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US archbishop appoints pro-gay priest as ‘spiritual guide’ for sex abuse victims: report

Lisa Bourne Lisa Bourne Follow Lisa

ATLANTA, Georgia, August 14, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Atlanta’s Catholic archbishop has appointed a pro-gay priest who heads a gay-affirming parish to be diocesan spiritual director for victims of sexual abuse by clergy, LifeSiteNews has learned.

An Atlanta-area Catholic advised LifeSiteNews that Monsignor Henry Gracz, pastor for the pro-LGBT Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Atlanta, is a “Spiritual Director for Victims” for the archdiocese. 

“As a victim of abuse by church personnel you may experience a crisis of faith,” the Atlanta archdiocese’s website states. “Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory has appointed a group of priests as spiritual guides to reach out to you as you may be experiencing confusion and hurt in your relationship with the Catholic Church.”

Gracz is one of three spiritual directors for victims of sexual abuse in the Atlanta archdiocese. There are spiritual directors appointed by the archdiocese for both victims of sexual abuse and those accused of abuse.

“In response to this pastoral need to bring ‘outreach’ to victims of sexual abuse,” the website continues, “the archbishop has appointed the following priests to assist alleged victims of sexual abuse,” listing Gracz and two other priests.

The layperson expressed distress to LifeSiteNews that the archdiocese would place someone that oversees a dissident homosexual-affirming parish in the role of spiritual director for victims of clerical sexual abuse when much of the abuse appears to be homosexually motivated. 

The appointment takes on relevance in light of the recent revelation of the homosexual predation component of the allegations against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick. The allegations have caused professor Janet Smith to call for the eradication of “homosexual networks” within Catholic dioceses to fight clerical sexual abuse. 

“This is very concerning,” the Catholic said about Gracz’s appointment. “Isn’t this what we’re talking about with McCarrick?”

The Catholic, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal, said that the Shrine is well known as the “gay parish” of the archdiocese, and said that Msgr. Gracz “gives carte blanche to everything gay in Atlanta.”

LifeSiteNews inquired with the archdiocese about the prudence of appointing the pastor of a gay-affirming parish in the role of spiritual director for sexual abuse victims in light of the clergy sex abuse scandal, but did not hear back from the archdiocese.

The parish of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the first Catholic church built in Atlanta, maintains a “Pride Outreach,” including running a booth at Atlanta’s gay pride week. 

“The Shrine has always welcomed all of God's children. During PRIDE week each year, we celebrate God's diversity by maintaining a booth in the park,” the parish website states.

It has sent a parish group to march in Atlanta’s Pride parade for years and it is registered to participate in the 2018 Pride parade as well.

The parish also offers GLBT potluck socials to promote “a connectedness within the Shrine GLBT community,” and GLBT couples potluck socials, which are “for GLBT couples who are in committed relationships for couple support by providing a venue for socializing with other GLBT couples,” according to the parish website.

A review on the Trip Advisor travel website rates the Shrine as “very Gay Friendly.”

In 2017, Fortunate and Faithful Families held their fifth annual retreat at the Chancery of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, writes former gay Catholic Joseph Sciambra. The theme of the retreat was “Building Bridges of Love,” a take on the title of the gay-affirming book by homosexual-affirming Jesuit Father James Martin.  

The group is “an offshoot of the dissident Catholic pro-gay marriage LGBT ministry Fortunate Families,” Sciambra notes.

Several deacons and priests attended the Fortunate and Faithful Families retreat, and the music director from the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception led music for a Mass in conjunction with the event. 

“Many thanks to Archbishop Gregory and his phenomenal staff for their care and hospitality!” the group’s website states about the archdiocese’s involvement in hosting its retreat.

“It's All About Love,” the website says as well. “Fortunate & Faithful Families is a ministry in the Atlanta Archdiocese that fosters mutual understanding, spiritual renewal, and inclusion of all gender and sexually diverse individuals and their families through dialogue, hospitality, education, and support.”

Word of the Atlanta archdiocese’s spiritual advisor appointment comes amid increasing frustration and anger among Catholic laity over what they regard as a deficient response to the crisis from bishops while extensive accounts of clergy abuse in the Church over decades and related systemic cover-up continuing to surface since the McCarrick allegations were released on late June.

Contact info to respectfully express concern:

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory

The Roman Catholic
Archdiocese of Atlanta
2401 Lake Park Dr. SE,
Smyrna, GA 30080

Ph: 404-920-7800
Email: [email protected]

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