SAN DIEGO (ChurchMilitant.com) - On Wednesday, two Catholic men were thrown out of a diocesan event in San Diego with little explanation.
Hidden-camera footage shows the two men getting thrown out of Nativity Church, where Bp. Robert McElroy was holding a question-and-answer session on the sex abuse scandal. The event was free and open to the public.
Moments after they walked in, the men — one identified as Kevin Kramer — were spotted by Kevin Eckery, communications director of the San Diego diocese. Eckery can then be seen speaking to security.
Within about a minute, security guards approached the two individuals and told them they needed to leave. When they asked security why they were being kicked out, one guard said they had allegedly been "loud" at a previous listening session. Neither of the men, however, were causing any disruption at Wednesday's event when they were told to leave.
After the men refused to go, security guards forcibly escorted them out, ignoring repeated questions asking why they were being thrown out.
One Catholic who witnessed the confrontation told Church Militant it was "disgusting."
"It felt like we were in prison, the way the security guards surrounded the room and any 'false move' [meant] any one of us would receive the same treatment," she said.
"When a gentleman stood up in the hall ... to quote the Catholic Catechism and Scripture, he was quickly shut down by security," she added.
Bishop McElroy announced in August there would be a series of eight "listening sessions" throughout October and early November to hear Catholics' feedback on the sex abuse cover-up crisis. The bishop, however, has evaded questions with regard to homosexuality, a number of people openly challenging him and expressing frustration at his inability to deal with clerical cover-up.
This is not the first time security workers have removed Catholics from Bp. McElroy's listening sessions. At an Oct. 3 listening session, several young Catholics — including Kramer — were removed from the event after they asked tough questions about McElroy's failure to address homosexuality in the priesthood.
Security gave the same reason this time around as the diocese gave last time — that they were forcing them to leave because they had been "disruptive" at a previous event. Eckery specifically denied that anyone had been forcibly removed on Oct. 3, however.
Wednesday night's listening session was similar to previous events, attendants seated at round tables, with each table choosing one representative. Following a brief discussion, each table could ask one question of the bishop.
At Wednesday's session, Bp. McElroy expressed a willingness to ordain same-sex attracted men to the priesthood.
"Last evening left me sad and disappointed that Bishop McElroy is allowed to preach 'Pope Francis jargon' from the pulpit with little regard for the souls in the audience, especially for us survivors who have suffered and lost so very much," one woman in attendance told Church Militant.
At one of the listening sessions earlier this month, Billy Eatmon stood up and gave his testimony about how he, though not a victim of sexual abuse himself, came into close contact as a boy with a parish priest who would later be accused of abuse. He also said that, as a child, he attended a summer camp where he and others were told to strip naked and go swimming with several adult men; the priest who founded the camp was later accused of sexual abuse.
The man paced quickly back and forth to dodge security officers while giving his speech until eventually the crowd started chanting "let him speak" and the guards backed off.
He said he was withholding donations to the Church due to the sex abuse scandal and told Bp. McElroy to his face, "I have no faith in your will or character."
Eatmon told Church Militant a few days later in a phone interview, "I really feel like that was a battle of good and evil, and that we were being used by the Holy Spirit."
His 15-year-old daughter was temporarily removed from the listening session after standing up on a chair and yelling at the crowd to be quiet. They brought her back in by the end of her father's speech.