The Secrets of the French Church’s “Gay Expert”, Tony Anatrella

The Secrets of the French Church’s “Gay Expert”, Tony Anatrella July 12, 2018
Monsignor Tony Anatrella (Wikipedia)

By Cameron Doody and Hendro Munsterman

Monsignor Tony Anatrella was widely considered the official “gay expert” in the Vatican and the French Catholic Church. The priest, psychoanalyst and author of thirty books on same-sex attraction was the driving force behind the 2005 decree of the Congregation for Catholic Education that barred gays from becoming priests. A member of the Medjugorje commission of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, and a consultor to two Pontifical Councils – for the Family and for Health Care Ministry – the man known in Paris as the “Church’s shrink” taught that homosexuals are narcissists who are incapable of forming long-term relationships. “You’re not gay, you just think that you are”, the psychoanalyst used to say to the dozens of seminarians sent to him during three decades from all over France to “cure” their homosexuality. Anatrella was even asked to cross over into the realm of child protection, giving a course in Rome in 2015 to newly-appointed bishops from all over the world on how to handle sexual abuse, in which he told them there is no need to inform the civil authorities when a prelate hears about sexual abuse by one of his priests.

But all the while – or at least since 2006, when the first victims spoke publicly – everybody in the Vatican and in the French Church knew that Anatrella had been accused by several men of abusing them during special “physical therapy” sessions. His alleged victims accuse him of encouraging them to live out their homosexual fantasies during their one-on-one appointments. The sessions included orgasms and Monsignor Anatrella “only wore his socks” thoroughout them, one of the victims told the Dutch newspaper Nederlands Dagblad. “I know details about his body only someone who has seen him naked can know”, said this young man.

Anatrella’s secret finally came undone last week when the Archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, finally suspended him from public ministry for abusing young men in his care. Aupetit’s predecessors, Cardinals Lustiger and Vingt-Trois, had publicly supported the priest and psychoanalyst, even after several victims complained to the archdiocese. Those were times in which the French society was dealing with the legalization of same-sex marriage. Anatrella was considered by the episcopate as an important voice in the debate, since he could speak on the topic as a respected psychoanalyst.

The French Dominican Philippe Lefèbvre was for years almost the only one who opposed the ideas of the influential monsignor. But now that the priest has fallen from his pedestal, Lefèbvre denounces the ecclesiastical culture that enabled this scandal to flourish.

The Dominican doesn’t mince words anymore. He says the way in which the Roman Catholic Church has dealt with Anatrella’s victims has been by nothing less than “mafia practices”. Lefèbvre, who teaches biblical studies in Fribourg (Switzerland), came in touch with Anatrella’s thinking by chance when he was working on a book about men and women in the Bible.

“At the beginning of 2006 I came across an article in which Anatrella writes about the inability of homosexuals to become priests. And I read his book on homosexuality with the title The Origins of Homosexuality and The Reign of Narcissus. I then wrote a critical response. Two French Catholic magazines refused to publish it. ‘You’re right, but we can’t afford to criticize Anatrella’, they said to me. Eventually my story ended up on a Catholic internet site. Among the numerous reactions I received, there was also a letter from a young man who endured Anatrella’s ‘physical therapies’. He had come to Anatrella to have his homosexual attraction healed”.

Was he the only victim that you have come to know?

No. A French priest who was involved in the pastoral care for homosexuals wrote to me and said he knew three men who had gone through the same thing. That priest started talking to seven bishops in November 2006. They weren’t surprised at all. Everyone knew about it! On November 23, 2006, Cardinal Vingt-Trois, the archbishop of Paris, wrote an e-mail to all his priests: “We support Monsignor Anatrella with our prayer and our esteem”.

I know four victims personally, but even more have written to me. At the end of 2006, when it came out that the French bishops had done nothing about it, I wrote a new article, in which I also mentioned Anatrella’s “physical therapy”.

Did you take risks?

The church gives these people an almost almighty status. And if you criticize them, you get the bishops coming down on you. Or the whole Catholic system of laymen that keeps all kinds of internet sites running. They are mafia practices that are accompanied even by intimidations. I know that Anatrella has tried everything to get me removed from my chair here at the faculty in Fribourg, even going to the highest Roman court. I also received phone calls from friends who told me that I was being portrayed as the “destroyer of the church” in Rome. A bishop told me that I had better stop, since my lectureship depends on the Congregation for Catholic Education in Rome.

How can this support for Anatrella from the highest levels of the Church be explained?

Bishops are generally weak-willed. Someone who takes a firm position in the public debate about matters such as the family and homosexuality is therefore good for them. If you are scared yourself, you send in the dogs. And Anatrella said things that conservative Catholics like to hear. Many French priests and monks have also been in therapy with Anatrella, often  to cure their homosexual attraction. Some of them now have high positions in the church. Anatrella knows things, and people are afraid of him. But the victims have remained very worthy, brave and courageous. They haven’t got discouraged.

Why do you find this affair so significant?

Thinking differently – about the family, for example – has been made completely impossible by the current ecclesiastical structures. Either by ecclesiastical office-bearers, or by conservative laymen with their internet sites. In Iran we call that the revolutionary guard. The Ayatollahs have the power, but then there are the people who look after all the villages and families, and check, for example, if your wife’s headscarf is thick enough. The Roman Catholic Church has come to resemble that. The culture of discussion and dialogue has completely disappeared. We are in a Church of conformity with apparatchiks that maintain an institution. Jesus calls them “the dead who bury the dead”. Anatrella has held French Catholicism in his ideological grip for thirty years, while the bishops knew of his abuse. In the corridors several bishops said to me: “You’re right, but don’t say it was me who told you”.

The current Archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, came out [and suspended Anatrella] very cleverly just before the summer holiday. After the summer we will have forgotten about it again.

But I hope Anatrella’s suspension is the beginning of a new reflection.

French Dominican Philippe Lefèbvre (supplied)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Vocalising

    This is dynamite.

  • alwayspuzzled

    The trials scheduled for January, if they actually take place, have the potential to be a very, very difficult time for the Church in France and for the Vatican.

  • The only thing in all of this I do not understand, is why he didn’t want homosexuals to become priests when he was one himself.

  • John_Holecek

    Let the winnowing begin.

  • Illithid

    Because when someone is taught all their life that what they are is sick and evil, they deny it to themselves, and can also come to hate themselves and others like them. The twisted mentality of this particular man is just one outcome of a fundamentally incorrect perception of sexuality.

  • The fundamentally incorrect perception that sexuality is who a person is, rather than a child of God?

    After all, sex isn’t that important to a human life at all. Not in sum total anyway. It is important to achieve maybe once, maybe 10 times, but out of a 100 year life, that’s 10%

    Of course, it can take 25 years to achieve sex properly, and homosexuality will never achieve that goal because of that pesky biological problem, but it is NOT the sum total of a human life, and giving it such power over your life is extremely damaging.

  • wilbagley

    The Church has lost it’s moral authority throughout the world. Our young people see the hypocrisies in the actions, or lack of, when it comes to clergy abuses. We need another counter-reformation council to crack down and throw out the evil that has become the norm within the Church. Lets start with Cardinals Dolan and Mccarrick.

  • Illithid

    The idea that the primary biological function of a human capacity is the only legitimate expression of same is the fundamental error. A person with anywhere near an average libido is not going to be happy having sex only enough to procreate. Bonding with a partner and having fun are perfectly legitimate ends for sex.

    I don’t know what you envision as “achieving sex properly”, but if you practice only potentially procreative sex, you’re probably not going to get very good at it. I admit to feeling a certain level of pity for you for inflicting this needless limitation on your life.

    Sex certainly is not the sum of life. Nor does the label I apply to my sexuality define me. It is one aspect of my life. If you look at my profile, there are several labels I use, and “bisexual” is just one of them. I only use it because some in our society still see it as a reason to hate and to treat people unfairly. If no one cared particularly about what sex partner anyone preferred, I wouldn’t mention it.

    For example, probably no one online knows whether I’m left- or right-handed, because it doesn’t matter very much to anyone. Some people write with the other hand from the majority, and need different scissors, no big deal. Left-handedness was at certain times and places considered evil and suspect, and children were beaten to force them to behave in a way that was for them unnatural. That ignorance is behind us. May the same someday be true of sexuality.

  • Libedo is all in the mind and can be programmed with pornography and abuse, just like this Bishop did with his victims, and just like all you so called sexual revolutionaries do. It is just rape.

  • Illithid

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    I don’t know what to say to you. I’ve gotten the impression over our discourse of someone who holds on tight to the rules because he’s afraid of what he’ll do if he relaxes his grip. It’s probably not that bad. Lots of people find themselves much happier after leaving a rigid belief. They find that they’re still decent people whose morality works better based on empathy and reciprocity rather than a rigid set of rules.

    Although your repeated characterization of various acts of consensual sex as “rape” is worrisome. Perhaps you should continue keeping yourself under tight control. Most people can coexist peacefully with their neighbors without the belief that Sky Big Brother is watching them for any slightest transgression, but maybe you’re not one of those.

  • Caf1815

    If he actually is a homosexual. This article conveniently fails to mention that Mgr Anatrella has been cleared of wrongdoing both by the ecclesiastical court of Toulouse (where his case was tried to eliminate the risk of bias in his home diocese) and by the civil courts in Paris:

    The Archbishop of Paris may be demonstrating prudence in not lifting his suspension until the dust settles, but I would think it incumbent on a priest, of all people, not to imply that Mgr Anatrella is a convicted criminal when clearly he is not, and still less to treat this sorry affair as some kind of ideological gotcha.

  • I think you do not understand that your sexual revolution has so destroyed honesty that consent has become impossible. By separating sex from biological reality and into the realm of pure fantasy, you render all consent a lie, and thus, all sex apart from procreation nothing more than rape.

    Until you can be honest with yourself that the purpose of sex taked decades and results in functionally adult offspring that is fantasy free, everything else you accomplish sexually is nothing more than dishonest rape.

  • Illithid

    Procreation can be an important part of sex, yes, and childrearing does take decades. I’m in the 21st year of that process myself, if you recall. But that’s not all sex is good for, fortunately, or we’d have had a really stressful twenty-odd years.

    We’re just going to talk in circles again. My final point: stop calling that “rape”. Communication depends upon a shared vocabulary, and no one else uses that word in that way. It’s also a dishonest tactic, as it attempts to lend weight to your argument with emotionally charged word. Like if I called your religion a “death cult”. It makes you less convincing, not more so.

  • Why stressful? It is perfectly possible to lead a stress free life without sex. Libido is all in the mind, after all.

  • I missed your 2nd paragraph on my phone.

    I won’t stop calling it rape, because that is what it is. The sexual revolution has been a lie designed to destroy families and keep the lower classes fighting. It’s nothing more than propaganda.

    The real death cult is the genocidal mania put forth as “health care” by the sexual revolutionaries. The sacraments are orgasm, abortion, and euthanasia.

  • Illithid

    I see that our views of reality are too divergent to permit productive dialogue. Goodbye.

  • I’ve been at that point for about 3 years now. I no longer consider sexual revolutionaries to be sane or capable of enough consent to be trusted to sign a business contract with, let alone be trusted to not rape people at random.

  • Illithid

    Wow. How bizarre. Today I slept a bit late, played a couple rounds of disc golf with a friend (poorly), had BBQ wings for lunch, picked up my son from work, showered, and am relaxing at home. No raping going on. The kids at the park played in perfect safety with me there.

    Tomorrow, I plan to go see the Ant-Man & Wasp movie with friends, have lunch, and maybe mow my yard. Again, no raping on the agenda.

    You are sadly delusional. Seek professional help.

  • See, you aren’t even living up to the courage of your declared lifestyle. If you were truly bisexual and polyamorous, you would have included a visit to the gay bar and at least one attempt at seducing your son’s friends in there.

    Read Walter Breen’s Greek Love for more information on what the bisexual lifestyle is *supposed* to be like:

  • Illithid

    I’m not polyamorous, nor did I ever claim to be. And your understanding of the word “bisexual” is obviously no better than your understanding of the word “rape”. If we’re going to just invent new definitions for words, I’ll start using the word “seeber” to mean “someone who pretends words mean something other than what they’re generally understood to mean, as a dishonest debate tactic”.

    P.S. You can fantasize all you want about what Breen writes, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it (and feel guilty about it later). But he doesn’t speak for me.

  • All bisexuals are polyamourous, you kind of have to be. Hard to find both biological sexes in the same individual.

    So I guess you were just lying (again). Not surprising for an atheist, I have never met an honest one yet.

  • Illithid

    I don’t say this lightly: I think you are actually insane. Your perceptions are so different from reality that I wonder how you can function in society.

    I know I said “goodbye” earlier, but now I am truly done with you.

  • We knew this going in. Does not stop me from being accurate about the depraved lifestyle you were lying about being a part of though. Nor does it stio me from being accurate about your inability to understand basic set theory mathematics or statistics.

  • You won’t see this, likely, nor are you courageous enough to read this, but if I am insane, so was every human being prior to 1850 on this topic:

  • Mark Dowd

    It’s called “internalised homphobia”….I’ve long been convinced that the prohibition on same sex love inside the upper echelons Church has less to do with doctrinal purity and more to do with a substantial minority (even majority?) of self-hating men who project their own inadequacies onto others. LGBTQIA Catholics should pay little if any attention to them and get on with being a self-accepting community of their own, which has a lot to share with the rest of God’s people.

  • Seems pretty simple to me. He was afraid of getting caught harassing men, and he devised the best possible cover: denounce gays far and wide. He also gets access and trust from gay men who come to him to be “‘cured.”

    I would not assume good will here. He’s not the first preacher to preach obsessively about the awfulness of homosexuality while hooking up with men on the side. Cardinal Keith O’Brien and Ted Haggerty are two others.

  • I’m not assuming good will, I’m trying to understand. Perhaps his view of homosexuality as narcissism came from personal experience.

  • Or maybe he simply lied. I do not find it unlikely that a predator should also lie.