Outing the Church: Archbishop Wuerl, Homosexual Ministry & Gay Marriage.

Two notable bloggers have  current posts on some bishops’ perceptions of their teaching role: “locking down discussion“, is how William Lindsay at Bilgrimage describes it – even when the dissent comes from fellow bishops.  (Bishop Sample of Marquette has banned Bishop Gumbleton from speaking in his diocese, because he has uncomfortable and “well-known” views on homosexuality and women’s ordination.  Even though neither of these were up for discussion, he appears to be afraid that his colleagues simple appearance might become an occasion for discussion, which it his own responsibility to prevent.

Meanwhile, Fr Geoff Farrow has a piece called “pay, pray and obey,” in which he refers to news stories about Archbishop Wuerl of Washington DC.

Archbishop Wuerl with SC Justice Roberts

Archbishop Wuerl with SC Justice Roberts

The first story from the New York Times of April 1989 , dating back to 1989, tells how he was called in by Pope John Paul II to muzzle a colleague, Archbishop Hunthausen, in Seattle who was seen as having views that were too liberal – amongst others, on gay Catholics:

After criticism of the archdiocese by conservative Catholics, the Vatican named Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh, a conservative in church affairs, to share power in Seattle in 1985.

Bishop Wuerl was given control of five areas in which Archbishop Hunthausen was considered lax: ministry to homosexuals, granting of marriage annulments, clergy appointments, liturgy and moral issues of health care.

Most priests and nuns in the Seattle Archdiocese continued to support Archbishop Hunthausen, who called the power-sharing arrangement ”unworkable.”

Another story (at Huffington Post), on the apparently “unstoppable” gay marriage bill in DC includes as a footnote the well-known fierce opposition by Archbishop Wuerl.

With gay issues prominent in both stories, I thought that now might be a good time to haul out a story on Archbishop Wuerl I cam across some weeks ago, with quite a different perspective. (As I have no corroborating evidence, I offer it with no comment or endorsement-  but I have also seen no denial). From Mike Ference at the Pittsburgh Independent Examiner:

Wuerl: The Lavender Don is at it again

Donald Wuerl’s personal battle over the legalization of same-sex marriage in Washington D.C. is nothing more than a classic example of the pot calling the kettle lavender. According to an article in the Washington Post, Wuerl sent a letter to 300 local Catholic priests, reminding them that the Catholic Church opposes same-sex marriage – as if they already didn’t know. Wuerl unleashed a barrage of staged media conferences and interviews, in order to reinforce the church’s stand on the topic. Perhaps a more suitable messenger is needed.

For those who are either in denial or have been asleep for the past 50 years, Donald Wuerl, like so many other Catholic clerics, is an alleged homosexual. Was he celibate as a cleric? This writer would be willing to bet the farm and my first-born that Wuerl was about as celibate as the growing number of rabbits that invade my vegetable garden every new season. Was he a predator of certain young men as was alleged to be the case with protégé John Cardinal Wright? Maybe not, and definitely not as a pedophile of young children. But, I’d wager my other two kids that Wuerl was fond of at least a handful of candidates in every new crop of seminarians who entered the St. Paul’s Seminary where Wuerl served as rector – especially the ones who chose not to honor any vow of celibacy.

The same-sex marriage battle is one that Donald Wuerl is destined to loose. Wuerl can manipulate politicians, judges, law enforcement, and even the Signatura, (Vatican’s version of the US Supreme Court) but taking on the gay community, while essentially turning one’s back on his own kind, is a battle waiting for a white flag to be raised. Is it not? This could and should be Wuerl the Red Hat Wannabee’s last hurrah.

While being known as Donna Wuerl by the Pittsburgh gay community, administrators at a prominent Pittsburgh hospital openly discussed in a private venue Wuerl’s homosexuality, pointing out the inherent need to cover it up. This revelation only suggests, very strongly, that Wuerl must have been practicing the gay lifestyle while he was bishop of Pittsburgh. That revelation is based on a highly credible source.

Will members of the Pittsburgh gay community join their brothers and sisters inside the DC beltway, in order to further the already outed ecclesiastic? Will this slippery soap opera produce a clean ending or will Wuerl continue to swing on each side of the fence?

10 Responses to “Outing the Church: Archbishop Wuerl, Homosexual Ministry & Gay Marriage.”

  1. colkoch Says:

    This is interesting, and I for one believe it’s true. Poor DC first they get the gay hypocrit Theodora McCarrick and now Donna Wuerl.

    This is surely part of the evil that’s eating at the soul of the Church, these closeted hypocritical gay clerics. Poor Dutch Hunthausen, he makes some compassionate gestures to normalize the gay Catholic–because he truly cared about psychological health of his gay priests–and Dutch is crucified by this same Donna Wuerl.

    I happen to know Archbishop Hunthausen on a personal level. When my best friend died, (he happened to be a gay priest) Dutch was at his funeral. Bishop Morlino, the erstwhile shepherd of our diocese and who most certainly helped put my friend in an early grave, was not. Morlino was known in Helena as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Dutch was known as Dutch.

    It’s probably a good thing Morlino didn’t attend because the Church was full of gay Catholics who were not happy with Morlino, but couldn’t get enough of Dutch. It was one of the most amazing funerals I have ever attended, in that the eulogies were given by both laity and priests, and all were gay. In a weird way it was kind of a coming out party.
    Except of course for Morlino.

    Terence I firmly believe that the energy in this Church can not be purified until the gay question is dealt with honestly, lovingly, compassionately, and openly. Gays and gay sexuality are the keys which will unlock a lot of stupid repressive sexual theology and will let the Spirit flow.

    • queeringthechurch Says:

      Colleen, thank you for your personal feedback on the people involved. From my distance, I have none of this personal insight.

      I agree you that the whole issue of sexuality, the hypocrisy around it by clergy and laity alike, and the abuses that ensue, lie at the heart of the problems currently faced by the church. Gay issues have been at the forefront of this, but other teaching is also misguided, as is becoming clear with the furore breaking out over the proposed pastoral letter. If they persist in branding even contraception as intrinsically evil, they will simply alienate still further any moderate, conventionally married Catholics who still believe them to be relevant. This will simply precipitate the next reformation, predicted by Richard Sipe.

  2. Fr. Marty Kurylowicz Says:

    Postings like this one that continues to reveal the truth will help stop the hypocrisy and severe harm caused by the dissociated closeted gay clerics.

    Being a priest and psychologist, I know the kind of serious harm that is caused to children who grow up gay by those who oppose Marriage Equality. “Kids are being hurt!!!” There is plenty of research data that makes that supports this statement. I have been an advocate for children who grow up gay for their protection from antigay statements.

    Benedict XVI’s continual ordering the hierarchy in a united effort to oppose Marriage Equality is proof that they have not even considered the harm to children and have ignored the overabundance amount of research data. The harm that is done to children is tremendous. It cuts deeply at the very core of child’s ability to bond/attach to another or other human beings for life. However, in the meantime how many millions of innocent children will continue to be abused in this way because of their criminal neglect of their responsibility. Everyone is responsible to thoroughly study and learn the facts and research data about human sexuality for the safety and well-being of children. There is a lot more to learn than the outdated, inaccurate and whimsical ideas of “the birds and the bees,” a child’s life depends on our being responsible in this regard. In order to be more like this mom was in this ad.

    The U.S. Bishops are currently individually reviewing the draft of a pastoral letter — “Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan” –which they will formally consider at their Nov. 16-19 national meeting [2009]. With all due respect this pastoral letter will become their most vivid indictment against them and Benedict XVI, exposing their irresponsible leadership at the expensive of millions of innocent children, globally.


    • queeringthechurch Says:

      Marty, thank you for this contribution. You probably know that I started to look at the question of celibacy, or the lack thereof, as a spinoff of my writing on the broader issue of clerical abuse. As I did so, I became convinced that the problem is even more widespread than publicly recognised. The Us Bishops’ own figures claim that as many as one in twenty priests have been shown to be guilty of some form of child abuse – but this only refers to the reported cases, and only to those incidents affecting children. The cases involving seminarians or religious women is unknown, but appears to be substantial to judge from anecdotal reports from ex-seminarians, and from pleas by the women’s religious superiors in Africa.

      Unlike you, I ma no expert – but I have seen numerous analyses that the hypocrisy and distorted candidate selection caused by the misguided policy of enforced celibacy, which is widely ignored by many priests both straight and gay, simply leads to what you rightly call the “dissociated closeted” clerics.

      As many others have already shown, the proposed “pastoral” letter is nothing of the kind, and displays a woeful ignorance of simple biological and psychological facts around sex. Before trying to teach the rest of us about it, they need to study up some “human sexuality 101” themselves. Better still, some of them at least should acquire some genuine, openly acknowledged, real world experience of it themselves.

  3. Phillip Clark Says:

    These revelations are, most interesting, to say the least. These accusations are noteworthy, especially in light of the current times when Archbishop Wuerl has decided to shed his pastoral, moderate image for the sake of being one of the fierece opposors of same-sex marriage.

    I agree with Colleen that the legitimate evaluation and comprehensive study of the subject of homosexuality is key to the Church moving forward today. However, I’m not sure whether “outing” certain prelates is a wise strategy for gaining ground or influence in this struggle. Even though this practice has become widespread, especially in light of conservative politicians who will say and vote on one thing and then practice another in their private lives, I’m not sure whether it would be particularly useful, or even moral, in this situation within the Church. The outing of politicians is practically necessary. To have individuals who come out openly against same-sex marriage and any rights for homosexuals and then to find out that they themselves still hide in the closet is a diservice not only to their own consciences, but most importantly, to their constituants. Agreeably, the same argument could be made for closeted prelates. But the Church is, or at least should be, an institution of a different calibur than the world’s temporal society. Ultimately, this turncoat bishops answer to Christ, Who they emulate as the shepherds and leaders of their dioceses. Christ, even though He knew the thoughts and intentions of all hypocrites did not openly seek their ruin, He did chastise the Pharisees and Sadducees for not “walking the walk” but that was about it. In these difficult endeavors I think that we must endure and bear and find consolation in the attitude of Christ, a Lamb Who opened not His mouth, but was lead silently to His death… In the end, I am convinced that the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, has a way to bring justice to all of the homosexuals within the Church who have been disenfranchised and made to feel less than human. We must remember what Scripture tells us, vengeance does not belong to us, but to the Lord.

    • queeringthechurch Says:

      Phillip, I agree that the question of outing is a delicate matter and needs to be approached with caution. This is especially so with Bishop Wuerl. where as I stated, I have no corroborating evidence. But this is not just a question of “vengeance”, nor is it simply a matter concerning only adult gay men and lesbians. Fr Marty Kurylowicz (see comment below) is a noted child psychologist, who has done extensive work on the harm done to gay children. He notes the “severe harm caused by the disassociated gay clerics.”

      The allegations against Archbishop Wuerl are not just that he is gay, or just a hypocrite, but that his partners / victims are or were seminarians subject to his authority. Even if these men were nominally willing, this still remains a case of abuse, as is any sexual advance by a powerful man towards a young and impressionable junior under his command. Nor is it an isolated case – all the evidence from seminary reports is that the practice is widespread. I was taught in my Catholic high school that among the attributes of God are that “God is love”, but also that “God is truth”. If, as I believe, the The Myth of Priestly Celibacy is one of the causes of the appalling scandal of clerical abuse, we need to do what we can to break down that myth – not as an act of vengeance, but just in pursuit of the truth.

      • colkoch Says:

        Fr. Marty has essentially stated my own reasons for blogging on gay issues. I have seen my fill of damage done to both the children of gay parents and gay children from the kind of drivel coming from self hating gay clerics.

        As you say Terence, Jesus was about love and truth. Nothing impacts one’s ability to freely love than being terrified of their truth. We need more Weakland’s who, although he was forced into being honest, finally found some peace and an authentic voice in that honesty.

        Would that more of our clergy admit their truth rather than be forced into it. As long as they continue to vocalize anti gay sentiments it may just be that this kind of force which is a necessary part of the solution.

        As to Dutch Hunthausen, it wasn’t just the gay thing, Ronnie Regan wanted him silenced over his nuclear arms protests. Dutch was the price JPII paid for the CIA’s support of Solidarity. It’s amazing how twisted energies get all entangled.

      • Fr. Marty Kurylowicz Says:

        You honor me by calling me an expert in child psychology I thank you. However, I am not an expert in child psychology. I have, however, known and studied under some great child psychologists, psychiatrists and child psychoanalysts. There are many that have left a lasting impression on me, as to regarding the harmful effects that are inflicted on LGBT children growing up.

        The first is, Richard Isay MD, who I heard lecture at the “New Ways Ministry Symposium” held in Pittsburgh, March 1997, after which I came out publicly to my parishioners, in Sparta, Michigan. I explain more about my coming out on the Thalamus Center blog

        Harry Stack Sullivan MD, is a noted psychoanalyst who is believed to have been gay. Dr. Sullivan’s writings describe in detail this “dissociative” state of closeted gay men. His description of this dissociative state would help to understand many of the clerics and hierarchy’s homosexual activity and yet their complete denial of having any sexual relations. I explain more about Dr. Sullivan on the Thalamus Center -> Perpetuation of Generational Violence to Children — Who Grow Up to Be Gay http://fathermartykurylowicz.blogspot.com/2008/12/perpetuation-of-generational-violence.html

        However, for the sake of children now and for generations to come, we must draw these clerics and members of the hierarchy attention to their sexual activity. First, it depends if we are in a situation to do this or not. I have been remaining that the hierarchy’s individual staff members that they are to act responsibly concerning the misconduct of bishops and cardinals that they work for and not to collude with their abuses by being silent. It is important to remember that children’s lives are a stake; their safety and well-being always must come first and it must be immediate. Jesus prescribes the process in detail (Matt. 18: 15-17) how to do this that is we go to them privately, discuss the matter, and keep the whole situation between the two of us. However, if this person does not do the right thing, then we are to take another person with us and discuss it again. If then he does not listen, then go to the church and make it known.

        This is by no means an easy thing to do, but it must be done if we know for sure of harm being done to children.

        For me the knowledge I learned at the “New Ways Ministry Symposium”, March 1997 that children as young as 4 and 5 years of age who grow up gay are severely harmed for life by the Vatican’s antigay teachings, it led me to come out publicly immediately, at great risk to my future well-being and my being severely mistreated by Cardinal Ratzinger (now Benedict XVI). I know that I could not live with myself if I had remained silent. Because I knew first hand and from my studies at the University of Michigan the kind of severe life threatening harm that comes to a child at a very young age when they are defenseless to protect themselves. I knew too, too much to remain silent. After I came out, I was bombarded by many inquires why I felt such an urgency to “come out” publicly to my parishioners. My answer has always remained the same -> “If you see a 2 year old child playing on the train tracks of an oncoming speeding train you don’t think about anything else but to grab the kid to safety!” Kids Are Being Hurt!!!
        I explain more about this on the Thalamus Center ->

        Because we are talking about child abuse particularly from the Vatican’s, Benedict XVI’s and the hierarchy’s antigay teachings and public condemning statements against homosexuals it is imperative that we act immediately to protect children.

        Other noted gay psychoanalysts that I have had the great good fortune to hear speak and read their clinical research endeavors are Jack Drescher MD and Sidney Phillips MD. They described in detail the harm that comes to children as young as 4 and 5 years of age who grow up gay in social environments that are influenced by antigay social and religious norms. I have excerpts of their work posted on the Thalamus Center a blog that I have started. http://fathermartykurylowicz.blogspot.com/

        The problem with the Roman Catholic hierarchy can easily be resolved by following the example of our Episcopalians, sisters and brothers. This is immediately allowing women equal status to that of men in opening all ordained ministries including being pope to women and do the same for all LGBTQI people, as well. The next important step would be to make celibacy optional. I think that this would be in part be what Pope John XXIII meant by starting the Vatican II. This would help resolve quickly many of the problems in the Roman Catholic Church today concerning the abuses of power and sexuality as found in the hierarchy and it would provide the “checks and balances” so badly needed to avoid ever allowing the massive type of child sexual abuse from ever happening again. In the name of children this should be done as soon as possible.

        With all best wishes,

      • queeringthechurch Says:

        Thank you Marty, for pointing out my error, but more for your full and clear exposition of the problem and necessary solution, with which I fully concur, and to which I cannot add. It is precisely because of the damage and antagonism towards the church we see from so many gay men and lesbians, that I and my friends blog so incessantly on the need for change.

      • Fr. Marty Kurylowicz Says:

        You and your friends need to air your frustrations among yourselves. Because, at times, we do not know how to change the wrongs, especially of a so unbelievably insensitive, and insulated group such as Benedict XVI and his hierarchy. My above remarks are thoughts on how to approach the public about LGBT issues to foster changes for the better for everyone.

        But we need our friends to blow off stream and feel connected to and feel validated by people who understand. Privately, I can get real angry, because Benedict XVI is so disconnected from humanity it is frightening. I believe that he is making it blatantly universally clear that the Roman Catholic Church, concerning the papacy and the hierarchy are in need of great reform, again.

        Benedict XVI mistreatment of LGBT people is so obsessive that it really seems to be working against him, at least in the USA, regarding Marriage Equality. And with every bishop and cardinal mouthing the exact same words regarding gay marriage is so revealing of what a very sad and ineffective group of men they have become.

        For myself, it is nice to know I am not the only one who feels so strongly about these issues.

        I started the Thalamus Center blog to try to counteract some od this destructive force of Benedict XVI and his hierarchy.

        With all best wishes,

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