Outing Cardinal Egan

A priest's lawsuit alleges the Catholic Church is hiding pedophile clergy—and offers a stunning reason why

Yet only after the Albany testimony did Hoatson receive a formal letter letting him go, "effective immediately." It would take another eight months before Myers reassigned the priest to the Catholic Charities chaplaincy, in early 2004.

The hiatus allowed Hoatson to pursue his work with victims full-time, and he championed their cause at demonstrations, in letters to the editor, before area bishops. At Catholic Charities, he said Mass for employees and did routine parish work, all while keeping up his crusade. He says he'd managed to fulfill his ministry without much interference from the archdiocese until November 2005, when Myers issued a "precept" binding Hoatson to certain conditions. The document orders him "to cease activity in his own business"—his victims' ministry—and "to show proper reverence and obedience to his ordinary."

Goodness says the archbishop handed down the precept because "Father Hoatson had not been adhering to conditions of priesthood." The priest, he notes, resides in Queens even though he's required to live within the archdiocesan district. Hoatson says he doesn't feel safe in his assigned residence because of the alleged harassment.

"It's time the church confronts this dysfunction," says Father Bob Hoatson.
photo: Jay Muhlin
"It's time the church confronts this dysfunction," says Father Bob Hoatson.

Details

Outing Cardinal Egan
Father Bob Hoatson Says Closeted Catholic Leaders Can't Protect Abuse VictimsóAnd He's Naming Names
by Kristen Lombardi

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  • He isn't the only one who believes he's being treated differently. Lasch, a lawyer trained in church canon law who has advised his fellow priest, says, "The diocese has exhibited a pattern of prejudicial treatment against Bob." He adds, "I see it as making it difficult for him to do his work."

    Either way, Hoatson thinks he knows what's up. "I have to be gotten rid of because I'm trying to break the cycle of sexual disorder in the church," he explains. The disorder includes what he describes as "a promiscuous homosexual culture" perpetuating the cover-up of clergy sexual abuse. Egan, Hubbard, and Myers have hidden predatory priests because they're hiding their own gay activities, he charges.

    To stop the abuse, he says, "you have to admit what is going on in the church with its homosexual culture."


    What Hoatson is saying is, in many ways, nothing new. Speculation over homosexual bishops has circulated among the Catholic faithful for decades.

    The topic remained largely off-limits—until the clergy-abuse crisis. That's when a loose network of victims' advocacy and church-reform groups sprang up, demanding accountability and pressing for change. Not only has this survivors' movement encouraged people to come forward and tell their stories, but it has also pushed the church to acknowledge the scale of clergy sexual abuse. To date, according to the Catholic bishops' own figures, 9,660 people nationwide since 1950 have accused 4,089 priests of molesting them. In New York City, 140 victims have named 49 abusive priests; in Albany, it's 141 and 69 respectively.

    Among those who've tracked the crisis, it's not hard to find people who believe that the reason some bishops have shielded predatory priests is that they fear exposure of their own sexual activities. Anne Barrett Doyle, of BishopAccountability.org, a nonprofit archive documenting the clergy-abuse crisis, explains that this belief "is widely accepted by activists and scholars and for good reason." Recent cases have shed light on abusive bishops who, in turn, had covered up for others, she points out.

    Consider, for example, the case of Bishop Thomas Dupre, of Springfield, Massachusetts. In March 2004, he abruptly retired and fled his diocese when confronted with allegations that he'd molested two men decades earlier. Until then, Dupre had been the target of fierce criticism for his handling of some 14 accused priests, many of whom held powerful positions as his underlings.

    Hoatson supporters consider his lawsuit—and his outing of purportedly gay bishops—a logical step in the fight for accountability. For Catholic leaders may have acknowledged that abusive priests preyed upon children for decades, but they haven't owned up to their complicity. "Personally," says Maria Cleary, of New Jersey Voice of the Faithful, a church-reform group that has worked with Hoatson, "I feel some things just need to be said at this point. There comes a point in any change process when you have to start pushing the envelope."

    Pat Serrano, of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, seconds that: "You need to express yourself loudly to get the church's attention."


    If victims and their allies feel more emboldened to question bishops' sexuality, it may be because the church has raised the issue all on its own. Last November, the Vatican handed down a document known as the "Congregation for Catholic Education," in which it denounced homosexuality as "intrinsically immoral" and "disordered." It suggested that homosexual men cannot be celibate, and banned formerly active gay seminarians from ordination.

    Sipe, the author and scholar, says the Vatican document "has opened up the question of sexual orientation among the priesthood," including the hierarchy. And it's set the stage for a potential backlash, incensing gay priests and causing Catholic faithful to think twice about the church's hypocrisy. For years, gay Catholic groups like Dignity USA have refused to call gay bishops on it, keeping an anti-outing policy.

    "There's conflict in the gay community with the idea of outing a bishop," he says. Indeed, he says one Dignity leader showed him a private list of 142 bishops who are purportedly homosexual. Some are celibate, others not. But nothing has ever come of it.

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    2 comments
    gilhcan
    gilhcan

    James Goodness, spokesman for the Newark archdiocese, should be named James Badness!  He has constantly lied for his bishop and his diocese.  He is typical of all the clerical squalor that is destroying the church.  Like Jesus, the church must die and rise new again.  There is no saving it in its current sinful and criminal state.

    gilhcan
    gilhcan

    The problem is not that some priests or bishops are gay, the problem is that some are also mentally ill and sexually abuse minors.  Another problem is that so many priests and bishops are gay and violate their chastity with other adults.  That is considered a sin with them as with other unmarried Catholics.  That sin is also hypocrisy on their part.  They pretend publicly to be what they are not.

    Many young men have not matured at all when they enter the seminary.  Many gay young men, as a result of twisted mental processes that result from church teachings about sexual orientation and sex, as well as from other causes, really believe that their homosexuality is a sign for them from God that they have been set aside for the priesthood.  Celibacy, that requires chastity, goes together as a solution they presume they can live with because they have no attraction to the opposite sex and that form of marriage.  

    Hence, the Catholic clerical state becomes a kind of haven for all sorts of people who are disturbed about their sexuality.  That has been caused by the church's teachings about sexuality and sex and reinforced by the twisted thinking of some gay clergy.  Much of that mental illness about sexuality and sex has been caused, at least in part, by the church.

    The church needs to get off its negative notions about sex as well as its unnatural notions that a sexless life is natural or holier than a sexual life.  Besides celibate priests, we also have nuns and brothers who vow chastity.  That amounts to the same thing as the required celibacy of the clergy.  And many nuns and brothers, especially in earlier times, entered their religious communities thinking required chastity was a Godly way of resolving their sexual problems according to church teachings.  

    Not all gay people, by any means, who becomes priests or nuns or brothers suffer from sexual deviation that drives them to sexually abuse others. Chastity or celibacy cannot be considered holy because the church or a religious community says it is or requires it, but only when an individual freely chooses it for herself or himself as their personal way of life.  Even then, it is no holier than a life of respectful sex.  That is why celibacy should not be required for priestly ordination, only by individuals wanting to live that way.  

    That is why women and married people should be admitted to the priesthood.  Requiring celibacy and/or chastity by any institution of anyone in order to function in that institution is an invasion of a very basic human right.  We should not be surprised that since the church required celibacy for ordination since the eleventh century, when it was initiated to protect church property, not for any consideration of it being a holier-than-thou state, than a sexual state, that it has always been a problem.  Celibacy is unnatural.  And chastity should only be considered to be respectful sexual encounters with others--or none at all.


     
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