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The problem with creating a cover-up is that you have to keep covering it up. But the more you try to cover something up, the more complicated things get. That's a little lesson that the archdiocese of Detroit and Abp. Allen Vigneron are learning the hard way.
As the ever-widening scandal of a homosexual clergy network in the archdiocese gets more public, the more reckless and reactionary the archdiocese gets. Some people start growing suspicious. They start asking questions. They start exchanging notes with each other.
Long gone are the days when Catholics would just accept the word of a man in a collar or with a miter on his head without question. Even the bishops themselves have finally come to that revelation, as senior clergy like New York cardinal Timothy Dolan has admitted publicly — along with other bishops. Put simply, the trust is gone.
Here in Detroit, people are quickly wisening up, and they are asking questions. As a quick refresher about the Detroit scandal, Fr. Michael Suhy, former pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish was summarily dismissed by Vigneron, under the pretense that he was stressed and overworked.
That was a lie, and it was propagated to parishioners by Vigneron's auxiliary bishop, Gerard Battersby. Battersby picked it up from dirty trickster Msgr. Michael Bugarin, who is the one Vigneron sent to tell Fr. Suhy that he was too stressed to remain pastor. Father Suhy had to go because he knew of an allegation of homosexual harassment of a young adult male allegedly by Vigneron's music director, Joe Balistreri — who was captured on undercover video confirming he was both gay and living with his partner.
In response to Church Militant airing the video, the archdiocese issued a weird statement to the clergy saying Balistreri had "separated" from his positions with the archdiocese of Detroit. But keep your eye on the ball here. The Balistreri scandal is actually a sideshow to all this.
While his lifestyle, known by multiple people in the archdiocese of Detroit for years, is the inflection point, the center of the storm is Vigneron trying to keep a lid on all that and getting rid of anyone who knows anything about the alleged reports of homosexual harassment. So Fr. Suhy had to go because he knew all of it.
But Fr. Suhy being terminated as pastor created a secondary issue that needed to be covered up — besides the Balistreri issue. Father Suhy was well-liked by at least some of the parish leadership, but other members didn't like him because of his orthodoxy. Like any good priest doing his job, he became "controversial" because he taught the actual Faith, not the pablum that this archdiocese, and really all of them, have spewed for the past 60 years.
So Fr. Suhy's removal (under the pretense of his being stressed) immediately caused some red flags to go off with people at the parish who knew him. So they started asking questions.
One was Huy-Linh Dang, a former member of the school staff. We say former because he was summarily fired earlier this week for asking too many questions about what was really going on. When Church Militant published our first article on all of this late last year, Dang sent it to archdiocesan personnel asking, "What's really going on here?"
Needless to say, they didn't like him doing that — or what would become his persistent challenging of what is, in reality, a cover story. So, as we said, the archdiocese of Detroit dumped him. The deed was done by another close confidante of Vigneron, Msgr. Patrick Halfpenny.
Remember, this whole business has at its center two things: One is that a long-time top employee of the archdiocese is gay and living with his partner. That is completely confirmed. The second is the charge that he was sexually harassing at least one young-adult male. Suhy became aware of this, was dumped as pastor and then people supporting him (like Dang) were also let go when they got too close to the actual story.
Vigneron calling in Halfpenny is a little irony of its own. Halfpenny, again a close long-time associate of Vigneron, is also a longtime friend and associate of Abp. John Nienstedt — also close with Vigneron. Nienstedt enjoys the horrible reputation of being the first bishop to actually have his diocese successfully sued for sex abuse cover-up, not just some random priest, but the actual diocese — St. Paul/Minneapolis.
He resigned in disgrace when it was reported he was covering up for a sexually abusive priest who also was his gay lover. Nienstedt denied all the charges, but a mountain of evidence from multiple archdiocesan insiders tells a completely different story — insiders all over the spectrum of Catholic orthodoxy.
Nienstedt and Halfpenny actually own a house together in the archdiocese, which puts Halfpenny very close to the center of a burgeoning story about a homosexual network among senior clergy, which Vigneron protects at all costs.
So a priest who accidentally stumbles across this and pursues it gets canned. A school employee who starts asking questions about it gets canned. And Vigneron's archdiocese is forced, yet again, to expand the cover-up with a growing web of lies and false charges.
As people are waking up, Church Militant is being given more and more information from clergy and laity who are fed up with this evil and sick of the archbishop's protection of the gay clergy network. We are vetting everything coming in very carefully and will be rolling out more on this as details are confirmed.
In the meantime, Archbishop, you and your cabal better watch over your shoulders and not make any stupid mistakes as you continue to cover everything up. What a tangled web you weave, when first you practice to deceive. Stay tuned. There's much more to come.