A "gay" culture is growing among clergy of the American Catholic Church that receives support from members of the hierarchy as well as from those directly involved in the training of priests, according to a Catholic priest-theologian.
As the scandal of clerical abuse within the Catholic Church in the U.S. continues to grow – whose cost is estimated to approach $1 billion – the role of the hierarchy is coming under scrutiny.
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With nearly one in four Americans counting themselves as Catholic, the burgeoning crisis of sexual abuse by the Church's clergy directly impacts American society and family values. While the number of priests and bishops involved in abuse remains unknown, it is reliably estimated to be no more than 2 percent of the total in the U.S.
In an exclusive interview with WorldNetDaily, an influential Catholic priest, author and lecturer opens up the murky underworld of the homosexual clergy, its recruiters and its protectors.
The Rev. Charles Fiore, a Catholic priest for 42 years, has fought the homosexual influence in the clergy almost from the date of his ordination. With degrees in philosophy and theology, as well as clinical training at Menninger's and the State Hospital in Topeka, Kan., Fiore has both condemned the actions of homosexual priests and counseled the victims of their abuse.
Originally ordained a Dominican priest in 1961, Fiore's primary duties involved college-level teaching in various Catholic institutions in the United States, as well as at the Dominican Pontifical University, the Angelicum, in Rome. He also was an early pro-life leader and home-schooling advocate.
Fiore was a close friend of priest/author Malachi Martin and supplied Martin with significant material for his later works. Having appeared on radio and network television, Fiore has written numerous articles concerning clerical abuse.
Prolonged illness, however, has curtailed most of Fiore's activities.
Although gratified that the U.S. media is addressing the issue of clerical abuse, Fiore takes issue with how the problem is being presented to the public, questioning the use of the term "pedophilia."
"The problem is not clerical pedophilia," Fiore told WND, "but homosexuality." The distinction is important, Fiore noted, because most victims of Catholic clergy abuse are adolescents.
"Strictly speaking," Fiore stated, "pedophilia is the sexual molestation of a pre-pubescent child of either sex," but the overriding problem is the abuse of older children from 12 to 18. "More than 90 percent of the cases," Fiore observed, "involve the clerical molestation of teen-age young men."
In reporting clerical abuse, "the grand taboo in U.S. culture is to focus on homosexuality," Fiore stated.
"Pedophilia is done only by an aberrant few," but society "looks upon homosexuality as an alternative way of life," explained Fiore.
His introduction to how some cases of clerical child abuse are handled came early on in Fiore's priesthood.
He related that in his first assignment, while teaching in a college and living in a parish, he found himself scheduling altar boys for the week's services, since the priest who usually performed the task was on vacation.
While directing the servers, a group of three boys approached Fiore and complained of the other priest's behavior, describing various forms of inappropriate touching.
In turn, Fiore and another priest relayed the altar boys' complaints to the pastor and suggested that the miscreant priest be questioned and possibly removed from contact with the boys.
Fiore recalled the pastor telling him to "mind your own business," and Fiore responding, "It is my business; it's the business of all of us."
The matter was referred to the Dominican provincial superior, resulting in the offending priest's transfer – to an all-boys school in another state – and the transfer of the young priests who related the altar boys' complaints, while the pastor who demanded silence over the issue remained in his position.
Later in his career, Fiore observed the tactics of one Monsignor Edward Egan, who once served as an assistant to John Cardinal Cody in Chicago.
Egan, currently Cardinal Archbishop of New York, is surrounded by accusations of clerical abuse against a number of priests. While now expressing willingness to cooperate with authorities, as archbishop of Bridgeport, Conn., Egan, according to a report in the Hartford Courant, sought to deflect responsibility for homosexual activity of certain priests by claiming they were "independent contractors."
Under Cody in Chicago, Egan had been informally known as the Cardinal's "hatchet man," Fiore said. When parents of victims charged molestation and threatened to sue, Egan would warn the parents that the archdiocese was ready to fight them in court.
Fiore also said that he personally knew of many instances where families collapsed due to the strain from such tactics, and family members left the Church in disgust.
Having counseled close to 100 victims of clerical abuse, and after he wrote on the topic, Fiore was contacted by victims and their families regarding their own experience with abusive priests and allegedly indifferent bishops.
Ultimately, Fiore left the Dominican Order in 1992 and, with the permission of Vatican authorities, joined a group of priests dedicated to the traditional form of the Mass, as well as strict observance of Church teaching on theology and morality.
The role of bishops
As the accusations of the guilt or complicity of the U.S. Catholic hierarchy continues to grow, attention is focusing upon some of the most powerful bishops in America – both living and dead.
While Cardinal Law of Boston and Egan of New York are in the glare of media attention after charges of abuse in their dioceses became public, another media investigation is quietly proceeding into the activities of other bishops who worked closely with the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago.
In 1993, an admittedly active homosexual, Stephen Cook, accused Bernardin of sexually abusing him when he was a seminarian in Cincinnati. Although Cook subsequently dropped his suit against Bernardin, stating that he could "no longer trust his memory," Cook nevertheless did not recant his allegations.
Nine months before his death in September 1994 from AIDS, Cook was visited by Bernardin, who wrote about the meeting in the Chicago archdiocese newspaper, the New World. He took the highly unusual step of giving Cook – a man Bernardin earlier claimed he had never met – the chalice with which he said Mass. The gift was especially odd in that Cook never renounced his homosexual activities. At one point, Cook declared that "the Church will change before I will."
According to traditional Catholic belief, if Cook died unrepentant, he would place himself outside of Christ's mercy.
A media investigation currently is looking not only into allegations concerning Bernardin's relationship with Cook but also alleged homosexual liaisons with other bishops and seminarians, WorldNetDaily has learned.
Although the hierarchy has only reluctantly begun to come to terms with homosexuality in the clergy, members of the laity have fought instances of clerical abuse for years.
One of the leading lay Catholic organizations seeking to expose and eliminate clerical abuse is Roman Catholic Faithful in Petersburg, Ill., near Springfield.
The organization's founder, Steven Brady, says his group, which has been in existence since 1996, succeeded in forcing the resignation in 1999 of the bishop of Springfield, Ill., Daniel Ryan, over charges of overt homosexual activities and sexually abusive behavior.
Ryan denies any wrongdoing, but his resignation claiming ill health immediately followed a threatened suit by Roman Catholic Faithful. Although he resigned his position as bishop of Springfield, Ryan is known to continue to publicly act as a bishop at certain functions in the state of Illinois, an act that requires the permission of at least one of his brother bishops.
Regarding the current publicity given to clerical abuse, Brady said he hopes the media exposure "keeps going" because it "is the only way issues will be addressed." He congratulated the media for being "more willing [than in the past] to cover these stories."
Pope throws up his hands
Despite the Catholic Church's traditional ban on homosexual activity, the "gay" culture within the Church has its apologists.
Rev. Donald Cozzens, former rector at the Archdiocese of Cleveland seminary, suggested in his 2000 book, "The Changing Face of the Priesthood," that each bishop should determine what percentage of homosexuals priests would be acceptable in his diocese.
In addition, the term "celibacy" has taken on an entirely different meaning in some seminaries from the traditional understanding of the word.
Some seminary professors and students hold "celibacy" refers only to being unmarried, but not necessarily refraining from sexual activity.
Because the Catholic Church is a "top-down" organization, lead by an unelected, appointed hierarchy, the question arises: What did the pope know, and when did he know it?
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the U.S. bishops and the Vatican had noted a growing problem with clerical abuse in the U.S. as the number of such incidents increased and the number of priests sent for therapy due to their abusive behavior grew.
The extent of the problem of priest-abusers was further clarified by a report commissioned by the bishops and the Apostolic Delegate (Papal representative) to the U.S., Archbishop (now Cardinal) Pio Laghi.
In the early 1990s, a group of priests, including Fiore, assembled a dossier on ecclesiastical problems in the U.S. The information was carefully collected and documented with guidance on Church law given by the Rev. Alfred Kunz, a canon lawyer.
Kunz also assisted in the founding of Roman Catholic Faithful. In 1998, Kunz was mysteriously murdered, and the police thus far have been unable to make any conclusive progress toward solving the murder. Fiore described Kunz as "having no enemies – except those who hated the Church."
According to Fiore, the dossier was sent by courier to Rome. The courier was a Polish-speaking priest and a friend of Pope John Paul II's personal secretary, then-Monsignor, now Archbishop, Stanislaus Dsiewicz.
Dsiewicz brought the file to the pope's attention. The pope briefly examined the documents, Fiore says, put them aside and then, referring to his previous attempts to lead and discipline the bishops regarding various issues, exclaimed, "I've told them, and they don't listen to me."
John Paul II, in effect, admitted that the U.S. bishops did not properly lead the Catholic Church in America.
What the pope found difficult to effectively confront – the exposure of clerical abuse in the U.S. Catholic Church – the U.S. media is now carrying out. Any remedy to the crisis of clerical abuse in America will be extremely painful – and costly.
Many Catholic bishops and faithful priests in the United States will have to "put on sackcloth and ashes – and do what's right," Fiore observed.
Fiore responded to the often-posed assertion that the solution to clerical abuse is a married clergy. "That's not the issue," Fiore stated, saying that in his private counseling he encountered victims of abuse at the hands of married Protestant and Jewish clergy, as well as by married, non-clerical men.
"The highest instance of sexual abuse," Fiore noted, "is among white, Anglo-Saxon, married males – and the victims [of sexual abuse] are primarily their own children."
Instead of relaxing traditional Church teaching on celibacy, Fiore demanded a greater – and more faithful – emphasis on the virtue of chastity, which calls for observance of Church law concerning sexuality as it pertains to one's calling in life – priest, married or single lay person.
In response to Cozzens, Fiore said that the ranks of priests and seminarians should be "zero percent" homosexuals, and he urged careful formation and guidance of seminarians by seminary personnel faithful to Church teaching.
Finally, it is the ultimate responsibility of Catholic bishops to certify the moral rectitude of those they ordain to the priesthood, Fiore stated.
When WorldNetDaily asked Fiore if he ever received payment for his counseling services, he said, "Yes, once – and only once. I split a dozen brownies with one of my young clients, whose mom had baked them for me."