A New York priest who told a prospective seminarian to lie to Church officials about his sexuality has been indefinitely suspended from ministry after a canonical penal process found him guilty of serial sexual misconduct.
“I write to share some unpleasant and somber news concerning Father John Duffell, your just retired parish administrator,” Cardinal Timothy Dolan wrote in a July 1 letter to parishioners of New York’s Blessed Sacrament Parish.
“Father Duffell has been directed not to publicly exercise his priestly ministry due to an allegation from the past that he abused his position of authority in a violation of his promise of celibacy.”
“The allegation was made first to the District Attorney, and then brought to our attention. This allegation involves an adult; it does not involve a minor. It is important that the archdiocese take such allegations seriously,” Dolan wrote.
A source close to the priest told CNA that the allegation involved serial misconduct over a period of years.
A spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York told CNA July 6 that the priest was found guilty of the canonical crime of sexual misconduct in an administrative penal process undertaken by the archdiocese. His suspension from priestly ministry is indefinite, the spokesman said.
Duffell, 75, was ordained in May, 1969, by Cardinal Terrence Cooke. He has served mostly at parishes in Manhattan and Yonkers.
At a 2011 conference at Fordham University, Duffell told a participant to lie to Church authorities about same-sex attraction in order to be accepted for seminary formation.
“You’re not broken, the system is broken, and therefore you deal with it as a broken system; you lie,” Duffel said of the participant’s sexuality.
The priest has faced criticism for some activities of the “gay fellowship” at his parish.
In 2017, the parish “gay fellowship” partnered with the Born This Way Foundation, an “LGBT-rights” group founded by entertainer Lady Gaga, to hold a fundraising dance at the church hall.
Last month, the parish’s “gay fellowship” sponsored as a fundraiser a staged reading of the “Love! Valour! Compassion!” a Terrence McNally play about a group of eight gay men spending three weekends together at an upstate New York vacation home. The event was billed as an observation of the 1969 Stonewall riots, considered to be a landmark event within the “LGBT rights” movement.
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