Sunday, May 15, 2016

Msgr. Anatrella, Vatican "Expert on Homosexuality" Accused of Molesting Patients, Now Back in News As Paris Archbishop Vingt-Trois Issues Statement

An update to the story I told you earlier this month about allegations regarding . . . unusual . . . therapeutic methods (i.e., curing of homosexuality by "corporal" methods involving genital touching) employed by French monsignor Tony Anatrella, the Vatican "expert on homosexuality" who believes homosexuality is an illness that can be cured by reparative therapy: 

Anatrella and the allegations discussed in my previous posting are back in the news this weekend, as the archbishop of Paris, Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, now addresses them publicly. French media outlets are reporting (here, here, here, here, and here) that the archdiocese of Paris issued a statement on Friday which states that in 2014, a priest of the archdiocese brought to Vingt-Trois written allegations by an adult who reported that he or she had been abused by Anatrella in a therapeutic context. The cardinal indicates that he then asked this person to come forward and reveal his/her identity, but the person did not do so — and Vingt-Trois says he could not act on the basis of an anonymous allegation.

The media reports also stated that the statement issued on 13 May indicates that another archdiocesan priest approached Vingt-Trois at the end of April stating that he had been told of similar allegations of abuse by Anatrella in a therapeutic context, but, again, Vingt-Trois said he could not pursue the allegations because they were anonymous. As Philippe Randé also reports for France Inter (the first link in the set of five above), various media outlets are stating that the previous archbishop of Paris, Jean-Marie Lustiger, was informed of allegations about abuse of patients sent to Anatrella for therapy as early as 2001. And as all these articles and the report I provided early in May indicate, in 2006, there was a flurry of reports in the French media about Anatrella's sexual abuse of patients, at which time no action was taken by church officials.

As Vatican Radio (with Radio France) reported yesterday (last of the set of five links above), Anatrella was among the authorities consulted by the French bishops as they issued their brochure about abuse of minors in 2003 (which was then reissued — again, with Anatrella's involvement — in 2010). 

The Vatican Radio report states that the communiqué issued on Friday by the archdiocese of Paris encourages anyone with information about abuse of minors to report them to justice officials. However, according to Loup Besmond de Senneville writing for La Croix (second of the set of five links above), the statement issued by the archdiocese of Paris on Friday encourages those with allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic authority figures to come first to diocesan authorities, who will help them sort out the allegations and determine if they have a factual basis that will then merit reporting to judicial authorities.

As those who have followed carefully the attempts to hold Catholic officials in the U.S., Ireland, Australia and elsewhere responsible as clerical sexual abuse of minors has been covered up will recognize, this has been a point about which survivors and survivor advocacy groups have long made a strong case: survivor groups insist that those with allegations of sexual abuse of minors by religious authority figures should go to the police and justice officials, not to church officials, who have a history of receiving these reports and then trying to squelch them and to bully or buy off survivors and their families.

The media reports above state that there will be a gathering of priests in the Paris archdiocese in early June at which Cardinal Vingt-Trois will address an initiative being taken by the archdiocese to combat abuse of minors. This gathering and any statements the cardinal makes will be very much worth watching closely. It will be especially important to see whether Vingt-Trois encourages those with allegations about sexual abuse of minors to bring them to church officials before they go to the police or other judicial authorities.

And it will be very interesting to see if Anatrella's name comes up at this gathering. As Le Figaro reports (third link in the set above), isn't it interesting that Tony Anatrella, who is not a bishop, but who styles himself a "psychoanalyst" and a "specialist in social psychiatry," has had such influence, influence reaching to the Vatican itself, such that he was invited to address the Synod on the Family as an "expert on homosexuality"? How did a mere monsignor obtain such astonishing influence at top levels of the Catholic church? See this recent TF1 television report, which reminds us that Anatrella was an "intimate" of Pope Saint John Paul II, who, in fact, helped put together the ban on gay men in the priesthood under that pope.

(I'm grateful to my friend Brittmarie "Brittie" Janson Perez for alerting me to the French media reports discussed here.)

The photo of Msgr. Tony Anatrella is by Peter Potrowl and has been uploaded to Wikimedia Commons for sharing online.

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