A group of Catholics in Atlanta, Georgia, has launched a petition demanding that Archbishop Wilton Gregory “remove priests who promote the LGBT agenda from public ministry,” and who continue what many priests and bishops say is a “homosexual culture” within the Church that is at the root of the lies and cover-up of the sexual abuse scandal.
Concerned Catholics of Atlanta’s petition at change.org invites signers to also demand Gregory “stop supporting parishes who openly endorse LGBT lifestyles, activities and behaviors that are contrary to Church teaching, and to stop ‘looking the other way’ from evil in our Archdiocese.”
In a letter released to the media Monday, Concerned Catholics writes:
As recent events in our Church have demonstrated, Catholics everywhere are outraged by how these issues have been addressed by Church leadership at all levels. The devastation that results when the Church’s moral teaching is not clearly and courageously proclaimed and lived is making itself manifest around the world, including within this Archdiocese.
At the time of publication, the petition had nearly 1,100 signatures with a goal of 1,500.
Concerned Catholics calls particular attention to Gregory’s appointment two weeks ago of Monsignor Henry Gracz to the post of diocesan spiritual director for victims of sexual abuse by clergy.
Concerned Catholics says it finds “the appointment of Monsignor Henry Gracz to this crucial ministerial role to be entirely unacceptable.”
“The scandal caused by his appointment shows a clear lack of understanding and leadership in these sensitive areas,” the group asserts.
The petition is launched as a shocking new document is released that focuses on the handling of sexual abuse allegations against disgraced former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who has been accused of sexual abuse of priests, seminarians, and members of the laity, including minors.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the Vatican’s former ambassador to the United States, penned the letter in which he links both the abuse crisis in the Church as well as coverups by bishops to an extensive “homosexual network” in the Church.
“These homosexual networks, which are now widespread in many dioceses, seminaries, religious orders, etc., act under the concealment of secrecy and lies,” Viganò asserts, “and strangle innocent victims and priestly vocations, and are strangling the entire Church.”
Viganò states that, as nuncio, he personally informed the pope of McCarrick’s abuse on June 23, 2013 – three months after the pontiff was elected by the College of Cardinals – and yet Francis “continued to cover for him.”
The former ambassador has called upon Pope Francis to resign his office.
Viganò’s letter follows the release of a Pennsylvania grand jury report that details hundreds of examples of alleged sex abuse – mostly of male victims – and the ensuing cover-ups by Catholic bishops.
In its letter to Gregory, Concerned Catholics of Atlanta refers to him as “our Shepherd,” and makes five requests:
- Appoint a priest and layperson, both of unquestionable character and adherence to the Church’s teaching with regard to chastity, to intake and listen any incidents of abuse by any archdiocesan personnel, clerical or otherwise;
- Remove priests and deacons who are not able or willing to fulfill their priestly vow of celibacy and/or to uphold authentic Catholic Church teaching from active public ministry;
- Disassociate the Archdiocese and her related institutions from organizations and events that do not reflect the Church’s moral teachings and actively promote the LGBT lifestyle and agenda;
- Seek and implement authentically Catholic pastoral programs within the Archdiocese which minister to the LGBT community with authentic love that leads to genuine purpose, fulfillment and holiness that God wills for every person;
- Publicly promote and uphold Church teaching in the areas of marriage, family and human sexuality with authentic love and compassion that leads people to lives which reflect all things good, true and beautiful.
Many who signed the Catholic group’s petition expressed their concerns in comments.
“The homosexual coverup has to end, and the destruction of the faith,” wrote Fr. Thomas Hennessy.
“Who is going to save our Church?” asserted Amy Camacho, quoting Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. “Not our bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops, like bishops, and your religious act like religious.”
“I’m signing because for too long the faithful have been ignored and dismissed,” posted Nancy Brady. “Perhaps now we will be heard and justice will be served.”
“Innocent priests are being persecuted while the evil ones are getting away with it,” commented Jennifer Boddy. “Those who do not adhere to the teachings of the Catholic Church need to go. Those priests, bishops, and cardinals who continue with the coverup all need to go!”