Gay Catholic Author Loses Church Leadership Role After Publication of Tell-All Memoir

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday September 24, 2008

Boston-based writer Scott Pomfret--one half of the "Romentics," a joint enterprise of writing queer-themed romances undertaken by Pomfrert and his husband Scott Whittier--recently penned a solo project, a slice of autobiography titled Since My Last Confession: A Gay Catholic Memoir.

Pomfret, a lawyer with the Securities & Exchange Commission, is a devoted Catholic as well as a family man, a legal professional, and a successful writer (or, as his Web site has it, story teller).

Pomfret and Whittier saw one of their self-published gay romance novels, Hot Sauce, picked up for re-publishing by a major firm, Warner Books, which led to a story in the New York Times Magazine.

Pomfret is also a man of faith; as a Sept. 24 Boston Globe article points out, until recently, Pomfret was active in the life of his church, Boston's St. Anthony Shrine, where for eight years Pomfret served the church as a lector, as well as in other lay capacities, including as a Eucharistic minister (a lay person who offers the sacrament of the Eucharist, believed by Catholics to be the genuine flesh of Jesus Christ), and a provider of training for lay ministers, among other roles.

But not any more. Pomfret says that he has been suspended from all of his duties at St. Anthony Shrine, following the publication of his memoir.

Pomfret and Whittier--or, Scott and Scott, as their books are credited--have written a shelf-load of "Romentics" gay romance novels, which are characterized by light, fast-moving plots and hunky gay characters looking for love. The books have included some of the most popular gay stereotypes--mechanics, fashion designers--and given them a fresh twist, and additional depth, by allowing the characters a little more complexity than the funny, farcical stories in which they appear.

Those books were certainly no secret from the friars and others at St. Andrew's, and indeed it was not the Romentics novels that the church seemingly responded to; it was Pomfret's memoir, which not only examined Pomfret's personal spiritual journey as a gay Catholic man, but also included characters drawn, ostensibly, from Pomfret's experiences within the Catholic faith, including his acquaintance with gay priests--sexually active gay priests, as his book reportedly has it.

In an interview with EDGE earlier this year, Pomfret indicated that the pedophile priest scandal, in which the Catholic faith was rocked by revelations of decades-long patterns of sexual abuse targeting children by priests who were evidently shielded by their bishops, had provided the original impetus for the book.

The Church's eventual solution to the crisis of sexually predatory priests was to deny openly gay men from entering the seminary, despite evidence that the vast majority of pedophiles are heterosexual men.

Subsequent analysis of the crisis by filmmakers and others indicated that the process of priestly training itself may have arrested the sexual development of priests, thus making the emergence of a number of sexual predators targeting children more likely.

The Vatican, however, has not addressed that hypothesis; instead, both Pope John Paul II and his successor, Pope Benedict, chose to issue a series of anti-gay pronouncements targeting gays as individuals, as parents, and as family members.

More local to Boston, Cardinal Sean O'Malley took a hard-line stance against lay organizations like Voice of the Faithful, which sought to promote reform within the Church in the wake of the pedophile priest scandal.

O'Malley was also criticized for closing vibrant, active Boston-area churches along with insolvent ones drawing few attendants.

Pomfret's book, described in the Globe article as "mocking toward... O'Malley," raised concerns about the roles Pomfret filled for St. Anthony's Shrine, the article cited Rev. David Convertino, executive director of St. Anthony's, as saying.

Convertino characterized Pomfret's writings as pornographic, the article indicated, quoting him as saying, "There were people who felt it was incompatible for someone to stand up publicly and say, 'I'm a pornographer, and I'm a lector at St. Anthony Shrine.'"

Added Convertino, "There's a public stance that he's taking, and it seems that most of this is to sell the book."

The decision to remove Pomfret from his lay duties seems to have originated with the Fraciscan Friars of Holy Name Province; the article cited a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Boston as saying that the Friars oversee the Shrine, and denying that the Archdiocese had moved to relive Pomfret of his leadership roles.

Pomfret claimed that a spirituality group for gays and lesbians had been axed; Convertino denied this, saying that the group had been reformatted from a monthly meeting to occasional retreats and the like, the article reported.

Convertino also said that the new format for the gay and lesbian spirituality group had been in the works well before Pomfret's book hit the shelves.

Said Pomfret, "I anticipated in my book that perhaps the archdiocese might boot me out, but it never occurred to me that it would be the friars."

Added the author, "I am still kind of speechless--I am on some level amazed that it came from the friars, since these guys sat through interviews with me for the express purpose of this book."

However, the article reported, Pomfret also said that he was informed that the friars were angered at the approach the book ended up taking.

In the EDGE interview from last summer, Pomfret had addressed the issue of being gay versus Catholic guilt, saying, "I have generalized Catholic guilt."

Added Pomfret, "I feel guilty if I forget to give my mother a card on Mother's Day but I don't feel guilt about being gay.

"I don't feel shame about sex anymore."

Added Pomfret, "But a lot of people from many different faiths continue to struggle."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.