Responding to Michael Rose

No writer wants to read criticism of his work—whether well-founded or not. After laboring on a project for months or years, he begins to identify himself with his work. An attack on one is an attack on the other. And so, predictably, Michael Rose took issue with my September 2002 story, “A Question of Integrity: Michael Rose and the American College of Louvain,” and its exposé of one section in his recent book, Goodbye, Good Men: How Liberals Brought Corruption into the Catholic Church.

As readers will recall, Rose claimed that the American College of Louvain (ACL), an historic seminary off-campus from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, harbored a homosexual subculture. Not only that, Rose asserts that a seminarian named Joseph Kellenyi was sexually harassed by a “gay” seminarian (now priest) named Patrick Van Durme. Furthermore, Kellenyi claims that Van Durme was also having an affair with ACL’s then-rector, Rev. David Windsor. Rose based his story exclusively on the word of Kellenyi, who was expelled for fabrication and other disciplinary matters.

In my original piece, I assembled an enormous amount of evidence indicating that the events Rose recounted never occurred—or at least never occurred in the way he described them. Well, in the December 2002 issue of New Oxford Review, Rose published an eight-page response (“The Astounding Naiveté of Crisis Magazine”)—almost twice as long as my original article. And he was not pleased.

Rose starts off with a few passing comments, mentioning several other “so-called conservative Catholic publications,” like Culture Wars, Our Sunday Visitor, and the National Catholic Register—all of which published critiques of various portions of his book. Rejecting their concerns, he says that Crisis “relied in part on the flimsy ‘evidence’ of those previous articles in order to buttress its own claims.”

While I reject his assertion that the evidence presented by the other publications was “flimsy,” nowhere in my piece did I rely on their material. Indeed, I simply mentioned their work near the end of the article, to demonstrate that Crisis isn’t the only orthodox magazine that has problems with portions of Rose’s book. A plain reading of my article makes this obvious enough.

Rose also charges me with “mischaracterizing the events that were reported in [his] book.” While he offers no evidence of this in that section, I can only assume he refers to my characterization of his claim that ACL had an active gay subculture. Later in his response, he takes great issue with this:

Crisis misinterprets Kellenyi, disregarding the stated facts in the book, when it repeatedly questions the existence of an ‘active gay community.’ …That’s not at all how Kellenyi characterized it.

This is an astounding statement, to be sure. In a chapter of Rose’s book titled “The Gay Subculture,” Kellenyi described ACL as being dominated by a “homosexual clique” where “half the theology seminarians were homosexual” and where one gay seminarian tried to pressure him into a gay relationship while carrying on a gay affair with the gay seminary rector. If that doesn’t constitute an “active gay community,” what on earth does?

The Witnesses

Recognizing correctly that his claims rest entirely on the credibility of Joseph Kellenyi, Rose sets out to do a little damage control. If you recall from my earlier article, Kellenyi wasn’t a terribly popular man at ACL. While he did have a few friends at the college—at least while he was there—none of them believe his story.

But wait, Rose cries—in presenting my material, I was guilty of “assembling quotes from [Kellenyi’s] seminary peers about whom he had complaints.” In fact, Rose offers four quotes critical of Kellenyi from my article and then charges that I “drew these quotes solely from a group of seminary classmates at Louvain about whom Kellenyi complained.”

But this isn’t remotely true. The four quotes he lists (ignoring several others) came from two seminarians: Marcus Mudd and Wolfgang Diedrich. Contrary to Rose’s claim, Marcus Mudd was actually one of Kellenyi’s few friends at ACL. And Diedrich—another former Kellenyi friend and semi-confidante—was the author of the positive peer evaluation of Kellenyi that Rose uses in his book to buttress his assertion that some ACL classmates thought highly of the controversial seminarian. It’s fascinating that Rose can consider Diedrich a reliable source when it’s to his advantage and then dismiss him out of hand when his words undercut Rose’s position.

And that’s not Rose’s only attempt to discredit Diedrich. At one point, he implies that Diedrich is untrustworthy when he explains that he wanted to focus on Kellenyi’s positive points in his evaluation, since he knew many others didn’t think very highly of the man. Rose writes, “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?”

Rose can only arrive at this conclusion by neglecting to mention the first half of Diedrich’s quote: “I wrote [the evaluation] midway through the year. A lot hadn’t come to the surface at that time.” Elsewhere in my article, I quoted Diedrich confirming that Kellenyi changed as the semester continued: “As the year went on, he got this complex almost like paranoia. Everyone was out to get him.”

Diedrich’s explanation is thus clear and reasonable. In my original interview with him, Diedrich confirmed that he did mean what he wrote about Kellenyi in the peer review. But as time passed and Kellenyi’s activities changed, Diedrich’s estimation of the man changed as well.

And the Others?

While Rose implies that all the seminarians I interviewed were liberals, intent on covering up for the seminary by going after Kellenyi, this isn’t at all the case. And indeed, Rose should know it, since he interviewed one of them himself.

A few weeks after he learned that I’d be looking into his claims about ACL, Rose called Luke Melcher, a former seminarian classmate of Kellenyi’s. The conservative Melcher eventually left ACL and can hardly be accused of shilling for the seminary. While Rose apparently hoped Melcher would buttress his story, the opposite turned out to be the case. Melcher told Rose the same thing he later told me: “I found no evidence of any sort of an affair between the rector and Father Van Durme. They were gentlemen and men of integrity.”

Why didn’t Rose mention this important conservative counter-witness? And what about conservative Rev. Bill Cau—another former Kellenyi classmate I interviewed and quoted?

Indeed, Rose himself undercuts his own implication later in his response, when he comments that the younger seminarians “were united in a fraternal orthodoxy.” And yet those same orthodox, young seminarians also reject Kellenyi’s claims. So, are these conservative Catholics part of a vast conspiracy to protect what Rose describes as “a troubled and shrinking liberal seminary”? Or is it simply more reasonable to believe that Kellenyi’s story is false?

The Other Side of Joe Kellenyi

In an attempt to undermine the strong testimony of Kellenyi’s ACL classmates, Rose assembled for his response positive quotes from four friends of the ex-seminarian. Kellenyi is described as friendly, intelligent, brotherly, helpful, and so on. Let me add to that list myself: In my interview with him, I found Kellenyi intelligent, likeable, and surprisingly funny.

So, what does this have to do with the events he claims occurred at the seminary? Actually, very little. Note that Rose confined his new interviews to those outside the seminary—those, in other words, who were not witnesses to the dispute. Do any of Rose’s new sources claim to have firsthand knowledge of the events Kellenyi describes? Apparently not, or Rose surely would have mentioned it.

The plain fact is, when you’re investigating a dispute like this, your first course of action is to interview those closest to the action—in this case, the men who were there in the seminary. (These vital witnesses Rose carefully avoided.) Second- and third-string sources are helpful for general background but are of little value in establishing the truth about a specific event.

The question we must ask, then, is obvious: Why hasn’t Rose produced a single witness to back up Kellenyi’s contention that he was sexually harassed by a homosexual seminarian who was himself having an affair with the rector? The answer is equally obvious: There are none.

Indeed, in my research for my original article, I asked Kellenyi if I could talk to any faculty members or classmates who would back up his claims (email, May 29, 2002). He declined.

An Impressive Résumé

Rose takes me to task for not supplying more background information on Kellenyi—specifically, some of his impressive past accomplishments (his success as a businessman, his position as “a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy,” his membership on the teaching committee at the University of Louvain, etc.). Rose neglects to mention that I provided the Web site address for Kellenyi’s Final Report, wherein he details fully his commendable résumé in addition to giving his account of the disputed events. That would have been a rather foolish move for me had I been interested in concealing his past.

But even here in his description of Kellenyi, Rose can’t resist a measure of exaggeration. For example, while Kellenyi was technically a commissioned Navy officer, this actually consisted of spending two summers taking a chaplain training program.

Nevertheless, on this point, I think that Rose’s criticism is valid. I should have discussed more fully Kellenyi’s background; not everyone, after all, has Internet access. If I’m going to criticize Rose for the weaknesses in his material, it’s only right that I fully acknowledge my own.

And yet, like the positive quotes from Kellenyi’s friends, this has little to do with the matter at hand. All the principals in the dispute have friends who praise them and admirable past accomplishments. Listing them settles nothing.

A Lie Detector?

Since the publication of my article, Kellenyi has taken a lie detector test (paid for by Joe Kellenyi, with questions provided by Joe Kellenyi). In his response, Rose reports that the test results demonstrate the man’s truthfulness. Indeed, Rose makes the bold claim that while “polygraph tests are not infallible, experts claim that they are reliable in 99 percent of cases.”

While this may sound impressive to those weaned on the mythological polygraph testing found in movies and television, the statement is absurd to those not making their living by administering them. Anyone familiar with the relevant peer-reviewed research knows that lie detection is neither reliable, nor scientific.

Indeed, Dr. Alan Zelicoff of Sandia National Laboratory amusingly noted in the April 4, 2001, edition of the Albuquerque Tribune that “the secret of the polygraph—the polygrapher’s own shameless deception—is that their machine is no more capable of assessing truth-telling than were the priests of ancient Rome standing knee-deep in chicken parts.” Moreover, “dozens of studies over the past 20 years conducted in psychology departments and medical schools all over the world have shown that the polygraph can not distinguish between truth-telling and lying.”

The results of lie detector tests are inadmissible in court, and their use in law enforcement is coming under increasing fire in the scientific community. One need look no further than spies Aldrich Ames, Robert Hanssen, and John Walker Jr.—all of whom routinely passed the vaunted FBI and CIA polygraphs—to see the unreliability of such tests. This problem has only been compounded by the recent flood of “security” firms who offer the polygraph, for a price.

As useless as lie detector results are, there’s another reason to reject them in this specific case: Kellenyi may not be lying. With a few exceptions, most of the people I interviewed—all of whom rejected Kellenyi’s claims—nevertheless think Kellenyi truly believes what he’s saying.

The Psychological Test

But didn’t Kellenyi take a psychological examination before entering the seminary? Yes, he did, and as Rose mentions, he passed it. There’s a bit more to the story, though. When Kellenyi first applied to the seminary—Mundelein, at the time— he was given the psychological evaluation. A personal matter, however, delayed his entrance. By the time he finally entered the seminary, his evaluation was out of date. Indeed, by the time he transferred to ACL, the test, dated April 15, 1996, was more than three years old. Rose doesn’t mention this.

While that’s of some significant interest, the more relevant issue—which Rose also ignores—is what happened once he transferred to ACL. The seminarians and faculty I spoke with mentioned a progression (or regression, if you wish) in Kellenyi’s behavior. Recall Diedrich’s description of the ex-seminarian’s growing “paranoia.” Such a devolution is hardly refuted by a psychological evaluation given three years before.

The ‘Gay’ Seminarian

As I noted in my original article, Rose’s section about ACL falls apart if Van Durme isn’t homosexual. You also may recall from my article that Van Durme vigorously denies being homosexual—a denial seconded by his friends, his family, his fellow-seminarians, his ex-fiancé, and seemingly everyone else but Joe Kellenyi. In fact, not only does Van Durme deny being gay, but in my original article, he notes pointedly that he accepts the Church’s teaching on homosexuality (“Love the person but not the activity,” as he described it).

So, what evidence does Rose offer to prove Van Durme’s alleged homosexuality? Shockingly little, considering the seriousness of his charge.

First, he drops what he surely considers a bomb—Van Durme attended a 1998 conference of the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries. In fact, Rose refers to a photo in the September 21, 1998, issue of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle that shows Van Durme at the “bizarre gay/lesbian conference.”

There’s just one problem: Van Durme didn’t attend the conference. He was not a participant; he was not an attendee. The photo shows him at the Mass that followed, not the conference. But why was he at the Mass? That year, he returned from ACL as a seminarian and was assigned to a parish. His job was a simple one: Follow the pastor around and get used to parish life. Van Durme’s pastor asked him to attend the Mass with him, so he did. End of story. If Rose had called Van Durme (a thing he continues to avoid doing) or checked the attendance register of the conference, he would have known that.

So, what about Van Durme’s ACL peer evaluation of Kellenyi? Rose stands by his position that the evaluation is not only “rambling and incoherent,” but that it displays some manner of homosexual jealousy. And to back him up, he has enlisted Dr. John Fraunces, a Philadelphia-area psychologist who makes two appearances in Rose’s book (pages 129 and 138-141). Fraunces finds the evaluation “terribly immature. This is highschool prose that should never have been accepted by his superiors.” What Fraunces neglects to mention—perhaps he doesn’t know—is that the evaluation he read was a draft, not the final, edited version. After writing it, Van Durme sat down with Kellenyi and went over it, making changes here and there as the discussion proceeded. He then returned to his room to edit the piece before turning it in.

Furthermore, as one who has edited three different publications and numerous books, I can confidently inform Fraunces that this is the way most American adults write. Perhaps I should send the doctor some of the article submissions I read each day; his eyes would surely be opened. No, Van Durme isn’t as strong a writer as the other three peer evaluators, and he won’t be receiving the Pulitzer Prize this year; but then, a pure, lyrical style is hardly a requirement for the priesthood.

But Fraunces doesn’t confine himself to literary criticism. He further asserts that the evaluation carries “sexual undertones” and “uses the type of verbiage that would put most heterosexual men on guard and give them second thoughts about staying in the seminary.” I’ve read the evaluation numerous times and the notion that it carries “sexual undertones” is, frankly, ridiculous. Read complete and without the cut-and-paste editing Rose uses in his book, it bears every resemblance to what it is: a negative peer evaluation of Joseph Kellenyi. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. I decided to give the evaluation to a psychologist who—unlike Fraunces—has no connection to Rose’s book.

So I sent the document to Dr. H. Newton Malony, a Templeton Foundation Award winner who is listed in both the Who’s Who in Theology and Science and the Who’s Who in Religion. A past visiting scholar at Westminster College, Oxford, he’s currently a senior professor at the prestigious clinical psychology department at Fuller Seminary. Malony—with advanced degrees from Yale and Vanderbilt—is the author or coauthor of over 35 books (including Clergy Malpractice, The Psychology of Clergy, and the Dictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling). Most recently, he edited and contributed to Staying the Course: Supporting the Church’s Position on Homosexuality—an explanation and defense of the traditional Christian teaching on homosexuality (he also offers courses on treating homosexuals). As a conservative Protestant psychologist, Malony cannot be accused of partiality in any inner-Church Catholic dispute (nor does he have any ties to Crisis).

The eminently qualified Malony read the evaluation several times and offered his objective analysis: “I found [the evaluation] a combination of appreciative and analytical remarks—none of which I would depict as having sexual overtones.” Furthermore, “I found [Van Durme’s] comments perceptive and descriptive but not overly personal and certainly not a coded essay communicating sexual deviation.”

In a further attempt to buttress his case, Rose takes yet another swing at Wolfgang Diedrich, this time, trying to hang the young man on his own words. In my original article, Diedrich noted, “Of all the people I knew in seminary, Pat Van Durme was the one guy who was without a doubt clearly heterosexual.” Rose notes, wryly, that “one could easily conclude from this that everyone else was or might have been homosexual, that there was indeed a homosexual clique.”

It’s hard to take such an argument seriously. Diedrich was obviously adding emphasis to his statement—much as we all do in normal day-to-day speech. It’s reaching well beyond the line of reason to try to turn this into evidence for a gay subculture at ACL. I can well understand what Diedrich was saying. Having interviewed Van Durme several times, I can say there is not a hint of effeminacy about him. An ex-soldier in the U.S. Army, he drives a pickup truck, chews Red Man chewing tobacco, and goes hunting with his brothers every season. The idea of him sexually harassing another man let alone involving himself in a gay affair—is comical.

So, in the end, that’s the sum total of Rose’s evidence for Van Durme’s “homosexuality”: An innocuous peer evaluation, a conference he never attended, and a clumsy attempt at word-twisting. Perhaps realizing the weakness of his case, Rose closes with the amazing statement, “In the end, whether or not Van Durme is ‘gay’ is irrelevant?’ It’s difficult to square Rose’s new position with what he wrote in his book, describing Van Durme as “the gay seminarian” who wanted to enter into an “intimate relationship” with Kellenyi—all in a chapter titled “The Gay Subculture.”

Kellenyi—Rose’s sole source for his story—insists that Van Durme is a homosexual who harassed him while also having a homosexual affair with Father Windsor. On this point, his credibility as a witness is at stake. If Van Durme is heterosexual (as all the witnesses but Kellenyi emphatically maintain), then Kellenyi’s story falls apart. And with it, Rose’s section on ACL.

Crisis ignores Evidence?

Amazing as it may be, considering his steadfast refusal to talk to any of the numerous witnesses, Rose actually accuses Crisis of ignoring evidence. First, he claims I implied that Wolfgang Diedrich was the only seminarian who wrote a positive evaluation of Kellenyi. Actually, I did no such thing. I confined my discussion to Deidrich and Van Durme’s evaluations for the simple reason that Rose did the same in his book. The other two peer evaluations, one positive (Giuliano Lupinetti) and one mixed (Joseph Arsenault), were not mentioned in Goodbye, Good Men.

Recall, once again, that the peer evaluations were written midway through the year—well before Kellenyi came out with his gay claims about Van Durme and Father Windsor. Note also that most of the witnesses I interviewed described a progression in Kellenyi’s behaviors. It’s hardly surprising, then, that people would have some good things to say about the generally likeable Kellenyi. Van Durme himself, in his peer evaluation, describes him as “a very pious man” who “seems interested and conscientious of his prayer life and the sacraments.” He further notes that Kellenyi is “very into his studies,” “very serious about his academics and is active in his learning process.”

While some of the seminarians did get along with Kellenyi—at least during his time at ACL—it’s instructive to ask them what they think of his charges. This, Rose refuses to do—I suspect because he knows the answer will only hurt his case.

Rose additionally criticizes me for not interviewing “officials or other students at the Theology Department (not the seminary) at the University of Louvain.” He further asks why I didn’t contact Kellenyi’s vocations director in the Diocese of Venice (Florida), former business associates of Kellenyi’s, or the ex-seminarian’s ACL spiritual adviser, Rev. Francis Reilly.

First, I can’t imagine what a vocations director in Florida would know about events that allegedly occurred in Belgium—he’s a bit far from the action and would only know what Kellenyi told him. Nor can I imagine what Kellenyi’s past coworkers would know of such things either. The same holds true for the theology department at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL)—a separate and distinct entity from the American College of Louvain. The students and faculty at KUL were not witnesses to events that allegedly occurred at ACL.

(Interestingly enough, in a bizarre about-face not two pages later, Rose actually attacks the theology department of KUL for being “progressive” and boasting “many world-renowned liberal Church theologians.” Why, then, did he want me to talk to them?)

Unlike his less serious suggestions, his recommendation of talking to Father Reilly was a good one. After all, Father Reilly was a resident at ACL and would have been privy to the truth. Additionally, he did have good things to say about Kellenyi in the ex-seminarian’s Theology I Assessment. And Rose’s obvious implication that Father Reilly would confirm Kellenyi’s charges made the opportunity too much to resist.

When I called Father Reilly, he sounded surprised to hear that Rose used him in such a way (indeed, he seemed not to have heard of Michael Rose at all). And it didn’t get any better for Rose after that. Far from backing up Kellenyi’s contention about Van Durme and Father Windsor, Father Reilly added his voice to that of everyone else: “No, no. From my living there at the college, I have no thought that that was happening at all.”

When Rose wasn’t inadvertently strengthening my case, he was recycling long-refuted charges:

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.

Kellenyi tried this one in his letter to the editor published in the December 2002 issue of Crisis, and I answered it then. But I’ll do so again here: Over the course of numerous emails (May 29, May 30, May 31, and June 2, 2002), I repeatedly requested that Kellenyi send me his evidence. He refused.

While I honestly appreciated his invitation to meet, I wasn’t able to do so since the copy deadline for the article was July 1, and the earliest he could come to Washington, D.C., was a month later. In view of this, I suggested he send me his material, at which time we could discuss it over the phone at length (and on Crisis’s dime). He again refused.

But Rose should know all of this. In the midst of my back and forth with Kellenyi, I explained the situation to Rose (May 31 phone conversation). He seemed to understand the dilemma, and I thought he might actually help in lobbying Kellenyi to send me the documentation. Why is it then, that he now chooses to recycle a claim he should know isn’t true?

Changing the Subject

Moving through the last third of Rose’s response, it would be very easy for a reader to forget what the main subject is: Joseph Kellenyi’s claim that a “gay” Patrick Van Durme sexually harassed him while carrying on an affair with Father David Windsor. I say that because Rose leaves that issue behind in favor of a general attack on ACL. What does this have to do with Kellenyi’s very specific charges? Very little. Nevertheless, a quick glance at Rose’s detour will prove instructive.

First, he recounts the seminary’s “effeminate reputation.” In doing so, he fails to mention that in my original article, Father Windsor himself acknowledged that ACL had such a reputation in the past but that he worked to correct the problems when he became rector. Several of the seminarians I spoke to confirmed this point, noting that Father Windsor was careful to keep a distance between himself and the students.

Rose then trots out the case of Rev. Bryce Sibley, an Internet commentator who spent a week at ACL in 1998 (Rose says it was 1997). Father Sibley claimed on his Web site that he found the seminarians effeminate and repeated the point that ACL has long had a reputation for homosexuality. For this, he was silenced by his bishop for six months.

But Rose doesn’t mention the fact that Sibley, while standing by his description of many of the seminarians as “effeminate,” later clarified his position, noting “I never said that there were ‘gay priests’ at the seminary,” and “I also do not say I agree with the exact stories in Mr. Rose’s book.” He later apologized to ACL on his site. It’s additionally important to note that Sibley’s visit to the seminary was one to two years before Kellenyi arrived.

Nevertheless, Rose seems distressed by the injustice of it all—a good priest silenced for speaking out. And yet, he doesn’t tell his readers about Rev. Robert Johansen. The very conservative Johansen—recently ordained from Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit—reviewed Rose’s book negatively in the May 2002 issue of Culture Wars. The priest specifically objected to the book’s portrayal of Sacred Heart (covering the period in which Johansen was there). Rose responded to the review, and Johansen replied to the response—both in Culture Wars and on his own Web site. Finally, Rose, saying he felt personally attacked, hired a lawyer and threatened to sue Johansen’s diocese unless he retracted his criticism and agreed to say no more about Michael Rose. Johansen’s bishop caved in, and the orthodox young priest was himself silenced.

KUL or ACL?

In Rose’s all-out assault on ACL, he gets his target confused. He tears into Joseph Selling, chairman of the Department of Moral Theology, describing him as a pro-gay liberal. He further quotes a Jesuit student who says that “some of the other theology professors at Louvain make Selling look like a ‘right-winger.’ ”

What Rose neglects to mention to his readers is that the theology department referred to is that of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven—not the American College of Louvain. While ACL’s seminarians take some classes at KUL, ACL is a separate and distinct institution. (It’s also interesting to note that Kellenyi is currently a theology student at KUL.)

But what about Nigerian Rev. Innocent Aguwuom (Rose misspells the name as “Iaguwuom”), who laments that “It’s easy to lose your priestly identity here”? The casual reader of Rose’s response will surely assume that Father Aguwuom is a student at ACL. Not so. He’s actually a student at KUL, with no connection to ACL.

Back to the Beginning

So, where does all this leave us? Actually, it puts us right back to the beginning. Michael Rose makes serious charges about Patrick Van Durme, Father Windsor, and ACL as a whole. In doing so, he relies exclusively on the testimony of Joseph Kellenyi. To this day, Rose has never contacted the seminary, Father Windsor, Father Van Durme, or any of the witnesses apart from Luke Melcher (and we see where that got him). His response is a study in trying to find something—anything—to back up his story.

Several journalists have thoroughly investigated and dismissed Kellenyi’s claims. Roger Huisman, foreign editor of the Belgian newspaper, Het Belang van Limburg, met with Kellenyi, reviewed his evidence, and checked out the charges. He concluded that the allegations were unsubstantiated and dropped the story. Michael Rezendes, one of the star reporters with the Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team investigated the dispute and, like Huisman, decided not to write the story. Can Rose honestly claim that they’re part of a conspiracy to protect the bishops from another scandal? Rezendes, after all, was one of the journalists who broke the Boston sex-abuse case. Can he possibly be accused of collusion in a cover-up?

For Kellenyi’s story to be true, everyone at ACL—both liberals and conservatives—would have to be either lying or shockingly ignorant of what happened right under their noses. By disguising himself as an ex-Army, tobacco-chewing, pickup truck-driving, gun-toting redneck, Father Van Durme would have to have done a Herculean job of hiding his homosexuality from family, friends, past girlfriends, ex-fiancés, classmates, and faculty. Two high-powered secular investigative journalists would have to be covering up for the seminary by inexplicably ignoring a major sex-abuse story. And in this massive conspiracy of liberals, conservatives, and secularists, the lone voice of truth would have to be Joe Kellenyi.

The other possibility, of course, is that Kellenyi’s story is simply false. Which option seems more plausible to you?

The Real Debate

Contrary to what Rose claims in his response, this debate is not about liberalism or homosexuality in the seminaries. Crisis has long acknowledged, exposed, and condemned the presence of both. Nor is this an instance of Crisis conducting public relations for ACL—another Rose charge. Ultimately, this dispute is about truth, and that’s why it’s so vital.

What, after all, does it mean to be a Catholic journalist? Are we simply writers who report on Catholic issues? Or, rather, are we journalists whose Catholicism compels us to abide by not just the ethical standards of our craft but the much higher standards of our Faith?

As I said in my original article, the thesis of Rose’s book is unquestionably true. Liberalism has wrought incalculable damage to the Catholic Church. But we cannot be content to be wrong in the particulars, so long as we’re right in our conclusions. In this case, the particulars have names—Father Patrick Van Durme and Father David Windsor—and we honor neither God nor our Church when we treat them as “necessary sacrifices” for the greater good.

Author

  • Brian Saint-Paul

    Brian Saint-Paul was the editor and publisher of Crisis Magazine. He has a BA in Philosophy and an MA in Religious Studies from the Catholic University of America, in Washington. D.C. In addition to various positions in journalism and publishing, he has served as the associate director of a health research institute, a missionary, and a private school teacher. He lives with his wife in a historic Baltimore neighborhood, where he obsesses over Late Antiquity.

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