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December 03, 2009

DC Agenda: New web site targets closeted Catholic priests

DC Agenda's story on the new churchouting.org website includes notes of caution from GLAA President Mitch Wood and me:

[Gay Catholic Phil Attey] has launched a web site to collect information about closeted gay Catholic priests assigned to the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., with the aim of “persuading” them to disclose their sexual orientation and speak out against the church’s opposition to same-sex marriage....

Mitch Wood, president of the Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance, said an outing campaign against the Catholic Church should be directed at “higher up decision-makers, not rank-and-file clergy.”

GLAA Vice President Rick Rosendall cautioned that indiscriminate outings of priests could backfire and hurt the LGBT rights movement.

“If you had an ordinary priest who was not brave or bold enough to throw his pastoral career into a tailspin by confronting the hierarchy publicly, targeting him would likely turn the main focus back on those doing the outing, and show them to be cruel and fanatical,” Rosendall said.

“Our opponents on the radical religious right already portray themselves as victims,” he said. “We should take care to avoid playing into their hands.”

I made my comments after listening to Phil Attey describe his purpose. A message on his website says, “Once a story is verified, we will be contacting the priests involved to help them make the right choices.” So on the one hand, he is trying to help these priests, while on the other he is threatening to out them against their will. This reminds me of an anti-abortion activist I know, a closeted priest in fact, who tries to persuade women not to have abortions even as he tries to get the government to forcibly prevent abortions. Ah, yes, the iron fist of coercion in the velvet glove of pastoral ministry. Not with my support, they don't.

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