“Just don’t get caught”

“Just don’t get caught”

The former bishop of the Altoona-Johnstown, PA, diocese sent a letter in 1985 to several priests who were spotted by police in a known hangout for homosexuals, pedophiles, and prostitutes.

The letter seems heavily concerned with the potential for scandal but not as much with the fact that several priests of the diocese are gay.

    “What I could not do is to find acceptable the commonly raised “justification”: “This is the way I am; I must be me (I).” True, orientation is one thing. But intrinsically evil activity can never be a justified and acceptable manner of life.  Especially for one sworn to celibacy. And given the seriousness of priestly vocation, scandal, etc., the Covi is correct—as was all our training: Nothing that could even give rise to suspicion. If I find it painful to write these notes, I can understand that it is distressing for you to receive them. Please believe that your happy, fruitful priestly life and ministry alone prompts me to intervene—as well as the safeguarding of the Church?s name and the honor of the priesthood. I am confident that you sympathetically understand.

Okay, so he says homosexual acts are intrinsically evil, but he says it once and moves on, as if he’s just following the pro-forma requirement of a bishop to state it. If he was truly concerned that these priests were engaged in homosexual activity, I think he would have spent a little more time in his letter on it. Instead, we get the sense that he’s saying, “If you’re going to be go out on ‘gay dates,’ at least be more discreet about it. We don’t want to cause a scandal.”

This is how one friend paraphrased the letter:

    “Dear Priests, Please be advised that your sexual recreations are being monitored.  Hint.  Of course I’m sure the inclusion of your name must be coincidental.  Hint.  And our vows are very, very serious.  Hint, hint.  Since policemen.  Hint.  Use unmarked cars.  Hint.  Be aware that. Hint.  It is not always easy to be sure someone in a position to SUE.  Hint, hint.  Is not observing your activities.  Which I’m sure are innocent. Hint.  Or at least deniable.  Yours in Christ, &c.”

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli

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