12/21/16

No Shocker for This Gay Ex-Jesuit, Vatican Rejects Gay Priests (Again)

By

I am not shocked by the Vatican’s recent affirmation of the 2005 ban on admitting gay men to the priesthood. There’s nothing new here. Despite the media and liberal priests’ attempt to portray the “Who am I to judge?” Pope as gay friendly, the truth is the first Jesuit Pope has turned his back time and again on the LGBT community, let alone the many hundreds of gay priests and thousands of gay priests worldwide.

Francis, who does not usually stamp doctrine with his name, did approve “The Gift of Priestly Vocation,” the most recent document by the Church’s Congregation for the Clergy. The use of the word “gift” in this document’s title suggests again that gay men, and consequently, all lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning men and women do not have gifts and cannot contribute to the spiritual life of their Church.

Whether one considers the papacy of Saint John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, or the Jesuit Francis, the truth is that these men are uncomfortable with accepting God’s plan for creating LGBTQ people in God’s image and likeness. They have returned to warped interpretations of the Hebrew and Christian testaments, they have misused the writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas. These Popes have redirected the faithful time and again back to the official teaching of the church, the Catechism of the Catholic Church. They have preferred intolerance, and contradicted their years of mercy, all in an effort to support a medieval theology, one that is neither prudent or befitting the example of Jesus.

While the Pope tackles discernment, the environment, and gender theory, he and his Church remain confused about pressing social issues facing human relationships and human families. Pope Francis supports the flawed thinking that allowing gay men to become priests will have “negative consequences.” Thus, Pope Francis remains especially confused about gay people. But so do many of his cardinals, one who told a gay Jesuit friend of mine that: “I have never met a gay person in my lifetime.” This gay Jesuit was his protégé!

As such, it is no wonder that millennials and other members of our society turn to the Supreme Court of the United States of America for moral guidance, or to Starbucks for communion and table fellowship.

And once again, the authors of “The Gift of Priestly Vocation” erroneously lump gay men and pedophiles together, warning: “The greatest attention must be given to the theme of the protection of minors and vulnerable adults,” and continue: “being vigilant lest those who seek admission to a seminary or a house of formation, or who are already petitioning to receive Holy Orders, have not been involved in any way with any crime or problematic behavior in this area.”

Hasn’t the Church learned enough from this sin?

As a gay Jesuit I lived a celibate life for ten years among many accomplished and critically acclaimed gay priests and brothers, many who worked as, or aspired to work as, theologians, authors, high school presidents and teachers, social workers, therapists, college professors, nurses, doctors, and parish priests.

I lived with these men in community, and served with them in countries like Bolivia, Brazil and the United States of America. Some of these men were afraid of their own shadows, others were hurt by the Church’s millennia of anti-gay theology, but longed for a time when the Church would not contribute to the homeless rate for LGBTQ teens (some 400,000 in America alone). Others sought to work in countries like Russia or Uganda that criminalize same-sex desire, wanting to work as missionaries among sexual minorities.

Without gay Jesuit priests and brothers, who give their time and their talents despite the Church’s demonizing them, Jesuit high schools, universities, clinics and parishes would suffer. Consider more, the countless number of heterosexual couples that these gay Jesuits and other gay priests generally counsel and advise pastorally on how to live and be sacramentally married.

Isn’t it ironic that gay men marry heterosexual couples in Church?

It is sad that these gay Jesuits, including some very influential and very powerful priests, who staff the seminaries in Rome, who are bishops, who speak on television, who counsel our politicians, who work with Hollywood’s elite, are reduced in this recent document to such negative labels: men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” and men who “support the so-called ‘gay culture.”

Pope Francis, the first Jesuit Pope, who shook the world with his gentleness and humility, is becoming a holy letdown for the most marginalized and the least in the Roman Catholic faith. LGBTQ men, women and children deserve more. That more would be magis, the Jesuit term for exercising deep human relationships, and a term that describes the experience of finding God in all things (aka human flourishing).

To those LGBTQ Christians who were “encouraged” by allies to hope for small change in their Church in their lifetime it is time to discern taking your time and talent and mostly your treasure to another congregation.

These days I pray about what will become of Mother Church when gay men stop hearing God’s call to become priests, and when the LGBTQ community stops helping to rebuild churches, or Catholic institutions with their donations.

Without the many gifts of gay priests and brothers what would become of the likes of St. Ignatius of Loyola (Chestnut Hill), St. Francis Xavier (New York City), DeSmet Jesuit High School (St. Louis), Georgetown (Washington, D.C.) or the Rock Church (Kansas City)?

To those closeted gay priests and seminarians who consecrate the Eucharist and who pray for peace and mercy, the time has come to, as Jesus did, to flip the tables in places of worship, to come out. Be the voices crying out in the wilderness, pray for the courage to virtuously identify yourself as gay, to no longer practice the Church’s policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Complete Article HERE!

12/19/16

Archdiocese of Agaña enters a new, troubling era

Trials, Lawsuits, and Financial Strains

 

By Neil Pang

With Apuron’s canonical trial underway and a slew of civil lawsuits filed in Guam, the Catholic Church confronts new crises here and at the Vatican

 
With the Archdiocese of Agaña facing 13 lawsuits alleging child sexual abuse – and the real potential for additional suits to follow – the Catholic Church is preparing for what could be a drawn out and highly publicized exposure of alleged abuses and cover ups, as well as court ordered payouts possibly adding up to millions of dollars.

At the center of the current tumult are two interrelated events: the allegations of child sexual abuse leveled against local archdiocesan clergymen and the passage of Bill 326-33 into Public Law 33-187 that eliminated the statute of limitations in cases involving child sexual abuse.

Years of controversy

Contention and controversy were not new to the Archdiocese of Agaña prior to the May 17 statement made by Roy Quintanilla that alleged child sexual abuse against Archbishop Anthony Apuron.

For at least six years prior to Quintanilla’s accusation, Apuron often found himself the subject of news stories that intimately connected him to instances of alleged cover-ups of priests accused of abuse.

In 2010, Apuron was criticized by leaders of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) when it came to light that local priest Rev. Raymond Cepeda had been defrocked over allegations of abuse made against him. That revelation was exacerbated when, shortly thereafter, two other priests who served under the Archdiocese were found to be no longer engaged in public ministry after their ministerial authority had been permanently revoked due to allegations of sexual abuse.

According to Post files, Rev. Randolph “Randy” Nowak and Rev. Andrew “Andy” Mannetta were stripped of their ministerial authorities, in 2004 and 2002 respectively, over allegations of abuse that occurred off-island against individuals who were minors at the time.

SNAP had requested that Apuron follow in the steps of other dioceses and post a list of all priests accused of sexual abuse that had or currently did serve under the Archdiocese of Agaña. Apuron never complied with SNAP’s request.

In 2014, Apuron was again targeted by SNAP. The group, asserted that Apuron engaged in “dangerous” behavior when he knowingly allowed a clergyman, Rev. John Wadeson, accused of sexual abuse in Los Angeles, to minister in the Archdiocese of Agaña. Apuron denied prior knowledge of the accusations against Wadeson. Following the publication of molestation allegations by SNAP, Post files state that Wadeson was removed from the Archdiocese of Agana.

Apuron was also accused of mismanagement of multi-million dollar church assets when, in 2011, he filed a deed restriction on the Redemptoris Mater Seminary that certain legal opinions asserted essentially transferred control of the Yona property from the Archdiocese of Agaña to a nonprofit organization outside the purview of the church.

Then, in a seeming crescendo, Apuron himself was named in a series of child sexual abuse accusations starting with Quintanilla in May of 2016. Quintanilla, a former altar boy from the Agat parish where Apuron ministered in the 1970s, was followed by Doris Concepcion – the mother of Joseph A. Quinata, who admitted to her shortly before his death in 2005 of being sexually abused by Apuron in the late 1970s.

The two were joined by Walter Denton and Roland Sondia in June when they made similar accusations of abuse against Apuron.

Subsequent accusations have been made against other priests who served on Guam at various times in the past decades, including Rev. Louis Brouillard, Rev. Antonio Cruz (deceased), and Rev. David Anderson.

Save for a few videos and selfies published online from Rome in early summer and a prepared statement welcoming the appointment of his successor last month, Apuron has been unusually silent. All that is known is that he remains at the Vatican in Rome, where, according to Guam’s new archbishop, Michael Jude Byrnes, a canonical trial is now underway

According to clergy child sex abuse advocate Patrick J. Wall, Apuron could be the first Archbishop to survive a canonical trial.

“The new Archbishop [Byrnes] reported that the canonical trial of [former] Archbishop Apuron is underway,” Wall said in an email. “This is new ground in the modern world as no Bishop I am aware of who sexually abused children has ever finished a canonical trial. Archbishop Wesolowski died prior to the completion of his trial in Rome.”

Wesolowski was the former Holy See envoy to the Dominican Republic who was accused in 2013 of sexually abusing teenage boys and defrocked in 2014, according to the International Business Times. At the time, Wesolowski was the highest-ranking Vatican official ever to be investigated for sex abuse, and was the first top papal representative to receive a defrocking sentence.

Though Wesolowski was successfully laicized, or had his clerical status revoked, he died before standing trial for accusations of possessing child pornography, for which he faced a possible prison term.

Canonical trial

While survivors of alleged abuse continue to come forward in suits filed against the Archdiocese of Agaña and its clergymen, questions abound as to the current status of Apuron’s canonical trial in Rome.

Wall, who has extensive experience in the field of Catholic clergy abuse and is currently an advocate at Jeff Anderson and Associates, explained that the trial itself will proceed as follows:

First, a complaint is filed by the Promoter of Justice, what the church calls the prosecutor, at the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office responsible for upholding the integrity of the Catholic Church.

The next step is where Wall says the trial likely is now. According to his explanation, the Vatican court will receive an answer to the complaint written by the Respondant’s canonical advocate.

Referring to statements made by Byrnes on Nov. 28 that the “initial phase” of Apuron’s trial had started, Wall said Byrnes had indicated that Apuron had received the written charge from the Promoter of Justice and that the next stage was discovery.

During the discovery phase, Wall explained that documents, depositions, and all relevant evidence would be exchanged.

Trial and determination by a panel of three Clerical Judges would follow with penalties up to and including dismissal from the clerical state. Additional “lower penalties” are also imposed at this time and, if applicable, the Pope would then need to assign Apuron to a monastery or some other appropriate location, according to Wall.

While it is unclear exactly what charges Apuron received from the Promoter of Justice, it is pertinent to note that, according to “The Norms of the motu proprio ‘Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela’,” the 2001 letter by Pope John Paul II that amended the Code of Canon Law to include sexual abuse of a minor under 18 by a cleric among the new list of canonical crimes or “delicts” reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, canon law stipulates a 10 year statute of limitations on cases involving child sexual abuse that begins from the year the victim turns 18.

Regardless of what charges Apuron is presented with, the Code of Canon Law contains additional provisions under which Apuron could potentially be charged with other “grave delicts” and removed.

However, as indicated by Wall, the procedures outlined for canonical trials move slowly, and that any determination made following the discovery phase could take months to articulate. During that time, the secular courts will also have to move forward with their own proceedings, with or without Apuron’s presence.

Back on Guam

Of the 13 child sex abuse suits currently sitting in Guam’s courts, four name Apuron, six name Brouillard, one names Anderson, and another names Cruz.

While Apuron has maintained his innocence of the accusations made against him, Brouillard has openly admitted in written and video documentation that he abused at least 20 boys during his tenure on Guam in the 1960s and 70s. Anderson, who court documents state resides in the mainland U.S., has not been located, and Cruz is deceased.

Connecting Brouillard to the accusations of abuse is a foregone conclusion, but making the connection to Apuron, Anderson, the Archdiocese, any of the five unnamed insurance companies, or 45 unnamed individuals will be an uphill battle for attorney David Lujan, who must establish a preponderance of evidence in multiple cases for events that allegedly transpired decades prior.

As the plaintiff in the cases, Lujan will be tasked with the burden of proof. As legal sources explain, that burden tends to become increasingly difficult with the passage of time.

Further, there is an additional hurdle that could potentially obstruct proceedings.

Given the contentiousness with which these cases have been publicized and the reach that such publicity has had within Guam’s relatively small community, there is a reasonable chance that establishing an unbiased jury will prove difficult. In fact, a number of Superior Court of Guam judges have already recused themselves from some of the 13 cases filed for reasons of familiar relationship with individuals somehow tied to the cases.

According to Post files, Judge Anita Sukola went so far as to cite exposure to the case via the church she attends, as well as her personal relationship with Apuron, as grounds for her recusal.

A number of judges have already filed disqualification memoranda in the cases, according to Gloria Lujan Rudolph of the firm Lujan & Wolff, LLP.

Rudolph, an attorney with the firm that represents the 13 existing claimants, told the Sunday Post that, so far, “Judge Pro Tempore Ingles, Judges Perez, Cenzon, Iriarte, Lamorena, and Sukola have recused themselves from at least one of the child sex abuse cases against the Church.”

Rudolph added that her firm had agreed to give the Archdiocese extra time to respond to the complaints that have already been served.

Once the complaints have been answered and the jury trials commence, counsel will have to determine, as stipulated in each of the 13 suits, the sum of the general, special, and other damages, including attorney’s fees, that will comprise the plaintiffs’ request for relief.

While such a sum cannot be easily ascertained, Post files concerning the fate of former Guam priest Rev. Andrew Mannetta state that in January 2007, the Catholic Diocese of Honolulu reached an out-of-court settlement with Elton Killion, who accused Mannetta of sexually abusing him from 1997 to 2001 during a time that Killion was a minor. The church paid out $375,000.

While none of the current 13 suits are related or equivalent to Killion’s 2007 suit, if the $375,000 figure is used as a benchmark, then the Archdiocese of Agaña, as of now, could stand to lose upwards of $4.5 million and be forced to sell some of its more valuable, and contentious, properties to make those payments.

Complete Article HERE!

12/12/16

Pope Francis needs his gay Priests

By Irene Monroe

To the shock of many of us LGBT people of faith is the Vatican’s recent decision in the document “The Gift of Priestly Vocation,” to ban gays to the priesthood; thus, reaffirming its 2005 stance.

Those of us who have “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” or who “support the so-called ‘gay culture’” are categorically denied to serve one of the church’s most revered and respected posts. And to know that Pope Francis, our LGBT pope- friendly pontiff, approved the document have many of us in disbelief.

We all recall Pope Francis’s remarks when flying home after a weeklong visit to Brazil in 2013 (which set off global shock waves) where the pontiff was queried about the much talked about “gay lobby” in the Vatican.

“When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have good will, who am I to judge them?”

This public statement is the most LGBT affirmative remarks the world has ever heard from the Catholic Church. In 2013 “The Advocate,” a nationally renowned and respected LGBT ‘zine, named Pope Francis their “Person of the Year.”

Pope Frances’ more liberal-leaning pronouncements, however, don’t match his actions. But, in looking at gay priests within the historical context of the Catholic Church the Pontiff knows that gay priests have always been in the Vatican.

As a matter-of-fact, the homosocial and homosexual milieu of gay priests have always been part and parcel of the life and operations of the Vatican as well as the Catholic Church for centuries. Their strength to come-out now as a formidable force within the hallowed walls of the Vatican is laudable on the one hand, and a liability on the other hand—especially in terms of casting a gay suspicion on all priests as well as the potential to expose those priests who want to remain in the closet.

The Catholic Church needs its gay priests

The Rev. Donald B. Cozens, author of “The Changing Face of the Priesthood,” wrote that with more than half the priests and seminarians being gay, the priesthood is becoming a gay profession. Many who know the interior of the Catholic Church would argue that the priesthood has for centuries been a gay profession, and not to ordain gay priests or to defrock them would drastically alter the spiritual life and daily livelihood of the church.

“If they were to eliminate all those who were homosexually oriented, the number would be so staggering that it would be like an atomic bomb; it would do damage to the church’s operation,” says A.W. Richard Sipe, a former priest and psychotherapist who has been studying the sexuality of priests for decades. Sipe also points out that to do away with gay priests “would mean the resignation of at least a third of the bishops of the world. And it’s very much against the tradition of the church; many saints have gay orientation and many popes had gay orientations.”

The reality here is that as quietly as the Church has tried to keep it, the Catholic Church is a gay institution. And that is not a bad thing!

The problem in the Catholic Church is not its gay priests, and its solution to the problem is not the removal of them. The problem in the Catholic Church is its transgressions against them. And I ask: Who will remove the church from itself?

Years of homophobic church doctrine have made the church unsafe for us all- young and old, straight and LGBT, adult and child.

Eugene Kennedy, a specialist on sexuality and the priesthood and a former priest, wrote in his book, “The Unhealed Wound: The Church and Human Sexuality, that the Catholic Church ” . . .had always had gay priests, and they have often been models of what priests should be. To say that these men should be kept from the priesthood is in itself a challenge to the grace of God and an insult to them and the people they serve.”

Supporters and activists of the “gay lobby” in the Curia emphatically state that this brave and visible group is essential to the running of the Vatican as well as protecting themselves from the church’s hypocrisy in scapegoating them for many of the social ills of the church.

Pope Francis knows this which is one of the reasons he has commented disapprovingly about the political and activist clout the powerful “gay lobby” has in the Curia, the Vatican’s secretive administration.

“The problem is not having this orientation. The problem is lobbying by this orientation…Being gay is a tendency. The problem is the lobby,” the Italian news agency ANSA quoted Pope Frances saying a press conference during his trip to Brazil in July.

Right now, the Catholic Church stands in the need of prayer and the Pontiff knows it. Francis aptly stated in his a December 2013 interview with 16 Jesuit magazines that “the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards” should the Catholic Church, in this 21st Century, continue on it anti-modernity trek like his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.

Sadly, this pope is like the previous one when it comes to upholding church doctrine, but with a more friendlier and pastoral facade.

Shame on the church’s continued opposition to gay priests in light of its history, reality, and of the gifts they have given and continue to give to the Catholic Church.

Complete Article HERE!

12/10/16

Acitivists protest Vatican reaffirmation of gay priests ban

Activists for LGBTQ rights clap back at the Vatican’s decision to reaffirm its opposition to gay priests. The decision was made clear in a document on the priesthood by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy, disappointing those who saw in Pope Francis a more inclusive approach to homosexuality.

 
By Josephine McKenna

Pope Francis (second from right) arrives to lead a mass for the Jubilee for Priests at St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on June 3, 2016.

A Vatican decision to reaffirm its opposition to gay priests has angered activists who thought Pope Francis was changing Rome’s attitudes toward homosexuality.

In a new document on the priesthood, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy reiterated a 2005 statement declaring that men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” or those who “support the so-called ‘gay culture’” cannot be priests.

“Pope Francis has a lot of explaining to do by approving the newest Vatican instruction,” said Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, which campaigns for LGBT rights in the church.

“Francis’s famous ‘Who am I to judge?’ statement in 2013 was made in response to a question about gay men in the priesthood,” DeBernardo said. “That response indicated very plainly that he did not have a problem with a gay priest’s sexual orientation.

“It’s not too late for the pope to retract this document.”

The new document noted that the church’s policy on gay priests has not changed since the last Vatican pronouncement on the subject in 2005.

Many have been hoping for a new approach from the church toward gay priests because of Francis’s statements and the fact that he has gay friends and has spoken against bias toward gays.

The pope has even used the label “gay” rather than the more clinical term “homosexual” that many church officials view as less likely to appear to approve a gay orientation.

“This document is extremely disappointing in its approach to gay men called to be priests,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, an organization of Catholics committed to equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

“These guidelines are a tremendous insult to the thousands of gay men who have served and continue to serve the church with honor and dedication,” she said. “They undermine decades of commitment by these men, and they fail to acknowledge that God calls a great variety of people to the priesthood.”

The document, titled “The Gift of the Priestly Vocation,” was published on Thursday, December 8, but was posted online earlier. It covers many aspects of the priesthood, only touching on the subject of sexuality on a few pages toward the end of the lengthy report.

It includes several quotes from Pope Francis and excerpts from the writings of St. Pope John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

The document says that “the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture.’”

It says such people are “in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women.

“One must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies.”

In an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican daily newspaper, Cardinal Beniamino Stella, head of the Congregation for the Clergy, said the guidelines for training priests needed to be “revamped” to take into account developments in society and the pope’s concerns about the priesthood.

He said special attention was given to Francis’s concerns about “temptations tied to money, to the authoritarian exercise of power, to rigid legalism and to vainglory” among clerics.

The document also emphasizes the need for dioceses and religious orders to guard against admitting potential sex abusers to the priesthood.

“The greatest attention must be given to the theme of the protection of minors and vulnerable adults,” the document says, “being vigilant lest those who seek admission to a seminary or a house of formation, or who are already petitioning to receive Holy Orders, have not been involved in any way with any crime or problematic behavior in this area.”

Complete Article HERE!