholic Church, who we expect and ought to behave differently,” stated Cardinal Lopez.
Without mentioning any specific names or cases, the cardinal prayed, “Jesus, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing and they are hurting the heart of the Church and faith of many people.”
The “root problem” of clergy abuse, Cardinal Lopez said, “is an undetermined number” of candidates preparing for priesthood who “do not have an authentic vocation” and who “during formation are able to feign something they are not, and if formation directors are not careful, they sneak into the clergy, and later the bishops pay the consequences for their excesses and turmoil.”
After his recall to the Vatican, Archbishop Wesolowski was given a few months to prepare for his defense. He was tried first by a canonical court, and on June 27, 2014 he was found guilty of sex abuse by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He was laicized shortly following the decision.
On September 23, 2014, Vatican criminal proceedings against Wesolowski started. He was allowed to remain under house arrest because of medical reasons.
Vatican prosecutors accused Wesolowski of sexually abusing children in the Dominican Republic where he worked from 2008 to 2013 at the Vatican’s ambassador. They said he picked up poor boys on the waterfront, paid them for sex acts, and took pornographic photos of them. He was also accused of offending “Christian morality” by repeatedly logging into pornographic sites involving minors in the Dominican Republic and the Vatican following his recall.
Wesolowski was indicted in June 2015 and a trial date set for July 11, 2015.
On July 10th, Wesolowski collapsed at his residence and was admitted to an intensive care unit in an Italian hospital for an “unexpected illness.” The trial was postponed, and no new date was set for its resumption. He was treated for “a serious drop in blood pressure, due to the heat and tension, as well as his age.”
Jozef Wesolowski died at his residence on August 28, 2015. He was 67.
A statement released by the Holy See Press Office shared the news, stating the initial investigations done by Vatican authorities “indicate that he died of natural causes” in the early hours of the morning.
His body was found at about 5 AM by a priest who lived in the same building, which houses the Franciscans who hear confessions in St. Peter’s Basilica, as well as offices of the Vatican police force. Wesolowski was in front of a TV which was on.
During Wesolowski’s funeral in a Vatican administrative palazzo’s chapel, eight minutes of silence replaced a homily. Celebrating the Mass was a Polish prelate, Monsignor Konrad Krajewski, who is Pope Francis’ chief alms-giver. He was returned to his native Poland for burial.
The results of the autopsy were released on December 14, 2015. The conclusion of the report, which was submitted to the Chancellor’s Office of the Vatican City State Court of the First Instance, confirmed what had already emerged from the post mortem examination: Msgr. Jozef Wesolowski died of heart failure.
Another convenient departure?
Since Msgr. Wesolowski was not brought to trial, there were no ugly details, names, dates, faces, encounters for the press to paw over. His story faded quietly with the end of the year.
In February 2006, John C. Nienstedt, Bishop of New Ulm, Minnesota, dedicated his monthly column to “Moral Corruption.”
“Two recent events alerted me to the fact that our society is indeed on a slide toward moral corruption,” he began. The first dealt with assisted suicide, “the second event involves the movie, ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ which I do not recommend for your viewing,” he cautioned.
“Hollywood seeks to make this film into a contemporary version of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ with, of course, the necessary changes in gender. The story is about two lonely cowboys herding sheep up a mountain range. One night after a drinking binge, one man makes a pass at the other and within seconds the latter mounts the former in an act of wanton anal sex. This sets off a lustful passion in both men that ‘grabs hold of them’ and they find impossible to control.”
“I wonder if the trend makers in Hollywood really think they know where this is leading us as we slide further and further down the slope of immorality. Surely they must be aware that they have turned their backs on God and the standards of God in their quest to make evil look so attractive.”
Arcbhishop Nienstedt Under Investigation
Eight years later, on July 1, 2014, Commonweal Magazine reported that John C. Nienstedt, now 67 and Archbishop of Minneapolis and St. Paul, is under investigation for inappropriate sexual behavior with men.
Jennifer Hasselberger, former chancellor for canonical affairs for the archdiocese turned whistle blower, said she was interviewed April 16, 2014 by two attorneys from the Minneapolis law firm Greene Espel for the investigation. Among the investigators’ topics was the nature of Archbishop Nienstedt’s relationship with the Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer, 48.
Wehmeyer pleaded guilty in 2012 to sexually abusing two brothers, ages 12 and 14. They were sons of a parish employee at Blessed Sacrament Church, where Wehmeyer served as pastor. Nienstedt appointed him to the position despite evidence of sexual misconduct in previous years. On February 1, 2013 Wehmeyer was convicted of 20 counts of child sex abuse and child pornography and sentenced to five years in prison.
Neinstedt was investigated in December 2013 for inappropriately touching a boy during a photo shoot following a confirmation ceremony in May 2009. According to the investigation, following the ceremony, the boy told his mother that Nienstedt touched his buttocks.
In a later interview with police, the accuser said that during the photograph session Nienstedt’s hand had moved down his back to his buttocks, and that he thought it was “creepy,” but did not feel violated.
After locating the photograph of the accuser with Nienstedt, police observed that the group is arranged on the stairs and the archbishop is standing one step higher than the accuser. So, it appeared that Nienstedt would have to bend to reach the boy’s buttocks and any such action would likely be witnessed by others present. Based on the investigation, the attorney’s office decided there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Nienstedt.
Nienstedt Hard on Gay Catholic Families
Archbishop Nienstedt had a reputation of being very tough on gay people, and has made homosexuality his signature issue. He famous (or infamous) for spending $650,000 on DVDs and a PR campaign to persuade Minnesota citizens to vote against same-sex marriage. (It passed). But his curt response to a Catholic mother who wrote to him in April 2010 pleading for acceptance for her gay child stands out for its utter lack of feeling:
“I write to inform you,” the letter begins, “that the teaching of the Catholic Church on homosexuality, as described in paragraphs 2357 and 2358 and 2359 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is rooted in Scripture and based on Natural Moral Law. It, therefore, shares in God’s revelation to us. Catholics are bound in conscience to believe this teaching. Those who do not cannot consider themselves to be Catholic and ought not to participate in the sacramental life of the Church.”
“Indeed, some might find this a hard saying but many of Jesus’ teachings were likewise received as such. I urge you to reconsider the position you expressed in your letter. Your eternal salvation may well depend upon a conversation of heart on on this topic.”
I think the Archbishop meant “conversion” vs “conversation” but the end result is the same–if the mother didn’t change her views and withdraw support from her child she was facing eternal damnation.
A gay man, Gregg Larson, confronted Archbishop Nienstedt while he was at dinner in a restaurant with another man. Larson broke Nienstedt’s marriage DVD in front of him, along with his letter requiring all Catholics to support the ban. Larson then told Nienstedt that he had heard rumors that the archbishop was a closeted gay man, saying that if the rumors were true, the prelate was a hypocrite.
The archbishop responded, “You shouldn’t believe rumors,” to which Larson allegedly retorted, “Methinks thou dost protest too much.” “And at that point he kind of raised his hand and snarled ‘Get out!’ And I responded that his behavior was unbecoming of an archbishop and that maybe we needed an exorcist here…The other priest said that we were ruining their dinner and my partner said that they were ruining people’s lives.”
Things began to unravel for Archbishop Nienstedt in April 2013 when Elizabeth Hasselberger resigned her post as chancellor for canonical affairs for the archdiocese. She left in frustration after Nienstedt failed to report or discipline clergy suspected of sex abuse. Hasselberger began leaking internal documents to the press that appeared to detail efforts to shield abusers.
Late in 2013 the archdiocese began receiving a series of allegations that Nienstedt had a string of improper relationships with men or had made unwanted advances on others. This was around the same time as the buttocks-touching incident surfaced.
Former chancellor Elizabeth Hasselberger believes the investigators from Greene Espel have received “ten sworn statements alleging sexual impropriety on the part of the archbishop dating from his time as a priest in the Archdiocese of Detroit, as Bishop of New Ulm, and while coadjutor and archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis.” She told a reporter that “he also stands accused of retaliating against those who refused his advances or otherwise questioned his conduct.”
In a written statement, Archbishop Nienstedt responded that the allegations or nothing more than a “personal attack against me due to my unwavering stance on issues consistent with church teaching, such as opposition to so-called same-sex marriage.” He also suspects that accusers are coming forward because of “difficult decisions” he has made, but, citing privacy laws, he would not elaborate.
Questions from the Censor Liborum
1. What will Pope Francis do if Archbishop Nienstedt is found by the investigation to have harassed and threatened priests and seminarians for sex?
2. Why did it take a lay woman – Elizabeth Hasselberger – to expose a culture of moral corruption in the chancery?
3. How many times did Archbishop Nienstedt watch “Brokeback Mountain”?
Hundreds of angry parents packed the gym of Charlotte Catholic High School in Charlotte, North Carolina on April 2, 2014 to criticize a recent student assembly on human sexuality and gender and blast the school leaders who organized it. The clear majority were opposed to the program’s ugly anti-gay content.
One parent confronted Fr. Matthew Kauth, the school chaplain who arranged for the program, “You don’t know what’s best for our children. We want our children to remain Catholic, but we are being pushed away by the climate of what is going on here.”
The March 21, 2014 presentation by Nashville Dominican Sister Jane Dominic Laurel, “Masculinity and Femininity: Difference and Gift,” sparked an unexpected backlash by many students, teachers, parents and alumni. Her presentation was based on a series of instructional videos she created for Aquinas College in Nashville, Tennessee, where she is an associate professor of theology.
Based on Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, Sister Jane Dominic Laurel explained the differences between the genders, the role of family, importance of real friendships, emotional intimacy and the impacts of contemporary culture on our concepts of sexuality and sexual expression.
Half of her 60-minute presentation was devoted to homosexuality.
During her talk, Sr. Jane Dominic asserted homosexuality occurs mainly as a result of parents’ shortcomings and pornography. She also attributed a correlation between the decline of fatherhood in America and the rise of homosexuality.
One students said the other students were barely listening to the nun’s talk. “Where I was sitting, most of them were asleep. There was this nun blabbering on and on and talking really fast. When the gay part of the talk started, some of them perked up and started tweeting.”
In a car ride home, a boy described the talk to his mother: “Then she started talking about how gays are gay because they have an absent father figure, and therefore they have not received the masculinity they should have from their father. Also a guy could be gay if he masturbates and so he thinks he is being turned on by other guys. And then she gave an example of one of her gay friends who said he used to go to a shed with his friends and watch porn and that’s why he was gay…Then she talked about the statistic where gay men have had either 500 or 1,000 sexual partners and after that I got up and went to the bathroom because I should not have had to be subject to that extremely offensive talk.”
During her speech Sr. Jane Dominic also stated:
– Gays and lesbians are not born with same-sex attractions – Children in single parent homes have a greater change of becoming homosexual – Single and divorced parents caused children to be gay – Homosexuals cannot live normal, productive lives – Gays can’t be good parents – Distant or absent fathers can cause boys to seek masculine affirmation in a sexual attraction to other males.
The research Sr. Jane Dominic used in her presentation came from the Catholic Medical Society’s publication, “Homosexuality and Hope,” and other papers. CMA publishes research that conforms to the moral magisterium of the Church.
In an April 4, 2014 statement, Sister Mary Sarah, O.P., the president of Aquinas College, defended the school’s curriculum and Sr. Jane Dominic’s credentials as a theologian, but acknowledged that the portion of Sister Jane’s presentation of social science data about the alleged causes of same-sex attraction–which prompted many of the concerns from parents and students–was outside the scope of her academic background.
The Rev. Tim Reid, the ultra conservative pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church in Charlotte, praised the nun, saying, “she represented well the Catholic positions on marriage, sex, same-sex attraction and proper gender roles…The Church as already lost too many generations of Catholic school students to…a very muddled and watered-down faith.” He also scolded the upset Catholic parents in an April 6, 2014 homily for their “lack of charity.”
Paul W. Primavera, who lives in Charlotte and knows Fr. Reid, also commented online on the controversy: “I have this to say to all those students and parents who do not like what she said: she is right and you are wrong. Homosexual behavior is sin and will send the perpetrator to hell. Adultery and fornication are sin and will send the perpetrator to hell. Do you want your children to go to hell? Sister Jane doesn’t and she therefore demonstrates greater love than you apparently do. If you don’t like that and want to continue in rebellion, then why don’t you go all the way and join the Episcopalian heretics. Think not for one moment St. Paul or St. John could tolerate your sickening and putrid liberal progressivism.”
Sr. Jane Dominic has referenced sex and homosexuality in a number of her YouTube videos.
In one lecture posted online, she claims that more young women are engaging in oral sex and says, “This is not a normal sexual act. It’s something that’s imported from the homosexual culture. It’s not part of the natural love between man and woman.”
In another clip, Sr. Jane Dominic speaks at length about the Folsom Street Fair. Billed as the “World’s Biggest Leather Event,” it is a bondage/SM/role-playing fetish event held annually in San Francisco mostly for gay men. In another video, she says that androgyny is a tool of Satan and that “devil-worshipers” have three goals: to continue abortions, to destroy traditional marriage and destroy the distinction between male and female.
Good thing she didn’t add those examples to her talk at Charlotte Catholic High.
The Censor Liborum is left with three questions from this whole debacle:
-Why was a school talk that heavily referenced sex given in mixed company and without first advising the parents?
-Why were Sr. Jane Dominic Laurel and Fr. Matthew Kauth so focused on talking about homosexuality and homosexual sex? The talk, ostensibly, was to encourage young people in happy and healthy relationships and ultimately marriage with the opposite sex.
-How in the heck did Sr. Jane Dominic find the Folsom Street Fair?
In August 2013 the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois announced that it would pay $1.35 million to settle a lawsuit by a former altar boy who accused the late Msgr. Thomas Maloney of sexually abusing him in 1995 and 1996 when he was eight years old. Archbishop John W. Myers, who was then the bishop, was also named in the suit for failing to take action against the monsignor. Myers served as bishop of Peoria from 1990-2001.
The boy’s mother said the abuse happened on to occasions while her son was helping the priest. “Maloney molested Andrew once in the church sanctuary before school, and once behind the altar after 10:30 Mass on a Sunday.”
Archbishop Myers, in a 2010 deposition in the case, said he had no knowledge of any allegations against Fr. Maloney until long after he left Peoria. Documents produced in the legal case show Myers was copied on certain memos with potentially incriminating information about Maloney, but the bishop said he didn’t see them, likely the result of a “slipshod” filing system in the diocese. “There may have been things that got by me,” Myers said. “I underscore the kind of loose system we had with the two different buildings in Peoria. It could be sometimes two weeks of copies that I would get when they moved them from building to building, and I sometimes didn’t have the time to read them.”
Notes & Letters
Bishop Myers did have the time to write personal notes to Fr. Maloney thanking him for his gifts of coin collectibles and more. Here is a sampling:
6/21/91: “I always enjoy a good visit with you. Not only is it fun, I usually learn a thing or two. I do not ever expect to “profit” from our friendship. Thank you so much for lunch and your wonderful gift.”
3/13/92: “Just a thank you note for the silver. That one is even too big for a watch fob. It could be tied around one’s neck like the proverbial “millstone.”
1/30/95: “Just a note to thank you for lunch. I do enjoy our chats. I am grateful for your gift. I will try not to lose it all at the “dogs” in Florida. From February 4 through about the 15th Al and I should be at the Gene Lamb condo on Captiva. I will put the address and phone number at the bottom of the letter.”
6/27/00: “Just a note to thank you for the wonderful dinner at Jim’s. Mark and I enjoyed it immensely. I surely hope you will join us on Crete. The hotel is Porto Elounda Mare, We’ll be arriving on August 24 and departing on August 31.”
So were Myers and Maloney friends? “I don’t know if ‘friends’ would–I had many other priests that I was closer to. I can say that,” Myers clarified in the deposition.
Among the documents Myers claimed he didn’t see was an August 1999 letter from Msgr. Steven Rohlfs, his Vicar General, responding to a complaint by parents of a grade school student over Maloney’s conduct during confession. The boy told his parents that during confession Maloney described the sexual acts of a fellow priest in graphic detail. He took a mobile phone call in the middle of the sacrament, and conducted penance as an interrogator–Did you do X, Y Z?
Rohlfs wrote back to the parents apologizing for Maloney’s scandalous behavior, and assured them they had done the right thing in contacting him. The Vicar General copied Myers on the letter and the diocesan law firm as well.
At least one complaint about Maloney received Myers personal attention–although he could not recall it in the deposition. On September 1, 2000, a married couple from Epiphany parish wrote to Myers to complain about Maloney’s behavior both in and out of church. On Super Bowl Sunday, they explained, Maloney could be heard distributing communion in the following way: “Body of Christ. Is the beer cold yet?” Maloney’s homilies were often laced with “inappropriate jokes.” The wife explained that as she was confessing to Maloney he informed her “women are just too emotional,” adding, “maybe she should get a life.” Later that night, around 9 PM, she saw him in a Walgreen’s parking lot with a grade school girl, who eventually left the car to buy about $20 in candy. And, finally, she wrote Maloney “typically” took eighth-grade girls out to lunch at a place called the Pub.
Myers responded to the complaint in a letter dated September 14, 2000. “I’m sorry you do not approve of his (Maloney’s) approach to priestly ministry,” it begins. “Your characterization of Father’s liturgies is not generally accurate according to the responses I have received from my inquiries. The celebration of Holy Mass at Epiphany, while it may not be a formal as some parishes, is respectful and prayerful. I don’t know what to say about the other matters you mention. Basically your experience does not correspond with that of many other people. I don’t know in what context others would have said, ‘we know that Father has problems….'”
Bishop Myers concluded the letter by saying, “I know that Father loves people, especially young people, and that he cares for them generously. We have never had any allegations of impropriety.”
Off to Newark and Fr. Fugee
On October 15, 2000, upon Bishop Myers nomination, Pope John Paul II elevated Fr. Maloney to Monsignor. Nine months later the pope appointed Myers as Archbishop of Newark. He replaced the popular and social-justice minded Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, who became archbishop of Washington, DC.
Fr. Maloney retired from active ministry in 2002 for reasons of health. He died in 2009, at age 73.
As bishop in Peoria, Illinois, Myers did not come under media scrutiny. That changed when the Fr. Fugee sexual abuse scandal made the New York metropolitan newspapers.
A few months prior to Myers’ arrival in Newark, Fr. Michael Fugee, assistant pastor of the Church of St. Elizabeth in Wyckoff, was arrested and charged with criminal sexual contact.
He was accused of fondling the genitals of a 14-year-old boy during wrestling matches on two occasions. Under questioning by police, Fugee confessed to intentionally touching the teenager’s crotch over his clothes. According to the youth, Fugee pinned him down and “slowly” moved his hand over his crotch.
Prosecutors dismissed the case inf 2009 after securing an agreement with Fugee and the archdiocese that Fugee would never again minister to minors or be an unsupervised situation with them.
During the November 2009 deposition, Myers expressed disappointment that Fugee let detectives interview him without counsel. “Is it your recollection,” the plaintiff’s attorney, Jessica Arbour, asked Myers, “that he (Fugee) admitted that he touched the boy?” “Unfortunately, without his lawyer present, he did,” Myers responded.
Most Catholic parents would feel concerned and uneasy when a bishop sounds more like head defense counsel than a shepherd.
At the time time, The Star Ledger (formerly the Newark Star Ledger) intensified its coverage of Archbishop Myers, reporting on the Fugee scandal and the building of Myers’ weekend/retirement home. The New York Times followed The Star Ledger’s reporting lead and on February 14, 2013 published the devastating article, “A Church So Poor It Has to Close Schools, But So Rich It Can Build a Palace.”
For a bishop comfortable with looking the other way (or not looking at all), the media spotlight on his management and priorities was uncomfortable as it became increasingly critical. Calls by laity and media began to be made for him to step down as archbishop.
The last straw for Myers was The Star Ledger’s August 12, 2013 article, “Church pays $1.3 million in suit alleging that Newark archbishop protected abusers in Illinois.” He unloaded in a sharply-worded letter to priests in a letter dated August 15, 2013:
“in the deposition given by me and selectively quoted by an interested attorney, some upset parents, and a former Priest of this Archdiocese, I spoke under oath and truthfully about matters relating to a certain Priest. I never vacationed with him, and I received no gifts other than those often given to a bishop by Pastors or Parishes. Since we were both coin collectors, I recall that he once gave me a coin of minimal value, of which he had several examples.”
(That account of the gifting differs from what Myers said in the 2010 deposition. In the transcript he said that Fr. Maloney gave him gold coins “two or three” times. Asked if they were valuable, Myers responded, “I don’t have any idea.”)
Myers defended himself against his critics, asserting they are hostile to “our Roman Catholic Faith and its Teachings, the Teachings of which I have always been a staunch and outspoken supporter, despite their ‘unpopularity’ in the secular and ‘politically correct’ society…” “God only knows their personal reasons and agenda,” he asserted, “We are still called to love them. And God will surely address them in due time.”
Five weeks later, on September 24, 2013, Pope Francis appointed Bernard A. Hebda, formerly the bishop of Gaylord, Michigan, as Newark’s coadjutor archbishop. In effect, this means he is co-archbishop, except in ceremonial precedence. A coadjutor bishop is usually appointed when the current bishop needs significant help in his ministry. Hebda is expected to succeed Myers as archbishop of Newark when Myers retires in two years.
Myers is effectively finished as archbishop. The only thing that remains is whether or not he will be eased out before he is 75. My bet is he will be, very quietly. He was so effective at looking the other way it cannot be definitively proved he protected predator priests. But on the reverse side of that coin, Archbishop Myers has left himself open to assertions he is an incompetent administrator with poor pastoral priorities.
I was struck by the irony (or prophecy) of Myers’ thank you note for Fr. Maloney’s gift of a silver coin so large it could be “tied around one’s neck like a proverbial millstone.” “But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me,” Jesus said, “it would be better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea.”
Off Crete or Captiva Island would be more pleasant than the near Newark.
Veteran journalist Stephen Jimenez unearthed a sleazy story in his book, The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard.” An investigative journalist, he spent 11 years researching his story, and had access to formerly sealed court documents.
Matthew Shepard is a gay icon and martyr, allegedly murdered by two men for his sexual orientation. The grisly murder happened in Laramie, Wyoming in October 1998. Shepard, 21, was a college student, and he was killed by two men he met in a bar. He was pistol-whipped with the barrel of a .357 magnum. Then the two men hung him, barely alive, on a fence, in a pose resembling a crucifixion.
Matthew Shepard died of exposure and his wounds six days later, a victim of homophobia. Or was he? Here’s an unsettling element: one of the murders, Aaron McKinney, a bisexual hustler, had sex with Shepard weeks before the murder.
Shepard certainly could have been beaten and killed by a man in a homophobic rage…but he may also have been killed in a sex-for-drugs exchange gone badly. His death might not be a hate crime after all, but a drug dealer casualty. In the book Jimenez claims Matthew Shepard was a crystal meth addict, and was killed by McKinney, another dealer and trick strung out on meth and in desperate need of money.
The “gay panic” defense of Aaron McKinney, the killer, was a made-up story in hopes of getting a more lenient sentence.
Jimenez was asked why he dug up the story: “As a gay man,” he said, “I felt it was the right thing to do.” “To understand who Matthew Shepard really was,” said Jimenz, “to alter our perception of him as a martyr and an icon, is not going to be damaging to gay rights.”
I agree, and commend Stephen Jimenez coming forward with his story. The real conversation about Matthew Shepard should be about young gay men (and women) who do drugs, and why drug and alcohol use is still so embedded in gay culture. That could save some lives.
This has been a stunner of a week. I’m still reeling.
It started with the closing of World Youth Day 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, where Pope Francis’ closing Mass on Copacabana beach drew an estimated three million participants. Many of them were enthusiastic young people. He encouraged them to go home and shake things up, “make a mess.”
He set the first example.
On a plane back to Rome from his triumphant trip to Rio, Pope Francis chatted with journalists for over an hour. There were no handlers or intermediaries, just plain-spoken remarks.
He was asked about gay priests and gay Catholics.
Gay people should be integrated into society instead of ostracized, Pope Francis told journalists. Answering a question about reports of homosexuals in the clergy, the pope answered, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
One question centered on recent reports in Italian media that accused the Vatican Bank’s Monsignor Battista Ricca of having an affair with a Swiss Army captain. In response, Francis said he looked into the reports but found nothing to support the allegations.
The pope also used the occasion to expand on his June remarks about a “gay lobby” in the Vatican, clarifying that “he was against all lobbies, not just gay ones,” the Italian news agency reports.
“Being gay is a tendency. The problem is the lobby,” ANSA quotes the pontiff saying. “The lobby is unacceptable, the gay one, the political one, the Masonic one.”
The pope’s view of gays is being seen as diverging from his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. Benedict signed a document in 2005 that said men with deep-rooted homosexual tendencies should not be priests. Francis was much more conciliatory, saying gay clergymen should be “forgiven and their sins forgotten.”
“The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well,” Francis said, according to . “It says they should not be marginalized because of this but that they must be integrated into society.”
During the news conference on the 12-hour flight home, the pope was also asked about women’s role in Catholicism.
Pope Francis reiterated that the Church will not ordain female priests, saying that the stance was “definitive.” But he also said that the question of how to reflect the importance of women had not yet been answered fully.
“It is not enough to have altar girls, women readers or women as the president of Caritas,” he said. “Women in the church are more important than bishops and priests,” he said, in the same way that “Mary is more important than the apostles.”
Conservative and ultra orthodox Catholics, once they regained consciousness, attempted to spin the Pope’s words by asserting what he actually meant was in defense of Catholic teaching on homosexuality and chastity.
Wednesday morning I was having my morning coffee and thumbing through the New York Post when I spotted this item on the bottom right of page 12: “Paris suicide vs. gay rights.” I took a bite of my English muffin and read on.
The blurb stated that Dominique Venner, 78, placed a pistol in his mouth and committed suicide beside the altar in Notre Dame cathedral in protest of the legalization of gay marriage in France.
Mr. Venner, a presenter on a Catholic-traditionalist radio station and controversial historian, posted an essay on his website earlier in the day calling for “new, spectacular and symbolic actions to shake us out of our sleep, to jolt anaesthetized minds and to reawaken memory of our origins.”
The cathedral, which is celebrating its 850th anniversary this year, was evacuated and immediately closed to the public for several hours. A cathedral security guard tried to revive Mr. Venner as he lay beside the altar.
“We did not know him, he was not a regular at the cathedral,” said the rector, Monsigneur Patrick Jacquin. He added that as far as he knew, this was the first suicide within the cathedral since it was founded. “We will pray for this man as we pray for so many others who are at their wits’ end,” he said.
The next day, a topless activist of the FEMEN movement was arrested inside Notre Dame for staging a fake suicide.
The bare-chested woman was photographed in front of the altar, pointing a fake gun in her mouth. The slogan “May Fascists rot in Hell” was written across her torso.
On its Facebook page, FEMEN France called the topless activist “FEMEN’s angel of Death.” The group called upon “all European Nazism, in the face of all their underhitlers and halfmussolini, to follow the example of the ultra-right man Dominique Venner and immediately commit a suicide of their believes excluding themselves from the political area in Europe.” The statement added, “Hurry up, there is not so much place left on the sacrificial altar of Notre-Dame de Paris.”
In case you are wondering, the Censor Librorum finds both of these events cringe-worthy.
Venner’s use of sacred space as a stage for suicide is the most spectacular form of selfishness I have ever seen. The follow up performance by an exhibitionist mocking his suicide was almost as bad.
And I thought we had nuts in New York!
The Orwellian obsession of some right-wing Catholics with same-sex marriage, abortion, and glorification of the hierarchy is about to take a punch to the gut.
The papal election of Francis, not John Paul III or Benedict XVII, has brought an immediate cultural change. The pomp and pageantry–the red shoes, the billowing magenta capes–are being replaced by a renewed emphasis on social justice for the poor, mercy and humility. Taking a cue from their new boss, some cardinals have already started to dress down.
If he hasn’t already, the new pope will soon have a crack at the secret 300-page dossier delivered to Pope Benedict on December 17, 2013. Benedict had appointed three cardinals–Julian Herranz, Joseph Tomko and Salvatore De Georgi to investigate the leak of confidential Vatican documents in the scandal known as “Vatileaks Affair.”
Some claim this report pushed Pope Benedict into resigning. It may have been the last straw, if he admitted to himself he was too old, too frail and too entrenched to deal with the mess and scandal it described. The report was sealed, and put in a safe for his successor.
A story in the Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, claimed according to the report one fraction within the Vatican bureaucracy was “united by sexual orientation.” These powerful men formed a network of alliances, controlled careers, and were subject to blackmail over their sexual activities by the Mafia and other organized crime groups.
The threat of exposure has to be one key reason why the Vatican Bank never cleaned up. There are too many compromised individuals in the Vatican bureaucracy and elsewhere who would be ruined if their secret homosexuality or financial dealings came to light. Other corrupt members of the Curia, not homosexual, may have been happy to trade favors for friends, family and potential political allies.
What will happen if the pope decides to put the Vatican’s money in a commercial bank, and close down the Institute for Works of Religion?
I bet a few surprise names will join Cardinal Keith O’Brien in the news.
Cardinal O’Brien, who had a reputation for being anti-gay, was outed by his boyfriend and some seminarians he had sexually pressured just prior to the papal conclave. In the past, Cardinal O’Brien has referred to homosexuality as a “moral degradation.” He also labeled gay marriage as a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right” and that same-sex partnerships were “harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of those involved.”
What was Cardinal O’Brien thinking when he was coming on to or in bed with another man?… That whatever strictures are out there didn’t apply to him.
Is the Devil responsible for turning people gay? A few Catholics may think so.
Massachusetts attorney Daniel Avila, who served as policy advisor for the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), penned an October 28, 2011 column in The Pilot, the Boston Archdiocesan newspaper. His article, “Some Fundamental Questions on Same-Sex Attraction,” was retracted a few days later after a furious storm of protest. Avila resigned his position at USCCB.
Avila ignited a firestorm when he wrote, “the scientific evidence of how same-sex attraction most likely may be created provides a credible basis for a spiritual explanation that indicts the Devil. Any time natural disasters occur, we…people of faith look back to Scripture’s account of…angels who rebelled and fell from grace. In their anger against God, these macontents prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. They continue to do all they can to mar, distort and destroy God’s handiwork.”
Immediately after the article ran, the liberal Catholic Paulist Center of Boston sent The Boston Pilot an open letter asking other Catholics to boycott the newspaper. “The highly questionable theology of this writer…directly and intentionally causes pain for gay Catholics, their families, especially their mothers, their friends and their worship communities. The article has no scriptural basis, vague Catholic theological constructs, and no connection with the Gospel of Christ.”
“We have removed this issue of The Pilot from the Paulist Center and will not be offering part II of this article. We do not want to support Mr. Avila inflicting unnecessary unnecessary and undeserved pain on members of our congregation.”
Daniel Avila began his October 28, 2011 column, “Some fundamental questions on same-sex attraction” – by musing about a situation many gay and lesbian Catholics and their supporters have also articulated: “More than once,” Avila started, “I have heard from or about Catholics upset with the Church for its insistence that sexual relations be limited to marriage between husband and wife. Does not this moral rule force people with same-sex attraction into lives of loneliness? If they are born that way, then why should they be punished by a restriction that does not account for their pre-existing condition? God wants everyone to be happy, and for persons with same-sex attraction is not their happiness to be found in the fulfillment of that attraction? Some seek to change the Church’s teaching on marriage or have left the Church because of it. They believe either that God through the Church ignores the needs of people or that the Church misunderstands what God desires.”
“That is, if God causes same-sex attraction, and yet commands that it not be satisfied, then this is divine cruelty. Or, if God causes same-sex attraction, then it must be the divine will that those with the attraction should act on it and it is the Church that is being cruel in its teaching or at least tragically mistaken about what God wants.”
Then, Avila drops his bomb…..”In either case, the belief that the Church is wrong on this issue starts from a faulty premise. God does not cause same-sex attraction….Disruptive imbalances in nature that thwart encoded processes point to supernatural actors who, unlike God, do not have the good of persons at heart.”
He finishes up: “…whenever natural causes disturb otherwise typical biological development, leading to the personally unchosen beginnings of same-sex attraction, the ultimate responsibility, on a theological level, is and should be imputed to the evil one, not God. Applying this aspect of Catholic belief to interpret the scientific data makes more sense because it does not place God in the awkward position of blessing two mutually incompatible realities–sexual difference and same-sex attraction..Being born with an inclination which originates in a manner outside of one’s control is not sufficient proof that the condition is caused by God or that its satisfaction meets God’s purpose. Further, a proper understanding of who is really at fault should deepen our compassion towards those who experience same-sex attraction and inform our response to the question of loneliness.”
Some ordinary Catholics weighed in on Avila’s remarks. Patrick O’Malley wrote: “Satan isn’t responsible for people being gay. Satan is responsible for:-pedophile priests raping thousands of children (in the United States alone); -bishops moving more pedophiles to places where they raped more children; -bishops covering up; -bishops lying about it; -Catholics shunning the victims. Satan is also responsible for making people think that God hates gays more than God hates child rapists and liars in His church.”
Another writer observed: “He’s (Avila) leading to an eliminationist doctrine. If gay people are created by satan, therefore, satanic, then it is ok to view them as sub-human vermin andfire up the nazi ovens again. Bigots always attempt to dehumanize the ‘other’ by attributing qualities to the ‘other’ the bigot does not himself possess. That makes it easy to justify any form of discrimination to outright killing. What a bigot never comprehends, is that my attempting to dehumanize another, he only succeeds in dehumanizing himself. That might be called a sin. On a positive note, his article many have caused some other heretofore anti-gay catholics to think about the road they are traveling on. It is good to see someone in the catholic organization reaffirm the dignity of all people gay or not, and this guy get the boot.”
However, Avila has gotten to the core of the argument, as David Gibson points out at Commonweal dot com: “On a somewhat more serious note, I wonder if this Avila kerfuffle and the anxious reactions of his defenders is symptomatic of a segment of the church that is painted into a corner on homosexuality. As evidence grows of an innate aspect of being gay, as is being straight, it provides a huge challenge to a church that preaches the innate dignity of each person. The responses from those who cannot square this circle seem to be to make arguments from pseudo-science that attempt to argue away the gay, while another fallback is to say that homosexuality is a thing but homosexuals cannot be themselves in the way every other person can be. They are in a straitjacket of celibacy, rather than receiving that as a gift, and yet for many (in the Vatican and elsewhere) they should not even be ordained celibates. This requires a cognitive dissonance, or understandably leads to a kind of panic, I think, that makes some look foolish when they try to reconcile the churchâ€™s best instincts with its worst, and perforce use bad theology or science or both to do so.”