New Jersey diocese won’t comment on photos of cuddling, kissing priests
PATERSON, New Jersey, February 19, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Last month, after conducting a diligent investigation, Church Militant published an article about two young priests who posted photos of themselves on social media showing the pair cuddling and kissing, suggestive of an inappropriate romantic or sexualized relationship.
The young, freshly ordained priests, Father Dulibber G. Gonzalez and Fr. Marcin Bradtke, are stationed in parishes in the Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey. The former was ordained in 2018; the latter was ordained in 2016.
Church Militant journalists engaged in numerous attempts to contact the two priests, their bishop, the Vicar General, the Judicial Vicar, and others in leadership positions in the diocese, but no one answered their questions.
Subsequently, LifeSiteNews reached out to leadership in the diocese, hoping to learn more about what has been done to look into the questionable relationship between the kissing clergymen, and has likewise received no response.
Bishop and priest threaten separate legal actions against Church Militant
After the Church Militant article was published in January, Paterson Bishop Arthur Serratelli threatened to sue the organization, sending a cease and desist letter ordering that the article on his kissing priests be taken down.
A note from Church Militant’s editor appended to the original article asserts that the news site “stands by the veracity of [its] report.”
“In spite of repeated requests for comment or explanation over the course of several weeks, the bishop, priests and various diocesan personnel involved in this report refused to explain these priests’ relationship or reassure Church Militant that the bishop would investigate the matter,” continues the editor’s statement. “As of press time, both priests remain in active ministry, supported by laity money.”
Church Militant says it was forwarded “a series of selfies taken by the two priests, along with a screenshot of the source’s email alerting Bishop Arthur Serratelli in November,” by an unnamed source. The Church Militant report continues:
The selfies were sent by a source to Bp. Serratelli and several members of his administrative staff on November 21, 2018, informing him that these photos would be sent to Church Militant if nothing is done. To date, Bp. Serratelli has never responded, and both Fr. Bradtke and Fr. Gonzalez remain at their assignments in good standing with the diocese.
The source told Church Militant that Fr. Gonzalez and Fr. Bradtke went on a trip together to Europe in early January. When Church Militant reached out to Fr. Gonzalez for comment on January 8, an automatic reply indicated he was on a trip and would not be returning until January 14. On Fr. Bradtke's Facebook page, he tagged himself at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome on January 7.
In early February, one of the two priests in question, Fr. Gonzalez, also threatened legal action against Church Militant, whose Editor-in-Chief, Christine Niles, sent a prompt, stringent reply:
Dear Fr. Gonzalez,
After consultation with an attorney, we have replaced the artistic rendition with a screen shot of the original email we received about this. This removes the images from a copyright claim, as they are part of an email that Church Militant received and owns.
If you choose to pursue a copyright claim against us, please be aware that Church Militant would prevail on a fair use defense, as every prong of fair use would weigh in our favor. We would also be awarded attorneys' fees.
If you choose to pursue this, the public would have a right to know which attorney would be representing you and how you are paying for such representation, and whether the diocese or the bishop -- in his official capacity as bishop or in his private capacity -- is offering any financial support for your lawsuit. Catholics contributing financially to the diocese have the right to know how their funds are being used, and whether they are being spent on frivolous lawsuits that inure to the financial benefit of the attorney while taking money away from diocesan initiatives/parishes, where the money would be better spent.
Most critically, Niles proposed:
We understand you are embarrassed by the photos, as they expose a relationship that Catholics rightly believe to be inappropriate. Instead of attempting to remove them from the public domain, we suggest you do the morally and ethically right thing and end any inappropriate relationship, per your vows as a Catholic priest, and assure Catholics in your parish that you are not leading a double life, using their hard-earned money, which goes to fund your salary and lifestyle, to perpetrate a subterfuge and fraud on your parishioners.
If you cannot do any of the above, then do the right thing and leave the priesthood.
These questions from LifeSiteNews submitted to Bishop Serratelli and others in the diocese have also gone unanswered for several days:
- Has your diocese launched an investigation of the relationship between Fr. Dulibber G. Gonzalez and Fr. Marcin Bradtke?
- If so, what conclusions have been reached, and what steps have been taken?
- If there is no investigation or action(s) planned, please let our readers know why not.
- Additionally, why do you think the pair would feel free to post intimate photos of themselves on social media?
This story is developing.