Web site to out gay priests who are anti-gay

By William Wan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 5, 2009

Gay, Catholic and fed up with his church's efforts to quash the same-sex marriage movement, Phil Attey has come up with a controversial strategy: outing gay priests who speak out against homosexuality.

Attey's new Web site, http://churchouting.com, has drawn criticism from groups that advocate for gay Catholics. They worry that his threats to gather and disclose information on gay priests will hurt their cause.

Attey, a D.C. resident, describes himself as an Internet political strategist. On his Web site, he urges people to report encounters with gay priests in the Archdiocese of Washington, which has strongly opposed legalization of same-sex marriage in the District.

He said he will out only gay priests and bishops who speak out against homosexuality. In the case of priests not publicly opposed to gay marriage but still in the closet, he said his goal is not to threaten them but to encourage them to "come out for the next generation and stand up against the anti-gay stance of the church."

Francis DeBernardo of New Ways Ministry, which advocates on behalf of gay male and lesbian Catholics, said he understands Attey's anger but condemns his approach. "Equal rights should be argued on the merits of the issue, not with vengeful personal attacks," he said. "Outing priests could cause more harm to a group of people who are already in a difficult situation."

The archdiocese called the Web site potentially harmful. "If anyone has a concern about whether a priest is violating their ministry in any way, we would encourage them to let the archdiocese know rather than some Web site . . .," spokeswoman Susan Gibbs said. "We will follow through and investigate. It's too easy on the Internet to gossip and violate someone's good name on rumors."

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