The Rosa Parks of Seminarians?

The bullies running our Church will trample on our human rights until someone intervenes

Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King

On December 1, 1955, Mrs. Rosa Parks refused to move from her seat on the bus. The conductor, Mr. James Blake, demanded that she get up and move further back, in order to conform with the custom of racial segregation. Parks would not co-operate with the humiliation.

Rosa Parks was not the first person to get arrested for such a “crime.” Others before her had refused to conform with the humiliations of racial segregation on Montgomery’s public buses. Nor was Parks’ December 1, 1955, arrest her first open rejection of institutional racism. She already had a decade of experience as a civil-rights activist.

That said, Parks had not decided ahead of time to get arrested on the evening of December 1, 1955. Also, contrary to a widespread myth, she was no more tired that evening than she was on any weekday evening, and she was not an old lady–she was only 42. She was tired, however, of being humiliated on the bus. So she wound up getting arrested that night.

That date–December 1, 1955–became the beginning of what we now call the Civil Rights Movement because: The leaders of the movement (including the young new Baptist preacher in town, Martin King, Jr.) immediately recognized Rosa Parks’ potential as a rallying point.

Parks could worthily represent the whole black community. She had zero skeletons in her closet for the racist press to bring out. To the contrary, she lived a life beyond reproach. As Dr. King put it: “Mrs. Parks was regarded as one of the finest citizens in Montgomery–not one of the finest Negro citizens–but one of the finest citizens.”

I recall all this, dear reader, because a friend of mine has filed a lawsuit. And I hope and pray that he will become the Rosa Parks of Catholic seminarians.

Former New-York seminarian Anthony Gorgia saw a seminary official take liberties with a fellow seminarian. The official got touchy-feely in a way that certainly was not appropriate for the supervisor-supervisee relationship. The priest exploited his authority in order to initiate physical contact with the seminarian, contact that the seminarian did not welcome, but was powerless to avoid.

This began a chain of events. Believe it or not, that chain of events did not result in an investigation by Church authorities or disciplinary action against the liberty-taking priest. No, it resulted in the Pontifical North American College and Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York forcing Anthony out of the seminary.

Anthony loves the Lord and the Church. He never had an “agenda,” other than heeding the Lord’s call.

Anthony saw the liberties that Father Adam Park took. Anthony showed by his facial expression that the situation disturbed him. This lead other seminarians to let Anthony know privately what they had suffered at Park’s hands.

Anthony asked the proper authorities within the Church to investigate the matter. Anthony never leveled unfounded accusations against anyone. But he could not in good conscience pretend that he had not seen and heard things that disturbed him.

It disturbs me, too–particularly so, since I have known Adam Park for 23 years. Early on in our seminary days, I regarded him as a friend.

Anthony got nowhere when he requested an investigation by the Church officials who have the duty of overseeing such things.

Sounds familiar. Like I did, Anthony at one point wrote to Beniamino Card. Stella, prefect for the Congregation for the Clergy in Rome. Anthony never got any answer at all. (As you recall, dear reader, the answer I got was: We refuse to hear your case.)

Anthony has now filed a lawsuit in civil court.

I encourage you to read the whole filing. Again, many of Anthony’s points in his lawsuit harmonize with ideas I have tried to put forward here.

We “underlings” in the ecclesiastical hierarchy actually do have human rights. We actually do deserve due process. Our superiors do not have the right to drum us out of public service in the Church simply because we refuse to acquiesce silently to their questionable leadership.

Anthony and I have this in common: Our unreasonably hostile ecclesiastical superiors appointed themselves prosecutor, judge, and jury in our cases.

Anthony’s seminary rector and vice-rector forced Anthony out of the seminary on false and incoherent charges, charges that Anthony never had the opportunity to answer. They actually conspired to get rid of him while he was recovering from urgent spinal surgery. (Anthony suffers from scoliosis.)

Cardinal Dolan accepted the rector’s and vice-rector’s version of events without ever hearing Anthony’s side of the story. Indeed, Cardinal Dolan refused to meet with Anthony.

As you know, dear reader, I, too, got falsely accused, and then unjustly convicted. One man, Bishop Barry Knestout, had appointed himself prosecutor, judge, and jury.

In any fair trial, the judge and prosecutor are not the same person. And a judge has the obligation of providing the accused with a forum in which to defend himself from the charges that the prosecutor has made.

As we ruefully remember, Bishop Knestout wrote a letter to all the parishioners here accusing me of the ecclesiastical crime of schism. The bishop insisted that the local newspaper publish his letter, apparently threatening them with adverse consequences if they did not. Then, without a trial, the bishop convicted me of the crime.

Wuerl Knestout Pope Francis

This is the way the cronies operate. No one under their jurisdiction has any rights.

The question now is: Will Anthony get justice in the New York court where he has filed his case?

All Anthony has asked for is: a forum in which to petition for redress for injuries that Church officials have done him. That is what a court of law is supposed to be.

Will the Church institutions involved in this case try to hide behind the “separation of Church and state?” There are no disputed points of doctrine at issue here. Anthony asks for simple human justice.

In this matter, as in many others, the Church as a human enterprise has failed to live up to the ideals we claim to have. Like the powerful people in any human operation, Church officials should be accountable. They should not try to hide behind the pretext that the “separation doctrine” means: they don’t have to answer for their injustices.

Let’s pray that the judge will see Anthony’s case for what it is: a human rights case, not an internal Church matter.

(PS. If you would like to help Anthony financially, you can click HERE.)


3 thoughts on “The Rosa Parks of Seminarians?

  1. What an absolute load of bull….! I wonder how the Church can continue to survive under the weight of these vile stories coming to light. Parents of seminarians must worry themselves sick about their sons in the seminary.

  2. Father: I was duped, I used to think Dolan was alright, but I think he is no different than the rest of that ilk. Joe

  3. First, I will keep Anthony in my prayers…that is a promise….a commitment…just as I continue to pray for you and for other priests being so ill-treated. This entire matter is an abomination. I well remember my absolute shock when Bishop Knestout posted in the Martinsville Bulletin! How dare he try to turn the parishioners against their priest. But he did try…and that will not be forgotten….not by me and not by so many others. That is my promise.
    It will be my honor to help Anthony financially.

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