Michael Rose Responds to Crisis Critique of Goodbye, Good Men

Ignoring Other Evidence

In addition to the peer reviews, Kellenyi’s Pastoral Supervisor, Fr. Francis Reilly, characterized him as “very friendly, outgoing, and hospitable with the Sunday community of the American College…. Joe is flexible and cooperative…. Joe also works well with the seminarian philosophers. Although he only joined the pastoral team at the beginning of the second semester, he fits in well. Therefore again he is flexible and adaptable…. Joe proves an effective presence among the people. The people appreciate Joe’s presence. The people see Joe as warm and welcoming, and as someone who is serious about being a seminarian. He fits in well with other team members.” Fr. Reilly offered not one word of criticism &#0151 only praise. And because he served as Kellenyi’s spiritual advisor, Fr. Reilly was not given a vote as to whether or not Kellenyi could continue at the American College.

Again, Crisis wholly ignored this information.

Even Fr. Kevin Codd, the current Rector who is now publicly denouncing Kellenyi, had this to say in his evaluation: “[Kellenyi] is a person who seems to understand himself well, has a great deal of self-confidence and is committed to his pursuit of his academic and theological development. I support him as he continues on the path towards ministry in the Church.” Now does it sound like Fr. Codd is writing about a man who is a “loose cannon who could blow at any moment”?

The most important point to be made about the evaluation, again, is that Van Durme’s criticisms seem to be given undue weight by then-Rector Fr. David Windsor in his own summary comments &#0151 as stated in my book. Crisis misses this point when it inexplicably asserts to the contrary that Van Durme’s criticisms were shared by the faculty. The “Theology I Evaluation” (also referred to as the “Theology I Assessment”) does not bear this out. Then-Rector Fr. Windsor simply rephrases criticisms made solely by Van Durme. Fr. Windsor, for example, writes that Kellenyi “connects better with those in the community who are twenty and twenty one [sic] years of age. While one seminary student rightly observes that this is Joe’s ‘entry group’ and they were all outsiders together, it is worth addressing this cross generational issue.” Well, it’s worth comparing Fr. Windsor’s quote to Van Durme’s, who writes: “[Kellenyi] only hangs out with the youngest members of the community and has no interest in close contact with the more senior members even after advances were made,” and then again, “Only the youngest members of the community seem to have his interest.”

Interestingly enough, Wolfgang Diedrich is the only other person who addresses this so-called cross-generational issue when he defends Kellenyi in his peer evaluation against Van Durme’s accusation: “I realize that Joe may have come under some scrutiny for relating more with the younger members of the philosophy community than [with] the members of the theology community, but I do not find this strange since Joe has no immediate classmates. The philosophy students came to the house at the same time as Joe, and thus, along with Joe, they were the only unestablished members of the community at the beginning of the year. Since, It [sic] is natural for new members of a community to bond with one another at the outset of starting a new program in a foreign place, I personally do not find his interactions with the younger students to be unhealthy or inappropriate in any way.”

Someone else at the seminary suggested another reason why Kellenyi was drawn to the younger philosophy students: because they were united in a fraternal orthodoxy, which Kellenyi did not find among the theology students who were nearer his age. That also happens to be exactly how Kellenyi described the situation.

Michael Rose on Trial

[Editor's Note: The article by Crisis senior editor Brian Saint-Paul criticizing Goodbye, Good Men can be read by clicking here.]

But the book has not soared without generating great controversy. I would venture to say that Goodbye, Good Men has become one of the most controversial books about the Catholic Church in the last decade. Surprisingly, the most scathing criticism has come from some so-called conservative Catholic publications. They seem to be saying that while they agree with my thesis in at least a vague and general way, they take issue with the particulars as well as my research methodology and journalistic integrity. Ironically, a couple of these articles are themselves textbook examples of shoddy hack journalism (as pointed out in the Sept. issue of the New Oxford Review in “Killing Michael Rose” [on Our Sunday Visitor] and “The Register Steps Into the Ring”).

Our Sunday Visitor actually printed an apology (July 28, 2002) for its unsigned article “Goodbye! Scurrilous Journalist?” (July 14, 2002), which contained so many demonstrably false statements that the anonymous author could not possibly have read my book. (Happily, Fr. Peter Stravinskas, the Editor of The Catholic Answer, another Our Sunday Visitor publication, did read the book. In its September/October 2002 issue, he stated that “the vast majority of American seminaries are rotten to the core,” noting that this is “rather well-documented by Michael Rose in his bombshell book Goodbye, Good Men.“) The National Catholic Register ran an op/ed attack piece by an editor who admitted he hadn’t read the book, save for two pages.

The third article was published by Culture Wars. E. Michael Jones, not only the Editor but the personification of Culture Wars, admitted to me that he hadn’t read Goodbye, Good Men when he published a five-page review of the book studded with many factual errors written by recently ordained Fr. Robert J. Johansen. Curiously, the majority of his criticisms &#0151 much of it based on erroneous second-hand information &#0151 focused on events and issues that weren’t even mentioned in the book he was supposedly reviewing. Despite the numerous and blatant inaccuracies of the Johansen broadside (pointed out by me and by others), it has been quoted or cited uncritically by everyone from the National Catholic Register to “gay” apologist Andrew Sullivan.

In the wake of these anemic criticisms came an article in Crisis magazine. Oddly enough, Crisis, which had previously published a highly favorable review of Goodbye, Good Men by Mary Jo Anderson, relied in part on the flimsy “evidence” of those previous articles in order to buttress its own claims.

On the face of it, the more formidable Crisis article (“A Matter of Integrity: Michael Rose and the American College of Louvain,” September 2002) discredits me and Goodbye, Good Men. The article, by Crisis Senior Editor Brian Saint-Paul, is so trickily crafted that again &#0151 on the face of it &#0151 I seem to be exposed as a negligent and sloppy author at best, and a devious, self-serving, and malicious reporter at worst.

The Crisis article focuses on a five-page section of Goodbye, Good Men dealing with the American College seminary at the University of Louvain in Belgium, which is run directly by the U.S. bishops. In a nutshell, this section tells the story of 40-year-old Joseph Kellenyi, who claims that he was ostracized by a “homosexual clique” there, and that he was sexually harassed by a fellow seminarian, now-ordained Fr. Patrick Van Durme of the Diocese of Rochester. (Van Durme’s identity was protected in Goodbye, Good Men, but later revealed in the Crisis article.) Even after Kellenyi formally reported the harassment to the seminary faculty in writing several times, he claims the harassment continued unabated. Kellenyi says he was unwilling to submit to a “close relationship” that he felt was being forced upon him by Van Durme. Further, Kellenyi was told that if he didn’t submit, Van Durme would use his alleged influence with the Rector to have Kellenyi kicked out. And kicked out of the American College Kellenyi was at the end of the year, leading him to believe that his failure to have a “close relationship” with this classmate was what got him expelled. The expulsion was due both to Kellenyi’s unwillingness to submit and to his audacity in complaining about the harassment without relenting.

So, Crisis, after being approached by the Louvain seminary, took it upon itself to contend that there’s no evidence to corroborate such a story. In doing so, Crisis sought to prove two major points: that Joseph Kellenyi is of doubtful psychological and moral character &#0151 a “straight face” liar in fact &#0151 and that this section of Goodbye, Good Men is a product of disingenuous journalism. After mischaracterizing the events that were reported in my book, Crisis essentially put my reporting skills and integrity on trial in its own kangaroo court. From the start of its investigation, it was clear to me that Crisis had made up its mind that I was guilty, and that it had swallowed the line that Kellenyi was a raving crackpot.

Impugning the Whistleblower

Borrowing a technique from seminaries that have for decades ruthlessly discredited their seminarian whistleblowers, Crisis gets to work quickly on Joseph Kellenyi. Consider how he’s portrayed by Crisis: “He was a loose cannon who could blow at any moment”; he developed “this complex &#0151 almost like paranoia”; “he’s out to ruin some people,” and “he can lie…with a straight face.” Kellenyi is portrayed, without qualification, as mentally unhinged, a crazy man. But consider this: Crisis drew these quotes solely from a group of seminary classmates at Louvain about whom Kellenyi complained.

When I was researching Goodbye, Good Men, Kellenyi flew overseas from Belgium to meet with me in person for three days. Later, I met Kellenyi and others at Louvain. Since Crisis wants to turn the spotlight away from Louvain and on to Kellenyi, let me tell you what I know about Kellenyi based on my interactions with him, my interviews with people at Louvain, and my own research on the claims he makes in my book. Though no longer a seminarian, he is still a graduate student at the University of Louvain, where he was popularly elected to both the Teaching Committee and the Faculty Board of the Theology Department. Bernard Boone, a Belgian Jesuit and then-student body president of the University, served on these boards with Kellenyi. In Boone’s opinion, Kellenyi was “well-respected in the theology faculty.” Kellenyi is also a cum laude scholar, and this year he received the prestigious Callihan Religion and Liberty Fellowship from the Acton Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Nigerian priest Fr. Innocent Iaguwuom, another classmate in the Theology Department, said that Kellenyi is noted for his friendly disposition, his academic acumen, and his willingness to constructively engage professors during class. “He’s helped our classes become very informative discussions,” he remarked, and “his willingness to help other students is tremendous. I’ve learned a lot from Joe.” And Beatrice Kamus, a theology student from Uganda seconds Fr. Iaguwuom’s remarks: “Joe is one of the most prominent students in the [Department], and has been one of the most helpful to me over the past year.” Brendan Sammon, now a religion teacher at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, knew Kellenyi for three years while a graduate student in Theology at Louvain. Sammon, who met Kellenyi through his involvement at the American College, described him as “a true disciple of Christ.” Sammon noticed that many students at Louvain, himself included, looked up to Kellenyi as a “trusted older brother.” Others in Louvain certainly corroborated that impression for me.

But Crisis mentions none of this! It doesn’t fit into its image of Kellenyi as a lying and paranoid loose cannon.

The portrait painted of Kellenyi by those outside the American College seminary at Louvain directly contradicts the Crisis portrait crafted by assembling quotes from his seminary peers about whom he had complaints.

Crisis also forgets to mention that Kellenyi was a well-respected and accomplished businessman in both the U.S. and England before he left behind a $300,000 annual salary to study for the priesthood. Crisis also neglects to mention that Kellenyi was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy while a seminarian.

In other words, the portrait painted of Kellenyi by those outside the American College seminary at Louvain (i.e., those with no vested interest in defending the seminary) directly contradicts the Crisis portrait crafted by assembling quotes from his seminary peers about whom he had complaints. Crisis characterizes Kellenyi as unbalanced, paranoid, and prone to lying. But oddly, no one I interviewed thought Kellenyi unbalanced, paranoid, or prone to lying. No one! On the contrary, they characterized him consistently as a model student, a helpful classmate, and a trustworthy friend.

On top of that, Kellenyi submitted himself to a lie detector test at his own expense (around $2000) with internationally acclaimed polygraph specialist Jeremy Barrett, Managing Director of the London-based Polygraph Security Services, Ltd. In his detailed certified report, Barrett said: “There is no doubt that Mr. Kellenyi was truthful in all his responses.” Kellenyi answered questions pertaining to every aspect of the information that was attributed to him in Goodbye, Good Men. Though the results of polygraph tests are not infallible, experts claim that they are reliable in 99% of cases. Polygraph evidence is used widely by governments and law enforcement agencies in many countries including the U.S. and England.

But if Joseph Kellenyi is not the psychologically unbalanced liar that Crisis makes him out to be in its hatchet job, then the Crisis article falls apart.

Discarding Evidence

After impugning Kellenyi’s reputation, Crisis sets to work dismembering mine. The first target of the attack is my use of Kellenyi’s official final evaluation from the seminary, which includes reviews by student peers and some faculty members, including summary comments by the Rector. Crisis makes much ado about my contrasting of Wolfgang Diedrich’s glowing peer evaluation of Kellenyi with the emotionally negative one rendered by Patrick Van Durme, the seminarian Kellenyi accused of sexually harassing him for months. Crisis judged that my “use of Kellenyi’s theological evaluation and Dietrich [sic] and Van Durme’s peer reviews was, at best, careless.” To prove its point, Crisis first calls upon Diedrich. But Diedrich immediately calls his own credibility into question when he tries to explain away his glowing peer evaluation of Kellenyi. His supportive evaluation calls Kellenyi “brilliant… compassionate… extremely industrious” as well as “friendly, knowledgeable, and engaging.” He describes Kellenyi as “fairly understanding of people and circumstances.” Nevertheless, the Crisis article suggests that Diedrich didn’t really mean what he wrote: “I wanted to write a positive evaluation, because I knew a lot of people didn’t think very highly of Joe.” If Diedrich didn’t really mean what he wrote on Kellenyi’s peer evaluation, how can readers know Diedrich really meant what he said to Crisis?

Crisis also insinuates that Diedrich was the only reviewer who wrote positively of Kellenyi. This is not at all true: Giuliano Lupinetti gave a glowing report, in my estimation even more positive than Diedrich’s. For example, Lupinetti writes: Kellenyi is “a man of knowledge and what is more he goes out of his way to explain things to those who ask and [to] discuss in an adult manner things which might not be in complete agreement among those present,” and “Joe works well with the people who attend Mass on Sundays. The younger people are able to approach him confidently and easily and those more mature people in attendance recognize him as an equal and treat him with respect.” Lupinetti also attested that Kellenyi “works hard at whatever he does,” and even says that he “would be pleased to work with him as his only associate pastor were [Kellenyi] pastor. Joe gets things done. Not only does he get things done, he goes to the trouble to find out well what needs to be done.”

And then there’s Joseph Arsenault, who renders a mixed review of Kellenyi, but is in many ways positive. Far from being emotional in tone, Arsenault’s criticisms of Kellenyi are professional, well-mannered, and reasoned. For example, he writes, “I would have to say that I believe that Joseph’s spirituality is of a more traditional nature. I do not see this in itself as bad; however I do feel that Joseph is less open to other forms or expressions of spirituality/worship.” Fair enough. But Arsenault also makes many positive observations such as “I see Joe as a serious student” and “he is very knowledgeable in many fields.” Thus, out of the four seminarian peers assigned to evaluate Kellenyi, only Van Durme criticizes him in a fully negative, immature, and emotional way. Yet it’s Van Durme’s criticisms that are used by then-Rector Fr. David Windsor to hang Kellenyi. And that was exactly the point made in Goodbye, Good Men.

“[Van Durme] uses the type of verbiage that would put most heterosexual men on guard and give them second thoughts about staying in the seminary.” &#0151 Dr. John Fraunces, psychologist who screens seminary candidates for the Diocese of Allentown, Pa.

I characterized Van Durme’s peer review as “rambling and incoherent,” and that it did nothing other than “express frustration and jealousy.” Although Crisis amazingly disagrees, that’s still my reading of it &#0151 and I’m not the only one. Dr. John Fraunces, a Philadelphia-area psychologist who evaluates seminary candidates for the Diocese of Allentown, also read the Van Durme peer evaluation. “The style in which he writes,” said Fraunces, “is terribly immature. This is high-school prose that should never have been accepted by his superiors, especially in view of the fact that there were other evaluations written to the contrary in a very professional, competent, and objective manner.” Furthermore, said Dr. Fraunces, Van Durme’s evaluation of Kellenyi was written with “sexual undertones” and uses “buzzwords” typically bandied about by “gay” cliques in seminaries. Dr. Fraunces added: “This [evaluation] is a childish and inane exercise by someone who obviously had a personal animus against Kellenyi, or else he was set up by someone to do a hatchet job. He uses the type of verbiage that would put most heterosexual men on guard and give them second thoughts about staying in the seminary. It should never have been accepted or taken seriously.” Fr. Andrew Walter, who read the evaluation when he was still unfamiliar with the context, commented that “it’s written with a very subjective passion, almost as if by someone who was unrequited.” Fr. Walter, a priest of the Diocese of Bridgeport, said he received peer reports of a similar nature before he was expelled from St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore (widely nicknamed the “Pink Palace”).

After reading the Crisis article, Dr. Fraunces commented, “This peer evaluation is a quintessential example of what Goodbye, Good Men is saying about having a homosexual clique control who stays in seminary and who gets booted. If the people at Crisis magazine don’t understand that this evaluation by Van Durme is a clear and stark example of what’s the matter with the seminaries and why we’re having a crisis in vocations, I can only say that they are invincibly naïve.”

What’s even more astounding, however, is that upon graduation and ordination, Van Durme, who according to Dr. Fraunces writes in “high school prose” and with “sexual undertones,” was invited back to the American College of Louvain by the Rector as a faculty peer the following year, and put in charge of the pre-theology seminarians. Now why would Crisis ignore this important piece of information? Because it harks back to Kellenyi’s contention that Van Durme claimed over and over again that he had a lot of influence with the American College Rector, and the threat that he would use that influence against Kellenyi if he didn’t accept Van Durme as his close friend and de facto formation advisor. In the end: Kellenyi gets expelled, and Van Durme gets ordained by the highly liberal Bishop Matthew Clark of Rochester, and is given a faculty position by the Rector of his seminary.

Editorial Consistency

Crisis also suggests that my reporting is disingenuous because I did not contact officials at the seminary to get their side of the story. Yet in Goodbye, Good Men I make very clear the Rector’s response to Kellenyi’s charges. Fr. Windsor is quoted from his August 25, 2000, letter to Kellenyi informing him that he was dismissed from the American College for “calumny against The College and its personnel” and for a “pattern of deception and abuse.” The Rector’s position could not have been made clearer. Fr. Windsor is also quoted as writing to Kellenyi: “In my opinion, you are in serious need of psychological help…before you cause yourself and others untold damage.” In other words, Fr. Windsor dismisses Kellenyi in writing as being mentally unfit for seminary and society. I, however, have a copy of Kellenyi’s psychological evaluation that was used as part of the admissions process into seminary. That evaluation unequivocally states that Kellenyi is a well-balanced and mentally fit man. Written by Dr. Jeffrey M. Slutskey, Kellenyi is summed up thus: “He is an internally strong, emotionally stable man who comes across as intelligent, accomplished and competent.”

Furthermore, Crisis’s hypocrisy is revealed in its author’s one-sidedness. He writes under the guise of impartiality, yet he takes Louvain’s Fr. David Windsor and Fr. Kevin Codd (the “officials”) at their word on everything they’re claiming. Crisis failed to practice the very thing it was sanctimoniously preaching: getting all sides before making any conclusions. Why did Crisis not contact officials or other students at the Theology Department (not the seminary) at the University of Louvain? Why did Crisis not contact Kellenyi’s vocations director in the Diocese of Venice (Florida) to see if he took the Louvain evaluation of Kellenyi seriously? Why did Crisis fail to contact Fr. Francis Reilly, Kellenyi’s spiritual adviser? Why did Crisis fail to contact Kellenyi’s former business associates? Crisis cannot apparently live up to the standards for which it so vehemently calls. Most damning is that Crisis was not interested in meeting with Kellenyi, even though he offered to meet with the folks at Crisis at their Washington office at his own expense to go over the evidence he had in hand that enabled him to make the claims he did. One could easily conclude that Crisis was intent on doing a spin-control puff piece for the Louvain seminary.

The Real Issue

When Goodbye, Good Men was published, Alice von Hildebrand (who wrote the Foreword to the Aquinas edition) and Fr. Kenneth Baker, Editor of Homiletic & Pastoral Review, both warned me that I would be attacked, but I never seriously considered that the attack would come from Crisis magazine and other so-called conservative Catholic publications. The net effect of these reviews has been to draw attention away from the issues in the book and focus on the author. Unfortunately, for Crisis, Michael Rose has become the issue. In many ways this mimics what has transpired in Catholic seminaries over the past several decades. (And certainly mimics what happened in Kellenyi’s case.) Those who dare go against the status quo are singled out for particularly harsh treatment and persecuted to no end. The stock tactic is to discredit the source by calling him psychologically unfit. In this case, Crisis’s argument rests almost entirely on discrediting the primary source, Joseph Kellenyi. But if Kellenyi is not a crackpot, which he is not, then Crisis’s article entitled “A Question of Integrity” would more aptly apply to Crisis magazine itself.

Crisis magazine’s defense of a troubled and shrinking liberal seminary seems strangely out of character, and I hope it reflects a temporary lapse in judgment. The Pope has ordered a “serious” investigation of seminaries affiliated with the U.S. Church, with particular regard to dissent, homosexual cliques, and the abuse of psychological testing. Those who wish to cover up these crippling problems will no doubt brandish the Crisis article. That Crisis has been willing to do the dirty work for liberal Catholics reveals an astounding naïveté &#0151 and let’s hope we’ve seen the last of such gullibility.

In spite of this, my sources in Rome tell me that Goodbye, Good Men is being read in the Vatican and is being taken very seriously. While the influence of a book is almost impossible to trace, I am greatly encouraged that the Vatican recently prepared a draft document that says that anyone with a homosexual orientation must not be admitted to seminary, and if said inclination is discovered later he must not be ordained. Also, the Vatican is working on a document that will eliminate as much as possible the abuse of psychological testing in the discernment of vocations, and John L. Allen Jr., the Rome Correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter, says that “one catalyst” for the latter document “has been the much-discussed book Goodbye, Good Men” (Aug. 2 issue).

While there are powerful forces who wish to sidetrack or derail the documents on homosexuality and psychological testing, and the seminary investigation, I continue to hope &#0151 and believe &#0151 that our seminary system will be reformed and rejuvenated.

Editor's Note: A counter-response by Brian Saint-Paul will appear in the March issue of CRISIS Magazine.

Michael S. Rose is an investigative journalist, and the author of The Renovation Manipulation, Ugly as Sin, and of course Goodbye, Good Men.

[This article originally appeared in the December 2002 edition of the New Oxford Review, and is reprinted with permission.]

Missing the Point on Homosexuality

A major point of contention brought out by Crisis regards the existence of a “gay” subculture at Louvain during the year Kellenyi spent there (1999-2000). Crisis misinterprets Kellenyi, disregarding the stated facts in the book, when it repeatedly questions the existence of an “active gay community” (my italics). That’s not at all how Kellenyi characterized it. He is quoted in Goodbye, Good Men as saying that it was his impression that there was a “homosexual clique” (he said nothing about an “active gay subculture”) at the American College. Fr. Donald Cozzens, former Rector of Cleveland’s seminary, in his book The Changing Face of the Priesthood, speaks of the chronic destabilization that heterosexual men experience in certain seminaries that are home to an inordinate number of (active or not) homosexual students and/or faculty members. According to Kellenyi, this is what he experienced when he was a seminarian at the American College of Louvain. He felt ostracized by a clique that he perceived was, at best, “campy.” Now, if one wants to corroborate the existence of a “gay” or campy clique at a seminary, would one contact the Rector or some other seminary official and ask him expecting to get a straight answer? Crisis implies yes. I respectfully say no.

Crisis then calls upon Wolfgang Diedrich, once again, in order to prove that no “gay subculture” was extant at Louvain. But judging from what Diedrich says on behalf of Van Durme, he inadvertently seems to confirm the opposite: “Of all the people I knew in seminary, Pat Van Durme was the one guy who was without a doubt clearly heterosexual.” One could easily conclude from this that everyone else was or might have been homosexual, that there was indeed a homosexual clique.

Crisis also quotes Kellenyi’s classmate Fr. Joseph Marcoux (pictured at left) as saying, “I certainly never experienced a gay subculture at Louvain. I never saw anything like that.” Like what? Fr. Marcoux, ordained in 2001, and now Assistant Pastor at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Rochester, N.Y., himself conducts gay/lesbian workshops. For example, according to the newsletter of the Diocese of Rochester’s Gay and Lesbian Ministry, Fr. Marcoux conducted one last year at Our Lady of Peace entitled “Gay and Lesbian People in the Church.”

The Diocese of Rochester and Bishop Matthew Clark (Van Durme’s and Marcoux’s boss) in fact have long bastardized the Church’s teaching on homosexuality. Consider this gem from Bishop Clark during a homily at a highly publicized Mass for “gays, lesbians, and bisexuals” at Sacred Heart Cathedral: “I’m afraid the Bible is used in ways that are not life-giving, but destructive, as it’s quoted about gay and lesbian people. I think we need to learn from the human sciences” (March 1, 1997). According to The Wanderer’s News Editor, Paul Likoudis, who attended the Mass, during his homily Bishop Clark “not only affirmed the ‘lifestyles’ of gays and lesbians, saying they had much to teach the wider Church, but delivered a stinging rebuke to faithful Catholics and admonished them to ‘update’ themselves on contemporary biblical scholarship.”

The following year (1998) Bishop Clark hosted the annual conference of the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries. Participants included a long list of the most radical dissenters from Catholic teaching on homosexuality. Their “gay issues” agenda: blessing same-sex “marriages” in the Church, transforming Catholic high schools into “gay-friendly” schools, adoption of children by gay and lesbian couples, introducing gay themes in Sunday homilies, and working for the “conversion” of those Catholics who still object to homosexuality. (Click here for in-depth detail on what was taught at that conference.)

According to a photo-caption in the September 21, 1998, issue of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Patrick Van Durme (Kellenyi’s accused harasser) attended that bizarre gay/lesbian conference. There’s even a photo in the Democrat & Chronicle to prove it: Van Durme is pictured receiving Communion from Bishop Clark, whose hand oddly rests on Van Durme’s shoulder.

The Crisis article also relies on too many assumptions as evidence. For example, Crisis states that Van Durme was once engaged to be married, leading readers to believe that this fact renders any accusations of the man having homosexual attractions devoid of credence. On its own, the fact that Van Durme was engaged proves nothing. After all, notorious homosexual priest/abuser Rudy Kos of Dallas, among others, was once engaged and married.

While Crisis spends an inordinate amount of time on the question of whether Van Durme is “gay” or not, it’s worth pointing out again that Kellenyi accused him of sexual harassment: an abuse of power. The difference between a homosexual and a homosexualist may be a small one. In his peer review of Kellenyi, Van Durme accuses him of not being interested in “gay issues.” Van Durme attended a conference that promoted “gay issues” that radically undermine the Church’s teaching on homosexuality. The bishop who sponsored Van Durme has personally promoted teachings and proposals that are at odds with the Catholic Church on homosexuality. Van Durme is said to have been friends for 15 years with Rochester priest Fr. Joseph Marcoux, who teaches gay/lesbian workshops. And as I quoted Kellenyi as saying in my book, “He [Van Durme] told me one time that the way I was sitting in my chair made him want to fly across the room and grab me.” That doesn’t necessarily make Van Durme an active homosexual, but any normal, red-blooded male would surely want to avoid such a person, would not want a “close relationship” with him. There’s enough evidence to suggest that Kellenyi’s impression of Van Durme is not as outrageous as Crisis makes it sound. In the end, whether or not Van Durme is “gay” is irrelevant.

Asking Around About Louvain

I talked to others in both Louvain and the U.S. who corroborated Kellenyi’s “impression” of the Louvain seminary. In fact, I spoke to two successful vocations directors who said neither they nor their bishops would consider sending seminarians to Louvain, one of the reasons being the seminary’s “effeminate reputation.” Could they prove that there was homosexual activity going on inside the walls of the seminary? No, said both. But that wasn’t the point.

(Crisis gets perturbed when I quote unnamed sources. As I stated in the introduction to Goodbye, Good Men, priests fear reprisals from their fellow priests and especially their bishops. Here’s a case-in-point: Earlier this year Fr. Bryce Sibley of Lafayette, Louisiana, was censured for six months by his bishop because he publicly corroborated Kellenyi’s impression of the homosexual clique at Louvain. Fr. Sibley said his impressions were formed while on a week-long visit to the seminary in 1997, during which time he was a student at the North American College in Rome. Shortly after Fr. Sibley posted his article online, a letter of complaint from Louvain Rector Fr. Codd resulted in the swift removal of the offending article from circulation at the demand of his bishop, and Fr. Sibley’s subsequent silencing.)

The vocations directors I spoke with indicated that many of the U.S. bishops have been very reluctant to send their seminarians to Louvain, and that for some bishops Louvain “isn’t even on the radar.” The statistics bear this out. Crisis neglected to mention that during the year Kellenyi attended, the American College at Louvain had only 14 seminarians. In fact, out of the entire United States, Joseph Kellenyi was the only man to enter the Theologate in the Fall of 1999. In other words, Kellenyi was the only man in his class. He had no classmates! According to the seminary’s website, the entire student population of the seminary’s Theologate during the 2001-02 academic year had dwindled to seven men with an additional four in the pre-theology program. [The Theologate further dwindled to five men during the 2002-03, making for a student:teacher ration of 1 to 1]. These numbers don’t even justify a fraction of the cost of running the seminary. And one wonders if donors to the American College are aware of this. When I spoke by phone with Barbara Henkels, a member of the Advisory Board for the Louvain seminary (and a member of the Publication Committee for Crisis), she seemed genuinely surprised &#0151 even shocked &#0151 when I explained that Kellenyi was the only man in his class. Out of the 184 U.S. dioceses, only six sent a seminarian to Louvain’s American College in 2001-2002.

When wondering why only a handful of bishops send men to Louvain, consider that Louvain “boasts” many world-renowned liberal Church theologians. Prof. Joseph Selling, Chairman of the Department of Moral Theology at Louvain, for example, has become a controversial figure in the U.S. At the pro-“gay” New Ways Ministry National Symposium in Pittsburgh in March 1997 (at which Bishop Matthew Clark was also a guest speaker), Selling spoke of his expectation that the Church will approve of homosexual sodomy. Is the Church’s teaching on sodomy going to continue to evolve, he asked?: “With respect to the homosexual relationship, will it evolve toward encompassing it? Yes, it will!” he emphatically replied.

Selling, editor of The Splendor of Accuracy, a book which mocks Pope John Paul II’s encyclical The Splendor of Truth, also argues in New Theology Review No. 11 (1998) that heterosexuality and homosexuality are merely two alternative forms of living. In his analysis, the basic immorality of homosexual acts is not considered, rather only the “quality” of such a relationship determines its morality. If it’s consensual, loving, and stable, he reasons, then it’s moral &#0151 even if to others it’s sodomy. Theology students at Louvain laugh at the notoriety Prof. Selling has received in the U.S. “Some of the other theology professors at Louvain make Selling look like a ‘right-winger,’” explained Boone, the Belgian Jesuit.

Part of the “progressive” nature of the Theology Department is an anti-clericalism of sorts, or perhaps more accurately, an overzealous egalitarianism. According to the Nigerian Fr. Iaguwuom, “It’s easy to lose your priestly identity here.” He added that in his experience “no priest dares to wear his collar here because he’d be ridiculed.” Priests who are students in the Theology Department, he lamented, are never referred to as Father: “Their priesthood is not recognized.”

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