Website Encourages Outing D.C.-Area Catholic Clergy, Church Officials

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday November 19, 2009

A Web site that portrays its mission as "Bringing the light of truth to the darkness of hypocrisy" invites readers to share their stories of sexual trysts, or other accounts of how they know that a priest or other official of the Catholic church is gay--or, if not gay, having a (heterosexual) affair despite his vow of celibacy.

The site,, features text that tells readers, "This site was created to provide you with the opportunity to save LGBT youth from the hypocrisy of priests in the Archdiocese of Washington who are socially, romantically or sexually active gay men, yet stand silent while Archbishop Wuerl and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops increase their dogmatic war against gay families." The site's text continues, "For generations, in Catholic churches across the country, LGBT youth are told they should be ashamed of who they are and that they should lead loveless lives as social and religious abominations. The emotional, psychological and spiritual abuse inflicted on them by Catholic priests and our church hierarchy is in reality more damaging than any level of physical or sexual child abuse that one would quickly condemn. Yet to this abuse, few raise their voices and say 'ENOUGH!'"

The text makes it plain that sexual contact between priests and others, whether gay or straight in nature, is equally hypocritical, given the church's stances on sexual relationships of all sorts. The church teaches that sexual intimacy outside the context of marriage is sinful--but also declares that gays and lesbians are "sexually disordered," and stands against marriage for same-sex families, teaching that God "calls" gays to lead celibate lives.

The church also runs workshops intended to teach gays how to be celibate. ChurchOuting's text declares, "As America grows closer to establishing full civil equality for LGBT citizens and our families, the Church hierarchy's attacks against the gay community have reached a breaking point. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, under the directive of Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, has just passed a pastoral letter directing every parish priest in the country to work to destroy gay and lesbian families. More than the damage this will do to gay and lesbian adults who seek the rights and responsibilities of marriage, this antigay campaign will spiritually scar another generation of young LGBT Catholics."

The site suggests that many Catholic clerics and officials are gay men who either actively seek to oppress gay people, or condone such conduct through silence and inaction. "It is shameful that in many Catholic churches, this abuse is being supported by men, who are gay themselves, leading closeted lives of self-persecution and quiet desperation," the text says. "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. This hypocrisy must end."

The site also post a disclaimer that reads, "The goal of this site is not to force Catholic priests out of the closet against their will. The goal of this campaign is to aggregate reports on every gay priest in the Archdiocese, so that we can work with them, one on one, helping them stand up to the church hierarchy's stand on this important issue."

The church has also sought to lay blame for its ongoing sex abuse scandal at the feet of its gay clergy, barring gay men from seminaries despite statistical evidence that the overwhelming majority of child abusers are heterosexuals. Indeed, a recent report commissioned by the church concluded that gay priests were not to blame for the pattern of abuse that molesting priests followed for decades. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which has been vocal in its claims that gay families are "harmful" to society as a whole, was told that "sexual identity" should "be separated from the problem of sexual abuse." The research, being conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, indicates that there is no "connection between homosexual identity and the increased likelihood of subsequent abuse from the data that we have right now," according to John Jay's Margaret Smith.

Web site The Sexist noted in a Nov. 19 article about the site that ChurchOuting.Org is run by Phil Attey, who is a "netroots organizing pioneer." the Sexist viewed Attey's site skeptically: "To Attey, publicly detailing your homosexual tryst with a priest is practically a charitable contribution," the article reads, quoting the site's text as reading, "Thank you for helping to liberate a closeted gay or romantically involved heterosexual priest from the oppressive anti-marriage equality agenda."

"Wait a minute," The Sexist article reads. "Since when was a homosexual witchhunt meant to free people from their political agendas?"

The Sexist quotes gay Web site Queerty as summing up the argument that will not meet its objective by noting, "no single (gay) priest is going to convince the Archdiocese's leadership, including topper Don Wuerl-who is threatening to abandon the Church's [Washington, D.C.] social services program if marriage equality legislation passes [in the district]-to give up on its anti-gay crusade just because a website has the name of an allegedly gay priest."

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.