His Eminence Bishop Mark L. Bartchak 08/19/13
DIOCESE OF ALTOONA-JOHNSTOWN
927 S. Logan Boulevard
Hollidaysburg, PA 16648
Dear Bishop Bartchak,
I am writing you after much prayer and consideration. There are several reasons I write but the foremost is I believe we must continue to try to oppose the evils of today. I was present for your discussion at St. Patrick's Parrish regarding Msgr Little.
It was in this light that prompted me to write to you as well as encouragement from other families.
Several years ago I became involved in the child abuse cases in this diocese. Several people approached me because I was an outspoken opponent to our diocesans apparent support of homosexuality in both the laity and in the priesthood.
During your talk at St Patrick’s you said we might be surprised to learn people who reported abuse were not after money. In my cases this was also the initial response, but when the victim’s and their families were put off they felt legal ( criminal or civil ) actions were their only recourse.
Unfortunately in my investigations of the allegations, I found out many of our priests had been or were living lascivious lifestyles. Many had or were engaged in homosexual lifestyles and a few had secretly “married” each other to women.
Bishop Hogan himself had commented in the court testimony that the problem was so wide spread that he did not know how to address it. Although the local church has taken steps to correct abuses after the fact there seems to be little visible efforts to promote celibacy or address the evils of the homosexual lifestyle or to minister to those with same sex attraction.
After your installation our Catholic Register had an article where the contributing priest wrote how homosexual marriage was not allowed in the Church but offered the homosexual couple his best wishes. As if two men could be "married" against the Church’s direction and still live happily ever after. This article was a sad reminder of the effects left by Gay positive homosexual priests that still remain in our diocese.
Since your installation people (priests and laity) have been wondering when the diocesan problems regarding priestly immorality were going to be addressed. The scandals of impurity are what have rotted this diocese for the past several decades and they still linger today. We have priests who advise couples to contracept or have their "tubes tied". You have priests who openly believe in Gay positive homosexuality as a way of life and still practice it today. I believe you still have at least one “married” priest in the diocese.
I still receive calls from people or am asked if their new Parrish priest is "safe" to have around their children and sadly sometimes I have to reply that in my opinion, no. Please do not think I hold peoples past actions against them. The statistical facts show a high rate of repeat offenders for child molesters and they also show a homosexual man is 10 times more likely to abuse a child. My past investigations uncovered our priests hanging out in homosexual circles, involved in prostitution, accused of child molestation or having used the confessional as a place to pick up men. This results in a vacuum for heterosexual priests who are left without a fraternity of brothers for support. Priests have made advances on our friends whom we sent to enter the church. I do not believe a priest who believes sodomy is an acceptable lifestyle is a priest to have around children, whether or not the children are young or old. It is my understanding that some of our priests continue with their past transgressions.
Why are these problems so relevant? During one period of Bishop Joseph's tenure almost every priest that was in a leadership position was either a practicing homosexual or had a homosexual past. I do not think anyone can underestimate the effect this has had on every facet of this diocese. Organizations across the diocese were influenced or staffed by people who did not agree with the Church's teachings and I was aware of young men who turned away from the priesthood because they felt this issue was pressed upon them in their inquiries into the priesthood.
I am not writing you to dwell on the past but I believe we cannot move forward as long as people still recognize this is the major problem in the diocese. When the church speaks of the near occasion of sin how can we justify Gay positive priests who might share the same living conditions? In your Fortnight for Freedom sermon you touched on how we must fight for our faith. Many laity and clergy believe their efforts to support the church’s teaching are undermined by many in the clergy who simply disagree with their churches positions on life, love and family. I and many others have seen no noticeable signs or teachings that the diocesan priests are supported or encouraged to embrace our faiths teaching on life and love. We do not see any writings or hear sermons from our pastors or Bishops addressing the evils of homosexual lifestyles. On the contrary in the past the laity have had to combat Priests who have campaigned otherwise. In the past few decades we have had three suicides from our accused priests and religious. Don’t these actions in themselves bring up a question of their theological disposition and training?
If the diocese cannot begin a program to address the root problem of sexually dysfunctional priests then we will be plagued with continual scandals and loss of the faithful. Yes, child molestations are still the focus of today. They are not the root cause but only a symptom of today’s perverted sexual mentality. Why is our local history so important to address? If you replace an accused priest with another priest who later gets accused of sexual immorality the divisions in the faithful only multiply. I pondered this at your talk because one of the visiting replacement priests had an affair with a male choir member.
Bishop, I am not asking you to reply to my letter nor am I asking you address individual priests unless they continue to practice their support of homosexuality, but rather take a proactive stance. Implement a program that focuses on fidelity to the church’s teachings on sexuality at all levels of the diocese. A program that instructs our teachers from CCD to grade school and High School, a program for our high schools students , and most importantly a program for our priests. Simply put, if the leaders and future leaders of our church no longer understand, support or nurture authentic Catholic moral teaching then we will continue down a path where our church will no longer be a viable teaching authority in society.
Today we see a vast percentage of people who call themselves Catholic who do not support the Church's moral teachings from abortion to contraception to homosexuality to premarital sex. This is not because they reject the teachings on their own but rather they have been taught by their own priests who reject these teachings. This is the fight that only you can enter into. It is a fight for the sanctity of our priests and their fidelity to our faith.
For many, many, years this diocese has prayed for a Bishop, a Sheppard, it is my sincere hope and prayer that God has answered us.
George A. Foster