Breaking: Vatican Priest Advisor on Sexuality Barred from Priestly Ministry

Msgr. Tony Anatrella helped write the Vatican’s 2005 instruction on seminarians “with homosexual tendencies.” He is now barred from ministry after allegations of sexual abuse.

Newsroom (19/01/2023 11:15 AM, Gaudium Press) — The Archdiocese of Paris announced Tuesday that a priest who helped develop Vatican policy on gay seminarians has been barred from priestly ministry, and ordered to a life of prayer, after a canonical process over allegations that he abused young men, including a 14- year-old minor, under the guise of therapy.

Msgr. Tony Anatrella, 81, has also been told to cease his work as a psychotherapist and refrain from publishing or public speaking.

The directive came in a penal precept, a kind of prohibitive canonical order, which was issued after a canonical process handled by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF), which oversees complaints of sexual abuse of minors by clerics.

Anatrella has been a prominent figure in the Church for decades. He helped to write the 2005 Vatican policy that men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” should not be admitted to seminaries, helped coordinate a Vatican conference on clerical celibacy, and served as an expert at the Synod on the Family.

The priest, who helped the French bishops craft their 2003 document on “fighting pedophilia,” has also been accused of sexually abusing young men and teenage boys under the pretext of therapy.

Even after he was first accused in 2001 of manipulating a young man into sexual acts under the pretence of therapy to treat “homosexual impulses,” Anatrella continued for years to be a significant influence in the Church in France and in Rome on the subjects of homosexuality and clerical celibacy.

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According to a Jan. 17 statement from the Paris archdiocese, a canonical process against Anatrella was started in Paris in 2016, after several complaints against the priest were dismissed by the French courts because the statute of limitations had expired, and the priest had been barred from public ministry since 2018.

The archdiocesan statement indicates that after the canonical process, the DDF ordered Anatrella to cease his psychotherapy practice, and the archdiocese added a broader set of prohibitions and restrictions, by issuing a penal precept.

While neither the DDF nor the archdiocese has stated clearly the outcome of a penal process, the issuance of a precept, rather than the conferral of a penalty, suggests the possibility that a definitive finding of guilt was not reached in the penal case.

The announcement of the archdiocesan decision in Anatrella’s case, barring him from public speaking, writing, and professional practice as well as priestly ministry, follows considerable public scrutiny of the case of Fr. Marko Rupnik, SJ, the well-known religious artist.

In 2020, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith declared and then remitted the penalty of excommunication against Rupnik for attempting to sacramentally absolve an accomplice in sexual misconduct. The following year, the Vatican declined to waive the canonical statute of limitations after an investigation into accusations Rupnik serially sexually abused women religious.

According to the superior general of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Arturo Sosa, Rupnik was placed on “restricted ministry” following his 2020 excommunication.

But despite allegations and excommunication, Rupnik continues to serve as an advisor to several Vatican dicasteries, has received awards for his work, and was commissioned to redesign an important Jesuit spiritual site.

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  • Raju Hasmukh with files from the Pillar


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