NY Priest and LGBT Advocate Sacked for Sexual Misconduct

News: US News
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by Bruce Walker  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  July 9, 2019   

75-year-old priest longtime champion of gay diversity

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NEW YORK (ChurchMilitant.com) - The priest who notoriously encouraged a young man to lie about his same-sex inclinations before entering the seminary, worked on behalf of entertainer Lady Gaga and her gay advocacy non-profit and established a gay fellowship in his church has been placed on indefinite leave by the New York archdiocese for serial sexual misconduct.

Father John Duffell was subjected to a canonical penal process over an allegation of misconduct with an adult. Cardinal Timothy Dolan related the circumstances to Duffell's former parishioners at Manhattan's Blessed Sacrament in a July 1 letter.

"I write to share some unpleasant and somber news concerning Fr. John Duffell, your just retired parish administrator," Dolan wrote and continued:

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 [Manhattan] 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.

According to the New York Daily News, Duffell officially retired on July 7. The newspaper published portions written by Duffell to his friends and family in which he declared he had intended to remain as pastor of Blessed Sacrament for an undisclosed time, but a summons to the chancery altered his plans.

Duffell, pastor at Church of the Blessed Sacrament in New York, oversaw a benefit for two pro-gay groups, the Ali Forney Center and Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation.

The Daily News quoted Duffell's letter, which included the following information: "Many years ago there was an allegation of sexual impropriety with an adult which I categorically denied because it was not true" and "those files were subpoenaed from the Archdiocese by the Manhattan District Attorney."

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Duffell's gay advocacy has been covered extensively.

Church Militant reported in 2017:

The trend among Catholic laity corresponds to swelling dissent within the ranks of the American clergy. Increasingly, priests and bishops publicly flout Church teaching on homosexuality. This spring alone, Cdl. Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey gave his blessing to an LGBT pilgrimage and Mass at his cathedral; Fr. James Martin, S.J. released a gay-friendly book that was subsequently welcomed by high-ranking prelates, including in the Vatican; and Fr. John Duffell, pastor at Church of the Blessed Sacrament in New York, oversaw a benefit for two pro-gay groups, the Ali Forney Center and Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation.

In a separate article also published in 2017, Church Militant noted:

Pastor of Blessed Sacrament, Fr. John Duffell, was present at the event Saturday night. A friend of Cynthia Germanotta, Fr. Duffell, spoke at a so-called diversity conference in 2011 where he instructed a gay, would-be seminarian to lie about being gay so as to not be barred from entering the priesthood.

At the venue, a young man in the audience said he felt "broken" after being told by a seminary that he couldn't be admitted to the priesthood, owing to his homosexual inclinations and asked what he should do. Father Duffell, a priest of the archdiocese of New York, responded, "You're not broken, the system is broken, and therefore you deal with it as a broken system; you lie."

Regarding his recent sidelining by the archdiocese, the Daily News quotes a 70-year-old parishioner, Anita Pearl. She told the paper she didn't "respond spiritually" to the priest.

"He was very autocratic and self-centered," she said. "Everything had to revolve around him. Instead of saying, 'Please be seated,' he said, 'I invite you to sit down' as if it was his personal invitation."

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