In order to understand Fiducia Supplicans, the recent Vatican document dealing with the blessing of same-sex couples, it is important to consider the sexual orientation, relationships, writings, and behavior of those who authored it, including Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández. While many have been led to believe the document was composed as a pastoral response to homosexual couples requesting God’s blessing upon their relationships, there are others who maintain the impetus lies with closeted homosexual clergy and religious who are using the blessing of same-sex couples as a step in changing the Church’s teachings on the immorality and sinfulness of homosexual behavior.
A 2012 psychological study of “actively ministering or retired priests” in the U.S. revealed that 73.1% of the priests identified themselves as homosexuals or bisexuals. Owing to the fact that Church leaders have covered up the number of priests today who are gay even more than clerical sexual abuse cases, many people, especially Catholics, may find the results of such a study hard to believe. Were it not for foreign born priests in the U.S. from Africa and Asia where there are relatively few homosexual clergy, that percentage in the U.S. would be over 80%. While many lay people may not know if their bishop or parish priests are heterosexually or homosexually oriented, most priests know who in their diocese or order is straight and who is gay.
Although there have always been homosexuals in the Catholic priesthood, the percentage of gay seminarians and priests increased considerably beginning in the 1960s. In 2005, the Vatican tasked then-Archbishop Edwin O’Brien with overseeing an investigation of all U.S. seminaries after allegations were circulating, fueled by Michael Rose’s book, Goodbye, Good Men, that seminaries were infested with homosexual faculty members and seminarians. Before beginning the study, when O’Brien was interviewed by The National Catholic Register, he said, “I think anyone who has engaged in homosexual activity, or has strong homosexual inclinations, would be best not to apply to a seminary and not to be accepted into a seminary.”
When The New York Times reported, “Vatican to Check U.S. Seminaries on Gay Presence,” no one thought to consider what impact the sexual orientation of the person heading the study might have on the outcome of the investigation. As the investigation was drawing to a close in May of 2006, O’Brien said he doubted that visitors found seminaries doubling as “homosexual bathhouses”’ as some critics predicted. He concluded, “to condemn them as immoral or to characterize them as closing their eyes to Church teaching or being loose on moral formation — I reject that completely.”
Many people may recall how the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report on clerical sex abuse dated August 14, 2018 was followed shortly thereafter by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s “Testimony” released on August 22, 2018. What many people may not be familiar with is Rod Dreher’s August 27, 2018 article entitled, “The Two Faces of Cardinal O’Brien.” In that article, Dreher shared a letter he received from a gay Catholic who wrote:
In your most recent post on the fallout from Archbishop Vigano’s letter, you wrote: For years I’ve been told that the 2005-06 Vatican-ordered investigation of US seminaries was a sham because it was led by then-Archbishop, now Cardinal, Edwin O’Brien — believed by some insiders to be part of the lavender mafia, the gay lobby within the Church intent on protecting its own. In his testimony, Vigano says that O’Brien is indeed part of this group. How is it possible for anybody Rome appoints from within the Church to investigate now? It’s not. I can add some first-hand testimony about O’Brien and the dishonesty of the 2005-2006 seminary investigation. I was at the 2005 Courage Conference, where then-Archbishop O’Brien celebrated one of the Masses. After Mass, he approached a friend of mine and me, and asked us if we had considered studying for the priesthood. We both had. He encouraged us both to apply for the priesthood and said we should apply to become chaplains in the military (he was Archbishop of the Military Services at the time). The following month, in his role as head of the 2005 seminary visitation, he told reporters that men with homosexual inclinations should not be admitted to the seminary, even if they had been celibate for more than a decade.”
The young man went on to point out how he felt that seminaries breed a “culture of duplicity” when he wrote:
Even if there are no predatory superiors, and every man in the seminary remains faithful to his vow of celibacy, they are internalizing the lesson that sometimes, you do one thing, while telling the laity that you’re doing the opposite. And this is not only happening to the gay seminarians: it’s happening to the straight ones, as well, who can see what is happening, and are taught to shut up and repeat the lie.
When Catholic Republican Presidential Candidate Chris Christie announced on December 28, 2023 that his views on same-sex marriage changed citing the Vatican’s recent document on same-sex blessings as evidence that “even the Church is changing,” Christie failed to consider that those who crafted Fiducia Supplicans, as well as those prelates and priests who support it, are no different than O’Brien whom the Vatican appointed to cover up the presence of large numbers of homosexual faculty members and seminarians in U.S. seminaries. Had Christie consulted with a straight bishop like Joseph Strickland or a straight priest like Boniface Ramsey who reported Theodore McCarrick’s predatory behavior with seminarians and young priests, he might not have changed his perspective on homosexual behavior.
One cannot expect “nighty-night, baby” Newark Cardinal Joseph Tobin whom Pope Francis appointed to the Dicastery for the Clergy to support the Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality, or San Diego Cardinal Robert McElroy who failed to act on Richard Sipe’s 2016 report involving “twelve seminarians and priests who attest to propositions, harassment, or sex with McCarrick who has stated, ‘I do not like to sleep alone’.”
Most Catholic laity like Christie are completely unaware of how homosexual prelates cover up not only for other gay clergy whose abuse of vulnerable adults like seminarians is hardly ever reported, but also how prelates cover up the cover-ups of other bishops. Three years before being tasked with undertaking the seminary study, O’Brien received a letter dated May 6, 2002 about a homosexual Catholic Navy Chaplain, Father John “Matt” Lee, who was alleged to have had a “live-in boyfriend.” Unlike Archbishop Joseph Ryan, the first Archbishop of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, who would not hesitate to investigate and discipline a Catholic chaplain accused of homosexual misconduct, O’Brien covered up the report. In 2007, the year after O’Brien concluded his whitewashed seminary study, the sexually active homosexual chaplain was arrested and charged with various sex crimes, including failure to inform sex partners that he was HIV positive. Neither O’Brien, nor then Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick who was the convicted chaplain’s Ordinary, disclosed the existence of the May 6, 2002 letter.
In November of 2019, O’Brien’s successor at the Military Archdiocese, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, tried to cover up for O’Brien’s cover-up by arguing that the 2002 letter to O’Brien simply “reported suspicions about Matt Lee’s probable homosexual orientation.” When challenged to explain how having a “live-in boyfriend” could be construed as questioning a person’s sexual orientation, Broglio’s response was silence – the same response offered by Pope Francis to reporters who asked him on the return flight from Ireland if Archbishop Viganò warned him in 2013 about McCarrick. While McCarrick is laicized and residing in an assisted living facility in Missouri, and Lee is currently serving a 30-year sentence in the Petersburg Federal Correctional Institution, Broglio is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
If O’Brien’s sexual orientation, well-known not only to Viganò but also to Vatican officials, influenced his seminary report, should not the sexual orientation of the pope, bishops, and priests influence their support of or opposition to Fiducia Supplicans? When someone asks, “If Dioceses Can Opt-Out of Fiducia Supplicans, Why Hasn’t Your Bishop?” might it be because that person’s bishop is himself a homosexual? Given the number of closeted homosexual bishops and priests in the United States and Europe, unlike in Africa and Asia, how many more Catholics may be influenced like Christie to change their views on homosexual behavior?
Gene Thomas Gomulka is a sexual abuse victims’ advocate, investigative reporter, and screenwriter. A former Navy (O6) Captain/Chaplain, seminary instructor, and diocesan respect life director, Gomulka was ordained a priest for the Altoona-Johnstown diocese and later made a Prelate of Honor (Monsignor) by St. John Paul II.