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Not all people who received a recent fundraising appeal from Msgr. Thomas Powers, the rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome, are reaching for their checkbooks. The following open letter from a NAC alumnus explains why.
Dear Msgr. Powers,
Thank you for inviting me to the 29th annual North American College Rector's Dinner on April 20, 2023. As a NAC alumnus of the ordination class of 1974, I regret to inform you that I cannot in good conscience support your undertaking. This is owing to serious credible sexual misconduct and cover-up allegations from the testimony provided by multiple seminarians in a lawsuit against Cdl. Timothy Dolan and the NAC.
Lest benefactors be discouraged from contributing and dioceses withhold sending their seminarians to the NAC, I ask you to explain why you and Catholic News Agency misled Catholics to believe that the sexual predation case ended even though the litigation remains ongoing in court.
I am sure you would prefer that alumni and donors be uninformed of the allegations of sexual predation, homosexual misconduct and cover-ups confirmed in sworn statements by former seminarians (both heterosexual and homosexual) and a highly credentialed former FBI special agent in charge.
It seems you also like to hide the fact that the bishops sitting on the NAC Board of Governors received no less than nine reports of sexual abuse, which were subsequently covered up — similar to some 130 bishops in the United States who were found to have inadequately responded to sexual abuse complaints.
Despite having pledged "transparency and trust," you have yet to disclose how NAC donors who thought they were contributing to the welfare of seminarians actually helped finance the lavish lifestyles of the superiors who exploited them.
Father Adam Park resigned as vice rector amid allegations that he preyed on seminarians. And your disgraced predecessor, Fr. Peter Harman, stepped down after damning testimony uncovered his own alleged graphic sexual misconduct at an orgy with seminarians and the role he played in concealing the predation that NAC seminarians endured.
Donors have every reason to be concerned that the exorbitant contributions you seek in your rector's dinner invitation may find their way into the coffers of the pro-LGBT law firm of Fox Rothschild — with its some 1,000 lawyers that the NAC has retained to excuse how it allowed its vulnerable seminarians to be sexually exploited.
Your choice of the Knights of Columbus' Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly as the recipient of your upcoming rector's award has raised concerns. Are you rewarding him for burying a Sept. 17, 2021, 250-page independent report documenting sexual predation and homosexual misconduct at the NAC and some 40 seminaries and dioceses?
Just as San Diego's former Bp. Robert McElroy failed to act on information that he was legally served in 2016 from the late Richard Sipe alleging the sexual abuse of 12 seminarians and priests by then-Cdl. Theodore McCarrick, so too did Kelly ignore the sworn affidavits that he received from brother knights who were former NAC seminarians that testified in support of the lawsuit.
Instead of acting on requests that he call for an investigation into allegations of Fr. Park's sexual predation (and the homosexual behavior involving Fr. Harman), Kelly chose instead to accompany Supreme Chaplain Abp. William Lori on an October 2021 visit to Harman and the NAC.
Kelly has yet to disclose whether any of the K of C's funds were used for legal fees in the NAC's sexual predation cases. Ironically, Kelly will join the likes of ex-Cdl. Theodore McCarrick, whom the NAC likewise honored at a previous rector's dinner.
Just as CNA attempted to hide the NAC's ongoing legal troubles, so too has it not been truthful about current NAC enrollment. Despite its claim that you would preside over "around 200 seminarians" upon your arrival as rector, photographic evidence proves otherwise. Those who attend your fundraising dinner in April may be surprised to find a community far less vibrant than what CNA portrayed. Your 2022–2023 academic year house photo confirms reports that, in addition to faculty and student–priests, there are currently no more than around 80–90 NAC seminarians. This represents a greater than 60% drop in enrollment since Harman, your scandal-plagued predecessor, became rector in 2016.
If the NAC continues its current rate of decline in the wake of sexual scandals, it may not be able to sustain its massive campus designed to house more than 250 seminarians. It may be destined to close its doors like its counterpart in Belgium, the American College of Louvain, along with St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Missouri, St. John's Provincial Seminary in Detroit (aka "the Pink Palace"), Christ the King Seminary in Buffalo and other seminaries rocked by allegations of fostering homosexual cultures. Seminaries like these were mentioned in Pope Benedict XVI's posthumously published book, What Is Christianity?
Unfortunately, allegations of sexual misconduct at the NAC are not new. Dr. Joseph Barone, a New Jersey psychiatrist and AIDS expert, directed an underground AIDS testing program at the NAC from 1983 to 1993. Barone reported that "1 in 12" of the NAC seminarians he worked with "tested HIV-positive."
As an abuse victims' advocate, I am encountering an increasing number of seminarians from both the NAC and other seminaries across the United States who report being dismissed for turning down sexual advances on the part of gay priests or fellow seminarians. This and other developments are documented in a report titled Addressing the Present-Day Culture of Sexual Predation and Cover-Ups in U.S. Seminaries.
The faithful are scandalized when they learn that the hard-earned money they entrust to Church collections ends up funding corrupt clerics or their armies of defense attorneys at rates of up to $1,500 per hour. Donors who are fed up with seeing seminarians fall prey to NAC leaders' sexual scandals may find unconscionable your request to underwrite the fundraising event with a $75,000 check or drop $50,000 as a "Faculty Sponsor," fork over $25,000 for one of your tables or ply your guests with booze through a $10,000 check.
Catholics wishing to rest assured that their money will not be weaponized against vulnerable seminarians may instead choose to support the Save Our Seminarians Fund to help safeguard the future of the NAC, protect seminarians and promote priestly vocations for years to come.
Fraternally in Christ,
Gene Thomas Gomulka
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