- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 25, 2002

Homosexual groups placed a full-page advertisement in yesterday's editions of the New York Times, telling Roman Catholic Church leaders not to blame homosexuals for the church's sex scandal.

"Now, church leaders are engaged in a cynical and orchestrated campaign to scapegoat gay people for this moral and public relations disaster. Catholic Church leaders must take responsibility for their own actions, end the coverups, and stop demonizing gay people," said the ad by the Coalition for Church Accountability.

Officially, the church's hierarchy has avoided blaming homosexuality for the scandal, but it has been unsuccessful in preventing some of its members from doing so. U.S. bishops meeting with Pope John Paul II last month at the Vatican addressed the issue of homosexual men studying at Catholic seminaries.

Later, Chicago Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, complained about the "homosexual atmosphere" in Catholic seminaries and told the Chicago Sun-Times the church needs to ensure that the priesthood candidates it receives are "healthy in every possible way."

Friday's ad was a direct response to an April homily by St. Patrick's Cathedral's Monsignor Eugene Clark that blamed homosexuality for sexual abuse by priests, said Joe Grabarz, executive director of Empire State Pride Agenda, New York's statewide homosexual civil rights advocacy organization.

Monsignor Clark called homosexuality a "disorder," and said homosexual men should not be allowed to become priests, according to the New York Daily News. He later recanted his comments.

More than 150 organizations or individuals were identified as supporting the ad, including the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), Dignity/New York and Dignity/USA. The latter two groups describe their memberships as "lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics."

"In no way, shape or form is this an attack on the church," said David Smith, spokesman for HRC.

What it is, he said, is a reaction from the homosexual community to some "inflammatory statements a few church leaders have made," "unfairly holding gays responsible for this crisis."

Mr. Smith added: "There is a feeling among many in our community that the gay issue is being used as a way to deflect from the core problem, which is unconscionable sex abuse."

Several researchers contend that the vast majority of convicted priests were not pedophiles who preyed on pre-pubescent children, but men seeking illegal sexual relations with physically developed teen-age boys.

Mr. Grabarz said nearly $70,000 was raised in just a few days, of which "a little under $50,000 was needed for the ad."

The donors, he said, included 11 persons who requested anonymity. Some of them, he said, are Catholic priests. The list includes the name of the Rev. Mychal Judge, an openly homosexual Catholic priest who was chaplain of the New York City Fire Department. His listing includes the phrase, "in memoriam." Father Judge died on September 11 at the World Trade Center.

Mr. Grabarz said the coalition is not planning to place ads in any other newspapers at this time. "We're not starting a movement."

Nevertheless, he said he has received calls from homosexual Catholics in Boston and Chicago disturbed by some comments made by diocesan leaders in those areas.


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