Friday, August 3, 2018

Philippe Lefebvre Explains How Anatrella Held On So Long: "If You Are Scared Yourself, You Send in the Dogs. And Anatrella Said Things That Conservative Catholics Like to Hear"

Here's another piece of valuable commentary to which MarkWilliam has pointed us, which places the current hot attempt of those defending the Vatican's "gay expert" Msgr. Tony Anatrella to knock down the ecclesiastical censure of Anatrella and rehabilitate him. This article, entitled "The Secrets of the French Church’s 'Gay Expert', Tony Anatrella," is by Cameron Doody with Hendro Munsterman of Nederlands Dagblad, who has written about Anatrella in that publication.

Doody is interviewing Fr. Philippe Lefebvre of the University of Fribourg, who, as I noted yesterday, played a leading role in pushing for church officials to investigate Anatrella. Lefebvre tells Doody that "everyone knew about" Anatrella and his molestation of men coming to him for therapy — including highly placed French bishops and the Vatican — but no one was willing for a long time to deal with him, because of the power he has long wielded at top levels of the church. And the secrets he knows about officials at the top levels of the church….

Doody asks Lefebvre if it was risky for him to blow the whistle on Anatrella. Lefebvre replies:

The church gives these people an almost almighty status. And if you criticize them, you get the bishops coming down on you. Or the whole Catholic system of laymen that keeps all kinds of internet sites running. They are mafia practices that are accompanied even by intimidations. I know that Anatrella has tried everything to get me removed from my chair here at the faculty in Fribourg, even going to the highest Roman court. I also received phone calls from friends who told me that I was being portrayed as the "destroyer of the church" in Rome. A bishop told me that I had better stop, since my lectureship depends on the Congregation for Catholic Education in Rome.

Doody then wants to know, "How can this support for Anatrella from the highest levels of the Church be explained?" Here's Lefebvre's response:

Bishops are generally weak-willed. Someone who takes a firm position in the public debate about matters such as the family and homosexuality is therefore good for them. If you are scared yourself, you send in the dogs. And Anatrella said things that conservative Catholics like to hear. Many French priests and monks have also been in therapy with Anatrella, often  to cure their homosexual attraction. Some of them now have high positions in the church. Anatrella knows things, and people are afraid of him. But the victims have remained very worthy, brave and courageous. They haven’t got discouraged.

Then Lefebvre concludes by explaining why he thinks what has happened to Anatrella — at long last — is so significant:

Thinking differently – about the family, for example – has been made completely impossible by the current ecclesiastical structures. Either by ecclesiastical office-bearers, or by conservative laymen with their internet sites. In Iran we call that the revolutionary guard. The Ayatollahs have the power, but then there are the people who look after all the villages and families, and check, for example, if your wife's headscarf is thick enough. The Roman Catholic Church has come to resemble that. The culture of discussion and dialogue has completely disappeared. We are in a Church of conformity with apparatchiks that maintain an institution. Jesus calls them "the dead who bury the dead". Anatrella has held French Catholicism in his ideological grip for thirty years, while the bishops knew of his abuse. In the corridors several bishops said to me: "You're right, but don't say it was me who told you". 
The current Archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, came out [and suspended Anatrella] very cleverly just before the summer holiday. After the summer we will have forgotten about it again. 
But I hope Anatrella's suspension is the beginning of a new reflection.

The photo of Philippe Lefebvre is from his faculty page at University of Fribourg. 

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