A group of repressed Americans spied on the private lives of some US priests. What if we tracked their lives? How many lovers would we discover?
In the past few hours, the US newspaper The Washington Post has reported that the Denver-based non-profit organisation called ‘Catholic Laity and Clergy for Renewal’ has set up a real espionage operation against American Catholic priests. The administrators are Mark Bauman, John Martin and Tim Reichert.
Clearly we are talking about the famous laymen who today have the great mission of explaining to the Church what it should do, how it should live, where it should spend its money and, how much and what it should talk about. We are talking about the moralisers who usually animate repressed psycho blogs. There is no shortage of them on the Italian scene either.
Catholic Laity and Clergy for Renewal
Already from the name you can see how pathological these realities are. Whenever we read ‘renew’, ‘revive’, ‘restart’ and similar terms, we find ourselves in the camp of the great gurus who think they can save everything and everyone. Change everything and everyone. They are the good guys, you are the bad guys. These are the great realities where the greatest abuses take place. Without forgetting, then, that the first aim of these associations is ‘to make money’. We see this clearly by accessing their site.
Fiscal documents from this reality report that the goal is to “empower the Church to fulfil its mission” by providing bishops with “evidence-based resources” with which to identify weaknesses in the formation of priests. Clear? These are the laity we would even like to place within the seminary structures, just as Pope Francis said.
If one were simply to do a little check on the lives of these ‘powerful administrators’, we could see that their lives have nothing consistent with the Gospel dictate. The priests, however, we must spy on them, we must keep them with a noose around their necks so that we can eliminate them as soon as they become inconvenient.
The silence of the bishops, just as happened in Ventimiglia, simply means another way for the laity to keep the Church under blackmail. Accusations of paedophilia, accusations of financial mismanagement and accusations of homosexuality. These are the main ways the laity today use to disqualify priests they do not like.
If two faithful who are divorced and remarried come to the sacristy, however, they demand to receive the Eucharist. You, parish priest, must also keep quiet because they will tell you: ‘Pope Francis said so’.
Jayd Henricks, president of the group, wrote after the scandal emerged: “our job is to love the Church and help the Church to be holy, with every tool she can be given’, including personal data. He wrote that the group had done other research, in addition to analysing dating and hook-up apps”.
Jayd Henricks was also the former executive director of government relations for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. People we fed and who now, clearly, are coming to tell us what we did wrong.
Involvement of US bishops
Now we have to understand: how much were the bishops involved in this affair? In fact, there are US journalists who listened to recordings and viewed documents that Henricks prepared for the bishops. Was this an autonomous decision or were the documents commissioned? If the second hypothesis were true, it would be very serious and the bishops should be dismissed by the Pontiff.
This espionage project is seriously detrimental to the fundamental rights of priests. The affair came to light thanks to the fact that some people who were called to work on it disapproved of this system and denounced it. The journalists viewed two reports prepared for the bishops which cover a time span from 2018 to 2021 and concern various apps and dating sites.
Henricks wrote: ‘This is not about the fact that they are gay priests and seminarians. It is about behaviour that harms everyone involved, at a certain level and in a certain way, and is a testimony against the ministry of the Church’. He, a layman, explains how we should live. All clear.
Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill
The affair involving the Reverend Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill is well known. The priest was the general secretary of the American Bishops’ Conference.
In July 2021, a kind of American blog reported that it had discovered that this man frequented LGBTQ places by tracking his mobile phone data. In liberal America, home of the great rights, no one thought of prosecuting these journalists and sending them to jail. They didn’t. The response of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops was to ask Burrill to resign.
The Bishop of Ventimiglia (Italy), therefore, is not alone in the panorama of the incompetent episcopate.
Some people who are part of the “Catholic Laity and Clergy for Renewal” project were involved in that shameful affair. One only has to look at the photos of those who write on these sites and blogs that publish news about people’s private lives to realise what drives these people to look in other people’s pants.
The moralists proliferate
Reverend Gerald Murray said: ‘The promise of celibacy is a public act, not a private commitment. It is of public interest when it is violated in a scandalous manner’. The only scandalous thing in this affair are the words of this priest.
Murray, however, may have forgotten that visiting an LGBT bar or sauna does not mean violating the promise of celibacy. The priest would do well to go back and study some canon law and look at what goes on in his own rectory, not in others’.
Four million dollars, of unknown origin, were spent on this project. Having obtained the data, these lay people called the bishops and handed over the material. In view of the fact that, as a Church, we have not yet reached a level of maturity that can be said to be sufficient, some presbyters or seminarians may have been demoted or dismissed without any explanation.
One of the contributors to the project, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Some people may not receive promotions or may be sent into retirement. No explanation will be given to them but the bishop will keep these documents’. Silere non possum has already spoken about this system of abuse of power that is being implemented in all dioceses and in all realities, especially here in the Vatican. [here].
We are therefore witnessing a reversal of the system. While everyone is talking about ‘clericalism‘, we have lay people who want to put pressure on the bishops. This is already happening in Germany and Switzerland. There are actual applications that have to be submitted to the parish councils. The priest sends in his CV and waits for the laity to ‘hire’ him. Being hired means having the salary. To have the salary means to eat. This is the drift to which we have also bowed with the Apostolic Constitution In Ecclesiarum Communione. “The placet of the Parish Council” is crucial. While everyone points to the non-existent clericalism, therefore, the laity act to achieve ‘power’. Because these people, let’s face it, see the priesthood as a power, certainly not as a service.
A harsh and decisive response
The Catholic Church has a duty to respond very clearly and decisively against these sectarian drifts of moralising lay groups. Firstly, the presbyters involved must initiate civil and criminal cases, depending on the states where these offences occur. If superiors are also involved, they must denounce them without fear. Spying on the personal lives of their priests or seminarians is certainly not the bishop’s job.
Even from a canonical point of view, action must be taken. This system must end, and immediately, and priests must act en masse against these people. The Church, if it wants to survive, must absolutely condemn this system (system it is) and protect the lives of its priests.
It must be clear to all: the diocesan priest takes no vow of chastity, but is bound to celibacy. How a priest, in private, lives his sexuality is a private affair, just as it is for that, often repressed, layman who is spying and accusing him. Whoever meddles in the private lives of others, moreover, commits a sin and a crime, for which he must answer before the judicial authorities. We have said it many times, the Church is not the Red Cross and keeping silent is not ‘mercy’ but ‘masochism’. Let us wake up.
Silere non possum